How much do you practice? 2020 in review (and now also 2021 in review).

geese_comgeese_com Madison, WINew 503
edited January 2022 in Gypsy Jazz 101 Posts: 466

Now that 2021 is here, I can now look back on how 2020 went guitar-wise. I keep a daily practice log where I track what I practice every day, how long I practiced, as well as list goals, and other notes.

Here is the 2021 post:

Here are my stats for 2020:

Total minutes practiced: 13,771 minutes

Total hours practice: ~229 hours

Average time practicing/day: 39 minutes

Days I practiced: 354 days

Days I did not practice: 12 days

With working a full time job and young kids at home, I try to practice when I can and have the energy for even if it is just 10, 15 minutes sessions here and there versus longer sessions.

I also did not count time spent jamming, performing, or just noodling around. Just time where I was actually working on something intently.

Some people probably practice way more than I did in a whole year in 2-3 months, but I'll take what I can get. At this rate, it is going to take me 50+ to get my 10,000 hours in.

I learned a lot of new songs (heads and rhythm) this year as well as a couple complete waltzes. Really improved my right hand technique as well. Worked on improvising more coherently. Really tried to work on using chords more in my solos, but it still needs a lot of work along with the rest of my playing.

Overall, I am happy without how much I learned this past year. Of course, I wish I could have spent more time practicing and playing guitar. Gives me something to work towards in 2021!

How much you all practice? What do you like practicing? Feel free to share your experiences!



  • Russell LetsonRussell Letson Prodigy
    Posts: 360

    Can't say I've ever had a practice regimen, though I certainly must have made some deliberate effort to learn fingerpicking pieces from the Oak tab books that I accumulated 50 and more years ago. Mostly I've just sat on the sofa and noodled around, occasionally repeating a phrase or playing through a tune more than once. If there's been "practice," it has always been a matter of learning a particular tune or working on an arrangement, sometimes from a chart, though I don't read standard notation. (I spent more than half of my playing life as a fingerpicker and learned swing rhythm after I turned 50.)

    As a result, I don't know scales or arpeggios, but I do know chords and voicings and the chord patterns that fit together in the American Standards repertory. (I subscribe to the Tinker-Toy School of musical theory.) And a lot of that I initially learned and practiced while playing out with my more-experienced bandmates. After 60-some years of playing and playing around, I have a feel for some aspects of guitaring, and I'm content to operate within my considerable technical limitations.

  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,320

    I love to practice. Unfortunately this year has been way too busy. Not much at all.

  • Posts: 4,812

    That's impressive man, your daily log. I did something similar for a year, I kept a WordPress blog, in 2013 but nowhere as detailed. These days I put in a few hours a day, I think. But the most important thing I believe, as you already did, is to pick up your instrument every day. The length of time is less important than the regularity of it. My blog started with the goal of one hour a day at a minimum but eventually I realized and decided that even if I think I have no time at all then I'll at least sit down for two minutes. Consistency is key to overall success. I believe I mentioned my two minutes practice on the forum before and I still stick with it. I tell it to friends and students. I'm convinced that it is the one thing that put me on the path of improvement as a guitar player, the two minutes minimum requirement. If it turns into more than that great and it often does, but that's a minimum must. As a matter of fact, I mentioned it the other thread with musicians' quotes that I developed my own system of practice. It's based on two minutes practice. Not two minutes a day, it's about two minutes increments.

    But anyway, what this pandemic year did for my playing after putting a stop to mostly everything is that I focused most of my time in soloing woodshed. As opposed to having a mix of everything when our band was active: chord charts, rhythm, head melodies and soloing. This focused approach did make a difference. I feel I made a bigger jump there this year than previous. We'll see how effective though once we resume regular hours of operation sometimes in spring.

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • TDogTDog Victoria, BCNew Shelley Park Montmartre; Cigano GJ 5
    Posts: 37

    I'm in a similar position to Geese - young kids, busy job.

    I average about a 1/2 hour a day during the week and an hour or two a day on the weekend.

    I do an arpeggio / scale warm up, try to learn a song a new tune each week or two (ie. memorize / work out some improv ideas) and spend the rest of the time working on tunes I already know and playing over backing tracks.

    In 2021 the plan is to focus on improvising more coherently and intentionally rather than recycling the same old licks along with everything else that I need to improve (rhythm, intros and endings, transposing etc).

