The problem: You suck at guitar or could use some improvement. The solution: Having a proper practice schedule. And not just practice but effectively and efficiently using your practice time. Nobody becomes a rockstar by playing the same thing day in and day out (unless your a certain group of Disney "brothers" with a TV, Movie and Record contract...).There are many different opinions out there on how you should spend your time when you practice guitar. Today I’m going to tell you how to effectively practice guitar to ensure constant improvement and that your ass never gets bored or too frustrated with it. The overall goal is to keep that guitar touching your hands daily and a smile on that face. So let's begin...
The Warm-Up: Okay, to effectively practice guitar and avoid injury, you must warm up. There’s a lot of debate over what the actual purpose of the warm up is, and I plan to put that to rest. Some people believe you should do it to avoid injury, some to get the blood in your hands flowing and others that it is meant to almost "wake up" your fingers. All of these opinions are n some way right. However it must be said the point of warming up is NOT to play fast or shred, by any means. When you are warming up you should be focusing on using proper technique, warming your fingers up slowly and finding your rhythm via the metronome.
Start off by warming up your fretting hand. Do this by doing starbursts with your fingers to start blood flow, chromatic runs along the neck of the guitar. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to put your hand in the first position on the low e string and come up with any random combination of 0-4 (think TAB) and play that along the neck... For example: 0-2-1-3-2-4-3, or 0-2-4-1-3, or 0-1-3-2-4, etc. Etc. Then you would pick one of these patterns and play them in the same finger order down to the 5th fret. Do this on all 6 strings. The goal over time will be to do this all the way to the 12th fret on all 6 strings. This will build your dexterity like no other! Try various finger exercises, strumming chords and other fret-hand exercises to warm her up first. This all may sound like a lot to do but you shouldn’t be spending more than 5 minutes here.
To recap your left-hand warm up should be:
- Warm up hands with stretches and exercises
- Spend 5 minutes warming up fretting hand with chromatic runs (improvised or not) - focus on technique and form, not speed.
- Start by practicing the exercises to the 5th fret, but over time work your way to the 12th on each string
Next you want to warm up your picking hand. Practice different strumming patterns with chords you know, work on the above runs you came up with and alternate strings and picking techniques. For example, you could play 0-2-4-1-3 down the High E alternate picking the whole way down and back, then skip down to the G string and repeat. Focus here on keeping a consistent tempo and all the notes ringing clearly. This is the secret to learning how to play lightning fast! If you have a metronome- use it. If not, download one, there are millions out there that are just a google search away. This again should take no more than 5, maybe 10, minutes tops.
Your right hand warm up:
- With the exercises you created above, practice playing with different picking styles: all downstrokes, all upstrokes and alternate
- Also try skipping strings during the warm up. So play the scale down to the 5th fret and back, then skip up 2 strings and repeat, then down one string, up 2, etc etc.
- If you have a metronome, now may be the time to take her out again. She is the key to finding your rhythm and building your speed
This is where things start to vary a little more based on skill level. What you’d want to do next is spend a good 30 minutes to an hour practicing techniques you are learning or improving. Anything from theory to pinch harmonics people, it all counts. Also, a tip I have found from my experience with guitar- spend more time building your strengths than improving your weaknesses. You’ll have way more fun playing this way. Don’t neglect your suck completely, but remember it’s there and slowly work away at it.
Now the fun part! The next hour or so of your practice time should be whatever you want it to be! Learn or master a song you love, improve your ass off for an hour, write a song if that’s what you love. It often gets forgotten that we are making music here people. You NEED to be having fun doing this or you’ll eventually resent playing the instrument. Never forget to enjoy yourself because it’s not a competition. In fact, I, as well as many others, are always willing to answer any questions you may have along the way. Feel free to leave any comments or questions for me below guys n gals. Hope this was helpful!
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