How to keep always improving on guitar

Here’s a great question that I received over the weekend

“Hi, Andy. I'm still having great fun with your lesson videos.

I was wondering what you think about making a lesson video about how to keep 'improving" when we're at the Improver Stage. I'm not sure if a practice routine is what I mean -Sometimes I feel all over the place. Some days I just play songs and that's fun. Other days I feel as though I need to do some finger exercises and chord sequences. Other times I try (in frustration) to play barre chords. 

Is this what an Improver should be doing? Or should it be more structured? And what if we feel stuck, like I've not actually 'improved' in a while - does it matter to make progress if I'm having fun playing, when I know I have room for improvement? And some days I'm just plain bad.

Does this make sense?

As always, thanks for the great videos and songs. 

Best regards”

My response to this firstly is to know that if you feel this way, you are not alone.

It is really common for the improver/ intermediate guitar player to find themselves in this situation.

“I feel like I’m not improving. What should I practice? I think i am getting worse!

There is so much that I know I need to be doing, what should I do first? What should I be practicing right now?”

What is always clear to me, is that someone in this situation has likely not yet found what I call a 'musical outlet' for themselves yet.

What is a musical outlet? Some great examples are;· Recording yourself (from just with a smartphone, to proper recording with a computer) · Playing with others (finding a jam buddy, going to group guitar classes, etc)· performing (just in front of friends, playing an open mic night, joining a band or group guitar class)· Songwriting (even if no one ever hears it, coming up with your own stuff can be an amazing and fun process in itself)

These are just some obvious ideas. If any of these seem a bit much for you, see how you can get to any of these stages in this video here (you may have seen it before, but re-watch if you have as you may get more out of it with this topic in mind)

I also asked ‘What are you musical goals?’ to my facebook feed on Sunday 30th July and received nearly 200 comments with some awesome goals, big and small. This was so encouraging.
Basically, when you know what you are practicing FOR, then it is way more obvious what you need to be practicing.

If a band has a gig, they need to practice the songs they will be performing as their biggest priority, rather than just improving as musicians
If your guitar group has a rehearsal, you need to practice anything that will be covered in that rehearsal or you what know what you are playing
Again, these are just two obvious examples, but hopefully they highly why having a musical outlet gives direction and motivation to practice time.

Of course, time is always a factor, which is why I made this video on What to practice on guitar when your time is limited

Find the right musical outlet for you and it will become obvious what you need to practice. 

My outlets were always either playing live (solo or with a band) or recording. 

I did recording first because i didn’t always have a band or people to jam with. Both were scary and challenging, but give me direction. They both ended up being the most fun thing about my guitar playing.

I’ll say it again. Find the right musical outlet for you and it will become obvious what you need to practice. Find the right musical outlet for you and you will always be progressing and improving.

Let me know what ideas you have about what your musical outlet could be! And make sure to make this your reality right away!

Andy