30 Minute Guitar Practice Routine [Daily and Weekly Practice Plans]
A guitar practice routine can be the most effective way to progress on the instrument.
No matter what style of music you’re learning or experience level you’re starting from, organizing your practice time will help you grow as a player.
Finding the time to sit down and work out a routine, and then spend time each day practicing, can seem like an impossible task.
You have other responsibilities in your life.
Families, jobs, hobbies, paying the bills, etc. are all vying for your time.
Before you know it, the car’s washed, the bills are paid, and your guitar is gathering dust in the corner of your room.
But even for the busiest of the busy, this doesn’t have to be the case.
You can learn how to play guitar in as little as 30 minutes a day, five days a week, if you organize your practice routine correctly.
In this article, you’ll learn how to:
- Maximize every minute you have with your guitar
- How to grow as a player when time is short
- How to make music fun even when life around you is stressful.
With an organized and efficient guitar practice routine, you’ll get time with the family, kick butt at your job, pay the phone bill, and become the best guitarist you can be.
Free Guitar eBook: Download a free guitar PDF that’ll teach you how to play essential chords, chord progressions, solo over chords, and walk basslines on guitar.
Before You Start a Guitar Practice Routine
Before you look at how to build an effective daily and weekly practice routine, it’s important to set up a few learning tools in your guitar practice routine.
By setting specific practice goals, journaling, and recording each practice session, you’ll be effective and efficient in the practice room, squeezing the most out of every minute you have to devote to learning guitar.
Setting Specific Practice Goals
Probably the most important element of any guitar practice routine, setting goals will give you targets to aim for in your playing and show you progress in your studies.
As you work through the practice schedule below, make sure to set specific practice goals for each daily and weekly section of your guitar practice routine.
An example of this would be:
- Scales Daily Goal – Reach 120 bpm with metronome on A major scale
- Scales Weekly Goal – Increase daily bpm by 25% with A major scale
- Scale Monthly Goal – Hit 25% bpm increase with A, D, G, and C major scales
By setting very specific goals such as these, you’ll give yourself specified targets to reach and be able to measure your success over time.
If you find that you aren’t reaching your goals, daily, weekly, or monthly, don’t think of it as a failure.
Instead, take that opportunity to figure out why you aren’t meeting your goals and use that to set goals in other areas of your studies.
For example, if you’re not reaching your bpm goal for the week, it could be a picking issue.
You would then focus on alternate picking for a week, or more if needed, before coming back to the scale exercises with your increased technical skills.
Goals are essential tools when learning any skill, including guitar, and working towards them in your studies will help maximize your guitar practice routine.
Another essential tool for an effective guitar practice routine is keeping a practice journal.
When you’re working in short sections, such as 30-minute practice routines, it’s hard to see results day to day.
By keeping a practice journal, you’ll be able to see tangible results over time as you record your daily exercises and achievements.
If you don’t think you’re growing as a player, look back at your journal over the past few months to see where you were then and where you are now.
You might be surprised that you’ve learn a lot of new material, such as chords and scales, increased your bpm’s with technique exercises, and spent less time each day to learn more concepts on the fretboard.
On the other side of the coin, if you’re struggling to reach a specific practice goal, journaling will help you figure out what’s working for other areas of your guitar practice routine.
You can then apply similar practice techniques and exercises to the concept you’re struggling on to move over that roadblock in your practicing.
Though it may seem like a bit of a strange concept, keeping a practice journal can be one of the most effective ways to see progress and grow in your guitar practice routine in the short and long term.
Recording Practice Sessions
Alongside journaling, another highly effective, and similar, practice tool is recording your practice sessions.
You can listen back to those practice sessions the next day, week, or month, to hear how you’ve improved over time.
You’ll also be able to listen back to problem areas, allowing you to address those areas when you’re not focused on playing them in the moment during an exercise.
Recording can also be extremely effective when working on less measurable concepts in your guitar practice routine, such as soloing or legato playing.
Listening back, and taking notes on what is working and what’s not, will help you quickly address those issues, and enhance your strengths, during these sections of your routine.
Guitar Practice Routine Concepts
Though every guitarist is different in their combination of musical experience and practice goals, there are 7 musical concepts that should be a part of any guitar practice routine.
