There certainly has been an awful lot said over the years regarding a guitarist’s practicing “routine” and what is right and wrong about this. I have always been a big believer in practicing at least a little every day, and especially since I’m a self-taught guitarist, making sure I learn something new every day as a part of the same process. I believe this should hold true for other players as well, but everyone is different, and has different needs and disciplines.
I, for example, am a man of a very free style and free way of handling his life, and basically approach the guitar in the same way. Since I was a kid, I always played and learned really for the sheer love of it, and coming up with new ideas was never really an issue. The same holds true for me in current times, but I believe the teaching I do actually helps me get in that “practicing and playing” time, as well as the ability to come up with new ideas ad concepts. Let’s face it, when you have advanced students, sometimes one must dig pretty deep to come up with fresh ideas for them, and all of that can lead to many new and creative concepts, without even expecting it! It’s one of the great benefits I do love about teaching, and I’ve even come up with many new song ideas right there on the spot.
No matter what, your playing can truly suffer from not playing enough, and I believe you must find a way! It’s good to develop a routine in which you take a small (or large) part of every day so you can work on a new piece of music to learn. Not just scales and repetitious stuff, but really playing songs that you want to make a part of your repertoire. Then, the next important thing, and really a polar opposite, is to be able to work on your improvisation. This means really digging in, and trying out new ideas that can get you out of that “rut” you may sometimes feel yourself getting trapped in.
On my Gibson “Chat” yesterday, so many people were asking questions about this, and I was at least able to answer them with some quick advice that they could put into use immediately. Things such as using “passing notes” to come up with new ideas that take you out of the “pentatonic rut” and more are important, and to not always look at all of this as “scales.” This was one person’s problem, who even after I said “find passing notes, and play the notes you always avoid” thought I simply meant “practice chromatic scales.” Couldn’t be farther from the truth. Scales, and the like just tend to keep you in a rut…they help your technique, but seeing in “shapes” and other true visualizations are much more suited to helping your improvisational skills! Good luck to all!