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Old 04-17-2013, 11:32 PM   #1
Chorstman
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How much did the pros practice?

Hey Everyone,

How many hours a day do you think professional guitarists used to play guitar while they were learning? I know Vai said he would play for 8-10 hours, but i'm sure thats on the high end of what most people used to play. What do you guys think?

Also how many hours should I be practicing a day if maybe someday I would like to try the whole professional thing? I try to play 2 hours a day, which can be hard since I'm busy in college. Over the summer I want to start doing 3 to 4 hours a day. I know quality is more important than quantity when it comes to practicing, but I like to think I don't waste time when I practice. So yeah how long should someone who's serious about guitar practice each day?

Thanks
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Old 04-18-2013, 12:28 AM   #2
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There is a lot of variability to how good professionals are. Compare Slash to John Petrucci - one of them very clearly spends more time getting to know his metronome (not a comment on preference, mind, but on technicality). Either way, the honest answer is: however long they need to maintain their current level of skill.

If you want to get good, don't worry about how long you practice, but how well you practice. Figure out what your goals are and then learn how to begin to reach those goals. I am a serious guitarist and I've worked hard to get that good. I don't practice often these days because of school and life and whatnot, but in order to hit my peak, I have to practice around 3 hours a day for a while to get back in shape.
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Old 04-18-2013, 02:43 AM   #3
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Like you said, Steve Vai has done 10 hours a day. John Petrucci and the other Dream Theater guys said it was a requirement that they practice 8 hours a day outside of band practice. Mark Tremonti puts in about 6-7 hours or so a day when he's on tour, about half that maybe when he's at home with his family. He's also said that through talking with other guitarists he's heard a lot of people say that at some point in time they would do 8 hours a day. My classical teacher said that he believes that if somebody wants to get really good and play guitar professionally they should put in about 3 hours a day of focused/planned practice at least.

Really, as long as your practice is good practice don't worry too much about how long you're practicing. If you've got the time to practice, then practice and stop when you're tired (mentally or physically) and can't stay focused anymore. For me, that's after about an hour, then I have to take a break for a little while. Maybe if the only place I could practice didn't have a TV and computer in my face I could stay focused longer though.

Also, the important thing is that these professional guitarists are practicing as long as they are because they love doing it, not necessarily because they feel obligated to do it (plus they have the time since they are doing it for a living). Some people sit in front of their TV/PC and play games all day or spend hours a day in the gym, or surfing, or skating, or just whatever. These guys just happen to choose to play guitar during that time.
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Old 04-18-2013, 02:44 AM   #4
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I would say the top guys technically, would of spent a couple of years at least putting in 8+ hours a day. I all ways use a stopwatch so I can keep an eye on time actually spent on the guitar. and keep a rounded practice routine..
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Old 04-18-2013, 03:46 AM   #5
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I personally spend about 3 hours a day practicing guitar (as above, I don't want to lose the place which I've gotten to now but still want to improve). I can keep focus for that amount of time but I make sure that I play guitar as soon as I get home from work or if I'm working late; wake up earlier to make sure that I get those 3 hours in.

On the weekends I do have a bit more time to get some guitar in, though I am talking about Saturday as on Sunday I am way too hungover to play guitar 9/10 times.
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Old 04-18-2013, 07:53 AM   #6
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Like someone else said, it's not time that matters, but quality of practice. You don't have to play for a long time to get good. You can practice for ten minutes a day and be great guitarist if you have a quality practice. If you're a beginner I reccomend a half hour to n hour a day. If you find yourself to play or learn outside that time, then feel free to do so. once you get to a certain point, all you really need is warmup time and time to iron out your current issues.
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Old 04-18-2013, 08:31 AM   #7
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So yeah how long should someone who's serious about guitar practice each day?


If you're serious about guitar then you'll practice lots and never really worry about this question.
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Old 04-18-2013, 08:39 AM   #8
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I think any great player would advocate quality over quantity, having a practice plan and sticking to it. Insane long practice sessions with no breaks can lead to injuries. I used to practice between 10-12 hours a day, and got some pretty bad RSI after 10 years or so, and have since reduced to about 6 hours a day, but with my new practice time restraints I've become much more focused. Quality over quantity again!

