7 April 2008

Learn Your Guitar Fretboard, Root - 5th intervals

Visualization exercises are a great way of getting more time to practice your guitar. You can do them anywhere and at anytime because you don't need your guitar with you.

You perform visualization exercises in your mind, by forming a picture of an activity or a goal you're working on. The exercises have a number of practical benefits for you as a hobby guitar player:

  • You don't need the guitar, you can practice anywhere
  • You can practice for just one minute
  • They reinforce muscle memory
  • They help you to internalize knowledge of musical and guitar theory
Now that you know more about the benefits of visualization exercises, here's a simple one to give you a feeling for what it's like to do them.

The exercise: root and 5th note positions

This exercise will improve your knowledge of relative note positions on the guitar fretboard. It should take you about 3 to 5 minutes, but you can make it shorter or longer depending upon the time you have available.

Here are the steps of the exercise. Before you start I recommend you spend a few instants relaxing yourself, take a few deep breaths, close your eyes if you feel like it. Hey, no, don't go to sleep, here's the exercise...

  1. Start by visualizing your guitar's fretboard. Make an image that's as clear as you can in your mind.
  2. When the guitar fretboard image is clear focus on the first frets, up near the head.
  3. Name the "E" note on the open 6th string, say it aloud to yourself.
  4. Now move your mental image to the the 2nd fret of the 5th string. This is the 5th interval, a "B" note. Again, visualize this fret and string as clearly as you can.
  5. Repeat the above steps for each fret along the 6th string up to the 12th fret.
You might have trouble creating a clear image in your mind at first. You'll also quite likely find that your mental "film" is interrupted by all sorts of other ideas. Don't worry about this, with a little practice you'll get better at creating your image and at keeping the interruptions at bay.

To make a shorter version of the exercise, just reduce the number of frets you work on. You can work from the open string up to the 5th fret, for example.

Congratulations, that's all there is to it. I hope it doesn't feel too weird to you. Practice regularly and you'll soon find that you can instantly name notes on your fretboard and find the right fret and string to play any note.

Please use the comments section if you have any questions on using visualization to improve your guitar playing.

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