A jazz guitar practice sessions is so much more than just sitting with your guitar and playing standards or doing exercises to improve your skills. There are things you should consider for your practice sessions to make them awesome!
1 - The Dimensions of Your Practice Space
The dimension of the space you practice in is important though it really depends on your tastes and personality.
Some people like big rooms and want to take space when practicing. Others like small rooms with (almost) nothing in it. You have to identify exactly what you want (and need). Ask yourself: "Do I feel better in a compact room?", "Do I need to be able to walk around the room?"
The most important thing is that you find the space you need and feel comfortable in when practicing. It must feel good to be inside that space to practice. It could be a room in your house that you convert to a practice zone or you could rent a space for you to practice somewhere.
2 - The Lighting
We probably all played in a dark room at least once. I did and didn't really like it. Playing in a very bright room isn't also ideal sometimes, especially if the brightness is caused by the sun. It's beautiful but also blinding.
The right level of light in your practice space is very important and it goes without saying that it should be one of your primary concern if you need music sheets for your jazz guitar practice sessions.
In short, the lighting of your practice space should be arranged to make it inviting and enjoyable to be in.
3 - There Should Be Zero Distractions
Your smart phone shouldn't enter your practice space.
I used to have my phone with me when I practiced because I had a metronome application on it but being a not so disciplined person at that time, I got distracted by other applications.
A lot of players also practice in front of their computer. Sometimes, it doesn't work at all. Although we love it when you visit JazzGuitarLessons.net, we know full well shutting down your computer for 45-60 minutes can lead to much more productive practice ;-)
Discipline varies from people to people, but be aware of your distractions and eliminate them from your practice space. Allow yourself to stay focused and not let anything interfere between you and your practice: all of your jazz guitar practice sessions will be satisfying and meaningful.
4 - Everything You Need Should Be In Your Space
Once you set in to start practicing, you shouldn't need to get something outside of your space. You shouldn't need to stand up to get your tuner that is in another room. You shouldn't need to get your picks that are in your other pants in your bedroom. All this is, yet again, distractions.
Nonetheless, we are humans and we forget things. There are several ways to deal with this. You could have a checklist of things you need that you can consult right before putting yourself in the mood of practicing. You could have a ritual before each practice that is sacred to you (I personally have one that helps me making sure that everything is in order).
The point is to make sure everything you need is inside your practice space so your practice doesn't get interrupted.
5 - People Must Respect Your Space
Practicing music can be a challenge when you do not live alone. Most of us have their own lives (job, family, friends) and this is absolutely okay. Though, many players wish to have more efficient sessions and be able to improve their playing.
Our piece of advice is that you should (politely) make it clear that your practice zone is sacred to you and you shouldn't be disturbed when you are practicing in it. This is still related to the distractions you should avoid during your jazz guitar practice sessions.
6 - YOU Must Respect Your Space
What I mean is: keep your space clean and well organized all the time!
Working on different aspects of your playing will require to get different books, sheets and maybe audio-visuals. When you finish your practice session, put everything back to their place (or at least make your space look less messy).
Next time you will practice, it is more inviting to enter a clean space than a messy one.
7 - Have A Plan and "Time Box" Your Sessions
Do not walk into your practice space without knowing in advance what you are going to do. Not having a practice plan is actually problematic because you have no goals in mind. Setting attainable goals is the best way to improve because you will have an idea of where you are going and how to go there.
From here, many possibilities are offered to you. There are many guides to learn standards or perhaps you are working on your jazz chords or maybe you are into improvisation. Everything is possible you need to know what are you going to accomplish in each of your jazz guitar practice sessions.
When you have a plan and absolutely no distraction, playing an hour per sitting can be much more significant than noodling 3 hours.
Reaching all those small goals will contribute to your general progress and all the hard work will finally make sense to you. Give it a try!
8 - Log Yourself and Review Yourself
You should have some sort of notebook on you during your jazz guitar practice session so you can log yourself: what you did well or wrong, what are the things you should work on, what looks way too easy or too advanced in your plan.
Then, at the beginning of each practice session (and or weekly), review those logs. That will help you identify what you should focus on and it also is a great overview of your progress as a musician.
BONUS - Your 45 Minutes to Jazz Guitar Victory!
Your no-fluff minimalist jazz guitar workout. Grab it, read it, apply it! (... and thank me later)
Ny Fanilo Andrianjafy is a guitarist living in Canada. His main influences are traditional music from his birth country, Madagascar, and blues. He discovered Jazz at the age of 19 and has been in love with it ever since.