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Thread: What should I practice

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  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Johannesburg, South Africa

    Angry What should I practice

    Hi Guys,

    I have been a member a while but have not posted much. This sight has provided me with an enormous amount of useful information and I must thank everyone for that.

    I have been playing guitar for about eight years and seem to have hit a huge wall. My practice is unstructured and I would really appreciate a good practice regime that I could stick to. If anyone has some advice, please help. I am tending towards the delta blues style.


  2. #2
    Chicks dig me Danster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    South Texas
    Hi there,
    I also languished for quite a while with unstructured practice. What helped me was to write down my goals, and then to figure out what things I needed to practice in order to reach those goals. I wrote down long term and short term goals. That helped me a bunch to get myself motivated. Also important I think is to have a way to gauge your progress, and to document that progress. That is, it has helped me tremendously to have a practice notebook, and to record in there the things I am doing. You may want to gauge your progress by taping yourself every so often, or just by recording in your notebook the things you have learned (e.g., new scales, or certain picking exercises at a given tempo, etc).

    So I don't have a specific practice regimen to suggest, cuz I think everyone's should be tailored to their own goals.

    For me, I hit walls when it feels like I am not making progress, so the documentation of progress is a biggie for me.

    I do think it is a good idea to totally ignore structure practice occasionally and just have fun with the guitar.

    I also think its important to change your practice routine regularly, so it doesn't get stale.

    Hang in there,
    Last edited by Danster; 06-09-2003 at 06:30 PM.

  3. #3
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    May 2003
    Hahahahah, good question. Since I have recently over come this problem, let me tell you what I did.

    First I thought about different areas of my playing, and made categories for them. Mine are 1) Warm up 2)attribute exercises 3)technique exercises/licks 4)Shapes 5)Improv 6)Songs

    The warmup section of my practice that I use comes from John Petrucci's REH video rock discipline.

    Secondly I thought about the attributes of my playing speed, endurance, accuracy, finger independence, etc. and I created exercises to help me develop them. For example, to gain finger independence in my left hand and syncronization with picking, i do an exercise that i call 1,2. When I do this exercise I play a note with my index finger, and then a note with my middle finger a half step up. When I play the second note I lift up my first finger, therefore making it MUCH more difficult (for me at least) opposed to leaving down my first finger. I would play this exercise as fast as I can cleanly for 2 minutes straight. Then what I would do is figure out all the rest of the possible finger combinations being 1,3 1,4 2,3 2,4 & 3,4. Those would be all my exercises for Left hand finger independence/syncroniztion.

    After that I made exercises to develop all other attributes of my playing. The exercises are as follows; finger independence (which I explained), right hand endurance, left hand strength, and scalar rudiments.

    The right hand endurance exercises include playing sixteenth notes, gallops (one eight note then two sixteenth), inverted gallops (two sixteenth then an eight note), and straight eight notes (all one stroke picking). I would do these exercises starting with a downstroke then starting with an upstroke. Starting with an upstroke is very important to do because most guitar players upstroke while picking is very under developed.

    The left hand strength exercises are exactly like the left hand finger independence exercises except I use legato technique to play them.

    The scalar rudiments exercises are important. I thought about how I play scales and worked out all the possible rudiments that I could use while playing them. Since I use 3NPS scales all these exercises only use 3 notes per string. The concept behind this is exactly like the classic 1,2,3,4 exercises. When I play these exercises, I play every permutation possible ( only like 6) with all possible finger combinations (first middle pinky with a stretch between the first and middle, first middle pinky with no stretch, first ring pinky with stretch between ring and pinky, and finally first ring pinky with no stretch).

    Now how do I actually play all these without getting bored. THATS THE KEY!!!!!!!!

    Well what I did next was create 6 sets. Each set then had at least one permutation from each exercise in it. I then practice the exercises for two minutes each. After each attribute set, I move on to another set in a different category to keep me occupied, and not get bored.

    So I'm going to try to wrap this up now, and just give u the outline of my practice without too much more detail; I'm sure you can figure out how I do this without me totally explaining each setion.