These 7 concepts cover each of the different skills needed to develop a well-rounded approach to chords, soloing, fretboard knowledge, and musical knowledge.
In the 30-minute guitar practice routines below, you’ll cover each of these 7 concepts in your weekly practice sessions.
By spreading out these concepts in your practicing, you’ll be able to cover all 7 in your studies, and see progress on the guitar each week at the same time.
The 7 elements of an effective guitar practice routine are:
- Ear Training
- Music Theory
As you can see, there are a lot of musical concepts to cover in your guitar practice routine.
It might seem like you need a lot of time each day to even touch have of these concepts in your practice routine.
Don’t worry about cramming these skills into each practice session.
Instead, focus on touching each of these 7 essential musical skills over the course of a series of practice sessions that you repeat each week in the practice room.
As you’ll learn below, having a well-rounded guitar practice routine each week will allow you to grow as a guitarist by working short, consistent practice sessions in your studies.
Weekly Guitar Practice Routine Schedule
Before digging into the daily guitar practice routines, it’ll be effective to plan out your weekly practice schedule in order to get the most out of these short, 30-minute practice sessions.
In a similar way to how you work out at the gym, using a weekly guitar practice schedule will cover essential concepts in your studies, even when time is short.
Here’s how you would organize your weekly guitar practice schedule to maximize time in the practice room, and cover essential skills over a 7-day period.
You’ll learn about each of these three routines, and the rest day, in detail below.
- Saturday – Practice Routine 1
- Sunday – Practice Routine 2
- Monday – Rest Day
- Tuesday – Practice Routine 1
- Wednesday – Practice Routine 2
- Thursday – Practice Routine 3
- Friday – Rest Day
As you can see in this weekly guitar practice schedule, you aren’t working long sessions each day.
But, each week you’ll cover a lot of ground on the fretboard.
By spreading out your practice routine over a week, you’ll use consistency to build skills over time.
These steady, short, practice sessions will produce big results over time, especially compared to not practicing for several days and then doing cram session a few times per week.
The 15 Minute Guitar Practice Routine
If time is really short in the practice room, you can adjust the 30-minute guitar practice routine to work with 15-minute segments each day.
When doing so, you alter the two daily practice sections each do to fit the following time schedule.
- Section 1 – 10 Minutes
- Section 2 – 5 Minutes
Though 15 minutes might not seem like a lot of time each day to practice guitar, over time this consistent practicing can add up.
With steady practice, you’ll keep your hands in shape, keep your ears tuned in to musical concepts, and maintain your creativity on the fretboard.
It might not be ideal to only practice 15 minutes each day, but it’s much better to work in short, consistent practice sessions than not to practice for days on end and then do a big chunk of time on the weekends.
Now that you know what you’ll be practicing, how to schedule your weekly guitar practice routine, and how to work an effective 15-minute practice session, you’re ready to begin working the 30-minute daily guitar practice routines.
Daily Guitar Practice Routine Breakdown
With specific practice goals set up, and your practice schedule planned out for the week, it’s time to look at your 30-minute daily guitar practice routines in more detail.
Each of these 30-minute practice sessions is broken up into two chunks, one that take 20 minutes and another that takes 10 minutes to work through.
It’s very important that you stick to this timing when working on each section in your daily practicing.
Set a timer if you have to.
Just don’t go over time on one item and take time away from the other in your practice routine.
It can be tempting to keep going on an exercise once you’ve started.
Doing so will take time away from other important areas of your practicing, and prevent you from covering all 7 essential practice concepts each week in your practice room.
Lastly, always use a metronome to get the most out of any technical element in your daily guitar practice routine.
So, here they are, the 30-minute daily guitar practice routine sessions, broken down so that you can maximize your time in the practice room each and every day.
Guitar Practice Routine 1
The first guitar practice that you’ll work on, which falls on a Saturday and Tuesday in the example weekly schedule above, focuses on harmony and melody in your studies.
Because guitarists spend most of their time playing chords and chord progressions, as compared to soloing, this takes up the majority of today’s guitar practice routine.
If you find that over time you’re becoming unbalanced in these two areas, you can always switch them up to spend 20 minutes on scales and 10 minutes on chords.
And don’t forget to set specific practice goals for each section so that you can monitor your progress and achieve those goals in your practice routine over time.
