Early in the guitarist’s learning journey, new theories and techniques are quickly learned. Although, the physical facilities needed to implement those techniques takes time. As a guitarist progresses, the learning curve and hours needed to practice do as well. So, how much should I practice guitar a day?
As a new guitarist, aim to practice 30 minutes a day. This is because callus formation is still occurring and bruising fingers from over-practicing could hinder future practice sessions. As well as to avoid burnout. As an intermediate guitarist, aim to practice 90 minutes a day. According to Dr. Huberman, Ph.D. in Neuroscience, the brain goes through 90-minute ultradian cycles. Dr. Huberman remarks how 90 minutes is about what the brain can handle in terms of a dedicated effort for a high degree of focus in one period of time.
Continue reading to find out:
- Can you practice guitar too much? [yes, learn why]
- How much you should practice each day and if 1hr a day is enough.
- Best time to practice guitar [Proven method]
- Beginner and Intermediate practice schedule examples
- How many hours do professional guitar players practice?
Can You Practice Guitar Too Much?
Yes, you can practice guitar too much. As a beginner, you do not want to practice so much or so hard that your fingers are sore/bruised the next day. This does more harm than good. If this occurs, the following practice would be greatly hindered by the practice of the prior day.
Since muscle memory takes time to develop and short daily practice sessions over some time are required (and preferred), practicing too much hinders the growth of muscle memory due to the sporadic nature of those practice session frequencies.
If your fingers are sore from practicing too much on Monday, then they likely won’t be okay to play until Wednesday or Thursday. That’s potentially 1-2 days of missed practice sessions.
If this happens every week, then that time adds up significantly and can hinder your progress timeline greatly.
Furthermore, when first starting to learn the guitar and even when you are a couple of years in, there is simply so much information to learn. Arpeggios, scales, chord patterns, major and minor intricacies, etc. These theories and information often take up the majority of our practice sessions and extend them much longer than they should be. This can and will lead to burnout.
They can be important to learn but let’s not forget the main reason we started playing guitar, to just play. Avoid extending your practice many hours to learn the Mixolydian scale or the hard chord that SRV used that one time live.
How Much Should I Practice Guitar a Day?
A beginner guitarist should practice for 30 minutes each day. Muscle memory and calluses are still developing and the risk-to-reward ratio of practicing longer increases after 30 minutes. Practicing too long as a beginner can lead to burnout. An intermediate guitarist should practice for 90 minutes a day as this is the most optimal amount of time that our brain remains focused.
As an intermediate to advanced guitarist, there are two questions you need to ask yourself when determining your practice timeline. The two questions are: What level do you want to get to and how much can you practice a day?
Is Playing Guitar a Workout? Find Out Here
If the level you want to achieve, when currently an intermediate guitarist, is to play the style of Stevie Ray Vaughan or Jimi Hendrix. Then large amounts of practice are necessary because of the complexity of their playing. This equates to at least 2 hours a day of practice over many years.
You get what you put in. After the physical constraints of callus formation and hand cramping are taken away, it is up to the guitarist to determine how good they want to realistically get and how fast they want to get there. The more intentional guitar practice, the faster your goals will be met.
The second part is determining how much you can practice in a day, both for a beginner and intermediate player, given other responsibilities. Guitar practice requires focused attention with minimal outside distractions. A focused 45-minute practice session is much more valuable than a 90-minute “noodling” practice session while you are multi-tasking.
Is Playing Guitar 1 Hour a Day Enough?
Yes, playing guitar for 1 hour a day is enough. This duration of practice falls between the 30-minute and 90-minute mark. Where 30 minutes is the bare minimum and 90 minutes is the brain’s peak focus amount.
Best Time to Practice Guitar [Proven Method]
The best time to practice guitar is four to six hours after your temperature minimum. The temperature minimum occurs two hours before waking up. This is according to Dr. Andrew Huberman who explains how our brains have the highest focus cognition at this time.
So if you wake up at 8 am, your temperature minimum is at 6 am, which means the most optimized time to practice guitar is between 10 am-12. For more on this, check out Dr. Andrew Huberman’s YouTube Podcast here, at the 48:36 mark.
This may seem a bit like “oh come on, who cares, I just want to practice, no need for the science lesson”. And when I first started to implement this practice time change, I thought the same. Until I noticed a large difference in:
- The quality of the practice I was having
- The information I retained day over day
Most guitarists practice at night, although this is not an optimal time for practice. Instead, calculate your most optimal time using the calculation above.
If you can or cannot practice at the time above, then I do want to share this scientific insight. Many practicing guitarists learn online now, from a laptop. Often this laptop will be on the bed or a low table. It will likely be below eye level.
According to Dr. Andrew Huberman, Ph.D., when our eyes are directed upward, it creates a state of heightened alertness. While practicing guitar, you want to be as alert as possible for meaningful practice and avoid mindless noodling. When watching a guitar tutorial from your laptop, place the laptop at least at eye level but ideally above eye level. This supports optimal attention, alertness, and thus focus which breeds a better practice session.
Discover Why Guitar is So Popular Today!
Beginner Guitar Practice Routine
For a beginner, concise and focused practice in short time intervals is necessary. Avoid practicing over 30 minutes a day as a beginner until adequate and protective calluses form on your fingertips.
|Type||Duration||Purpose / Tactic|
|Warm up via Exercises||5 minutes||Loosen up the fingers and mind with scales and note recognition exercises|
|New Learnings||15 minutes||Have intentional and focused practice learning new material / theory, ideally through a structured course|
|Recap||10 minutes||Practice what you learned the day(s) prior|
Intermediate Guitar Practice Routine
For an intermediate guitar player, longer practice sessions are possible. With the practice duration extended, more complex songs can be learned in a faster period.
Of course, the times of each type can be extended, especially if you would like to practice more than 90 minutes a day to reach your goals faster.
|Type||Duration||Purpose / Tactic|
|Warm up via Exercises||15 minutes||Loosen up the fingers through scale exercises and complex chord voicings that require your fretting hand to stretch to reach and quickly adjust|
|New Learnings||45 minutes||Focused practice on learning more complex songs, theory, and various shapes on the guitar neck|
|Recap||30 minutes||Practice what you learned the day(s) prior|
How Many Hours a Day Do Professional Guitar Players Practice?
A professional guitarist will practice 5-8 hours a day when not touring. Practice can take many forms for a professional guitarist. It can be learning new chord shapes or patterns for new material. If the guitarist is a studio musician, it could be learning the song that they are going to be playing on.
Guitar icons like John Mayer practiced all evening and night after school, roughly 5-6 hours a day. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix simply never stopped practicing.
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