When telling my students I tell them to practice at least once a day for about 30 minutes. Longer is better, but if you are an absolute beginner you might have to build up to 30 minutes. In this case I'd say do two 15 minutes sessions at minimum.
During the time you practice I would highly recommend you pay close attention to the details of whatever you are studying from. Also, if practicing begins to hurt - STOP! Being a beginner you will be building muscles and they do need rest. Forcing yourself to continue when it hurts will cause more damage than good. Be patient, over time you'll see how you are progressing.
Practicing is good but it can also reinforce bad habits which are harder to fix. Using a metronome is a must. An alternative to the metronome is to use a drum beat. I have one student who absolutely hates the metronome but is perfectly fine with a drum beat. Make sure you are using your fingertips to press down on the string and not the pads of your fingers. A common issue with beginning guitarists is they tend to collapse the finger joint right behind the finger tip. Take care in making sure this does not happen. Your fingers should be curled.
I might have given you more of an answer than you asked for. I think the additional is good information and something that a beginning guitarist should be paying close attention to.
thank you very much for your reply. I am not an absolute beginner and I pratice 2 hours per day. I asked this question because I watched an interview of Steve Vai on MTV and he said that he practised at least 8 hours per day. This is impossible for me. But I think that if I practice more, I will be up to the next level rapidly. What's your views?
I, as a beginner, definitely over-did the practicing. I studied chord shapes and voicings as well as scales for 4-8 hours a day during my first year. I progressed quickly, but am unable to practice as much as that now. I try to get at least a half hour session, maybe an hour each day, but I am a college Engineering student... I don't have much time as is.
I've sort of plateaued since then.
Practice won't make you perfect. Perfect practice makes you perfect.
How long to practice to be a pro? Well, starting from scratch, as has been said, keep it short: you're building your muscles and teaching them to do new things - new things that require both strength and touch. What I tell my students is that a steady 15-20 minutes per day is better than killing yourself for two hours once per week.
I heard a good notion on a football commercial a while back: "amateurs practice until they do it right, professionals practice until they can't do it wrong." The best summary I've heard, though, was from trumpet virtuoso Louis Armstrong. When he was asked how much he practiced, he said 8-10 hours each day. The interviewer was amazed and asked why, since he was so obviously talented. His response was, "if I skip a day, I know. If I skip two days, the band knows. If I skip three days, *everybody* knows."
Different levels of performance require different commitment.
The advantage of being Steve Vai or Eddie Van Halen is; Playing Music is what they Do... It's their Job.
So they can dedicate all their time to it. And it is great, since they Love their job.
So if you Really want to be a Professional, you gotta take your job seriously.
I have been told by 'normal' people that I play well... (I don't)
Well... They don't play at all!
Right now I am going back to studying the "Basics", cuz if I just play the way I play I will never get any better.
Plus I already have a LOT of bad habits, and just farting around only reinforces those bad habits!
So you have to put in some effort to improve.
I do not have the time to practice as much as I would like. But if you utilize your time properly you do not need to put that many hours in to improve. I only get a chance to play maybe 3-5 hours per week as it is difficult with my "life" schedule to do more. But I will spend so many minutes reviewing music (with metronome) and learning new music, and that seems to work for me.
A great question. I think it depends on what you mean by "pro" guitarist and what your goals are. A session guitarist who play absolutely anything in any style at the drop of a hat (or a hand-written chart)? Hmmm. A lot. Really a lot. A classical guitarist? Really, really a lot, for a lot of years. On the other hand, Johnny Cash was a pretty good "pro guitarist," and I'm not sure he could play much beyond strumming major chords. Or I think of a rock guitarist like The Edge of U2, who deliberately set out not to master anyone else's style, but to create something uniquely his own.
It's probably more important to look at how efficient your practice is than just the time invested. I went through a period in my early 20s where I was able to practice several hours on most days for a couple of years, and I'm really glad that I had this time. Today, with a day-job (AG) and a toddler in the house, I'm lucky if I practice a couple of hours a week. I do play a bit more, either at gigs or playing songs with my daughter (and the latter actually does help to at least keep my callouses...), but I make sure that I spent the limited time I get for playing by myself wisely. This generally means to jump right into really working on stuff that I need to either brush up on or learn. I may also work on a piece I'm writing; for example, taking a small section and really working on it with a metronome.
I find that if I take some extra time to work on my playing a few days before an important gig, I am able to maintain my chops pretty well with the current schedule, but it's very difficult to get new material worked out, develop new techniques, etc.
There is no hard and fast rule to this actually. One should practice as long as one can, really! I used to practice for upto 7 hours (the whole night, in fact), when I was learning. Initially, my fingers hurt like hell, but I did not give up. Waited for a few minutes of break and started off again. In fact, my teacher made me practice ONE chord position (specifically the Barre' position) for THREE hours at a stretch ! Believe it, it's true !!
Whatever time you practice for, it'll always be beneficial and will improve your playing for sure.
Ghislain, The amount of time varies from individual to individual but remember this - "Perfect practice makes perfect."
Don't be distracted by other "stuff" - TV going, friends bull .... , etc.
Best of luck and keep smiling, it drives your enemies crazy. Hal
I could practice day and night and still not be a pro in the Nashville area--- the pros are too dang good and way too plentiful compared to other places I've lived where a reasonably good guitarist could have his/her pick of a handful of gigs. So maybe the answer will also depend on your local music market/genre as well as on your technical skills with the instrument.