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How to practice effectively

Some of the most common questions we get asked at Bristol House of Music are “how long should I practice” and “what should I spend my time practicing?”. These are great questions as getting better at your chosen instrument is all about practice, practice, practice!!!


1. Practice what you’re “bad” at.

Most people don’t improve because they spend all their time practicing the same old things over and over again. However, to continue getting better you need to work on the things that you aren’t so great at, or can’t do at all! By pushing yourself a little each time, you will soon find the difficult or seemingly impossible tasks easier and look for new challenges. 


2. Alternate reading music and learning by ear.

This is the best way to learn music as you will become good at both which is the ideal outcome. It’s really good for your musicianship to sit down in front of a piece of music you’ve never played before and try to play it.  It’s equally good for you to listen to a song or piece of music and try to play it from ear. You don’t have to play the whole thing, even just a few minutes of trying this will help you more than you realise. 


3. Be realistic about time.

All of us would love to have the time to play our instruments all day, but reality doesn’t often accommodate our wishes, so it it best to have a solid idea of how much time you can spare from your busy schedule. 

Even 10-20 minutes a day can keep the music fresh in your mind, and in some ways it is better to practice little and often rather than once a week for a long time.

One hour a day is the ideal commitment if you are wanting to progress quickly, but it is not essential. 


4. Relax. 

Practicing your instrument is not meant to be a chore or stressful in any way.  It is time out from the world, and if you relax and enjoy it you will reap the rewards and feel a great sense of achievement as you increase your repertoire. This is where practicing often and little helps, as you don’t end up with any anxiety from not practicing all week and dreading the lessons!


5. Make a plan!

Making a practice diary is a great way of getting into a practice routine. Buy yourself a nice new notebook, set yourself goals and targets of things to work on, with notes on how to improve, what do do next and other things that you may find useful. 

Here is an example of a practice diary: 


 We hope you have found this useful, let us know how you get the most out of your practice schedule! At Bristol House of Music we teach guitar, piano, vocals, bass, songwriting, ukulele and music theoryClick here to book your first lesson - or read our 30 reasons why Bristol House of Music is the right place to learn.


We have released our first book!

This book teaches you every chord you will ever need in all five CAGED shapes, allowing you to master the fretboard and helping you to develop and expand your chord knowledge whilst keeping it fun and easy to grasp. Get the book and take your chord playing to new heights. 'Every Chord Shape You Will Ever Need' is ideal for guitarists trying to get to the next level and who like to play, perform and write music.


Why learning an instrument is good for a young mind!

School is about to kick off again and it is the best time for children and young adults to start learning an instrument! At Bristol House of Music we teach guitar, piano, bass, vocals, ukulele, songwriting and music theory and we have put together some reasons why learning an instrument is a great thing for a young mind...


1. Good for your brain

Younger minds have the capacity to learn many new things every day, so why not add music into the mix? From having one hour-long lesson a week, and just ten minutes of practice each day, you can learn a great deal. Playing an instrument can also help to improve your memory as there is much to remember!


2. Helps to improve coordination

Building up your coordination is important and will help in other areas of your development. Playing an instrument requires you to use many different parts of your body at the same time, and it is believed that young people who play instruments often have better hand eye coordination than those that don’t.


3. Makes you happy!

It is very important to be happy! What better way than to play an instrument, sing a favourite song and feel the joy that comes with expressing yourself musically and improving on something that is fun? You will impress your family and friends with how far you take it.


4. Improves rhythm

Rhythm is something that unless you are a dancer you may never really learn about.  It helps you to understand music and notice when something sounds “off” or out of time. Whether you are a singer, a pianist, a guitarist or a bassist, rhythm is integral to your music lessons from the start, as it is one of the fundamentals of music. 


5. Gets you off your computer!

Computers are amazing! Gaming is fun! XBOX, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Ipad, Ipod, Macbooks, the list goes on of how much fun can be had playing games. However when you are young it is important to develop all your skills, and learning an instrument will be something you want to dedicate some time to.


6. Fits perfectly around your studies!

Learning an instrument doesn't mean spending hours painfully crawling through music notation, learning songs you hate. It is quite the opposite, you can just practice 10 minutes every day and continue to improve at a pace that comes naturally to you.  We also teach in the evenings and on Saturdays, making it an easily accessible extracurricular activity. 


7. Something you will be able to do for the rest of your life!

Playing an instrument is a skill that you can take with you wherever you go in life. There is something very cool about forever being able to pick up an acoustic guitar, or jump on a piano and play some songs. Learning an instrument doesn't have to be something you take into your professional career but can be something that you use to relax you and to have fun in the future.


