When should I stop for the day

6 months (Beginner) After I do some finger exercises and chord change exercises I usually go into learning a song.
For a week or so it’s been “Stand By Me”. Simple G,Em,C,D cords. But I get stuck often and continuously start over with my G until I get it correct. Sometimes there’s multiple start-overs over an hours time. Should I be stopping and just go again tomorrow? Should my song learning time be shorter or is this ok?

My own practices are not so great, so take this as just something to think about. :slight_smile:

I feel that if concentration starts to fail, it is time to move on to a new thing to practice. That holds pretty well for me as long as my concentration actually isn’t poor from the start. If I start poorly, then I need to work to avoid distractions so I get into the concentration point.

If you need to stop after a few minutes, then it often can help to come back as well, so practice a song for several minutes until you start to mentally drift, then practice something else for a few minutes, and then go back to the song.

When you just can’t hold concentration any longer, or you have physical fatigue, it is time to stop practice and do something unrelated until you recover.

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I wouldn’t shorten the amount of time you play songs but rather add a few more songs to repitoire. Playing the same song over and over can be brutal. Having a few different songs you can move between might be better (and more fun)


Hello Richard,
Here’s what I usually do.

Be sure you are honing in on, and practicing those segments where you are actually making errors. Do this aside from your ‘playthroughs’

When doing the playthrough itself, it is beneficial to push through those errors and carry on; it will discourage the brain from highlighting them, and creating a ‘hangup’ about them. Plus it helps your rhythm chops.

Also, shorter, laser focused practice is far superior to drawn out, frustrated practice. Always.
Deal with the errors as per above.


Definitely don’t keep starting over. Learn to play through mistakes. If you perform for an audience then starting over isn’t an option. If there’s a particular transition that you mess up then practice it over and over in isolation as slowly as you need to get it right.
My concentration isn’t great either. In general I put my guitar down when I feel my focus is off or I’m just playing badly. Sometimes it just takes me to go and do something else for 20 minutes and then try again. Certainly if you allow yourself to get frustrated then nothing good will happen


Justin and several guitar educators speak often about short practice segments rather than long ones. After 5 or so minutes on a given task, like getting the G cord right, our ability to learn drops precipitously. A full hour filled with restarts in the G cord is not moving you forward well and must be frustrating, although I also tend to get similarly entrained.

So, if you are spending the bulk of your practice “learning a song”, think of how to divide it up into smaller tasks and move between them.

Examples may be 5 minutes on cord changes, and as Shane says, focus on the more problematic. Do it without strumming until it is pretty down pat. Then change to practicing the strumming patterns for 5 minutes, one pattern at a time if more than one and without chord fingering at first.

After that move to some other exercises that you need/want for a few 5 minute blocks to do before going back to the song with maybe a play-through without stopping for mistakes and a few more 5 minute blocks as before.

I definitely am not good at partitioning my time like this either and often find I have lost myself in a single exercise or segment for far longer, but am trying to improve. I would be further along had I been more disciplined.

Hi Richard @Rworell, fellow beginner here. Several parts of Joshua’s @Jamolay reply rang true for me. I’ll share my experience, with the acknowledgment that everyone is different.

For some things I’m particularly struggling with, such as a challenging chord progression or a lick, I fall apart even before 5 minutes pass. When this happens, I stop to avoid frustration, and perhaps more importantly, to avoid “practicing” things wrong. I’m a runner, and when doing a specific workout we always follow the guidance that when doing drills, if one’s form begins to fall apart it’s time to stop.

This! Unlike running, with guitar you don’t necessarily need to wait a day (or more!) before revisiting the thing you’re working on.

This happens sometimes too, and I confess I love it when I have this problem! I approach it a bit differently - for me, when something is going smoothly and I’m lost in it, I often keep going (assuming I have time and am not neglecting other practice items). It’s like a long run day when you feel you could go forever. Of course, it’s still important to stop before things start falling apart!

Finally, for this beginner, sometimes a song or technique just doesn’t click when it comes up in the curriculum. More than once I’ve set something aside completely (I’m talking to you, palm muting!), and returned to it a month or more later. Also as a beginner, I sometimes adopt the attitude of “this is the best I can do right now, it’ll get better as I progress.” Most things click eventually!


This says to me that you are playing it faster than you should. You should slow it down to the point that you can play it smoothly and without mistakes. If you can’t play without mistakes at any tempo, then you need to put the song on hold and work on your chord changes until you can. Then you can gradually increase the tempo in small steps (you should be using a metronome for this).


Play through the mistake, then go back and practice the chord change that is giving you trouble for 5 minutes or so, then try a playthrough again.

If you’re practicing a full-hour of just one song, that’s alot for a beginner, and I applaud your tenacity. If you’re spending 30 minutes on technique practice and 30 minutes on a song, that is probably a more balanced approach.

With 30-60 minutes focused on song practice, I’d suggest finding a few more songs you’d like to learn and add them to your routine. That way, when song #1 frustrates you too much, you can switch to song #2 until it frustrates you too much LOL!

Sounds like you’re doing great! Keep it up! :+1:

Also, don’t forget to take a day off every once in a while. Some off-time is beneficial for newly learned skills to sink in.