It was found in a survey by fender that 90% of guitar players quit in their first year of learning. That is an incredibly high percentage and just goes to show that learning guitar isn’t easy. It requires patience, self-discipline, time and above all, regular practice.
I know this first hand as I have been learning guitar exclusively online for 6 months using Justin Guitar’s Beginner Course and recently completed it. The key to completing the course and to enjoy playing the guitar is directly related to how often you practice. As they say ‘you get out what you put in’.
So, exactly how often should a beginner practice guitar? A beginner should practice a minimum of 15 minutes up to an hour a day. Practicing the guitar every day will help build muscle memory, develop the habit and reduce frustration from slow progress.
15 minutes a day, I can do that! Well, there is quite a bit more to it than that, but what should you practice? when do you start practicing more? what happens if I skip a few days of learning? And how long will it take to learn to play guitar? I cover all this and more below.
How Often You Should Practice Guitar and Why
When you first start learning to play guitar, it can be an uncomfortable experience. Your fingers are unaccustomed to steel strings and the shapes that you have to create in order to play notes and chords.
Personally, it wasn’t till about week 3 that I could actually begin to enjoy the experience of playing the guitar without my fingertips hurting. If you are experiencing or begin to get that pain in your fingertips then I would recommend reading my post here 21 Tips For Guitar Finger Pain. I provide tips on how to reduce the pain and how to make your guitar easier to play.
Through that period of learning, I was playing for 15 minutes a day and slowly increased it to 15 to 20 minutes, half an hour and then finally by the beginning of week four I was playing for about 1 hour a day.
Below is the result, in songs, of what I had learned by the end of the first month.
Are these results typical? are they good or bad? Will your results be similar? And more importantly, how do they relate to how often I should practice?
Well, please indulge me for a moment. Before I started this learning journey I wrote an article about long it would take to learn the guitar, you can read it here, as a complete beginner with no prior musical experience.
I did an extensive amount of research and the end result was that I was able to breakdown the guitar learning journey into 6 stages. Suffice to say, the first stage ‘The Basics’ where you learn everything from a guitar being a strange instrument in your hands to being able to play a few handfuls of songs all the way through was about 150 to 300 hours of learning.
Now, I felt I reached this level with about 130 hours of learning but if you took into account my time away from the guitar researching and watching videos in my lunch break at work and when I got 5 minutes on my own away from my young family then it probably was closer to 150 hours over a period of 5 months.
Below is the result, in songs, of that total 150 hours of practice (with a maximum of two days off in between picking up the guitar).
Hopefully, you can see some progress! And if you enjoyed the video, please subscribe, a lot of my followers are older beginners and we all share our ups and downs of learning guitar as we go.
So, my progress was on the quicker side of those times required to learn ‘the basics’ but I used a structured form of learning for every part of my learning all the way through and not just videos on YouTube. Did that mean I progressed quickly and across a broad range of areas? I think so and this is the point I think I am trying to make.
We all want to enjoy our experience of learning to play guitar, we want to learn songs we love and to make quick progress. This can then provide a feeling of accomplishment and I think is the real reason, as a beginner, we ask ‘How often should I practice?’.
So based on my experience, I would recommend practicing effectively by using a structured course of learning, practicing consistently 5 to 7 days a week and practicing for more than 15 minutes each time you play, ideally half an hour to an hour.
Time playing is important but equally important is what you practice and practicing effectively which I get in to next.
How To Practice Guitar Effectively As A Beginner
Learning how to practice guitar effectively can be a skill in itself. One of the most important things to recognize is that you should practice the things you are weak at. When you first start you are weak at everything so what do you do?
Well, I had this same question and spent time looking at the different paths I could take. We all learn things slightly differently, some of us are very visual, others prefer to read and study and many of us are somewhere in between.
What it boiled down to was time and money and I think everyone can relate to that.Luke – A Dad with little time, trying to learn to play guitar.
I have a young family and work full time so the only time I get to do the things I want to is in the evenings. I didn’t want to have to drive somewhere to take instructions on how to play guitar and I didn’t want to spend much money as I didn’t know where this hobby would go.
So I chose to learn guitar online but where should you learn? YouTube has, what feels like, hundreds of guitar teachers and there are loads of excellent tutorials and a lot of bad ones too. The trouble is that there isn’t really a structure or path you can follow in order to cover the foundations. For example, where should you start and what should you learn next? There is no logical progression.
Yes, you could jump from song to song or technique, etc and if you are dedicated then this could work for you. More than likely however this will become increasingly frustrating and you will be more likely to quit. Which is what we are trying to avoid.
My recommendation would be to choose the Justin Guitar Beginner Course, it is a structured form of learning where you cover a lot of bases and gain an excellent foundation in playing guitar. The course is split into stages and each stage has separate elements to it. Once you get the end of the stage there is a practice routine that you need to work on and complete before you move on to the next stage.
This is an extremely effective way of practicing guitar. You have the methods explained to you, you then try playing them and then you practice until you can hit the requirement for that stage. I felt it gave me a sense of accomplishment and progression which is exactly what you need to spur you on and so that you grow in confidence and skill.
The course is 100% free but you can buy his books ( I bought two of them) or other products but you don’t need to in order to use his course. Most people end up buying bits from him because he has offered so much value for free and it just feels like the right thing to do.
Justin takes you from ‘zero’ to ‘hero’ and basically holds your hand along the way. The course is really easy to use and you can save you progress so it is easy to jump back into when you have a small amount of time.
His course is exclusively what I have been using to learn guitar and it has proved to be very effective in my opinion. You can see my progress in the videos above and when I finished his course I felt I was ready to tackle things on my own for a while..
I highly recommend it and you can take the course here, the Justin Guitar Beginner Course.
Also, Justin doesn’t just have a free beginner’s course he also a huge array of free content. You can see on his lessons map here, that he covers areas including beginner, intermediate and advanced modules. So if you are beginner/intermediate then head there for some further tuition.
But what if you don’t want to use Justin Guitar?
Well, there are some paid courses online also but the only one, in my opinion, that really competes and is worth paying the money for is Guitar Tricks, which is not surprising since they started in 1998.
Their beginner course takes you to step by step along the way, has many different instructors to learn from, has over 11,000 guitar lessons, has close to 1,000 song videos on top of this and the videos are in 4k.
It has a polished, professional approach with content that is well explained by friendly easy going instruction and what I really like about it is the ‘modules’ that it has in its core learning system. The first two are to cover the foundations of playing the guitar and then immediately after that you get to choose a path to take.
You get to learn the skills of the style of guitar you most enjoy quicker than you would with Justin’s course. The course also covers songs in more styles than Justin currently does, so, for example, you get to learn songs in the following styles:
Styles of Songs
- Beginners Songs
- Funk & Soul
There is also a risk-free 60 day period when you start, where you can cancel anytime which is perfect so you can decide for yourself.
I recommend that you consider your options, and if you are serious about learning guitar, then take a look at Guitar Tricks here by clicking this link Guitar Tricks offer.
How Long Does It Take To Learn Guitar?
This is a topic that I have covered in-depth in another article and video here How Long It Takes To Learn Guitar – The 6 Stages. I recommend reading this as I cover the 6 stages of learning that include the following:
It turns out that the first stage that I describe in the article which is ‘The Basics’ is pretty accurate. I detailed that you would need to have around 150 to 300 hours of practice to be able to get through a couple of handful of songs. So it is well worth reading as it covers ‘The Basics’ through to ‘Master’ and all stages in between.