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How much do you practice?

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Hey guys. Since I'm a fairly new player, I'm wondering how much you more experienced players practiced when you were starting out, and what you focused on. My immediate goals are to become a competent enough rhthym guitarist such that I could find a band or other work as a guitar player. Beyond that I'd like to become a competent lead player as well. I don't want to just noodle in my music room forever, I actually want to acquire skills that I can put to work.


I have teacher who is very good. Right now I am working on basics; rhythm playing, reading music, getting a decent sound. My lessons usually focus on something pretty specific, which I then go practice for a week until my next lesson. I try to practice for at least 1/2 hour everyday, but usually I practice more than once per day for a total of up to 2hrs. Sometime I feel like I am not progressing very well, and it gets frustrating. I play the same songs over and over again, and they start to come together, but very slowly. I've only really been focused on guitar for about four months, so I guess I can't expect too much.


Anyway, what this long winded post is asking is How long did it take you to get "good"? And by good I mean having the skill and confidence to say "Yeah, I'm a guitar player, lets jam" and then be able to put your skills to good use in a band environment.

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I try to get in 2 hours daily, being retired and 65 i have the time

to do as i wish.


Yes, it takes time for this stuff to sink into a old crusty brain,

but it does happen.

Today i learned some new stuff... and it's down and dirty nice blues

stuff toboot.


Keep peckin away at it.


Some days are reruns, others are first runs... and boy does it sound

nice then !




Epiphone BB King Lucille (affordable)


If any glues lets loose, i'll reglue with Made in USA

Elmer's Glue. I promise.

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

When I'm preparing for a concert, as I am now, I will practice at least two hours a day. I try to do a regular schedule, 4:00 - 6:00 p.m., and extra after dinner if I'm spazzing out over anything (as I'm am now). The evening practice sessions usually include my wife pecking away at the piano AND adult beverages, quality family time if you will. I have two concerts next week with the 20-piece jazz big band, so it's crunch time for me.


If I'm not preparing for a show I seldom "practice", although I do still "noodle" around on guitar quite a bit. To me there's a big difference between "noodling" and "practicing", but even just noodling around is good time spent with your guitar.


As for how long it takes to get good enough to gig, this has as much (or more) to do with "aptitude", than simply practice. Some people will never get good enough to keep from embarrassing themselves on stage, and all the practice in the world will not change that. Some people were just born to play (I'm somewhere in between, medium aptitude, lots of playing time). I got my first electric guitar in late 1970 or early 1971, I played my first public performance (a shopping mall) '73 or '74. My skill level and competency for that performance was certainly in question (in other words I sucked), but I jumped into the deep end, and have managed to stay afloat ever since.


My early years of guitar playing were the late 60's early 70's. Every kid in the neighborhood wanted to be John Lennon, George Harrison, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, etc. There were many of us plunking around on guitars. Finally a little band (kind of) formed, two guitars and a harmonica. One of the other guitar players saw he was the odd man out and decided to get a bass. Then the harmonica player met a drummer at school, and we had a real live full rock & roll band. We spent every available hour jamming in preparation of becoming rockstars.


All this is to say that playing with other musicians will GREATLY accelerate your learning curve. Find out from your teacher if any of his other students live near you. It doesn't really matter if the other student is better or worse than you, the interaction of two (or more) musicians playing together will make you learn things like timing, tempo, rhythm, chord voicings, and a million other things that you don't think about while playing by yourself. Also playing along to recordings also helps greatly in this area, AND learning to play lead.


I have specifically, and purposely, avoided and declined to teach guitar for the last 35 years. Although I have been thinking lately about maybe offering lessons in very specific areas of guitar playing. Being only interested in teaching jazz guitar would certainly limit my student base, but from what I've seen from my association with a few colleges and universities around here that have jazz programs, the art of jazz guitar is being lost or neglected. Maybe young players are just not interested.

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At the age of 55 I don;t call it practicing anymore it;s just playing.

It has become partof my daily routine and I play at least 4 hours a day.


What I like to do to keep me on my toes is pout on the BLUES STATION on XM RADIO and play the lead to whatever song comes on.

