When you’re beginning to learn guitar, you also have to learn how to practice. Follow this expert advice from guitar teacher Mike B. to find the proper amount of practice time you need to achieve your guitar goals along with other essential guitar practice tips…
How much time should you spend practicing the guitar? This is a question that many students ask themselves, and there is no easy answer. Depending on your goals and level of commitment, the amount of practice time will vary.
However, there are some general guidelines that can help you make the most of your practice sessions.
How Many Hours Should You Practice Guitar a Day?
Consistency is key – try to practice guitar for at least 15 minutes per day, five days a week, but also follow these tips:
- Avoid long and unbroken sessions
- Don’t practice for more than an hour at a time
- Set short breaks if you plan on practicing for more than 20 minutes
- Incorporate a variety of strategies to help you get the most out of your guitar practice routine
Becoming a skilled guitarist is less about how much time you spend practicing and more about what you do with the limited amount of time you have. Only 15 minutes? That’s ok! Dedicate that short chunk of time to being as productive as you possibly can.
One way to maximize a small period of time for practicing the guitar is to hire a guitar teacher. Working with a teacher will provide you with quality lessons so you can get more out of your practice – and get better, faster.
Here’s a video to show you some examples of what you might learn in a guitar lesson:
How Should a Beginner Practice Guitar?
Here are some guitar practice tips for beginners.
Recognize Your Individuality
As a guitar instructor, one of the most common questions I get asked is “how often should I practice?” Students are told various amounts of time that are deemed “proper” to practice each day. Some say a half hour, some say an hour, some say more, some say less. With all of these conflicting guitar practice tips how can you make the proper decision regarding the amount of time you spend with your instrument each day?
As an instructor, and as a person who practices every day, I feel it all comes down to the individual. Since every person has different interests, different levels of ability, and different goals, it would make sense for everyone to have a different practice schedule.
In my opinion, the amount of time one spends practicing should be dictated primarily by your current goals.
Your current goals can be defined as the material you need to get through before the next lesson, or any material you want to master outside of your guitar lessons. When you are just starting out and have only been assigned a few chords or melodies to work through it may not make sense to spend an hour a day practicing.
It may make more sense to spend fifteen or twenty minutes a day practicing since there isn’t much material available to work through. On the other side of the coin, a much more advanced student that has a lot of material to get through should spend more time practicing. The more material you have available to play should equal more time practicing.
In an ideal world you should spend however much time is necessary to get through your material each day. In the real world that simply is not always possible, for a few reasons. First, people have schedules, commitments, social lives, and other responsibilities to occupy their day, so they simply can not spend the majority of each day practicing. Second, if you practiced the same exact material every day you would most likely get pretty sick of it. What is important in this situation is to set aside an amount of time that you can commit to each day, and prioritize what needs to be worked on each day.
How Often to Practice Guitar
When it comes to time spent on the instrument, consistency is key. If you can devote an hour a day Monday through Friday to practice that’s great. If you can only devote a half hour a day that works too. Whatever you can come up with will work, as long as you are consistent. Practicing five hours one day and then not touching the guitar for a week will not do you anywhere near as much good as simply playing every day.
One of the best guitar practice tips I can give you is to come up with a schedule. This doesn’t have to be a set in stone schedule that you can’t break no matter what – however, setting aside a particular time or date to practice can be helpful when it comes to organizing your time effectively.
It’s far better to practice for five minutes a day, five days a week, than for three hours one day and not again for another two weeks!
Find the Right Material to Practice
Once you have decided how much time you can realistically devote to the instrument each day, I find it very helpful to list out the material you are seeking to master.
For example, say an intermediate student is currently working on chords, scales, arpeggios, a few songs, technique, and reading music. This student has decided to devote forty-five minutes every day to practicing. Within a forty-five minute span of time every one of these subjects could be touched upon.
However, it might make more sense for the student to divide these subjects over the span of two days, rather than just one, and alternate his or her practice schedules. When doing this, prioritize what needs the most work, what needs to least amount of work, and assign each subject an amount of time. Some material may need to be touched upon on both days. Some material may be touched upon on both days but in different forms(Major and minor chords for example). For example:
Minor Chords – 15 minutes
Song 1 – 10 minutes
Scales – 5 minutes
Technique – 10 minutes
Reading music – 5 minutes
Major Chords – 5 minutes
Reading music – 10 minutes
Song 2 – 5 minutes
Song 3 – 10 minutes
Arpeggios – 15 minutes
By breaking up the material over two days you can spend more time on each subject, and keep your practice schedule fresh and interesting.
What Should I Practice on Guitar Daily?
Remember, quality over quantity when you’re trying to figure out how often to practice the guitar. These beginner guitar practice tips and techniques will help you get good at the guitar – and fast.
If you can, use both a timer and a metronome as you practice your guitar.
A timer will help you chunk out your practice sessions so that you know exactly how long to spend on each part of your practice routine.
A metronome, on the other hand, will help you practice your rhythm and timing in various songs. You can read more tips about using a metronome here.
Practice Along to Your Favorite Songs
As you practice the guitar, play along to your favorite songs or jam out to backing tracks. Having accompaniment music can not only keep you motivated to keep practicing – since you’ll want to keep listening to the music – but it’s a great way to make sure you’re on key and on time.
Practice Your Chords
Dedicate time to mastering notes, chords, and sheet music. Practice slowly and perfect what you’re playing before moving on to a faster speed. Once you have the chords and notes down, you can practice transitions between them and do chord progressions.
Don’t Spend Too Much Time on What You Can Already Do
One of the worst guitar practice tips to follow is to only play the music you love. Don’t spend all your time working on songs that you’re good at – practice what you struggle with. Otherwise, you can’t expect to get any better.
Keep Track of Your Practice
Keep a log of what you’re practicing now and what you want to improve upon next. This will keep you motivated and focused so you aren’t just practicing at random.
How Long Does it Take to Master Guitar?
I don’t feel there is a magic answer when it comes to the question “how much time should I spend practicing?” The right guitar practice tips depend on the student and their goals. Focused and consistent practice will yield the best results. Quality of time spent can be a lot more important that quantity of time spent.
It is important to practice the guitar regularly in order to improve your skills.
One of the most common guitar practice tips is that you should practice every single day for a year to become a better guitar player. However, how much time you should actually spend practicing each day depends on your goals and how much time you have available.
If you are looking to become a professional musician, you will need to practice for several hours each day.
However, if you are just starting out and want to learn how to play basic chords, 30 minutes per day should be sufficient. Taking lessons from a qualified instructor can also help speed up the learning process and give you feedback on your progress. What do you think? Are you ready to start practicing?
Mike B. teaches acoustic guitar, blues guitar, and guitar in Arcadia, CA. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Guitar Performance from University of Redlands, as well as his Master’s Degree in Studio and Jazz Guitar from University of Southern California. Mike divides his time between performing live, doing recordings, and being an educator. He has been teaching students since 2004. Learn more about Mike B. here!
Photo by erik.aldrich