A hesitation people face when learning guitar is how long they have to practice to get ‘good’.
When learning guitar it can be hard to notice yourself improving, and this can make you wonder “am I practicing often enough?” …”I am practicing for long enough?” Or even, “am I practicing too much!”.
Learning guitar is all about practicing efficiently and making the most out of the time you have each day to sit with your instrument. So while the hours you put into practice are important, the thing to watch out for making sure you’re practicing the right way!
So does practicing for 2 hours straight each day count as ‘the right way’, or are there better ways to use your practice time to improve faster?
Is It Bad to Practice Guitar For 2 Hours Every Day?
Practicing guitar for 2 hours straight a day isn’t ideal for absorbing what you’re practicing. Our brains just aren’t wired to take in new information for that long and we start to burn out. While it’s not ‘bad’ it’s just not the most effective way to get the most out of the time you have to practice.
On the other hand practicing, 2 hours a day is great if you can split up that time into smaller chunks. Roughly 15 – 30 minutes is the sweet spot for taking in new techniques. After that, you start to get into diminishing returns territory.
There’s also a difference between playing and practicing:
- Practicing should be time spent learning something new or perfecting something that you haven’t been able to nail yet.
- Playing should be seen as time spent messing around with what you already know and performing songs that you’ve already got down.
So while you should break up your practice sessions to get the most out of them, you can play for as long as you want! In fact, playing for 2 hours straight will still benefit you in terms of getting comfortable with play and gaining familiarity with your instrument.
Just remember to take breaks if you’re learning something new to help your brain take in new information.
Should You Practice More Than 2 hours a Day to Get Good?
Practicing for more than 2 hours a day isn’t necessary to get good! It’s all about the efficiency of your practice and consistency!
While it might seem logical that more practice = more skills, this unfortunately isn’t the case. Improving at guitar is about pushing yourself further and further into new territory.
There’s no use practicing the same thing for hours at a time. While you might get good at that one song, you’re not really improving your overall skill.
- Focus shorter sessions on specific techniques to improve your guitar vocabulary. Having a variety of skills will make all aspects of play easier.
- For example, if you’re finding a part of a song difficult it can help to take a break and focus on another area of your playing.
When you switch to learning something new, you might further develop a skill, or pick up a new one. Often this can unlock a technique that was blocking you from nailing what you were practicing earlier.
Practice Breaks are Good
Our brains learn things in strange and specific ways! Never underestimate the power of the unconscious.
While your mind might wander elsewhere after a practice session your brain certainly hasn’t. Learning a new skill is like creating a new link for your brain to use.
Giving your brain a chance to process what you’ve learned helps to cement it within your skillset. We all know the feeling of struggling with something one day and suddenly being great at it the next.
The same applies to playing guitar. There’s no point in practicing for 2 hours if it’s the same thing over and over. Diversify what you practice and trust your brain to put all the different things you learned together.
This is how you get better at guitar!
Does Playing Guitar 2 Hours Every Day Damage Your Fingers?
Playing guitar puts a whole new level of pressure on your fingers that they’re just not used to. In fact, the action of repeatedly pressing your fingers onto the steel strings of your guitar causes a form of blunt force trauma!
While that sounds terrible it’s actually what your fingers need to go through to get comfortable playing guitar.
Playing repeatedly damages the top layer of skin on your finger tips exposing the softer skin underneath. This can cause all types of issues with your fingers from burst blood vessels and cause harm to the nerves in your fingers.
If you try pushing through pain you can do longer lasting damage. That will just prevent you playing guitar for longer, and slow your path to becoming a better player. Sometimes it’s best to rest for a while and come back to practice later.
With continued play, over time these symptoms go away and your fingers adapt to what you demand of them. Just note that if you are getting unusual or sharp pain in your fingers or hand, then you need to stop playing and let your fingers and hands rest.
The repeated action of (technically) damaging your fingers and letting them heal will eventually form calluses making the tips of your fingers tougher and guitar related pain will be a thing of the past.
Ask anyone who plays guitar a lot and you’ll realize it’s all part of the process. So while playing guitar every day will damage your fingers to some degree, with rest and more practice they will become stronger and more resilient over time.
How Long to Master Guitar if You Play 2 Hours a Day?
The general rule of thumb to become a master of any skill is to accumulate 10,000 hours of practice at it. So at 2 hours a day that would mean you’d be a master in about 13 years!
But that is a long time and people’s ideas of becoming a ‘master’ of something often vary.
If you’re trying to gauge how long you need to practice to become good enough to play with other people, or good enough to hold a catalog of tunes down for performance, then you can expect to be there in a year or 2. Dependent on your dedication of course.
There are no set rules of when you become a good guitarist, that all comes down to how much you want it and how well you practice. You should know your way around a guitar pretty well within a few months of playing and at that point, you’ll have a better idea of how far you still have to go.
Another way to gauge your progress is to put yourself out there. If you want to see how your skills stack up and want to see if you’re ready to start jamming in bands then get some friends together and see if you can play with them.
While you might not immediately gel together like your The Beatles you’re getting an insight into what you still need to learn to play with others. This in itself is a valuable lesson.
Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not seeing the progress you want fast enough. With each day you practice you improve. A month of practice will take you miles ahead of where you were at the month before, so imagine where you can get to in a year!