    --Straight Up/Down
    --Connecting Patterns (on each string with each pattern)
    --Linear Sequence (I pick one to work on for like 2 weeks straight
    --Intervallic Sequence (same thing)

    ---Root Inversion
    ---1st Inversion
    ---2nd Inversion
    ---5 String Sweeps
    ---6 String Sweeps

    I play all these shapes in a specific key, and do a new key every day. When I play the arpeggios, I play them in ascending 5th, so that I can get a grasp of where each one is on the neck, and not just know them linearly.

    As far as the technique licks go, I play exercises (mostly from here) that focuses on a specific technique. The techniques I use are alt picking, sweep picking, legato, string skipping, and tapping. Every practice session, I only focus on two exercises from each category.

    As far as Improv goes, I create a jam track, and just jam over it for a half an hour.

    Then I play the songs that I am working on, Im working on two right now, and when I get them down, I'll change them up.

    So with the attributes and shapes make sets and alternate sets between them and the rest of the categories to keep yourself entertained. So you get the drift right?

    Lastly document what you do. Every single exercise you play, document it. All I do is write down how fast I can play an exercise cleanly. Since my goals are to play as fast as humanly possible, I don't bother with long or short term goals, I just make sure that I am always improving, always getting faster and cleaner.

    Hope this helps


    Oh yeah, this whole practice regimen takes me about four hours to get through, but the thing is since I am always entertained by what I am doing and NEVER get bored, I am able to stick to it, and the time seems to flllllllly by!!!
    Last edited by darknailblue; 06-09-2003 at 06:41 PM.

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Toronto, Canada

    Practice what you play.

    The thing that I think is important, is to practice what you like to play.

    In your case, since you are into playing Delta style blues, I would practice the scales, arpeggios, and chord progressions that are used in that style of playing.

    Learn as many Delta blues songs as possible, because through learning these songs, you are getting familiar with the style.

    No point learning Pagannini's 24 Caprices if you are interested in playing the blues. Learn the blues instead.

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2003
    You think???? I alway feel like picking up something totally different helps from time to time. When I hit a wall I go and play classic for a while even though that isn't my main interest. I find that it helps. That's also why I think it's good to have at least 2 different guitars.

  6. #6
    Registered User loveguitar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003


    Below is my practice scope for the moment:

    1) Sing intervals
    2) Sight singing

    1) Arpeggio playing for dominant chords
    2) Practice solos for songs

    1) Improvise

    I most often don't have enough time for all. And
    it changes over time.

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Toronto, Canada

    to yngski

    I do that a lot too, and it's because I like to play different things, and not just stick to one type of music.

    Of course, that as long as you are playing (regardless of style), it will help you in some way or another.

  8. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2003
    I agree totally, sometimes it's good to try something totally different. You'd be surprised at the things you might learn from it. When I pick up something classic and work on it for a bit it forces my 2 hands to communicate better with each other and my finger awareness improves for both hands. It also just kills my left hand with all that stretching.

  9. #9
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Johannesburg, South Africa
    Thanks guys. I think that documenting my practises is a great idea. Part of my frustration is that I don't have a measure to determine if I am improving and at what the rate of improvement is.

    Must go and write a practice routine and put my first performance down on record.

  10. #10
    Registered User Greg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Hi guys,

    I have a question concerning practice. I have a schedule based on the good ol Petrucci folder-method:


    - Picking
    - Legato
    - Arpeggios
    - Sweeping

    Music skills:
    - Chords and rhythm
    - Scales
    - Theory
    - Transcribing
    - Sight-reading

    - My own songs, riffs and lyrics
    - Improvising over a backing track

    If I spend 20-30 minutes on each segment, it takes 5-6 hours.
    Now, my question is this: Do you guys think it's better to go through the whole thing every day or would you recommend to split it up and increase the time on each segment, like practicing arpeggios every other day for one hour instead of every day for 30 minutes?
    Any suggestions?

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