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It’s not about the years, but minutes and hours

2014 October 3
by Mike Vial

My guitar students often ask, “How long will it take for me to learn guitar? How many years have you been playing?”

I could give a long-winded answer, a synopsis, or an adage to this question.

The long-winded answer is a detailed description of my twenty years of playing guitar, which begins with my initial, failed piano lessons at age nine because I never practiced, to the foundations I learned when I practiced and played guitar five to six hours a day during high school (studying songs, playing in jazz band, etc), and the songwriting I internalized during college years, then plateaus where I didn’t improve much, and draughts when I was teaching English and I struggled to dedicate time to music, and the one summer I took lessons with Ken Andreoni to study how he interprets modes, to the songwriting sessions where I kicked out songs ever week, and my current practice routine…

However, that’s not the answer my students are seeking.

So my synopsis is this: practice 15-30 minutes everyday and you will improve. You will find some techniques, chords, songs, and concepts will take more or less time to learn than others. Sacrifice 30 minutes of wasting time on Facebook or watching one rerun of the Simpsons, and make that guitar time.

And the adage? Play guitar everyday. It’s about the minutes, not years.

I think the adage is true for about learning anything, right? Sure, it might take 10,000 hours of deliberate, focused practice to become a master of something, but it only takes 15-30 minutes every day to enjoy a skill as a hobby!

The world might be a happier, heathier place with more folks taking up hobbies, than taking selfies.

Grandpa Burg, a violin hero inspiring future musicians!

Grandpa Burg, a violin hero in his 90s, inspiring future musicians!


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