I think that many guitarists are frustrated by their progress. They think about how many years they've been
playing. And then they think about how they should be much better than they are. And this causes them to feel
bad. It's an easy trap to fall into. But here's a question for you…
Have you ever considered that focusing on the length of time that you've played guitar for is
setting yourself up to fail?
That's a pretty interesting question. Here are my thoughts on it…
I believe that focusing on how long you've played is totally not a good idea. I feel that it's much better
to pay attention to how many focused hours of practice that you've done. What this means is
rather than keeping track of how many weeks, months and years you have played for…you keep track of how many
focused hours of practice that you do.
And what is a focused hour of practice? I think of it as an hour of practice that…
- Is developing skills relevant to your musical goals.
- Is done with effective practice techniques.
- Is done with a relaxed technique free from excessive muscle tension.
- Is done with a relaxed mental state free from anxiety, frustration and distraction.
The focused hour of practice is a much better unit of measurement for a few reasons…
There is absolutely no correlation between the length of time someone has played and their ability. But
there is an extremely positive correlation between focused hours of practice and ability.
You have absolutely no control over the passage of time. But you do have total control over how many focused
hours of practice that you do. If you're not progressing at the rate you'd like, then the solution is simple.
Do more focused hours of practice on a more regular basis.
I find keeping track of how many focused hours of practice I do very motivating. I can look in my diary
and feel a sense of accomplishment. I can see the work that I'm putting in, and know that progress is
It allows you to time travel. What do I mean by this? Let's take a look at an example…
Let's say that you meet a person who has played for 20 years. And for this example, let's say that
the person has done 3 focused hours of practice each week for the last 20 years. (That works out to a
total of 3,120 focused hours of practice).
Now let's imagine that you admire their playing and would like to get to roughly the same level. What would
you need to do? Yep…you got it. You would need to do 3,120 to get roughly to the same level of playing.
And because you're motivated and passionate about guitar you decide to practice guitar for 2 hours a day.
This would mean that doing the 3,120 focused hours of practice would take 1,560 days. This works out to 4.27
So you have effectively made 20 years progress in only 4.27
Pretty cool huh? This thought alone should be pretty inspiring. You can easily accelerate your progress
(i.e. time travel) by working harder. [SIDENOTE: For guitarists with a victim mentality, this will be an
incredibly depressing thought. But I'll save this for another article! ].
That's all for now. But before we finish up, I need to ask you one last question…
How many focused hours of practice did you do this week?
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