As Free power said, if you're destined to be that type of player, you'll do the amount of practice required simply because you can't stop playing, not because you know its a necessary evil in order to get to where you want to be.
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Old 04-18-2013, 09:03 AM   #9
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Oh to have my teen and single 20's years back again with the focus I have now. It's tough for me to find an hour a day...but feel like I could play for 8 if given the time.

To the question asked - everything I've read has many of the technical "greats" practicing 6-10 hrs a day when learning...almost all of their free time. And sounds like some continue that into their careers.
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Old 04-18-2013, 09:47 AM   #10
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All of the guys mentioned above are top dogs in one way or another, back then they did not have computers, iphones. They didn't surf the net, play games or any of that sh!t so they played guitar.

When you play a video game it's fun, isn't it ? And if a level is hard you want to pass it no matter how long it takes right? And you still enjoy it. Thats what those guys did with theyr guitars. And yeah... they did put in alot of time.. You can clearly see how fast and creative they are in passing theyr "levels" now.
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Old 04-18-2013, 08:44 PM   #11
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I have no desire to be a technical master. I would like to be a good blues-rock player/singer-songwriter. I know quality of practice matters, but its also how long you do quality practice for. I want to make serious progress this summer when i'm not in school and working so would you guys say 3-4 hours of quality practice each day would be sufficient?

Also would anyone be willing to help me make a good practice schedule? I'm pretty new to guitar and there's so much to learn and I don't know where to start with a schedule
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Old 04-18-2013, 09:18 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Chorstman
I have no desire to be a technical master. I would like to be a good blues-rock player/singer-songwriter. I know quality of practice matters, but its also how long you do quality practice for. I want to make serious progress this summer when i'm not in school and working so would you guys say 3-4 hours of quality practice each day would be sufficient?

Also would anyone be willing to help me make a good practice schedule? I'm pretty new to guitar and there's so much to learn and I don't know where to start with a schedule


3-4 hours of good practice is definitely enough to make serious improvements but I'm going to pick up on something that was said earlier: none of the people you look up to practiced that much by forcing themselves to. The kind of people who are really good, no matter what that means to you, are the kind of people who would pick up the guitar, start practicing, stand up 8-odd hours later and wonder where the time went. If you can't enjoy the act of practice then there's no point at all. I know from personal experience that you can't make yourself good at things you don't enjoy; the practice and work you need to get really good require that you enjoy what you're doing for the vast majority of the time.

I will also say: practice schedules are overrated. The best way, at least in my opinion, is to learn the songs that you want to play and dissect them as you go along. That way you end up with the technique you need and the knowledge/understanding of the music you want to make.

Always let the music guide you. It's not good sitting and making up a practice schedule containing all these things when you don't know what you need.


Edit: I also feel I should point out something: Steve Vai's 10 hour workout contains literally everything about the instrument. It contains technical exercises, fretboard knowledge, transcription, sight reading, improvisation, song writing, everything. People always seem to talk about the 10 hours like it's all sitting with a metronome grinding chromatics and arbitrary sweeps when it's really not; it's one of the most complete workouts I can think of, hence the 10 hours.
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Last edited by Zaphod_Beeblebr : 04-18-2013 at 09:21 PM.
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Old 04-18-2013, 10:24 PM   #13
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Great advice Zaphod, I think i've kind of lost sight of the whole enjoying practicing thing. Maybe its because i'm so busy and stressed with classes and then trying to find time to play 2 hours a day can be hard or maybe I'm just trying to make my practicing so strict and concrete that its not fun. I don't know what, but I'm definitely going to rethink how I should enjoy my practicing.

About practicing I would love to be able to sit down with the guitar and just mindlessly play and create things and improvise and all that, in fact thats one of the things I strive for with my playing. However I feel like I just don't know enough/am good enough to be able to do that. These only so much you can do when you only know the 5 pentatonic shapes a few bar chord positions and some open chords. But I guess thats really on me to learn more (chord progressions, more chords, more scales, etc.)
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Old 04-19-2013, 09:47 AM   #14
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If you work a full time day job it can be really hard to find enough practice time, but I think getting a solid 4 hours a day in is about the minimum to maintain professional level skills.

