Guitar basics: How long should I practice to get good?

This is something I get asked a lot of when people first find interest in wanting to pick up an instrument and enroll in lessons. The simple reason is that our time is very much a commodity in our lives and making sure that use that time wisely matters quite a bit. "We have other things to do during the day so I just wanna know much time is this thing (learning guitar) going to take up in my day-to-day?" is what you're probably thinking....

I think to answer this question you have to ask yourself: WHY are your deciding to take lessons and WHAT are your goals with the instrument? 

Your "why" will determine the majority of the answer; if you just wanna stick to basics and play easy songs you can sing a long to and even play to your friends/family the amount of time is very minimal (20-30 mins of practice a day, 3-4 days a week). If you're very intense and see yourself playing some really technical music and playing in an advanced style, the time requirements will fit the hours of a less-than-part-time job (1 hour a day, 5 days a week). If you're like me and see yourself being paid as a professional to perform at venues and events and maybe even become a guitar teacher some day, you're looking at a definite part-time job of practice (3-4 hours a day, 5-6 days a week). 

For some, music is very much a therapeutic past-time and taking lessons is a way to reinforce their practicing and be introduced to some great music to enjoy during leisure. I made the mistake early on in my teaching career thinking every student that came into my doors was going to be the next prodigy and they're going to love classical guitar and it's going to be awesome! But, I soon realized that there is no such thing as "the perfect student profile." It's most important that you're honest with  yourself and put in the time that will reap the benefits that you're looking for. After all, the hours I've suggested are just that, suggestions. 

Magdiel Zuniga