8. Learn your favourite songs!

At Bristol House of Music, we make sure we teach you songs that you want to learn! This makes learning an instrument so much more fun! You will be able to play those songs you enjoy, sing along and be happy! 


9. Learn a new language

Being able to read music is an incredible skill to have. It is exactly the same as speaking a different language. After taking lessons you will be able to understand pitch, the musical alphabet, rhythm, timing, chords, dynamics and so much more...


10. You can play along with other friends!

One of the best things about learning to play an instrument is the ability to play along with friends. If your friends are all playing instruments, you wont be left out and can join in and jam along. Soon you will all be writing hits!


Buying an instrument nowadays can be very inexpensive. Music shops have amazing deals and you can find some incredible offers that wont break the bank, yet will last the stretch of time. Click here to look at our article on buying your first guitar, also we can help you find your first piano, ukulele or bass, so don't hesitate to get in touch.


There are plenty more reasons why learning an instrument is good for young minds. At Bristol House of Music we offer the first lesson completely FREE! So what better reason could there be to get started? Click here to book your first lesson - or read our 30 reasons why Bristol House of Music is the right place to learn.


We have released our first book!

This book teaches you every chord you will ever need in all five CAGED shapes, allowing you to master the fretboard and helping you to develop and expand your chord knowledge whilst keeping it fun and easy to grasp. Get the book and take your chord playing to new heights. 'Every Chord Shape You Will Ever Need' is ideal for guitarists trying to get to the next level and who like to play, perform and write music.


10 signs that you need to have guitar lessons!


Are you wondering whether to start having guitar lessons? Read on and book your first free lesson today!

1. Playing the same stuff all the time.

One of the most common reasons why people come to Bristol House of Music for lessons is when they are stuck in a rut. Playing the same things all the time. This makes playing music start to become tedious and boring. There are only so many times you can play that AC/DC riff or Metallica song over and over again. Or even if you have been playing for a while, having someone who gives you targets and songs to learn is going to make playing music so much more fun!

2. Don’t understand what you’re playing!

Can you play songs, riffs and solos but you’re not actually sure what your playing? Maybe you’ve been playing for a while but don’t understand the key you’re in, or what scale that solo is using. This is limiting you as a musician! At Bristol House of Music you will always understand what you are playing, which means that Foo Fighters solo you know can be so much more! You can use the licks when playing your own music or jamming over a backing track! Expand your knowledge and you will not be restricted at all!

3. Stuck to one style!

Are you playing Metal all the time? There’s nothing wrong with that, but once you start exploring different styles and genres you are going to be a way more versatile player and it will ultimately help your Metal playing (or whatever is your favourite style to play). Remember with every style of music there are about a million sub-genres. 

