If you are a beginner guitarist, you may often ask yourself this question: “what is the best way to practice the guitar?” What is better? Practicing the guitar for 10 – 30 minutes every day or 3 hours once or twice per week? These questions pop up on guitar forums all the time. What is the correct answer? My personal opinion is that shorter practice sessions which are repeated more often, will bring you better results.
What do you think is easier? To focus for 20 – 30 minutes or for 3 hours? We all know that it is almost impossible to fully focus for a long time. You will scramble your brain. There is a reason why school lessons last for only 45 minutes or less.
We can play the guitar for a long time but practicing is very different from playing. When you practice the guitar, you concentrate completely on the thing that you are doing. Your mind is not wondering thinking about dinner or the colour of the walls. You are fully focused on your instrument.
If you want to memorise a song, scale or a new chord shape, you need to concentrate in order to fully understand the relationship between what is on the paper (or the screen) and what is happening to your fingers. You have to teach your fingers the new shape or position of the scale. That can only be achieved by being fully mentally engaged in the exercise. Shorter sessions will keep your brain fresh and your practice sessions will be much more exciting and interesting.
Now, imagine that you had not touched your instrument for 4-5 days and then you intended to practice the guitar for 2 – 3 hours. You will probably have to learn the concept from the previous lessons from scratch. The gap between the sessions will be so big that you will forget what you have done. You will waste your time memorising the concept again from the beginning. On the other hand, if you practice the guitar on the next day, it will be much easier to recall the pattern.
I personally, would aim for shorter, but more frequent practice sessions. That way not only will you connect better with your instrument, but also, your fingers will be in much better shape. Long breaks between sessions simply weaken your fingers and will also affect your calluses. In turn, all of this may affect your mood and you may lose the motivation to practice the guitar at all. More frequent sessions will connect you better with your instrument, it will feel like it belongs to your every day life. Make the guitar a happy part of your day, shorter, but more frequent sessions will make it happen easily.