22 December 2008

Instant Guitar Practice Routine

Here's another post to help those who said they don't know what to practice in the Guitar Learning Challenges survey. If you enjoy it you might want to catch up on other responses:


Do you wonder what to practice when you sit down with your guitar? If you do, you could be wasting valuable practice time. Maybe you just sit and twiddle and play a few songs you know. This is fine relaxation, but it won't make your playing much better.

The best way to counter the problem is to plan your practice in advance, say a week or so at a time. But we all have those busy weeks when we just don't get around to it, and that's when an instant guitar practice routine comes in useful.

Just copy the instant practice routine below and keep it near your guitar. It will be ready for you to pick a couple of things to work on every time you practice.

Practice What You're Stuck On

Maybe there's a chord change you can't make fast enough, or a bar where you always go wrong. Focus on that problem and practice until you solve it.

Learn Fretboard Notes and Intervals

Pick notes, say them and play them in different places on the fretboard. Combining these actions reinforces your learning.

Play a Chord Progression in Several Keys

Take a chord progression you know and practice it in unfamiliar keys. Aim to play in all twelve keys if you can, you'll need some movable chord positions to do it.

Play Chords You Know in New Orders

Build your chord changing skills with this easy exercise. Take a sequence of chords, the chords of a song you know for example, and play them in different orders. You should be able to change to and from all the chords with equal ease. Can you?

Practice Strum Patterns

Add more to your strumming bag of tricks, the more strums you know the better. Use a chord progression you know and make up new strums over it.

Practice Arpeggio Patterns

Again, take a chord progression you know and create an arpeggio pattern over it. Practice with a metronome to build accuracy and speed.

Make up Bass Runs between Chords

Take two chords you know and experiment with bass lines to link them. You can use scales, chromatic lines or just pick notes randomly to see what they sound like. Practice lines you like until you are good enough to add them in your songs.

Practice Intervals

Take an interval such as maj 3rd, min 3rd, 4ths, 5th, etc., and play them all over your fretboard. A good way to do this is to take a scale and play each note of the scale with the chosen interval.

Work out a Melody

Choose a nursery rhyme, Christmas carol or some other melody you know by heart and work it out on your guitar. Don't worry about getting the right key, start from any note and try to find what comes next.

Practice Hammer-ons, Pull-offs, Vibrato, Bends, Slides

Brush up on your basics by playing some notes using these common guitar skills.

Make up Licks

Pick between three and five notes and see how many interesting licks you can make up with them.

There you have an instant practice routine to ensure you do something valuable every time you pick up your guitar. If you are serious about improving your guitar playing then copy it now and keep it with your guitar ready for your next practice session.

What about you, what would you add to this instant practice routine? Share your ideas by leaving a comment.

Not Playing Guitar is taking a Christmas break for the rest of this week. I'll be back next week with more guitar practice tips. Meanwhile, let me wish you all a happy and musical Christmas, thanks for reading.

Read more answers to the Guitar Learning Challenges survey:

How to Fix Stupid Guitar Fingers
Guitar Practice: Never Be Stuck For Ideas Again

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1 comment:

Learning guitar scales said...

Great tips, i think that i have 2 main practices when i play guitar: the 1st one is working on my technique (make it fast, flawless...etc) and the 2nd one is working on my improvisation (soloing over a chord progression), if i'm not doing one of those, i'm sure learning something new in theory.

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