Just for Rock there is Acid rock, Afro punk, Alternative country, Alternative dance, Alternative hip hop, Alternative metal, Alternative rock, Americana music, Anatolian rock, Art punk, Art rock, Avant-garde metal, Baroque pop, Baggy, Bandana Thrash, Beach music, Beat, Bent edge, Big beat, Bisrock, Blackgaze, Black metal, Blues rock, Boogie rock, Brazilian thrash metal, Breakcore, British folk rock, Britpop, Britpop Revival, Canterbury sound, Cello rock, Celtic punk, Celtic metal, Celtic rock, Chicano rock, Christian alternative rock, Christian hardcore, Christian metal, Christian punk, Christian rock, Cock rock, Coldwave, College rock, Comedy rock, Country rock, Cowpunk, Crossover thrash, Crunkcore, Crust punk, Cyber metal, Dance-punk, Dance-rock, Dark cabaret, Dark rock, Darkwave, D-beat, Death 'n' roll, Deathcore, Death-doom, Deathgrind, Death metal, Deathrock, Digital hardcore, Djent, Doom metal, Dream pop, Drone metal, Dunedin sound, Electroclash, Electropunk, Electronicore, Electronic rock, Emo, Emo pop, Emo revival, Ethereal wave, Experimental rock, Extreme metal, Flamenco rock, Folk metal, Folk punk, Folk rock, Funk metal, Funk rock, Garage punk, Garage rock, Geek rock, Glam metal, Glam punk, Glam rock, Goregrind, Gothabilly, Gothic metal, Gothic rock, Grebo, Grindcore, Grindie, Groove metal, Group Sounds, Grunge, Gypsy punk, Hard rock, Hardcore punk, Heartland rock, Heavy hardcore, Heavy metal, Horror punk, Indie folk, Indie pop, Indie rock, Indietronica, Indorock, Industrial metal, Industrial rock, Instrumental rock, Italian occult psychedelia, Jazz rock, Jangle pop, Jersey Shore sound, Krautrock, Kawaii metal, Latin alternative, Latin metal, Latin rock, Madchester, Manila Sound, Mathcore, Math rock, Medieval folk rock, Medieval metal, Melodic death metal, Melodic hardcore, Melodic metalcore, Metalcore, Mod revival, Nardcore, Neue Deutsche Härte, Neue Deutsche Todeskunst, Neue Deutsche Welle, Neoclassical dark wave, Neoclassical metal, Neon pop, Neo-progressive rock, Neo-psychedelia, New rave, New wave, New wave of new wave, New Weird America, Nintendocore, Noise pop, Noise rock, No wave, Nu gaze, Nu metal, Nu metalcore, Oi!, Ostrock, Outlaw Country, Pagan metal, Pagan rock, Paisley Underground, Pinoy rock, Pirate metal, Pop punk, Pop rockPost-black metal, Post-Britpop, Post-grunge, Post-hardcore, Post-metal, Post-punk, Post-punk revival, Post-rock, Power pop, Power metal, Powerviolence, Progressive metal, Progressive metalcore, Progressive rock, Protopunk, Psychedelic rock, Psychobilly, Pub rock (Australia), Pub rock (United Kingdom), Punk blues, Punk jazz, Punk rock, Queercore, Raga rock, Rapcore, Rap metal, Rap rock, Reggae rock, Riot grrrl, Rock Against Communism, Rock and roll, Rockabilly, Rock in Opposition, Roots rock, Sadcore, Samba rock, Screamo, Shoegazing, Shock rock, Ska punk, Skate punk, Slowcore, Sludge metal, Soft rock, Southern metalSouthern rock, Space rock, Speed metal, Straight edge, Stoner rock, Street punk, Sufi rock, Sunshine pop, Surf music, Swamp pop, Swedish death metal, Symphonic black metal, Symphonic metal, Symphonic rock, Synthpop, Taqwacore, Technical death metal, Teutonic thrash metal, Thrashcore, Thrash metal, Trønder rock, Traditional heavy metal, Tropical rock, Tulsa Sound, 2 Tone, Unblack metal, Viking metal, Viking rock, Visual kei, Wagnerian rock, War metal, Wizard rock, Yacht rock, Youth crew, Zeuhl.

Have lessons and expand your horizons!

4. turn a hobby into a profession!

We at Bristol House of Music know better than anyone how music can change your life! Check out our tutor stories to see how it has made a positive impact on our careers! If you are passionate about music, maybe you have been in a band before or currently play music and need some extra help to get to that next level. We are professional musicians at Bristol House of Music and we can help you progress your playing and songwriting in a positive way that could affect your life!

5. Scales are your enemy

I remember first learning scales and being taught it really badly! Especially once I started learning modes! I don’t think anyone ever explained it very well, it was a nightmare getting my head around it. This doesn’t have to be the case and once you understand scales you will be able to play over any chord progression and take your playing to another level. Scales are super important and fun to play, so don’t let bad teachers affect your ability.

6. Have instruments as decorations?

Do you have instruments around your house as decorations? Get playing them! It doesn’t take long to start learning an instrument, you’ll be surprised how quickly you can start picking up chords and songs. We will have you playing right from your first lesson! There is no excuse! If you look at that guitar every day and just want to be able to pick it up and jam out some songs, then get started now (remember the first lesson is free!).

7. Bad rhythm or playing the same rhythms in every song?

Another common sign that you need guitar lessons is when you are playing the same rhythm all the time. Or maybe your rhythm is just bad! Don’t worry though, before you know it we will have you playing hundreds of different rhythms. This will make your playing a lot more varied and you will stop being so frustrated from sounding the same every time you pick up the guitar.

8. You think you’re too old.

Do you think you’ve missed your chance to learn an instrument? Maybe you’ve had lessons before and it never worked out? Well don’t let that stop you from picking it up now! We have taught people of all ages and always had a lot of fun no matter what!  Push yourself to start learning now!

9. You’re too stressed!

Learning an instrument is a great stress release. Had a hard day at work? Coming home and having 30 minutes playing guitar will be a great way to escape the stresses of every day life. Having lessons each week will give you structure to your practice and you will want to play each night! 

