How Long Should I Practice?

cartoon3315So, How long should you practice your guitar?

That’s more than a loaded question. And, of course, partly determined by WHAT you are practicing, WHY you are practicing and from WHOM?

Some truisms abound here: the more time you have, the more time you have to practice!  And, the more you practice the better you get! But, please be mindful that “practice doesn’t always make perfect!”  This is especially true if you practice the wrong thing. As the old ball coach Vince Lombardi says:

Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.

So with that in mind how long should you practice:

  • Well If you only have 10 minutes a day – that’s how long you should practice.
    • 10 minutes a day for six days a week is better than a single hour practice on Saturday!
      • Why: because I believe that the brain works better with a  gradual series of exposures.
  • Serious students should allocate as much time to practice as possible:
    • as close to an hour a day as possible for minimum results.
      • if you can’t practice an hour in one setting break up your time so that you practice 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening
      • if you have gotten this far, use your own good judgement to manage your time
  • professional students should allocate as much time as practical to practice:
    • several hours daily would be reasonable
      • it’s your gig – you are suppose to practice 😉

Need help tracking your practice time? Download this Weekly-Practice-Record in pdf .

Using my Metronome

As previously mentioned, playing in time is a VITAL component for live music and using a metronome is a critical tool to help to develop and keep good time keeping skills! 😉

For scale practice, I set up metronome to ‘keep time’ on each beat – in musical parlance the metronome bangs out one beat for every quarter note in 4/4 time.

  1. time through I’ll play the major scale in a 2 octave series up then down in quarter notes – one beat for each click.
  2. time through I’ll play the major scale in a 2 octave series up then down in eighth notes – two beats for each click.
  3. time through I’ll play the major scale in a 2 octave series up then down in eighth note triplets – three beats for each click.
  4. time through I’ll play the major scale in a 2 octave series up then down in sixteenth notes – four beats for each click.

For each series of scales, I’ll start with the lowest note on the low E string that will allow fingering without using any open strings, then play through that pattern 4 times, one each for each of quarter, eighth, triplets, and sixteenth notes. After concluding that pattern, I then move up the neck ½ step and begin the series again. I’ll do this until I have played up the neck to the octave…

For time practice
I often use the metronome is slightly different ways – for example I may slow it down to “half tempo” and allow it to click only on the back beats – simulating a drummer – So, instead of hearing quarter note clicks, the metronome is only clicking on beats two and four…

Of course, as your time keeping improves you can use the metronome to only play on beat one or set it up to play only on beat four 😉 this may reveal much about your time keeping abilities 😉









Why Keep time?

So, whenever I am practicing “for real” I always use my Metronome!

Keeping time or the ability to play in time is a vital skill for any musician and critical for your audience’s enjoyment of your recital, concert or performance. And as is the case for many things musical, the simplest of things are sometimes difficult to grasp. 😉

The musical definition of time is: “Time is the rate at which the future becomes the present.” This, of course is a double edge sword 😉 – in that, once a note is played you can’t take it back! Obviously, because it has already happened -it is in the past! While this might seem to give us a “free pass” on mistakes, it doesn’t! But, it does remind us that once a note is played you no longer focus on it – instead, you should concentrate on your immediate musical future – which is about to become your musical present! 😉 Now that we have the theoretical mumbo jumbo out of the way, playing in time is simply a matter of attentiveness to the beat.

Luckily, most folks do have some sort of innate sense of time which allows them the ability to clap or keep time with the favorite music. As a musician, you want to be sure that your musical skill set – “chops” – exceed that of most folks – your listeners 😉

Lastly, for my students who wish to keep in touch with their “artist-self” and wish to avoid intervention in the creative process, I suggest that you just think of the metronome as a stand-in for a drummer 😉

Practicing your Guitar

Thoughts on getting the most out of your practice

Time is everybody’s enemy!

Young or old, time does NOT discriminate – and a good musical definition of time is: “time is the rate at which the future becomes the present” – so let’s get on with it, because none of us are getting any younger! 😉

While finding time to practice everyday can be a challenge; it is important to find time – every day to do so! Practicing a little everyday, will yield more satisfactory results than practicing ‘in bulk’ on Saturday!

I like to practice:

  1. my scales first for warm-up
  2. then move into the main work out
  3. finish up going through some fav tunes

As we go through our lessons, you will discover the right practice session for you and your goals.

Good Luck and happy Jammin’