It's not a mistery: a musician needs to spend time with the instrument.
If you don’t practice enough, your progress will be much slower than a person who practices more.
This leads us to the question: how long should I practice?
In my opinion, “Quality over quantity” should be one’s motto.
I think that can be useful this old article published on New York Times in Febrary 1977.
In this article are presents some quote from the Maestro, and one of this concerns the practice:
Mr. Segovia still practices five hours a day, he said, in spurts of an hour and 15 minutes each, “and sometimes I get one extra hour of practice in the evening before we go out, while I wait for my wife to remove the face that she put on in the morning and put on another one.” But he adds with a philosophical shrug, “You know that she was for many years my pupil, but now she is my boss.” It is a favorite joke of the guitarist and he enjoys the laugh it evokes.
With some further research, i've tried to define the daily routine of Segovia:
he preferred to practice in four periods of an hour and a quarter, just five hours a day, with relaxation between the periods of activity.
He would practice in fifteen-minute sets with a short break between each set to stand up, stretch, have a drink of water, etc.
After three sets of intensive practice he would take a longer 15-minute break.
He would have his main meal of the day around 1:00 or 2:00, take a siesta, and then resume practicing in fifteen-minute sets in the late afternoon or evening.
Like a pomodoro workflow, but a bit more relaxing!
References and further readings
- Andres Segovia: "I'll Rest Later" - The New York Times
- How to Practice Classical Guitar — Eric Henderson
- The Pomodoro technique for musicians
- Guitar tips: How to practice productively