10. Working out songs is hard?

Do you listen to songs and wish you could play them? It can be so frustrating listening to songs and not being able to work them out! Sifting through bad tablature on the internet is time consuming and eventually you lose your enthusiasm. Spend some time training your ear and if you work hard at it you will eventually be able to play any song you hear! Every song you learn at Bristol House of Music you will be provided with complete tablature/sheet music that is accurate! 


What are you waiting for? Get started now! At Bristol House of Music we offer lessons in Guitar, Bass, Piano, Vocals, Ukulele, Music Theory & Songwriting. Fill out the form below to book your first FREE lesson today:

Name *
What Instrument(s) do you want to learn? *
Find out more information by clicking on the individual class pages. Feel free to select more than one!
Are you a Beginner/Intermediate or Advanced player?
Any favourite bands/artists?

We have released our first book!

This book teaches you every chord you will ever need in all five CAGED shapes, allowing you to master the fretboard and helping you to develop and expand your chord knowledge whilst keeping it fun and easy to grasp. Get the book and take your chord playing to new heights. 'Every Chord Shape You Will Ever Need' is ideal for guitarists trying to get to the next level and who like to play, perform and write music.


Meet Your Tutor - with James Ashbury


We caught up with James Ashbury, GuitarBass, Ukulele & Songwriting Instructor at Bristol House of Music and asked him some questions about how he got started in music.

When did you start playing music?

I started playing guitar when I was 15 years old. I was really into skateboarding when I was young and annoyingly when I was 15 I broke my wrist at the skatepark one Saturday morning! It was painful! More annoyingly, this was during the 6 weeks holiday from school. All my friends we're out skating, so needed something to do! Luckily my dad bought me a cheap acoustic guitar. By the time the wounds were healed I was really obsessed with guitar and was always worried I would break my wrist again and not be able to play!

Did learning guitar come naturalLY to you?

It didn't! Not at all! When I was 15, everyone was better than me at guitar. When I was 17 everyone was better than me! However it really meant a lot to me playing guitar and I never started to be the best. I just enjoyed doing it. But because it meant alot much to me, I kept on practicing and learning. I went to college at the Academy of Music and Sound and studied guitar from 16-18 and I put everything into improving as a musician and got better and better! Having instructors who knew what they we're doing really helped!

What was your first gig?

My first gig was at the Wolverhampton Little Civic, I was in a metal band called Frontline, we were basically a Metallica rip off. It was really fun and I learn't a lot from playing in front of a live crowd. We eventually won a round of a Battle of the Bands which was really cool (we didn't win the whole competition though!). Weirdly the Wolverhampton Civic (next door to the little civic) was where we supported Robert Plant for the first time. 

What was your favourite show ever?

I've been lucky to have some great ones! Supporting Robert Plant will always be a highlight, he invited us to play with him in front of 20,000 people. That was a big one! Being in Wildflowers has allowed me to tour the world and has created some amazing moments. But some of my favourite times have been playing in Bristol where we first started. One show at the Crofters Rights I will always remember! It was the first time I looked out to a sold out crowd and everyone knew all the words.

What was it like being a Guitar Tech with Jake Bugg?

It was fun! It was something I had never done before and I just said yes for the adventure (TBH). We toured in places I never imagined I would go to including New York, Canada, Nashville, Alabama, New Orleans and loads more incredible places. Jake is a great person to work with, but also everyone else involved made it really great!

When did you start teaching?

I actually started teaching when I was 18! I have actually always enjoyed teaching, I feel it's something I have always been good at. I have had a lot of terrible teachers, throughout school, private lessons, college and university. They are everywhere! haha! I think I have learn't how to teach from being taught myself. I am well trained now in music, so if anyone ever wants to learn something and put me on the spot, that is never a problem! I actually love that!

Songwriting? How do you start doing that?

Well first, I never wrote a song before I met Siddy (Lead singer of Wildflowers) at university at 18 and I never thought for a second I would be any good at writing songs. But now I am 28 and have written (I would say) 500 songs!! The main advice I can give about songwriting is keep on writing, you will write songs that aren't the best, but if you persist you will just get better and better. 

What do you do other than music?

I like watching football! I do still skateboard (even though I am a lot more careful nowadays). Recently bought myself an electric scooter as well, so you may see me scooting around the streets of Bristol! Other than than I love travelling, taking photos and being creative!

Any final words of advice?

Don't give up on learning an instrument and you will never know where it will take you. Take a chance. You may just learn an instrument and play it as a hobby. But if you're anything like me and you fall in love with playing music it may just lead to some really amazing opportunities!

Book you first FREE guitar, bass or songwriting lesson with James now! By heading over to the signup page!