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Why practicing 10 hours a day won't make you a better guitarist and what to do instead

There's a lot of confusion among aspiring guitar players about how much should they practice guitar. 2 hours? 4 hours? 10 hours?!

If you search for advice online, you'll find many contradictory opinions. Some guitarists say that you have to practice "as much as you possibly can." Others will tell you that 10-15 minutes a day is enough.

So who's right?

Nowadays it's easy to find high-quality online guitar lessons. You can start learning any song, lick, or riff in an instant. You are always just a click away from whatever you need to learn. And since you're reading this article here on Guitar Tricks, you're even closer to an endless source of lessons. For aspiring guitarists who are eager to learn, this is a fantastic opportunity to grow musically.

But having the right material to practice is just one side of the equation.

If all the information that you will ever need is just a click away, you can spend eternity riding the waves from one piece of information to another, and never accomplish anything meaningful. Jumping from song to song, learning a few licks here and there, and playing only the easy parts and skipping the hard ones is a sure fire way to never become any good at playing guitar.

To truly assess your skills and needs, you'll have to get answers to questions such as these:

1) How many different songs, scales, etc. should you practice in a given week?
2) How do you know when you've mastered something?
3) What's essential? What's a waste of time?
4) How do you create a realistic yet effective practice schedule?
5) What do you focus on if time and energy is limited?

Answers don't come easy to these questions, but without them it can be hard to progress. But here's a secret: Practicing 6 hours a day means nothing if you don’t know what you're doing. Overdoing it can even hinder your progress.

Getting very specific advice that is tailored for you and your situation is ideal. Your goals and dreams are uniquely yours and so are your struggles and problems. If you can, find a way to get very specific feedback from somebody more experienced than you.

And here are some ways of doing that:

1. Find a guitar teacher
If you're a beginner, a good teacher can be a very helpful. Having another pair of eyes observing your actions is invaluable.

But one problem you can run into is that you won’t be able to decide whether the guitar teacher you’ve found is any good. Here's a solution:

Find a few guitar teachers in your area (you can also check teachers who offer Skype lessons) and schedule a first lesson (many teachers offer them for free) just to get the feel for what you can expect from them. Check their websites and if possible talk to their students. Once you’ve tried all of them, choose the one that you liked the most.

2. Get together with more experienced musicians
Being surrounded with better and more experienced musicians can be as helpful as having a good teacher. And what’s more, you don’t have to pay for their advice! But tricky part is that it's not easy to start playing with better musicians if your skill level doesn’t fit theirs. Here’s how you can solve this problem:

1. Find musicians in your area that are one or two levels higher than you and who play kind of music you want to play.
2. Get to know them personally. They might turn out to be great mentors!
3. Be patient and work on yourself. The better you get, the greater the chance you'll have sharing the stage with them.

Extra tip: If you really want to be in a band, focus on rhythm guitar. Many aspiring guitar players neglect rhythm guitar so you can really stand out if you’ve got your chops together.

3. Get help from online communities or forums
Online forums and communities are a great way to get specific advice for free because there are many skilled guitar players who can help you with any challenge you are facing.

As I said before, you need to get advice specific for your situation. The only way to get this advice is to precisely describe your current struggles so other players can understand where you are coming from.

How not to ask a forum question:
Hey guys, I am intermediate guitar player, I love to play rock music. I know my pentatonic scale, basic chords and rhythms. Where should I go next?

This question is so broad that even if I wanted to help this person, I have no idea how. Maybe some 3-page answer would do that, but who’s got time for that? Online forums are not good for this kind of communication.

If you want to get actionable advice, be as specific as possible:

How to ask a forum question:
Hey guys, I’ve been struggling with that first lick in the Stairway to Heaven solo. I don’t know how to get it under my fingers. I’ve been practicing it for 2 weeks, 20 minutes per day. I always start slow and then I slowly build the speed, but I always get stuck at about 70% of original tempo.

Here’s a video where I play it first slowly, then little bit faster and then at a tempo that I struggle with.

What approaches worked for you to master this lick? Am I doing something wrong - hand position, technique, rhythm?

Thanks for your advice!

With such a specific question and by attaching a video I can get personalized answers for free from more experienced players. The key is to do your work first and only then ask for help. People are usually happy to help if they see that you are serious.

So if you still don’t know how many hours a day you should practice guitar, go ahead and ask you guitar teacher, somebody who is more experienced, or post on a guitar forum. You don’t need to figure out everything by yourself.

So now I ask open the discussion to you: how much do you practice guitar and why?

About the author:
Lukas Kyska is a guitar teacher, player and founder of The Aspiring Guitarist blog where he helps guitar players overcome mental barriers and plateaus and shares scientifically proven ways to practice properly and learn faster.

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