Music Information

Guitar Players...Get a Balanced Guitar Practice Diet

Do you have a wide variety of things that you practice. Or do you like to binge? (You know...the type of player whopractices sweep picking for a kazillion hours a day but only know three chords)!

Having a balanced practice routine is essential if you want to become a versatile guitarist. If you just practice one ortwo things, sure you'll get great at those things...but you'll be weak in other key areas.

In this lesson you'll learn how to create a practice routine that is well-balanced and willhelp you work towards your ultimate vision of how you would like to play.

I generally categorise what I practice into one of seven areas:

  • Technique.
  • Repertoire (Covers).
  • Composition.
  • Improvisation.
  • Ear Training.
  • Theory.
  • Music Reading.

Everything that you practice will fit into one or more of the above areas. For example,if you are learning a very challenging cover tune by transcribing it off the CD you areessentially working on your technique, repertoire and ear training at the same time. Ifyou also write down the song in standard notation, you will also be developing yourmusic reading skills.

Now?do you have to practice things in all seven areas? I believe that you don't haveto if your vision doesn't require it. For example, if someone wants to become anawesome classical guitarist and has no desire to improvise, then I believe that theydon't need to practice things relating to improvisation. We all have limited timeavailable for practice, so it's a waste of time working on things that don't specificallyhelp you reach your goals.

Let's go through a few exercises?

Exercise One:

Think about the vision that you have for your playing for a few minutes.How would you like to playin ten years time. Make it exact!

Once you've done that, brainstorm as many things that you need to practice in order to play likeyour vision. What specific things do you need to learn, develop and practice? Write them down now.

Exercise Two:

Next to each of the things written down for Exercise One, write down a category next to it. Forexample, if you wrote "I need to be able to play faster" then write technique next to it.If you feel that something you wrote belongs to more than one category, then writedown all the categories it could belong to.

Exercise Three:

Look at your answers for the previous two exercises. Once you've done that prioritisethe categories shown below. For example, if you feel that technique is the mostimportant thing you need to work on to reach your vision then put a 1 next to it.

Practice Area Priority Level (1-7)
[Note: 1 is the highest priority].

Repertoire (covers)
Ear Training
Music Reading

Now here's the important point. You should spend the most time practising yournumber one priority. I know it's pretty obvious, but you'd be amazed at how manypeople don't do this! I know a few guitar players who would like to be able to playincredibly fast, yet they don't do a lot of technical practice. Talk about setting yourselfup to fail!

Exercise Four:

Decide how much time every day you will spend on each category. Write it down below.

Practice Area Time Invested Daily

Repertoire (covers)
Ear Training
Music Reading

All done? Great!

So what's the next step?

The next step is to decide on a specific activity for each practice area.Make sure to write them down.

Here are a couple of examples of what someone might put down...

Technique: I will invest 10 minutes a day on alternate picking exercise one. I willstart with the metronome at 80 beats per minute (bpm) and increase it by 4 bpm daily(as long as I can play it perfectly).

Ear Training: I will invest 10 minutes daily a day on A minor pentatonic ear trainingexercise one.

Got the idea? You would have one specific activity for every practice area. If youhave a lot of time to practice you could set more than one activity per practice area.

Give this method a try. I'll think you'll be more than happy with the results!

Craig Bassett (The Guitar Solutions Expert) is a professional guitarist, guitar tutor and author who lives in Auckland, New Zealand. To get a free high-quality lesson e-mailed to you once a month, please go to:

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