Thursday, March 10, 2005

Guitar Players...Get a Balanced Practice Diet

Author: Craig Bassett (The Guitar Solutions Expert)Article:Do you have a wide variety of things that you practice. Or doyou like to binge? (You know...the type of player who practicessweep picking for a kazillion hours a day but only know threechords)!Having a balanced practice routine is essential if you want tobecome a versatile guitarist. If you just practice one or twothings, sure you'll get great at those things...but you'll beweak in other key areas.In this lesson you'll learn how to create a practice routinethat is well-balanced and will help you work towards yourultimate vision of how you would like to play.I generally categorise what I practice into one of seven areas:1. Technique. 2. Repertoire (Covers). 3. Composition. 4.Improvisation. 5. Ear Training. 6. Theory. 7. Music Reading.Everything that you practice will fit into one or more of theabove areas. For example,if you are learning a very challengingcover tune by transcribing it off the CD you are essentiallyworking on your technique, repertoire and ear training at thesame time. If you also write down the song in standard notation,you will also be developing your music reading you have to practice things in all seven areas? I believethat you don't have to if your vision doesn't require it. Forexample, if someone wants to become an awesome classicalguitarist and has no desire to improvise, then I believe thatthey don't need to practice things relating to improvisation. Weall have limited time available for practice, so it's a waste oftime working on things that don't specifically help you reachyour goals.Let's go through a few exercises.Exercise One:Think about the vision that you have for your playing for a fewminutes.How would you like to play in ten years time. Make itexact! Once you've done that, brainstorm as many things that you needto practice in order to play like your vision. What specificthings do you need to learn, develop and practice? Write themdown now.Exercise Two:Next to each of the things written down for Exercise One, writedown a category next to it. For example, if you wrote "I need tobe able to play faster" then write technique next to it.If youfeel that something you wrote belongs to more than one category,then write down all the categories it could belong to.Exercise Three:Look at your answers for the previous two exercises. Once you'vedone that prioritise the categories shown below. For example, ifyou feel that technique is the most important thing you need towork on to reach your vision then put a 1 next to it.**Practice Area Priority Level (1-7)** [Note: 1 is the highestpriority].Technique Repertoire (covers) Composition Improvisation EarTraining Theory Music ReadingNow here's the important point. You should spend the most timepractising your number one priority. I know it's pretty obvious,but you'd be amazed at how many people don't do this! I know afew guitar players who would like to be able to play incrediblyfast, yet they don't do a lot of technical practice. Talk aboutsetting yourself up 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**Technique Repertoire (covers) Composition Improvisation EarTraining Theory Music ReadingAll done? Great!So what's the next step?The next step is to decide on a specific activity for eachpractice 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 pickingexercise one. I will start with the metronome at 80 beats perminute (bpm) and increase it by 4 bpm daily(as long as I canplay it perfectly).Ear Training: I will invest 10 minutes daily a day on A minorpentatonic ear training exercise one.Got the idea? You would have one specific activity for everypractice area. If you have a lot of time to practice you couldset more than one activity per practice area.Give this method a try. I'll think you'll be more than happywith the results!About the author:Craig Bassett (The Guitar Solutions Expert) is a professionalguitarist, guitar tutor and author who lives in Auckland, NewZealand. To get a free high-quality lesson e-mailed to you oncea month, please go to:

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