Party Songs and Practicing Guitar

Guitar Noises #6: May 14, 2021

I never aim to get stuck in a YouTube wormhole. It’s hard to avoid sometimes so I deliberately stay away from the site unless I know what I’m looking for. But the temptation to keep watching more recommendations is strong and I don’t always escape right away. This week I fell into a fun series of guitar videos.

It started is with me trying to learn something on piano, which is is new for me. I’m working on a song in 6/8 time and I wanted to hear some examples of piano in that time signature. I know the song I’m playing is a little too obscure to find a tutorial. But I soon get bored with piano explainers and guess (correctly) that my song is going to have a few guitar covers. I start watching. They are all played in 4/4 time but I don’t even care anymore. YouTube’s recommendations of what to watch next are already winning.

The good news is I end up discovering Party Marty Easy Guitar Tunes. This is a really fun series of cover song tutorials with full song playthroughs.

Have you ever been in a bar and there’s a guy with a PA and acoustic guitar and he can play just about anything? He’s got all the fun pop, rock, country and classic songs in his repertoire. He gets peppered with requests all night, but if it’s a popular song from the past forty years or so he’s got it covered.

That’s what Party Marty’s list of song lessons is like. From AC/DC to Florida Georgia Line and a few thousand other party songs you’ve heard somewhere before. Party Marty shows you how to strum and sing your way through it.

If you’re ever asked to play for an eager audience of friends in your backyard or at a campsite, Party Marty’s list of songs has most of the things that will please your listeners. Take a look at the videos and pick something quickly. The more you look the harder it is to decide what to play. Let me know in the comments if you picked a song you’ve always wanted to play.

How Long Should You Be Practicing Guitar?

In the last newsletter touched on the idea (unpopular, I know) that if you’re practicing for one hour a day you’re actually spending a big chuck of that time just warming up.

Just mentioning practice makes music sound less fun already. But what are your goals? Setting your goals will tell you how much you need to practice everyday. One common piece of advice is to buy a guitar stand so you pick up your guitar and strum it several times a day. But how much practice time does that give you? If all you want to do is strum the same things everyday the guitar stand method might be enough for you. But if you want to improve noticeably you’ll need a more rigorous practice regimen.

This is where a hard truth comes in for busy people and the lazy people too. To improve noticeably at guitar you need to practice at least one hour a day. That is the bare minimum to see a change in your abilities over time. If you have more serious goals you need more serious practice. When trying to figure out how long to practice I refer to “How Much Should You Practice Your Instrument?

We recommend spending 1.5-2 hours a day practicing, as it is a great amount of time to thoroughly warm up and make true accomplishments in each practice session. These are the practices you walk away from and already feel better than when you went in. You will see yourself progressing and developing at a very steady rate over time. In 1.5- 2 hours, depending on how many pieces you’re currently studying, you should be able to dedicate a fair amount of time to each. This window of time is also perfect for creating a relaxed environment.

This explains why I don’t like ads or emails telling me “You can learn guitar FAST…”

Because you can’t learn guitar fast.

You might have some quick early progress. Kind of like beginners luck when you play poker or bet on the horses for the first time. For some people guitar seems easy when they are starting out.

Getting really good and properly good at a musical instrument is going to take a long time. It might not be 10,000 hours, which is really just a made up number. But without long practices at some stage in your journey it’s going to take forever.

Learning to play guitar well is going to use up a lot of your time. So make sure you enjoy doing it. If practicing doesn’t feel like a chore you’ll be less likely to give up and spend the rest of your life wishing you hadn’t.

How much practice a day do you think is enough?