But the time is also a symptom: you should have 4 hours of shit that you need to practice every day. Nobody gets good at guitar as an alternative to boredom, they get good because they seek musical goals and activities.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zaphod_Beeblebr
3-4 hours of good practice is definitely enough to make serious improvements but I'm going to pick up on something that was said earlier: none of the people you look up to practiced that much by forcing themselves to.

I will also say: practice schedules are overrated.



Are you a professional guitarist? Gonna be one soon?

Practice schedules, and yes, sometimes making yourself do it even when it's not your favorite, are extremely important.

2-4 hours per day on regimented practice will get your ass in gear if you're not used to it.

There are a lot of famous players who jammed 16 hours a day but truthfully aren't that awesome of guitar players. You can spend a lot of time rocking, but unless you sit down and work through difficult spots, you'll just end up playing around them and developing a narrow skill set.

Last edited by cdgraves : 04-19-2013 at 09:50 AM.
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Old 04-19-2013, 11:20 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by cdgraves
Are you a professional guitarist? Gonna be one soon?


I certainly could be if I wanted to; I've chosen, several times now, not to make music a career. I have, many times again, spent time working on my weaknesses and things I'm terrible at but it never felt like work or practice and it was never forced because improving on those things was a perfectly logical next step in my journey to where I am now.

Now, given that TS has stated outright that technical mastery isn't his goal... why would a practice schedule be what he needs? I'm perfectly willing to say that if you want to be a session musician working on a million different projects and styles then maybe a practice schedule and so on is worth it but then I didn't say they were pointless, I said overrated. Like nearly all things they have their place, it's just that the place they have isn't in most people's lives.
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Old 04-19-2013, 11:22 AM   #16
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point to remember with practice...you will only play what you practice...it is recommended that you have a short and long term goal .. a reason to practice..make your goals within your reach...so you can build on your progress

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Old 04-19-2013, 11:27 AM   #17
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I guess he was pointing out that doing only practice schedules will make you do tons of exercises but you have also to test them in your regular playing/composing/jamming too to get the full improvement..
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Old 04-19-2013, 11:29 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Senor_Homme
I guess he was pointing out that doing only practice schedules will make you do tons of exercises but you have also to test them in your regular playing/composing/jamming too to get the full improvement..


No, I genuinely believe that for 99% of guitar players these days making yourself stick to a schedule is entirely unnecessary and that enjoyment should be the first and biggest aim on your list.
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Old 04-19-2013, 03:40 PM   #19
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Practice is a strange thing. I quit playing the guitar totally for 12 years plus (after spending 12-15 years playing) until recently. Before that I did the band thing, spent a couple of semesters at GIT (left early because I couldnt afford it and because I wasnt committed enough to keep up with the materials), and jammed with anyone who wanted to. I wasnt that good then though, and it was a direct result of poor practice habits. If a line was too complex to come easily to me I figured a way to cheat it into something that sounded the same (but was much easier to play). Now I have returned to playing because I feel that I have business to finish there. I have committed myself to learning the correct way of alternate picking, sweeping, etc. I am using the Lick Library series and it works great. Andy James is a monster (as are the rest of the instructors there). I am now on a Gary Moore kick, and I am really enjoying playing again. I am far better than I ever was before after only aprox 4 months of playing. I practice around 2-4 hours a day, and I try to keep it fresh enough that it is enjoyable. Before I played for all the wrong reasons and it showed in my playing. It was flashy, but it was sloppy. Now I am committed to becoming technically proficient and I refuse to cheat a line. The practice time I spend now is far more productive. Before I wanted to know every song out there but I didnt master any of them. This time I dont care how many I know. But the ones that I do will be perfect. My biggest goal is to write and record some music that will live past me. I refuse to do it until my chops are in the proper place though. Find a good practice method, vary the material so it stays fresh and continues to challenge you, and only do it until you no longer enjoy it. Once it becomes a job the fun is gone.

Last edited by bbaker1014 : 04-19-2013 at 03:44 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 04-19-2013, 04:37 PM   #20
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If your really into it 3 hours feels like 1 hour anyways. But dosent it seem like shredders who use alot of economy make more recordings than the best alternate pickers? David Chastain, George Bellas.... It takes me an hour just to warm up with alternate so I get tempted to go back to directional sometimes. But I could be totally wrong too I dont know. Alternate is very cool. I even like alternate picking arpeggios too. I wish I could play all day. But that wouldnt be fair to people who cant.
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