Practicing too much guitar, doesn’t exist?!
What is a lot, what is too much? I often get the question: how long should I practice guitar? And often the laughable remark: there is simply no such thing as practicing too much guitar. But still, (too) much practice often means that something is thoroughly wrong with the way of training. On the one hand, you should not forget that a human body is not made to do the same exercises and repetitive movements for a long time.
On any instrument, this will eventually result in irreversible physical damage. I’m not going to expand on that now, that’s for another time. And on the other hand, a day only counts 24 hours, so why e.g. 12 hours, i.e. 50% of your time, are “finger strumming”?
Virtuosos train 12 hours a day on their guitar!
I often hear it said, “Musician X is a virtuoso and he definitely practices 12 hours a day.” OK there are obviously fools who practice for so long, totally agree. But to debunk such cowboy stories, ask yourself who has 12 hours a day to practice? Add an average of 8 hours of sleep, then that person would have 4 hours left to live, do daily laundry and pee, and earn a living.
By the way, what is a “virtuoso”? For me, a virtuoso is someone who naturally has a lot of talent, and can quickly reach a high level by practicing little but efficiently and constructively. Average musicians who practice 7, 8, 9, maybe 12 hours a day to reach a “virtuoso” level are simply hard workers.
Hard work pays off, that’s right. But in fact, almost everyone can achieve a decent level of play by practicing 12 hours a day. A virtuoso and a top musician who practices 12 hours a day are 2 completely different profiles for me.
Regularity bring shot in the … measure!
Regular practice is much more important and effective than lengthy practice sessions. Training 30min every day achieves much better results and faster progression than ramming 8 hours a week 1x a week. An hour a day is even better, 2 to 3 hours a day, but everything above that is at your own risk. Regular exercise is necessary to train your brain and its link with the muscles. Fine motor skills can only develop by repeating the same exercises and movements efficiently every day.
Less guitar practice = pure profit!
A day only counts 24 hours, a human life lasts roughly 80 years, of which only about 35 productive high-energy years. In life, you can buy anything except health and time. So time is extremely precious and priceless! So it only provides benefits when you achieve the same results in, for example, an hour and a half as before at 3 or 4 hours. You can spend that freed up time on possibly extra guitar exercises and musical activities. Or spend it on completely different things that have nothing to do with music. Or to work on your physical and mental health. Or give your family, loved ones and friends a little more attention!
Quality over quantity
Some students tell me that they practice guitar for 4 hours a day! So what? What do those hours actually tell you about your quality as a guitarist? Why should anyone have to practice for hours a day at all? On the one hand, there are people who need more time. I am thinking, among other things, of people with little aptitude or musical feeling. Or people with physical or motor disabilities, or concentration difficulties, but nevertheless want to bite through to achieve their goals. Chapeaux, the retainer wins! But as a coach, the most common problem I find with my students and mentees is that they simply practice incorrectly. Practicing an instrument and music must be done efficiently, step by step, cascading and purposefully. Quality is completely above quantity. An efficient 2-hour training program can produce much better and faster results than 8 hours of struggling on guitar.
Experience has taught me that it is usually self-taught guitarists who get stuck and practice inefficiently. Learning to play guitar via YouTube and websites, I only applaud this method. Because it is easily accessible, accessible at any time and anywhere, even up to the toilet bowl! And there is a lot of very good material to be found on the internet!
But for someone who has to learn it, it is very difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. And also difficult to create personal structure through the one-size-fits-all solutions. Plus, you won’t get any feedback on progress or mistakes. I always recommend combining self-study and internet study with expert personal guidance to structure, set targets, practice correctly, and correct errors in time.
There is nothing as difficult and time-consuming as unlearning learned mistakes. I have often coached self-taught people who learned to play via Youtube for years and got stuck at some point. Usually, they skipped certain steps in the initial stages. Running a marathon even before they learned to crawl. Then I have to deal with “advanced” guitarists who have to do beginner exercises. Most drop out quickly, or worse, some hook their guitar to the wall. What a pity! An experienced and expert coach costs money! But a coach saves you a lot of time. And wasn’t time something extremely precious and unaffordable?