The Workout... Part 1
(13 Nov 03)
Hi! My name is Eric and I'm here to PUMP...YOU...UP!!! (Anyone remember that show or the spoof of it on SNL?) Well
ok, I hope you don't think this is some kind of a "The perfect guitar workout that will definitely improve your chops by 200%
or you'll get your money back" type thing.
Cuz I don't think that there is any kind of workout-method that works for EVERY player. It depends on your level, your style, your current abilities, the time you're able and willing to invest into practicing etc.
My goal with this workout is to show you how to create one yourself, customized for you personally. In the forums (and not only at the ibreathe-forums) I have seen quite a few posts asking for workouts. And the GW-issue with Steve Vai's "10 hour workout" was one of the best-selling issues ever.
Now, one thing that people obviously missed (based on posts I have read) is that Steve didn't try to give away a "works for everyone, for sure" type thing. He tried to make it clear that the workout was his own and worked well for him, but might not work at all for someone else. Everyone should go and make up his own workout, based on the examples in Vai's workout.
This applies here too. I'm gonna show you how I created my workout, how I came up with the exercises, how I adapted it etc. Let's start with
- First of all, a workout might not be the right thing for everyone. Some people just don't function that way. For them, it might be better to go by their gut-feeling... to pick up a guitar whenever they feel like it and work on whatever they feel like right then. Others might need a disciplined way of practicing, an actual schedule, a workout like the one described below. Now, I don't wanna imply that you NEED to make up a workout. If something like that just doesn't work for you, then by all means don't force yourself. But at least try it once, it might just benefit you.
- As I said, our goal is to create a workout that is personalized for you
featuring exercises that are supposed to help you to work on what needs work. So don't take my workout and use it the way it is, unless you really feel that all those exercises are something you need and want to work on yourself. Replace the ones that you don't find helpful with some that will help you to improve a certain aspect of your playing.
- A workout should be changed a bit from time to time. As Morse puts it "When you practice, work on what you can't do yet, not on stuff that is easy already" (D'uh!) Doesn't sound like rocket-science, but it really is all true
if you use the workout on a daily base, some exercises might not be a problem at all after a while. So you'll wanna replace those with new ones which you haven't worked on yet.
- Remember to be realistic about the time you spend practicing. My workout can keep you busy for several hours. If you don't have that amount of time, your workout, of course, has to be shorter. If you only have 30 minutes available, separate that time into 3-4 blocks. Each block should be dedicated to an aspect of playing
reading, technique (Picking, legato etc.), theory, patterns, chords, rhythm or whatever.
If you have a 4 hour workout, and you have to stop after an hour cuz you gotta go to school / work or whatever, it doesn't make sense. So try to figure out how much time you have, and make up a schedule based on that.
- Combine both "standard", recurring exercises and new ones
that way, you'll have some exercises that you work on every time, and some new one that'll keep it interesting.
I'm gonna focus on some standard aspects of playing
picking, legato, chords, scales and patterns etc. Feel free to add topics based on what you need to work on
i.e. theory, harmony, arrangement and reharmonization, transcribing, reading, analyzing. All that can be part of a workout.
Try to separate two things: mere noodling (just sitting there, doing mechanical exercises, or playing along to some tunes on TV etc.), which is actually a helpful thing to work on your technique and ears without getting bored too easily, and focused practicing
that latter one is what we're gonna do with our workout.
Check out my "Do Not Disturb" and "Squeeze It Out" articles for more advice and ideas on practicing etc.
Let's get started with the workout, ok?
Warmup and Picking >>