Thursday, May 22, 2008

How Much Guitar Practice Is Enough?

I get asked this question a lot. Studies tend to zero in on 10,000 hours as the time needed for mastery. If your goal is to become a virtuoso, there’s your number and no need to read further! For us boomers with a few hours on the meter looking for a great hobby “enough” falls between the minimum (below which you suck) and the maximum (above which you encroach on other necessary life activity such as relationships and career). My minimum is one hour per day and the maximum is two hours and here's how to calculate yours.

Think of the minimum hours boundary in terms of a level below which your playing is such that you don’t enjoy it; the long way of saying you think it sucks. If you come out of a playing session with aching hands and a “glad that is over” feeling, your practice rate has fallen below your minimum threshold. I follow qualitative and quantitative approaches to gauge my progress and how much time it takes to keep the enjoyment factor and that's how I derived my one hour minimum per day. If you practice enough to maintain your minimum you will be energized and want to keep playing, which brings me to the maximum.

If you come out of a practice session and your significant other says something like “well, hello stranger” you know you are in upper boundary territory. Notice, this upper bound is not defined by desire or goals; just practical reality. You’ve reached middle age and have stuff happening man! This becomes sort of a self correcting limit (you know when you've reached it) and that's how I arrived at my two hour maximum per day. If I'm really into it I find optimal ways to get the time in so it minimizes impact to the life balance. I have plenty of time management tips for that. Just click the labels “practice” and "guitar practice".

So, over time, just keep track of your playing time in relation to your enjoyment level balanced against everything else going on in your life and you will come up with how much is "enough" practice time for you. Simple huh? Now, time to rock!

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