It keeps ya up with picking out keys, new styles and timings and always a surprise as one song may be a PIEDMONT STYLE BLUES SONG and the next may be a BUDDY GUY BLUES/ROCK STYLE.


I think the day you think you know it all you might as well STOP playing......Guitar to me are like breathing I NEED IT !!


Being disabled I have a lot of time and to stay positive I play,.,,,it is like therapy for me...to play the BLUES allows one to let out there BLUES through playing.


I took some jazz lessons about 2 years ago after a STROKE just to help wake up my brain.....


I am now buying a RESONATOR......48 NATIONAL as I want to try to play the PIEDMONT STYLE OF BLUES when the player and his wing tips were the band.

I can play slide rather well and after 40+ years I should be where I am but I want to try something I wish I had done before moving on.


Perfecting my finger picking and learning how to play as the FATHERS of the BLUES did should help me to understand how hard they worked to get there sound.


I picked up a PORCHBOARD a new instrument made by these people I know from down south made of wood with a transducer in it with 3 settings, ya plug it into the extra channel and when ya tap your foot on certain areas of this instrument you get that HARD TAPPING on the floor you once heard in the JUKE JOINTS down south.


The PORCHBOARD makes it easier on your feet too all ya gotta do is tap it and it sound like you;re banging on the floor.


I'll be buried holding a guitar I am sure !!!! ( I KNOW THAT CAUSE I PUT IT IN MY WILL !!!!)










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  • 1 month later...

I'm 61 and retired. I've been at this about 1 1/2 years. Being retired, I plunk any time I have time. I keep my git on a stand in my music room. this amounts to at least an hour per day. The problem I have is practicing the RIGHT things. I get "squirled" and wind up reverting to playing things I know and enjoy. I need to reel myself in to practicing things I Don't know and enjoy. But, I'm having a riot with this git thing. I have NO aspirations to play outside my own home for myself. Just KEEP IT FUN, Dean

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm only playing for 16 months now, but I play a few hours each day @ home.

Now I've got the basics, I'm focussing on playing lead guitar...

On thursday night I rehearse with a band (this was my goal when I started playing),

on friday I play @ a local bar where I also get my lessons and on sunday

I play @ the same bar to help my instructor teaching kids (including my own son)...

I really love guitar playing, it's my passion! 2 bad I didn't start earlier [tongue]

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All i can add to the sound advice given.............IS......

practice as much as you can,but be careful,i have had lots of muscle/finger problems from 'drilling' certain 'stretching' exercises for far too long..........

as soon as you feel any pain/ache etc STOP....get up wriggle/shake hands out....then get straight back in!


I've tried to figure this out for a long time....how long is long enough for fast work?....


An olympic standard 100metre runner would not run 'flat out' for 4 hours plus everyday.....yet stupid me has tried to do this.....hence problems with hands/fingers/muscles/


practice as much as possible......with regular breaks to avoid strain......


this routine seems to be working for me now ...


good luck.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Depends on the day....sometimes 1 hr. On days were I have the house to myself, I'll go 3-4 hrs at a time. Try to learn something new or perfect something else each time.


Agreed. If I'm working on learning a NEW lead run, I just add a little more of it each day,

gives me time to get the previous stuff set in my brain BEFORE proceeding. I've tried the

"learn as much as you can at once bit, works, but has limited success.


As a JOKE, I started playing a guitar while doing the "Mommy and Daddy Dance" with my

Girlfriend. Don't go there, Folks! at least I thought it was funny... [biggrin]

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  • 1 month later...

yeah, I think I am going to aim for 2hrs a day, broken up into 2 sessions, and longer on the weekends. I'd play all day if it weren't for that job thing that happens right in the middle.



