Consistent practice (picking up the guitar most days) is your fastest path to improving your guitar playing.
While this may sound like a no-brainer, many guitar players and students I come across don’t follow this simple idea.
It’s easy to let life get in the way, especially when you have a busy schedule and don’t feel like you have time to practice.
When you let too many days go by between practice sessions, you’ll start to get rusty - even if you practice for long sessions on days that you do play your guitar.
This is typical even with more serious students at the college level.
They will tend to practice a lot just before an impending deadline - whether it’s a lesson day, or a performance - and then put the guitar down for a couple of days until the next deadline pops up.
With a little effort you can build a habit of playing your guitar on more days than you don’t - and keep your guitar skills moving in the right direction.
The more often you pick up your guitar to practice, the faster you’ll improve (and it will be much less stressful to get ready for your big performances)!
Focus On The Right Things
Keeping yourself focused on picking up your guitar daily and working on your skills is the key to improving your guitar playing.
People love to focus on extra details that may or may not be helpful for you and your situation:
Often looking for answers to these questions is a way we trick ourselves into thinking we’re working on our playing.
The only problem is that if you’re looking for answers on the internet, you’re not playing your guitar!
The real secret to becoming better at playing guitar is to spend more time playing guitar.
Focus on playing and improving just a little bit each day, and you’ll notice big improvements over time.
Play Guitar On Most Days
Most of the best guitar players I’ve ever met are simply the ones that played guitar more often than other people.
Sure, you have to know what to work on, but making sure you’re playing guitar more often is a good first step.
Your best strategy is going to be to pick up your guitar and play it on more days than you let it sit in its case or on its guitar stand.
Even if you can only pick up the guitar for a minute or two some days, it’s worth it.
If you can’t practice everything from your last guitar lesson, class, or routine you’re working through, that’s fine.
The important thing is to play your guitar at least a little bit, rather than miss the day entirely.
Every Little Bit Counts
Over time, playing your guitar regularly is going to add up faster than trying to do a couple of long sessions once or twice in the week.
Every time you pick up your guitar and work on something, you’re making a little progress - getting a little better.
It’s a common idea that you need to practice X amount of time or your day is wasted.
This idea leads to an all-or-nothing approach to playing your guitar - “If I can’t fit in 30 minutes, I’ll wait until tomorrow.”
In reality if you played even for 3.5 minutes on a busy day, you’d be further along than you would be if you wait until your schedule is clear enough to fit in a “full" practice session.
This doesn’t mean you can become a professional guitar player by practicing a few minutes a day.
It just means that anything is better than nothing when it comes to practicing your guitar.
In the next section we’ll look at realistic goals for serious guitar players and people learning guitar for fun.
Anything Worth Doing Takes Time
I hope you understand by now that playing your guitar consistently is a key to success in your musical journey.
Even playing a few minutes can be enough to keep yourself moving forward, and avoid getting rusty.
This doesn’t mean that strumming a chord here and there will make you a good guitar player. Like any skill, learning to play guitar takes time and effort.
In guitar lessons, I tell my beginner students not to worry about how long they practice on a given day.
If you practice consistently, your skills will improve so playing guitar becomes more fun.
As playing guitar becomes more fun, your practice sessions will naturally get longer and you will improve even faster.
If you’re learning to play guitar as a hobby, you really don’t need to worry about how long you practice - just pick up your guitar and play most days of the week.
If you’re a serious student like a college music major, you should try to be practicing at least 2-4 hours a day whenever possible.
It sounds like a lot, but if you’re working on your lesson material and preparing for ensembles, this kind of takes care of itself - try timing yourself to see if you’re practicing enough if you fit this category.
This is for a more serious level of student - someone who wants to make a career out of playing guitar.
If you want to make playing guitar your job, you’ve got to put in the time to develop your skills to the highest level you can.
Even when you’re putting in longer hours playing - practicing consistently is going to be more important than only practicing if you can do a long session.
If you can’t practice 2-4 hours on a given day, just do what you can, rather than skipping your practice altogether.
The most important thing is to play your guitar regularly, and keep it fun. This goes for the serious students and the hobbyists alike.
Keep practicing and let me know how it goes. Contact me with questions, concerns, or to try out a lesson.