1. Keep your guitar out of its case and on a stand.
2. Have a music stand where you can keep your music, binders, handouts, metronome, etc.
3. Find a consistent time and place to practice; try to get into a routine.
4. Have your practice time be as distraction free as possible.
5. Set realistic long term goals. For example:
"I want to join my friends and be able to play songs around the campfire this summer."
"I want to build a repertoire of fingerpicking songs."
" I want to become a better sight reader."
6. On a weekly basis set realistic short term goals. For example:
"I'm working on making this particular chord transition smooth."
"I'm working on memorizing these two songs."
"I'm working on being able to play this song faster."
7. Keep a practice journal or notebook and keep track of what it is you are working on. Make notes after your practice. For example:
"Sugar Hill and Old Molly Hare sound good but I still have to look at the music. Tomorrow work on memorizing them."
8. Warm up for a few minutes with scales, chords, or a song to help loosen up and get your mind and body synced up for the upcoming task.
9. When working on a new piece of music isolate the first challenging section and work on it slowly. Then practice getting in and out of the challenging section by starting a bar or two before it. Then start from the beginning of the piece and integrate the difficult section into the big picture. Make it sound as clean, smooth, and consistent as everything else. Use this strategy for each difficult section. This method of breaking things down is by far the most important advice I give to my students.
10. Practice with a metronome, drum machine, or play along CDs to help you cultivate a good steady rhythm. As one of my teachers was fond of saying: “Rhythm isn’t the most important thing. It’s the only thing.”
11. After a set period of practice (20-30 minutes?), take a short break for a few minutes. Get up, stretch, take a drink of water, then sit back down and get back to it.
12. Record yourself. By recording yourself, and listening back, you are able to hear what you really sound like. This is often a humbling experience.
13. Find someone to practice with. These relationships can last a lifetime.
14. When practicing don't forget to breathe. Breathing is more important than playing music.
15. Remain inspired. Listen to the music that knocks you out. Watch footage of great musicians. Go hear live music. The excitement you feel when you hear great music will drive you to become a better musician.