Chords and Chord Progressions – 20 Minutes
As was mentioned above, as a guitarist in a band or jam setting, you’ll spend most of your time playing rhythm guitar.
Because of this, spending 20 minutes in today’s session will prepare you to function in a band, as well as take your rhythm guitar chops to the next level in your playing.
Here are four examples of chordal exercises that you could do in today’s guitar practice session.
- Develop specific chord shapes, such as Barre chords or Drop 3 chords
- Learn the inversions for any chord type, i.e. m7
- Practice a new chord progression in multiple keys, i.e. I-vi-IV-V
- Work on playing the chords, in a few positions, for a song you’re learning
Scales and Arpeggios – 10 Minutes
Though many guitarists love to learn scales and arpeggios, which are essential concepts, sometimes this side of your practicing can be the source of an unbalanced routine.
To keep these items in your guitar practice routine, but not overdo it as some guitarists do, you’ll work on scales and arpeggios for 10 minutes in today’s routine.
Remember, set specific practice goals for this section.
And don’t be worried about working both scales and arpeggios in this section of your practice routine.
It’s perfectly cool to work on a scale exercise for a few weeks or months, then switch over to arpeggios, and work both back and forth over time.
Here are four examples of scale and arpeggio exercises that you could do in today’s guitar practice session.
- Learn a new scale in 12 keys on the fretboard
- Practice playing a mode and its related arpeggios in all keys
- Run a practice pattern through a new scale you’re learning
- Play one, two, and three-octave arpeggios shapes for a chord type, i.e. maj7
Guitar Practice Routine 2
Moving on to day two in your guitar practice routine, which falls on the Sunday and Wednesday in the sample weekly schedule, you’ll practice technique and soloing today.
Working these two concepts will help you build your strength, dexterity, and creativity in today’s practice routine.
As was the case with scales, guitarists can often overdo it with technique in the practice room.
To prevent this unbalance from happening, make sure to set a timer and stop your technique exercise after 20 minutes.
This’ll keep your moving forward on both your technical and soloing goals in your daily and weekly routines, and prevent your time from becoming unbalanced in the practice room.
Technique – 20 Minutes
Building technique on the guitar will make anything you play that much smoother and easier on the fretboard.
Technique doesn’t just mean playing fast.
Having strong guitar technique means building dexterity, flexibility, strength, and speed in both your picking and fretting hands.
Because of this, make sure you work a variety of technical exercises in this section of your practice routine to develop a number of guitar fundamentals in your playing.
Here are four examples of technique exercises that you could do in today’s guitar practice session.
- Speed drills with a metronome, steadily increasing the speed
- Legato exercises through scales or finger patterns
- Alternate picking, fingerpicking, or hybrid picking exercises
- Stretching exercises to work on fretting-hand dexterity
Soloing – 10 Minutes
In your soloing practice session, you can let your hair down a bit and be creative as you learn about musical concepts and the guitar fretboard.
One thing to watch in this section is that you don’t just randomly solo over chords or chord progressions.
This won’t help you grow as a soloist.
Instead, soloing with a specific goal will produce better results in the practice room.
I call this type of soloing practice, “constructive noodling.”
This is where you solo over a progression, but you only use one scale fingering, one part of the neck, one outside concept, etc.
By doing so, you’ll build your creative chops, and increase your guitar skill set at the same time.
Here are four examples of soloing exercises that you could do in today’s guitar practice session.
- Solo over a static chord with a specific scale or arpeggio
- Solo on one string at a time to work on fretboard fluency
- Stick to a four-fret span when soloing over a song or progression
- Work on a specific outside concept, such as sidestepping or passing notes
Guitar Practice Routine 3
The last guitar practice routine occurs only once per week in your weekly schedule, falling on a Thursday in the example schedule above.
This doesn’t mean that these practice concepts are any less important than the other items.
But, because time is short each day, and you want to maintain balance each week, you’ll only cover these concepts once every 7 days in your guitar practice routine.
As is the case with any element of your weekly practice routine, if you find that you are struggling with Ear Training or learning songs in your playing, you can switch this day with another to cover it twice each week.
That is the beauty of this type of practice approach.
You can move things around to bring a strong focus to weaker elements in your playing, while maintaining daily and weekly balance in your guitar practice routine.
Ear Training – 20 Minutes
One of the most important elements of any practice routine, and the one that many guitarists avoid is ear training.
