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You are Here: My Home Page arrow Guitar Articles arrow Effective Practice Strategies
  Sunday, December 17,  2017  1:15:pm

Effective Practice Strategies
Effective Practice Strategies

Your guitar instructor tells you to practice. Practice.what exactly is practice? Does this mean to go home and play everything that you covered in your lesson in one day? Maybe it means to dig out your most impressive song or riff and play it over and over.

The truth is that many instructors, myself included, take for granted that students know how to practice - this is simply not the case. I can't tell you how many times I asked a student if they practiced and they said "yes", only to witness a less than stellar performance where the student couldn't play past the second measure.

Like most guitarists, you probably have a few things in your tool belt to work on: scales, arpeggios, chords, picking technique, soloing, exercises, songs, theory, etc. How do you juggle everything and feel like your moving forward and not stepping backward?

Plan a Strategy

What do you want to accomplish today? If you can set aside 30 minutes or an hour and focus on 1 or 2 of these tools you'll be able to focus better than thinking of a dozen things you need to cram into your practice session.

The operative word here is "Focus". You can "play" for 3 hours and get nothing accomplished because you're just "playing" guitar and not committing yourself to a "focused practice" routine.

What happens if you get to a couple notes on that 2nd string that don't sound right? Play ONLY THE 2ND STRING. This is so important because many, many students will play the WHOLE passage or exercise again. This wastes A LOT of time because you already know the rest - it's just the 2nd string that's a concern.

After practicing the 2nd string problem, back up and play a note or two before the problem area to transition smoothly. Another big problem now is working transitions, so after working on any problem area - practice transitioning INTO the problem area. Practicing slow will teach the fingers exactly what they need to do.

Ok, so DAY 1 maybe you work on scales and exercises. Memorization might be on your list. If the scales are 2 octaves, just focus on the 1st octave and memorize that part.

Be sure you can play smoothly through the exercises and/or scales you are practicing even if it's only 1 or 2!

Day 2 - Attempt these scales and exercises with a metronome. Start slow and write down the tempo you can play comfortably.

This tempo marking will only be temporary because you'll be getting more comfortable with the fingering. You may also want to start creating melodies with these scales today.

Mixing them up and making music is the best way to understand these scales. This is also a good time to work in your arpeggios if you have them.

Day 3 - Review scales and exercises and get into your reading. The only way to be a better reader is to practice reading.

Read anything you can get your hands on. If you're still working out the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd string notes in open position - read them and write your own ideas that use these strings. Writing your own ideas and playing them is a GREAT way to relate to the notes quicker.

Day 4 - Review what you've been doing this week, maybe spend 15-20 minutes on review and jump into a song you're working on. If there is an area in the song that you have problems with, begin there. You don't have to start at the beginning. Start at the end and work backwards if you want.

Day 5 - You know you have chords to work on.first, review everything to this point. It doesn't have to be laborious like previous days, just run through your tools so you don't forget them. Start with some easier chords and work your way to the difficult chords. When dealing with complicated chord progressions, take your strumming hand out of the equation and just focus on what your fretting hand is doing.

Observe each finger as it transitions to the next chord. Do this many times until you see the responsibility of each finger. With this knowledge, you can minimize the movements of every finger resulting in a smoother transition because the fretting hand is now moving as a precision tool.

Day 6 - You guessed it, quick review. Cover everything in roughly 20 minutes or so and work on your theory. You may have written work to complete or apply to the guitar. Spending time with the written work will give you new perspectives into the fingerboard, so really take your time here! This is a vast subject, so take your time and make sure you understand each phase because everything builds from the basics.

Day 7 - Oh, it's your lesson day! Depending on the time of your lesson you may be able to practice and you may not. If you do, great! Go over everything thoroughly and touch on any problem areas a bit longer.

Ok, this is a nice way to organize your practice sessions, but what if you don't have the time to commit to a 6-day practice schedule?

Any teacher who is worth your time will be flexible. If you have 3 or 4 days to practice and you can only realistically practice one - three concepts or tools, than that's what you work on in your lesson. Believe me, you won't be working on EVERYTHING in a typical 30 or 45 minute lesson.

Usually the teacher selects 1 or 2 tools to work with. You may even have a couple questions that take up 15 minutes of the lesson, which leads to examples and discussion if necessary!

Practicing is an art form all to itself. Everyone has their own way of practicing and what works for one student will not necessarily work for another.

The above schedule is only a suggestion and will hopefully give you a great guide to tailor for yourself on your musical journey.

Do you play the acoustic guitar and want an in-depth course just on the acoustic technique?

Acoustic Guitar Methods gives you the tools you need to be an acoustic guitarist.

The information in the course covers both finger style guitar & playing with a pick plus there is something for all level of guitarists.

Acoustic Guitar Methods is a great learning platform to branch off and learn acoustic guitar.

( Thank You For Taking The Time to View This Article. )

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