Suggestions for longer practice/study sessions

I’m interested in getting feedback regarding daily practice and study sessions that are upward of four hours long. I’m probably going to hear, “Four hours of consecutive study is too much.”
Well, maybe, maybe not. I’m talking about a cumulative 4 hours of study over the period of an entire day.

So with that said, what I’m interested in knowing is the breakdown of how much time to spend on any given task. How long actually playing; how long studying theory; how long engaging in memorization (like fretboards, chords, triads, lyrics, etc). And what proportion of time to spend on other tasks - suggestions welcomed regarding what tasks to concentrate on and for how long.

:slightly_frowning_face: “But you’ll hurt your fingers.”
Probably not. I’ve developed some pretty serious calluses over the last couple of month.

:slightly_frowning_face: “That’s too much time.”
But I’m old and retired and I’ve nothing but time on my hands. I’m trying to make good use of the productive time I still have in this life. So getting serious about studying music and guitar seems a worthy effort. That’s just where I’d like to invest more of my time.

So constructive feedback would be welcomed and appreciated.


Good question! I am also retired and can easily do 2+ hours in a day. I tend to work in 30 minute blocks. Maybe 30 mins on exercises, scales and finger training, break, 30 mins on string bending and licks, break, 30 mins on blues rhythm, break, then 30 mins on a song I have been working on.

Might also do some separate work on learning the notes on the fingerboard.

Do you count watching guitar tutorials on youtube as practice time? That would take it to well over 4 hours a day for me. :grinning:



I think if you have absolute freedom on how you spend every waking hour then spending 4 hours over your waking hours seems quite reasonable.

I think the trick would be to focus that time carefully to ensure good focus on concentration when engaged in deliberate practice, taking breaks to refresh, mixing up the activities.

And I don’t know how long professional musicians spend or students at conservatories etc but I think more than 4 hours. Of course their context may be different. Age may also be a factor.

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If you can devote that amount daily, and enjoy it, then go for it I say. What better way to spend your valuable time, than on things you love to do. I have done similar in the past during certain brief periods, and loved it.

As to the amount of time for different areas, well you’re gonna get a bit of variation here.
As a general rule, things like technique, I would devote shorter bursts of time, and more repeats, as they require more highly focused, intense activity. Eg. Legato exercises, bending, hammers/pulloffs, alternate picking etc.
Similar with learning new stuff, like a new scale, or major triads on one string set - shorter times, more repeats.
This method allows for better foundational development, as retention will tend to be more consistent due to more repeated initial engagements.
As skills in a particular area become more developed, I would increase the time, as more complex drills/ exercises, general playing etc are likely needed to develop further.
Things like theory, and learning songs are probably better done in the largest blocks of time, as multiple factors are generally involved.
Everyone’s learning is a bit different, so it’ll be a bit a trial and error, ascertaining strengths and weaknesses, aligning with goals, regular reviews etc.

All the best.
Cheers, Shane


Hi Daniel
I don’t think there’s a single answer to the question. Personally I expect that being very clear about your goals is an important first step so you can focus your attention on the things that will actually get you there. Personality type is also critical, some people will prefer a highly structured program and others will want more freedom to do what they enjoy, and this takes me to possibly the most important thing to consider - the best program is the world is no use if you stop doing it because you’re not having fun.
I know that I’m the sort of person that enjoys a structured approach, but I’m also at risk of adding more and more tasks until it’s not manageable or not fun any more. So what I do is have a number of different themes (for me these include mindful practice, rhythm reading, repertoire, Transcribing, Triads, Intervals, Recording and Learning new material / ideas). I don’t feel I have to do them all every day and I don’t prescribe a time slot for each, but when I want to practice I’ll take a look at the list and decide what I feel like doing.
You’ll probably get as many different ideas as replies but I wish you all the best with it - I’m going into semi-retirement next year so I’m working out my own plan right now too, although my wife thinks it will contain a lot more decorating and gardening than guitar!

When investing that much time, effort and energy you foremost need a PLAN

Where are you now?
Where do you want to go?
What do you want to achieve?
(songwise, performance wise, technique wise)

Start breaking it down.
What are significant milestones along the way?
What would you need to achieve those milestones

Plot them in time

which can only be done if some prerequisites are met (skill wise, knowledge wise, gear wise,…)
which can be done in parallel?

This is your large scale plan but it gives you an idea on what to practice.

The practice sessions itself should REMAIN VARIED though. Don’t go practising one thing in order to achieve a goal.

You are building A PYRAMID; your foundation becomes stronger and stronger; you might know how to play basic chords first but as your knowledge and flexibility with these grows, you learn to master as much as there can be done with basic chords. Meanwhile, this broader base will 100% sure SERVE the layer above it.

I like to use the the metaphor of a pyramid
in parallel you broaden your pyramid; in sequence, you manage the height.
Your mpyramid should somewhat respect that triangle shape; don’t go too high without broad knowlegde but don’t build to wide without building up it at some time either :wink:

I use this metaphor for skill but also for building repertoire, something I will talk about in the JustinGuitar Clubs as well

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No argument with putting in lots of hours practicing if you have the free time, but Justin’s latest videos on “how to practice”, his ideas being developed over decades of experience basically boil down to intense focus on one (and only one) aspect of learning in 5 minute blocks, with a short break doing something else in between. You can find Justin’s lessons on making the most efficient use of your practice time in the first lesson of each module of grade three. The answers to the question

are covered here (what to practice) and here (how to practice)

It’s worth noting that Justin considers a 1 hour practice session to be a long time!


Just wanted to add that Justin has a lesson about neuroplasticity for older learners. And even more food for thought, about the power of slow learning.

As an older learner, I nowadays add physical exercises to my practice routine, to proactively address any potential back issues.


If you are going to practice that much each day, the risk of repetitive stress injuries goes up.

Limiting potentially harmful exercises like finger stretches, barre chords, and scales to 3 - 5 minute sessions spread throughout the day is probably the way to go here.

Just don’t do what I did…practicing barre chords with poor technique for 30 minutes at a time gave me tennis elbow for a full year, requiring trigger point therapy to fix it.

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