Can you learn guitar in 10 hours? The truth is that learning guitar takes time, and 10 hours really don’t cut it. While it is possible to learn the basics, 10 hours cannot magically transform you into a rock star. But it is good to start somewhere; and remember that quality beats quantity, always.
With all the resources available in the information highway, it’s easy to learn just about anything nowadays. All the tutorial videos—baking, gaming, makeup, designing, everything—allow anyone to quickly absorb the fundamental ideas and put them to good use.
Nowadays, it’s possible to learn a semester-long programming class in just a matter of days. A two weeks’ worth of music theory subject can now be learned in just a few hours.
But is it possible to learn guitar in, say, only 10 hours?
Applying the 10,000-hour theory by Malcolm Gladwell, this could mean that it will take 33 months of 10-hour non-stop daily guitar practice to achieve mastery of the instrument. But what if you couldn’t wait that long and you need to be able to play a song at a party tonight and knock everyone’s socks off?
10 Hours? 10,000 Hours?
Gladwell asserted in his blockbuster book Outliers that it takes 10,000 hours of dedicated, thorough, and steady practice before anyone becomes fully proficient in any field.
This makes a lot of sense, actually. The most successful people in various fields had years and years of practice and experience before they hit it big, with a grueling number of working hours (that can even exceed 10,000) from sun up to sundown. They didn’t just sit there all day and woke up the next day as the newest mover and shaker in their fields.
If you will consider all the little things that are involved to become a skilled guitar player, all the intricacies and the ins and outs, and factor in all the necessary practice times, 10,000 hours seem reasonable.
And for the more elite players, 10,000 hours seem lenient.
Imagine squeezing all the basic chords, power chords, barre chords, riffs, and solos, fretting and picking, the pentatonic scale, the 7 major scale modes, triads, and a whole lot more in 10 hours.
Maybe in 10 hours, you can move from a complete beginner to an okay guitar player. Or maybe even a good one, if you have the knack for music and some flair. And also, from having fine fingers to bleeding ones.
Related: How many guitar chords are there?
10 Hours is a Stretch, But There Might Be a Good Chance IF…
What can you possibly learn in 10 hours? Well, it can depend on how fast you learn, how well you retain information, if you are already familiar with music theory, or if you have a natural talent in music, particularly in playing instruments like guitar.
If you are looking to learn in just 10 hours, we say go and hammer as much knowledge into you as possible, all the while putting that knowledge into practice. But if you want the more realistic approach than just obsessing on that 10-hour streak, then the following tips can help you get there—also in the minimum possible time (though not in only 10 hours):
- Get the right equipment. It is easier to learn if the guitar is in a good state, with strings in good alignment and movement (check the nut), and also in tune. It is easy to botch up the whole practice routine when the guitar is not tuned right all along. A good practice habit starts when you look forward to practicing, and having good equipment is a great motivation.
- Have a practice buddy. It could be a friend who’s also into playing guitar (better if that friend is more experienced) or maybe a tutor. The important thing is that you play with others because it can be a powerful reinforcement. Plus, your practice buddy can easily point out if you are not doing something right or if you’re starting to pick up a bad habit.
- Consistency is king. And to be consistent entails being truly dedicated to practicing. This means setting aside a few hours each day practicing. Actually, it does not even have to be every day. But! Don’t go too long without practice, or you will risk forgetting and undoing all of your previous efforts! Establish a doable practice routine; it can be an hour or two after class or work. Have a schedule that will work for you.
- Stick to a style. Many guitarists have a specific style that resonates with their soul or taste. Finding and sticking to your style (it does not necessarily mean you should not dabble with other styles) keeps your interest and passion alive because there’s nothing like learning the kind of songs you enjoy the most and playing those songs for you and your audience.
- Have a good sense of direction. Of course, all the good things, all the practice hours put in, all the instructional videos, everything will be for nothing without direction or structure. Create a map detailing all the stuff you want to cover, the aspects that you want to prioritize, and follow it. Know what you want and how to get there.
- Get a teacher. Money spent on proper learning is money well-spent. Get a teacher and learn the right way.
In case you are really insistent on learning guitar in 10 hours, this video might interest you:
It does not actually teach you anything but through this video, you get a sense of what you can learn in those 10 hours.
Quality Over Quantity: Final Words
The most important thing is that the number of hours you set aside for practicing does not always translate to quality play. After 10 hours of practicing, you might find yourself with only a little new knowledge, a few chords to start with, and still clumsy fingers that are tired, painful, and bleeding.
Also, too much practice is a waste of time and may seem dragging. This will eventually harm your progress. Real skill takes time to develop, so take your time.
As a popular saying goes:
It’s not the hours you put into the work;
It’s the work that you put into the hours.
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Joyce Ann graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies at New Era University. She especially enjoyed her journalism class and was nominated for Photojournalist of the Year. Joyce Anne loves music; she is a self-taught piano player. When she's not writing (or baking or watching documentaries), she's probably playing songs on the piano, mostly by ear.