Summer seems to be here to stay in Montana. I have said this before, true, but this time I mean it; the garden is growing fast and the days are starting out much warmer than even just last week. Alright enough about the weather, I mean weather talk just seems cliche, but really, truly it plays a huge role in how we practice.
…The weather and how we practice seem to be completely unrelated, but I beg to differ… and by a lot.
Summer is that time of year when things get crazy, vacations are taken, relatives come to visit, camping trips occur, and pretty much everything but staying inside the house occurs. As we are approaching Independence Day, I wanted to take a moment and remind us all as guitar players, we can still practice even though the sun is shining, and the lawn needs to be mowed.
This seemingly busy time actually offers copious amounts of practice time, we just have to seek it out. So I made the search for that time a bit easier, here is a list containing time that is ripe for practicing and enjoying the summer altogether. Enjoy!!!
So you had planned to wash the car today, and you were going to practice that new tune maybe a little bit later, but lo and behold the sky turned a washed out gray and the clouds opened up with claps of thunder, flashes of lightning, and an all around gross, wet day. Don’t find yourself feeling bad about not washing your car, just park it outside and let mother nature do the work. Seize the opportunity and plop on your favorite chair and get some practice time in. Even if it is one of those short storms, a half hour or so is a perfect length of time to get a solid practice session in.
Honey, Fire Up the Grill!!!
Ahhhh the dinner bell, one of the best sounds after a long days worth of yard work, but lets face it sometimes dinner doesn’t magically get itself ready and if you are anything like me you absolutely love to fire up the grill. To me nothing screams summer like the smell of fresh salted and peppered steaks sizzling on the grill, but work and prep goes into the time even before the steak touches the grill… I mean you have to either light the briquettes or warm up your gas grill which could take anywhere from 15-20 minutes… ding, ding, ding!!! Those are 15-20 minutes you can use to practice that one little lick that keeps giving you problems. Plus, you can even practice outside… if it is nice enough to grill, bring the old six string outside… just don’t get it too close to the grill!!!
Are We There Yet?!?!?
You brave soul… you have decided to take the family on a road trip; the kids, the dog, the cooler, you name it, it is in the car and it looks like a scene from National Lampoons Summer Vacation. You think to yourself, I don’t have enough room to bring along my guitar… think again!!! Worst case scenario you have to purchase a ukulele to bring along ( thumbs up for the new instrument ), or you bring along your travel guitar… or best case scenario you can bring your full size guitar along. Either way you slice it, just because you won’t be home doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice precious practice time. If you are driving for any length of time, you are bound to stop at a rest stop. I highly recommend using that stoppage time to get out stretch the legs, strum some chords, and play a song or two. It will take your mind off the travel… and you can pretend you don’t hear the kids… double bonus!!!
Too Hot To Handle
If the mercury is pushing 100 degrees, do yourself a favor, take a mid day guitar break. It will be way too hot in the mid day to do anything but relax, so give yourself 45 minutes of well earned guitar time. You can get to the weed whacking later in the day when the sun is setting and the temps cool down. Keep in mind, as much as you would like to play outside and milk every second of outdoor time, sometimes the heat isn’t so good for guitars, glue, wood, or celluloid. Use your best judgement; if it is too hot for you, it is too hot for your guitar and opt for the inside practice.
When I was younger my dad would always tell me that when camping, if you plan on starting a fire you have to stick around… you can’t just start a fire and leave. It was the responsible thing to do and he was right, once that nighttime campfire was blazing you couldn’t leave and you just ended up zoning out on it. Enter the utmost summer guitar cliche that exists… yep… sitting around the campfire and playing tunes. It sounds like something out of a made for tv movie, but it is an experience every guitar player must have… not to mention if no one else is there at the fire with you, you can squeeze in some good quality practice time.
So as the dog days of summer press on, use what they offer and try not to abandon your practice time. There are ample opportunities to sit down and pluck away, some obvious and some not so obvious; but either way, remember, any time with the guitar is better than no time with it. All hands-on time with the guitar adds up, so make sure to play a bit, even if it is 5 minutes before bed… you will rest easier knowing that you will wake up one step closer to that song or concept you are working on.
Tony Polecastro is a certified “guitar geek” who drinks three super sized coffees every day. When he’s not doing YouTube guitar reviews for the Acoustic Letter, he teaches guitar, dobro, and banjo to over 50 students locally and worldwide via Skype. You can get free tabs and video lessons for the Acoustic Letter demo songs on his website tonypolecastro.com