How many songs do you play in your regular practice? (poll)

Lately I feel like I have spread myself too thin, and I’m playing a lot of songs every day, but not really getting a whole lot better with any of them. Maybe I need to focus down my efforts on really improving just a few songs. Problem is, I like them all so much it’s hard to trim the list down :slight_smile:

I’d like to hear from you guys. How many songs do you aim to practice each day?

  • Just one!
  • 2 - 4
  • 5 - 8
  • 9+

0 voters


Same here, I used to play several songs each day, because I like them all, but I had to find out, that I didn’t really progress. I achieved a certain level, but then hit a “glass ceiling”. So I decided to focus on 2 songs per day and to try to really make progress. That works better for me. If time is left, I allow myself to play more songs, just for enjoyment, without the expectation to get them perfect.

Guess I have followed Justin’s typical practice routine format for the beginners grades where the first 10 minutes is song revision (that’s 3-4 songs revised - usually alternate them) and then at the end of the practice session there’s another 10-15 minutes for new song work (that’s a couple of songs depending on the complexity).

I like to try to get as good as I can with a song as possible before moving on. I have to balance that with moving on when I get bored, but I think I’ve found a good middle ground.

I work on ~2 songs at a time both for about a month each. There’s a 2 week lag between the start of each song so I essentially start a new song every 2 weeks. Once I’m done with a song I record it and post it here to get that sense of accomplishment and move on.

I do spend the first 5 min of my practice warming up by playing some songs that I already know, but mostly just messing around playing parts and not playing the full song.

I guess I’m at the other end of the scale. I have a list of 20 songs that I play most days. I have no doubt that it greatly slows my progress in each song compared to you guys practicing far fewer, but it’s the way I like to do things. Otherwise I just get too bored of a song, and will likely stop playing it rather than perfecting it.

Well, it depends. I doubt it’s ever more than 6 or 7 because I tend to play songs more than once if it’s a “song practice” session. But sometimes it’s just 1 or 2. And on other days I focus on technique or just strumming around without any particular stuff to practice.

My answer is none, which may not be all that helpful for someone focused on playing by rote, and probably cuts across the grain and may not work for everyone. I practice the building blocks for songs. That would be progressions, chord voicings, scales, modes, triads, techniques, etc. I play songs using those building blocks stitched together, but I don’t practice them as songs. It’s a toolkit type of approach.

What does this allow me to do? I can improvise, comp, and suss out a lot of songs fairly quickly on the spot, to a lesser (which I will acknowledge) or greater degree of proficiency. Practicing a bag full of songs is a learning by rote method.

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No option for “it depends”.

Also practicing is different than playing.

For me it changes daily/weekly/monthly. Some songs I practice and play a bit then throw out within a day or two.

Some days I work on a couple of new songs I’m still learning. Some days I play 20 different songs in a row. Other days I experiment, either with improv/songwriting or playing old songs in a new way.

When I’m learning something new I play it a lot until I either get it or throw it out.

I used to learn around 3 songs a day, but with trying to learn more complex songs I dropped down to 2 with one being a dreamer and one camp fire type of song. In all honesty I rarely play older stuff which I already learnt as I get to the point where I need to have a break from them once I nail them down :smile: although that does not mean I never play again the same songs, it’s just not that often as learning new stuff.

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By “a dreamer”, do you mean a song that you want to be able to play, but it’s difficult for you right now? Like a longer-term goal kind of song?

Absolutely a song out of reach for me initially that pushes my boundries a bit. Justin had a lesson about practicing 3 type of songs in order to avoid hiatus and make your practice effective. I was doing it before seeing the lesson so if guru says it is a good method I stick to it :smile:

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Thanks Adrian, I think I really needed to see that lesson :smiley:

Now to pick one “dreamer” song out of the many, many possible options …

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Oh yes this is not a dream, but a nightmare to pick one which I go through every now and then :smile: no worries Brendan hope you settle on your choice!

Hey Brendan,

I focus on two at a time. Other simpler ‘strummy’ ones may be thrown in here and there, buts its 2 for me. Earlier on in my journey I was doing the same as you - learning too many at once. @adi_mrok gave me some great advice back then, and it set me on a good path thereafter.

Cheers Shane

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That reminds me of the advice Justin gives in one lesson where he says to go back over songs that you have learned every now and then to move them from the short term memory to the long term memory.

Yes, it probably also depends where you are in the learning process and your ability to embed the songs to memory as you build up your repetiore. Some people may have to play the songs more often than other to memorise them before they park them to the side.

It’s smart to notice this and track your progress.

This is a good time to record yourself and listen back to it.

There are several aspects to the songs you are playing

  • Can you improve the way you play it?
  • can you improve how the song is built, the arrangement? (introduce embellishments, change picking patterns or strumming patterns, introduce some passing notes between certain chords here and there, …)

You can take a step back and look at repertoire level

  • should you introduce more ‘swing’ or the opposite, slow it down to a bit more intimiate style?
  • how does this song sit in your repertoire? does it bring variation or is it an odd one out?
  • What new songs could broaden your repertoire

I picked up some songs along the way during the years and I started keeping them in a list in google sheets. Looks like I know about 50 songs by heart (chords and lyrics), some I play a lot, some seldom to refresh them. After a while, I had to make sure I put enough up tempo songs in there, not to sound like a complete emotional wreck or something :smiley:

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Made some choices in tonight’s practice.

  • To get campfire ready: Dreams
  • Developer: Desperado
  • Dreamer: Sweet Child O’ Mine

Going to really focus in on these 3 for a couple weeks at least and see how that goes.

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