  • MikeKMikeK Asheville, NCNew Altamira M-30, Altamira M-10
    Posts: 389

    I enjoy practicing, and look forward to it every day. The only nights I dont practice are gig nights. Here's my practice routine, before & during the pandemic:

    Before the pandemic--I played 2 steady weekly gigs, plus whatever others I was hired to do as a sub. Since I know around 50 heads, I would make sure that I ran through all of my heads every week (over my backing tracks) before the gigs rolled around again. That way, I would have them ready to roll if I felt like calling them. I would also try to learn a new tune every now & then to add to the mix. I figured my la pompe & improvising would stay sharp from those hours on the bandstand each week.

    During the pandemic--I have 1 steady weekly gig, and am extremely grateful to have it. It may seem a bit obsessive, but when I get home from the gig, it's fun for me to start thinking about the tunes I'll call at the next week's gig, and I mark them on my master list. Throughout the week, when I do my nightly practice, I make sure to run through all of my heads (to my self-made backing tracks). But when I get to one of the songs I think I'll call the coming week, I play the head as well as one form of la pompe & a form or 2 of soloing, along with the backing track. That seems to keep me on top of my game. And I try not to call the same song from one week to the next. My hope is to basically call all of my 50 tunes or so over the course of the month.

  • billyshakesbillyshakes NoVA✭✭✭ Park Avance - Dupont Nomade - Dupont DM-50E
    Posts: 1,337

    Another one here with kids and a job. The summer was tough as I was working full steam to make sure the company would make it through the lean times. Since the Fall, things have turned around. I've been focusing more on right hand technique and doing so through arpeggio exercises and various licks. I've continued to work towards improving the fluidity of my tremolo technique. I believe the effort has paid off and am excited about some of my progress. The main thing was to commit to practicing more (almost daily). I wish I could say I have as may practice days as you, but I think I'm getting ~5 days/week. As I work through the arpeggios, I'm focusing on the intervals and the knowing the relation of the notes as I go through (6th, 9th, 3rd, b7, etc) so that I've vastly improved my fretboard knowledge. My hope for 2021 is to lock in the learning I've achieved from the last 3 months of 2020 and also get back to playing live with my friends. This music is too much fun to be kept in a needs to be shared.

  • No kids, nothing to do. I had a bunch of outdoor gigs pop up during the summer and fall so that was something to look forward to. As far as practice, I say its a tale of three 2020s. Before the quarantines, I was practcing quite a bit. I had about 3-4 gigs a week and a fulltime gig. Most of my practice was based around becoming familiar with tunes. In the thick of it, I was doing much other than maintenance daily. In the summer, I started tp [practice intentionally again.

    When I practice, I don't log my time. I try to have a plan for the week or longer and stick with that thing until I can do it by rote. Some days I have an hour, some days three. I try to pick it up now every day, unless my body tells me to break. I practice tunes as chord melodies almost strictly and the rest is finding all the blind spots on the neck and running that through transcription exercises.

  • ChristopheCaringtonChristopheCarington San Francisco, CA USANew Dupont MD50, Stringphonic Favino, Altamira Chorus
    Posts: 187

    Dude, seriously - great job.

    Logging your practice is also amazing... I'm guessing it helped you keep things top of mind and made you feel more responsible to practice, right?

    I do something similar with my exercise, but seeing this makes me think I should log practice time too.

  • geese_comgeese_com Madison, WINew 503
    Posts: 466

    Thanks! I find keeping a practice log very helpful. I have been keeping a daily log since about May 2019.

    It helps keep me accountable. I am not a fan of seeing "off day/did not practice" on my log. Also, I sometimes take notes in the log of how I am feeling while playing or if I noticed something that I was struggling on that I need to focus on in future practice sessions. It is also satisfying looking back at earlier dates in the log and seeing things that were once difficult that I can now play. It shows that if I work on something enough and in the right way, I can eventually get it (e.g. Finally being able to play all of Montagne Ste. Genevieve. along with a backing track).

  • MarcdMarcd Westport, CTNew Bernabe M15, Martin OM28 MD
    Posts: 6

    I practice or play at least ten hours a week.

    Since I am turning my focus on Gypsy Jazz, I spend time on various right hand techniques for swing, bosa,bolero, waltz rythmns. I play arpeggios also. I am waiting for two publications from Django books regarding technique. I also visit youtube and study repetoire from Sven Jungbeck.

    It's a good life

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