Quantity vs Quality
Many young guitarists are wondering how much time they should put into practice. There is no easy answer to that, but there are a few things to keep in mind. First of all, the question you should be asking yourself should be more like “how should I practice?”
Before I start I just want to make it clear, that playing and practicing are not the same things. The goal of practice is to improve or master certain technical aspects of your instrument. Playing, however, is merely for the sake of fun. Of course, practicing can (and it should) be fun as well.
We often hear famous guitarists talking about how they used to practice for hours and hours every day. This may or may not be true, but you shouldn’t take their words for granted. Practicing for longer periods of time every day can, and probably will, give you some results in the end but I consider this to be the hard way. I know this because I used to approach practicing the guitar the same way. After all, practice can only be effective for as long as you can keep yourself focused. What I’ve found much more important is how to practice.
How You Should Practice the Guitar
• First of all, you should have a strong goal in your head. If you practice just for the sake of practicing, you won’t be able to keep motivation and focus for a long time, therefore the practice won’t have the desired effect. You have to know why you are practicing all the time. So set your goals and have them in front of you all the time!
• You have to prepare your program of practice in advance, so you don’t lose your practice time wondering what to do.
• Eliminate all possible distractions, turn off your phone, social network, e-mail, etc. These things will distract you for sure.
• When you are practicing left or right hand position, picking technique, posture etc., it’s a very good idea to practice in front of a mirror.
• Try to record yourself. There are so many details that you don’t notice while you’re practicing.
• Try to measure your progress. This way your motivation will last longer and you will feel better about yourself.
Find a Good Guitar Teacher
You can get the best results if you have a competent professional teacher. They will show you all the details you have to be aware of, and warn you of all the possible mistakes that you could make. If you practice in a wrong way, i.e. repeat little mistakes, you will develop bad habits which are very hard to break. Again, I know this because I have gone trough this process many times. The important thing is that you find the best teacher you can find and trust their advice. They will save you a lot of time and energy preventing you from doing the same mistakes he’s done.
30 Minutes a Day
At the end, I will return back to “for how long should I practice?” As I said before, for as long as you are focused. A well spent 30 minutes a day will do you great if you follow what is written above. The frequency of practicing depends on your goals, level, free time and so on. In any case it would be great if you could practice every day. Of course, that is nearly impossible and everybody skips a day here and there. However, you should keep your practice routine as consistent as possible. At least to keep in shape and to keep a good practicing habit. Also, it’s important to have a plan of what to practice when you have little time, so you can get at least through the essential things.
This article was written by Nejc Vidmar, a professional guitar teacher from Slovenia, who sees and compares his students’ good and bad practice routines on a daily basis.