24 June 2008

The Bride's Guide To Guitar Practice

"Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue."

No self-respecting bride would show up at her wedding without these four good-luck tokens. Tradition has it that they will lead to a happy marriage.

What is less well known is that these four elements also make for a happy guitar practice routine. A good practice routine ensures you don't waste time wondering what to do when you pick up your guitar. You can make the most of your limited time by just getting on with what you need to do.

Something Old

As your guitar playing progresses you'll gather a bunch of knowledge and skills. If you don't revise these from time to time then as sure as eggs are eggs, you will forget them.

Dedicate a part of your practice session to this old stuff. It might be a song you learned, a chord progression or or a technique. Just pick something you know and play it again.

Play something old as a warm up at the start of your practice. It can also be a good thing to end on. It boosts your confidence when you finish on something you can play instead of something you can't.

Something New

Adding something new to your arsenal of guitar tricks is one of the fun parts of learning. So set aside some of your practice to work on new chords, licks, songs or techniques.

This is also the part where you focus on fixing your problems. Got a chord change that you can't do fast enough in your latest song? This is where you work on it.

The balance between old and new is entirely up to you. You probably want to keep learning new stuff all through your guitar journey. But when you have a big repertoire of songs and techniques you might spend more time revising that than learning new tricks.

Something Borrowed

The guitarists who have been before you are always a great source of ideas and inspiration. Spend some of your daily practice time studying their work.

You can get ideas to work on from many sources: magazines, books, DVDs, web sites or other players you know. Look out for transcriptions of songs, licks and riffs of the players and styles you're interested in.

You can also broaden your knowledge and get new ideas by studying styles you are less familiar with from time to time.

The bottom line is, no matter how much you know already, other players licks will always give you new perspective and inspiration.

Something Blue

If you play in any modern musical style, somewhere in it is the blues. It is one of the foundations of all modern popular music forms.

The blues is feeling. Whatever musical style you play it boils down to communicating feelings to the audience in the end. Think about this while you practice and play with energy and enthusiasm.

Don't just go through your exercises like you were filling in a tax form. You're supposed to have FUN. Or maybe you are feeling really ticked off by something in your life?

Catch on to your feelings and let them infuse the music you play. Learn about the elements of the blues and how to use them in your music.

So there you have it, blend these four easy to remember ingredients for a successful practice routine. As for the happy marriage, I don't promise you anything, but if it doesn't work out, at least you'll have your guitar to console you... ;-)

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