Though ear training is tough, it can be the biggest reason why you see growth in your playing over time.
Now, ear training might not mean what you think it does.
For many of us, we have nightmares about singing intervals in music theory classes.
Or, struggling to write down melodies by ear on staff paper in classical guitar lessons.
But, ear training can be fun if you do it right.
In this section, focus on what’s practical to you and your musical goals.
This could mean learning songs by ear, or working on transcribing a solo by your favorite guitarist.
As long as you’re working on learning music by ear, and expanding your ability to hear music in the moment, then you’re being productive with ear training in your guitar practice routine.
Here are four examples of ear training exercises that you could do in today’s guitar practice session.
- Pick out the chords to a song by ear
- Learn a riff from a recording
- Transcribe a solo by ear from your favorite player
- Sing intervals, scales, arpeggios, or other musical devices
Learning Songs– 10 Minutes
In the second section of today’s guitar practice routine, you’ll work on expanding your repertoire as you learn new songs.
One of the biggest roadblocks guitarists face when learning the instrument is that you have a bunch of scales and chords under your fingers, but can’t play a song.
So, when you have friends over and someone sees your guitar, then asks you to play something, you run through a few scales and chords, and it’s a bit awkward.
Wouldn’t it be cooler if you could grab your guitar and play a song for yourself, or your friends?
Spending time each week learning songs will help you get to that level in your playing, and give you a real, tangible, piece of music that you can play or perform.
Here are four examples of song exercises that you could do in today’s guitar practice session.
- Learn the chords to a new song
- Learn the melody line to a tune, for instrumental guitarists
- Learn the riffs and/or solo from that same song
- Learn a song by ear to work ear training as well
Just as you would when working out at the gym, you don’t need to completely stop studying music on your rest days.
Instead, you can focus on studying concepts away from the guitar in these practice sessions.
The two most popular musical elements that you can study away from the guitar are listening and music theory.
Both can be done anywhere, you don’t need a guitar or amp to work them out in your practice routine.
And, they’ll grow your ears and understanding of how music works, even on a rest day.
So, though you’re not working your fingers on the fretboard, don’t think that these rest day workouts are any less productive than days when you’re on your guitar.
They can be just as productive, it just takes a little planning in your guitar practice routine scheduling each week.
Listening – 30 Minutes
As you have two rest days each week in the sample schedule, Monday and Friday, you can spread out these two concepts in your guitar practice routine.
This would mean spending 30 minutes of listening on Monday, and 30 minutes of music theory on Friday for example.
When working on your listening practice, take time to do focused listening.
You probably listen to music for hours a day, but it’s often in the background or you’re not really paying attention.
In this 30-minute guitar practice routine, spend time listening intently as you grow your ears and expand your musical understanding at the same time.
Here are four examples of listening exercises that you could do in today’s rest day practice session.
- Listen to a solo you’re learning on repeat
- Listen to a song you’re learning on repeat
- Listen to a new album
- Listen to a new artist you just discovered
Music Theory – 30 Minutes
The final element in this guitar practice routine breakdown is music theory.
Again, you can use an entire rest day, 30 minutes, to work on music theory during your weekly guitar practice schedule.
As was the case with ear training, understanding music theory can be extremely helpful in your studies, but many players often avoid it.
Learning music theory doesn’t have to be dull and boring; create fun theory exercises and you’ll look forward to studying theory each week.
By working on practical musical theory, such as analyzing songs you’re learning, or reciting the note names for a scale you’re studying in 12 keys, you’ll tie theory to your fretboard in your studies.
This will make music theory more practical, and keep a focus on other elements of your practice routine going at the same time.
Here are four examples of music theory exercises that you could do in today’s rest day practice session.
- Read about a specific theory concept you’re studying
- Write out theory exercises such as key signatures, scales, chord tones
- Analyze a song or chord progression you’re learning to play
- Learn a new musical term such as Coda, refrain, passing tone, etc.
As you can see, you don’t need a ton of time each day in the practice room to grow as a guitarist.
By working short, 30-minute sessions, and using a weekly guitar practice schedule in your studies, you’ll maximize your time in the practice room.
This organized approach to guitar practicing will be just what you need to become a better guitarist when time in the practice room is hard to come by.
Do you have a question about building a guitar practice routine when time is short? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.