What Builds Your Musical Skills More? - The Hours Played Per Day Or The Years You Have Played

in music •  2 years ago 

Many times people ask musicians how many years they have been playing their instrument but what they should be asking is how many hours a day do you play.

You see, the number of years a musician plays their instrument really has little to do with how well they play. Far more important is the number of hours they play per day.


When you play everyday for long hours you reach new plateaus in your ability. Not only do you build up endurance but you quickly run through everything you have learned up to that point and that is when something new reveals itself.

That's why there are children who can play an instrument like someone who has been playing for years. Just like a kid can beat most adults playing video games. It's not their age that matters, it's the hours they play a day.

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Hope you enjoyed these videos. Now get on your instrument and play!

What do you think builds your musical skills more? The hours played per day or the years you have been playing?


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In my experience (10 years as a pianist/keyboardist) It most definitely has a lot to do with how much practice you have had lately. When I was in school for music for a brief stint (Jazz keyboarding performance) at one of the top music schools in the states they said for every hour of class you have you should spend 2 practicing. Most music majors were in school for almost 20 hours a week, so 40 more were supposed to be spent practicing your instrument, sight reading, theory and more.

Anyways, I played recitals and took lessons from 14-18 but it wasn't until I lived in an "artist commune" where we were jamming for 2-3 hours daily on a slow day, cycling between the 5 musicians that lived there and probably another 15-20 "sister bands". That is when I became a real musician


The longest I can remember playing without stopping except to pee was 72 hours and I felt like I could play anything at that point. I was playing like never before.


That's quite an acheivement. I recently re-discovered the power of this. If you can hit, say four hours in a day, and then the next day come back and do another four and another the next and so on, unlike when you are only doing a little a day, you start accelerating in your progress like nobody's business. I've started recommending increased daily hours as a result. As much as anything else, it's the familiarity you have with your instrument. :-)

That is so true and plus they are consistent with it. I really admire people who spend so much time developing their talent. I used to play violin, the piano and sing while I was growing up but I didn't stay consistent with it.


It's never too late to pick it up again.


Very true :) I have been practicing my singing again :)


You can still start learning again. It's a lot of fun. 😊

Very informative post! Please keep them coming. Resteemed!


I've heard that if you play a wrong note you should repeat it so people think you meant to do it.


Yes, I totally agree with that! I firmly believe that if I practised too much, and managed to get really good (unlikely), I might stop making mistakes, and they're where most of my good ideas come from!


... or call it jazz!


This is so true!!! You haven't screwed up until you signed your name. hitting that next note is signing your name,


I can't be more agreed with that.


Man, that is so true. What I have learned is you can turn almost any sequence of notes into something magical if you just keep grooving. The Rolling Stones did an interview once and talked about how some of their best and most unique parts of their songs were actually mistakes that they just made but with a lot of feeling.


100% i've noticed on some of my own recordings that a bum note just doesn't register as such if you're in a nice tight groove. A solid groove makes up for any 'mistakes', or at least kind of absorbs them so they don't stick out.

This is a true fact. I've been playing the guitar for 6 years now, but I don't practice much so I'm not as good as I could've if I practiced at least one hour everyday, all this years.

The other face of the coin is a friend of mine, and the main guitar on our band, and he's pretty good at playing and he's been playing for like 4 years. He's better than me actually. At least in making solos and that kind of things. I'm better with chords and arpeggios.

So it's not just how many hours a day you practice or for how many years I guess... it's also about what technique you practice the most and how you feel performing that technique.



There is more to it than this post goes into for sure but the hours per day plays a big part of how good someone gets at playing their ax.

I also think that there's a certain life experience and wisdom that contribute to the greats. To me, it's about how fully can you get your soul into your instrument to express fully the music of the cosmos, understanding you are a vehicle. One expressive note can say more than 1000 technically perfect ones, IMHO.


That is true also. Life experience and soul comes from years of living and experiencing life. Hours per day gives you the technical skill to express it.

These kids have spent the time to develop their chops. Quite amazing, I appreciate your sharing.
I feel the time spent daily is the most important factor in developing your skills.
The years come second along with consistency.
In my 20s through to late 40s, typically I would play from 12 to 18 hours a day, basically married to my instrument, obsessed. Learning and playing most of the daylight hours and then playing top 40 rock in clubs 3 to 6 , sometimes 7 nights a week. In those times I could play most anything I heard in my head. Now at 70 yo It's more like taking chances. lol
Thanks for jarring my memory bank, because I remembered many other points, which are way too long to do it justice, and be in this reply. I'll soon write a blog with my personal views.


Look forward to that post. Living and breathing your instrument really shows when someone plays.


Yeah, Living and breathing your instrument reveals your intent and drive when you play. This dynamic translates into your hands and fingers giving you your own signature sound. When it's flowing, you're playin' through your heart Brother.

I agree! Hours played per day is more important

I have actually been practising a lot more lately due to the Steemit open mic "phenomenon". I have noticed improvements in certain passages and techniques... once I relearned them that is. 😉


I've been getting a lot of comments from people saying Steemit Open Mic is helping them get better at playing, singing, and writing songs. Very cool.

Steemit is so much fun and very addicting.

For me, it was hours per day-for sure. I would spend anywhere from 6 to 9 hours a day. I had no teacher and my family couldn't have afforded one anyway. I had to do what I had to do.


Me too. I spend 8 hours a day writing songs for about 10-years and turned it into a career. Got published, toured, all of that. Here's a post I did about my touring days you may find interesting.

Its both. You need the regular practice to get and keep the technical skill, but it takes time for your playing to become you. It really is the creativity, feel and personality the individual makes come through the instrument that makes a great performance, not technical skill. I'll take a sloppy solo with heart any day over a technically perfect one with no soul.


Very true and I agree. I'll take sloppy with lots of emotion over technically perfect any day.

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

I think it's a mixture of both @luzcypher - life experience and perspective, the diverse situations, band experience, performance experience are all important. But if you start young, live long and play every day, you've surely got to get something right.

I consider myself the worst musician I know, judged against the years I have been practicing - Young people, and children today just blow my mind, but so do a lot of people I never respected or understood when I was younger :)

I've played guitar for 40 years, but may not have done as many hours as some people a fraction of my age. I at least play regularly now and I find I do improve. There are definitely some amazing kids out there. I hope they can keep it up and make the most of music in their lives

Definitely consistency and daily hourly practice beats anything. Natural talent included.


I agree. Good old fashioned wood shedding.

Practice makes perfect! As a former musician (I haven't picked anything up to play in well over a decade), I will say what helped me back in the day was practice. The moment I started to slack on practice, it showed. By the time I became interested again, it was too late.

I suppose I could pick something up now and pretty much start over again, but I just don't have the time to practice anymore. Life for your average adult doesn't allow more than an hour or so of me time, much less many hours.

Excellent article! Thank you for sharing!


It's never too late, man.