At MayosMusic we offer Private, Semi-Private and Group guitar, bass, ukulele, banjo, fretted instrument and auto-harp lessons. Plus, we are a complete luthier service that includes guitar and amplifier repairs/restorations. Through the years we have been asked numerous "Guitar Lesson" and "Guitar Repair" related questions (many repeatedly) by new/current/old and prospective students and customers. Here is our answer to: Does the home practice environment really make a difference and What about some tips on practicing?
First off, it is true that one can sit-down and practice/play the guitar just about anywhere, but when you want to get the most out of your practice time, then here are some suggestions.
Ideally, a 7:1 ratio of practice time, to lessons time, works well for the average student. So for example: practicing 30 minutes every day, for the 30 minute lesson once a week. With this, the student will progress very nicely. However, some students (who maybe don’t feel they are as natural at learning guitar) might feel that they need 45 minutes to an hour a day to be prepared for a lesson, while others (quick studies) may only require 15 to 20 minutes and only 4 to 5 days a week to feel prepared.
The more you practice and play, the faster you learn. I have seen many “naturally gifted” students that did not apply themselves and thus went no where with the guitar. Likewise, I have seen students that at first struggled to learn the guitar, but never gave up, and became very good players.
Note: Eric Clapton stopped temporarily (for around 2 years) playing guitar in his early years, when he first began learning it, because he felt he couldn’t do it. But his desire to play was too great (obviously), and he became Eric Clapton… Mr. “Slow Hand” the guitar great.. So DON’T GIVE UP!!!
First off, you need to find a balance between practicing lesson assignments (which moves one forward with skills, technique, etc.), and songs (which are fun to play, keep you interested, and feed your soul). It is best to start your practice sessions first with a warm up exercise, then moving on to the lesson assignments (scales, arpeggios, chords, etc.), and finishing off with songs. Note, beginners will need some time to develop enough skills to play their first song. So be patient.
I was once told by a student who had read that if one practices something for 1000 times, you will perfect it. This is false. This student practiced chords and chord changes and kept a record on his way to 1000. However, at around 915, he still played sloppy, muted, and paused on the changes. He only played to a certain level (let’s say 55% of perfect) and he only got to 55% good. But he never mastered what he was working on. So keep in mind, that it is (much) more important how you practice, than how much time you practice.