The Importance of a Regular Guitar Practice Schedule
Is your guitar practice routine as regular as it should be? If not, and you’re not happy with the way your guitar playing is progressing, it’s time to make a change.
It can be easy to skip a day of practice here and there, especially when the rest of your life is busy and more urgent things get in the way. And while the occasional missed day isn’t going to do much harm, the problem is that when this becomes a habit, you don’t normally just pick up where you left off after returning to playing. Instead, it can take a few more days to regain that lost ground, because your hands/fingers, your ears and your brain all need to be used consistently for your playing to stay up to scratch. If missing days happens often enough, you’ll spend so much time playing ‘catch up’ that your rate of forward progress will slow dramatically. Playing becomes less fun too.
Some people try having a huge practice session at the weekend, believing that this is the same as several shorter sessions during the week. This isn’t the case though; even if you put in the same amount of practice in total, a person doing 3.5 hours every Sunday is unlikely to make the same kind of progress someone who does 30 minutes every day. The downtime will result in them losing many of the gains made, and having to spend time recovering instead of progressing.
So if you want to learn to play guitar better and become as skilled as possible, it’s crucial to practice consistently. If you’ve never established a regular daily routine before, the prospect might seem a bit intimidating, but once you’ve got into the habit it just comes naturally, as with any other daily regime. When you’re just getting started, the most important thing is to just pick up the guitar and play something every single day – even if only for 5 or 10 minutes a day. At this point it’s establishing the practice habit that’s important, not the amount of time spent. In fact, it’s better to start small and increase the amount of time you put in later on; if you start off by deciding you’re going to practice for two hours a day no matter what, it can be harder to keep it up, and you’re more likely to come off the rails and end up getting discouraged.
After getting a stable routine going, increase the amount of time you practice up to whatever works for you. A minimum of 30 minutes per day is recommended for most people, although the amount of time you need to put in to see progress depends in part on how advanced you are. New players may see rapid gains with only 10-20 minutes each day, whereas the more advanced will usually need longer sessions.
So, daily guitar practice is important. But does this mean you can never miss a day? No – which is just as well, because even the most dedicated guitarist will have days where it’s simply unavoidable. And in fact, it can be beneficial to take a day off now and then, to give yourself a physical and mental break. If you’re experiencing any physical pain or discomfort, it’s certainly a good idea to rest (while looking into the reasons why the problem may have developed).
But until you’ve got your basic routine firmly established, it’s best to avoid taking such ‘holidays’ (unless you’re injured of course) – otherwise it can be too easy to get lazy, and then you’ll be back where you started, with your progress stalled. So do yourself a favour and practice every day until it becomes a strong habit.