I practice 2 to 3 hours a day with 15 minute breaks in between. 3 hours a day though. To be honest it is better to focus on getting things done in your time of course. What I also like to do when I practice my Classical Guitar, is to take little water breaks after I get a passage down. Same thing with my Electric. Water is a very good brain refresher.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I'm wood-shedding, big time, for the rest of the year. Started this little intense practice project in late October last year. I'm averaging, easily, over 8 hours a day. I had several weeks that were more like 10 hrs a day (I'm talking about seven days a week). I try to divide time between reading notes on the staff, playing with very clean sound sometimes, and very heavily-amplified sound part of the time (to check for peripheral string noise, inaccurate attack, etc), taking fast riffs and slowing them way down, working on simple exercises to teach all the fingers to be able to hit notes squarely no matter what, learning new chords and inversions (new chords always take a while), staying religious about the down/up-stroke thing, and doing everything in reverse (in other words: up/down) ... etc.


You have to be careful, doing something like this. I had nasty carpal tunnel symptoms for two months. I took a few days "off", which meant playing only a couple hours on those days. I try to take a 10 or 15 minute break per hour, but that seldom happens, it's more like every two hours.


What to focus on is a real matter of opinion, but there are certain situations, regarding practice, that can affect all of us. We all want to sound "good' of course, and as silly as this may sound, what that can lead to is a lot of playing, over and over, of things we already "know." That's no way to advance. Another thing, guys will play, say, a two-octave scale with maybe a leading tone and a couple notes over the second octave root, and they'll be sort of fluffing a note here or there, but most of the scale will sound just fine. If you keep doing that, you actually are training your finger muscles to fluff certain notes. Your fingers only do what you train them to do, they don't "think" for themselves.


If you have patterns that have two notes on some strings and three notes on others, it's easy to have some articulation issues when you're doing rapid ascending & descending lines. A lot of guys will just brush it off, and when they're in a "live" playing situation they'll use speedy playing to cover little issues like that. It doesn't work that way. You have to listen, real hard while you're running your so-called warm-ups or scales. If you hear some sloppiness, don't repeat the whole scale or whatever, focus on the notes right around where the sloppiness or string-change is happening, and repeat that until it's correct, effortless and smooth, at very slow speeds.


If we don't deal with "problem areas" (certain string changes, notes played by a 'weaker' finger, inability to play the riff slow and clean, instead of speedy and distorted, etc) playing "live' might result in our "avoiding" certain notes and things ... but the whole reason to learn the entire instrument, and to be a 'serious' player (if that's what you're after), is so that in a live situation our fingers and hands are so comfortable and familiar with possibilities, they can reach and properly hit any note, at any time, based solely on what we hear and feel at any given time, and not based on what we think we've memorized or a 'confined, limited" version of the fretboard. That's the ballgame, right there ...


Use a metronome and stay in tune. Believe me, if you're "in tune" and "on time" you will be way ahead of a ton of guys. If you're in tune and on time, simple can sound dramatic, and "fancy" is just gravy.


I've heard guys say, "It's easier to play certain riffs fast." That is total BS. What they're really saying is, "It's easier to ignore bs sloppiness when it goes by quickly." Meanwhile, their fingers are getting very very good at playing sloppy. That crap will come back to haunt you, trust me. The more you "practice" your mistakes, the harder it is to "undo" that muscle memory and then reprogram your fingers to do it right.


Guitar playing is fun, or at least it should be, whether you want to be the next Satriani or just a guy who can strum a few chords. It's all good, it's all valid ... music is a personal thing. it's your "voice", so you say what you want to say, the way you want to say it. All that is fun, for sure. But focusing on our weak spots, and being relentless about turning the impossible into the possible, then from "possible" to the difficult, from difficult into "okay when I'm 'on'" into ... effortless ... that is NOT always a lot of fun.


BUT, once you see some of the impossible stuff flying off the fretboard effortlessly, you just might see the hard "work" involved as a deeper kind of "fun." And if not, well, there's always the flute.

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I've been playing bass for over 40 years. I practice a minimum of 30 min a day 5 days a week; however, that usually turns into an hour or three. Some days I don't feel like practicing, but I force myself and those days often turn into the most rewarding. I spend a lot of time playing patterns and scales to loosen up before I work on new tunes. Before a job I'll go over every song on the set list and it amazes me how much more I can pick up listening to things I thought I knew well. After the work is done I love to "noodle" and just have fun, but at the same time I pay attention to technique, meter, and dynamics. There are more important things than just playing a lot of notes at blazing speed, and most of the time (for bass at least) - less is more!

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