Knowing how long to practice guitar can be frustrating. Do you really need to put in long hours to improve?
I’ve always been interested in how long other guitarists practice for. To see whether I’m in the same area or more/less than the average.
So I decided to look at what everyone was doing.
I found various questions on guitar subreddits and guitar forums asking how long and often people practiced. I then took 207 replies from them and worked out the average time.
How Long Do Guitarists Practice Every Day?
It turns out the most typical guitar practice session duration is 1 hour, based on the findings. The median time from all the responses was 1 hour.
However, there are a few things to keep in mind about those results.
Firstly there is a lot of variation in practice lengths. The middle 50% of sessions range from 1-2 hours.
And while the average practice time is 2 hours this is skewed higher by some long sessions of up to 6 hours, even though there were more times on the lower end. Basically those higher, longer sessions stretched out the average. (So don’t panic if you’re not getting anywhere near 2 hours of practice a day).
On top of that half of the responses collected were a range rather than a specific time. So they said “1 to 2 hours” rather than “1 hour” or “2 hours”. And in fact most range sizes cluster between 1-2 hours with the average range size being 78 minutes (or 1 hour 18 minutes).
|Number of Responses
Also, there’s going to be some selection bias. Guitar forums and subreddits are going to have users who are heavily invested and interested in guitar compared to the average home guitarist. So it’s likely they’re practicing more than the average.
Really all you need to know though is that a typical guitar practice session is about 1 hour. But there is a big variation from day to day, with a tendency towards shorter practice times overall.
Which I can believe!
The advice I’ve seen and read is that you want to be doing at least 20-30 minutes of practicing a day. But an hour is usually recommended to see real progress.
And that seems to be reflected in these results.
A few other things I noticed from compiling the figures:
- A lot of people said they practiced longer at the weekends. We tend to have more free time at the weekend so more time to pick up the guitar.
- Students/younger and the retired/older were practicing more. This also makes sense as you have a lot more free time on your hands at those ages and times of life.
- A lot people wanted to practice more. They simply didn’t have the time available to do so. Which makes sense when you consider life getting in the way – jobs, families etc.
- I took some answers from a jazz guitar forum and they seemed to be practicing for the longest period overall. That might be due to how difficult jazz guitar is and requires more time to see improvements.
To a certain extent all of this should be taken with a pinch of salt. The sample size is tiny and there’s going to be some selection bias due to where the data has been collected from.
But I thought it was at least interesting enough to take a look at.
How Long Should You Practice Guitar
So, how does this influence your practice sessions? Well I think it’s a fairly good guide or time to aim for.
Assuming you are practicing properly and not just noodling and messing around then an hour a day will definitely be enough.
15 or 20 minutes is the minimum you should be aiming for if you want to make real progress. I understand it can be tough finding any time every day to practice let alone an hour. But if you’re serious about improving you’re going to need that consistency.
But what matters just as much as the time spent practicing is how and what you practice.
Having a proper routine, knowing exactly what you’re going to be working on or having a specific goal in mind is really important. If you’re simply sitting down with your guitar and winging it every day you’re not going to make nearly as much progress as if you have a structured plan.
So break up your hour into sections:
- 5 or 10 minutes of warm up exercises
- 10 minutes of practicing scales
- 15 minutes working on specific techniques
- 10 minutes ear training or transcribing
- 15 minutes playing or working on songs you like
That’s a very rough guide that you shouldn’t necessarily follow. It simply gives you the idea of having a structure to what you’re doing when you come to practice rather than making it up as you go along.
Tips for Setting a Practice Routine
If you’re struggling to practice as much as you’d like or to keep to a routine then here’s a few tips for getting started:
- Start small – Begin with 20-30 minute sessions to make practicing feel achievable even on busy days. Short bursts are better than nothing.
- Slowly increase – Add 5-10 mins a week to your sessions. This slow build up to longer practices will prevent burnout.
- Schedule consistently – Pick a set time or times to practice each day and stick to them. Consistency is key even if your sessions are short.
- Take breaks – You can divide or break up your practice time into multiple sessions with short 5-10 minute breaks. This allows you to keep focus if you’re having an issue with it.
- Set goals – Have specific skills you want or need to work on during each session will help you stay motivated. Then you can check on your progress.
- Prioritize fundamentals – Focus your practice time on important techniques like scales, chords, ear training etc. before learning songs.
- End strong – Finish sessions by playing something you enjoy like a favorite song. This will associate positive feelings with practice.
- Listen to your body – if you’re practicing too much or feel any pain then take a day off. Resting will also allow skills to consolidate.