View Full Version : Letīs get physical!!!

11-18-2002, 07:36 PM
Hi everybody!

OK, hereīs the deal: Iīm 23 years old and have been a serious drummer for 15 years. I attended music school for 3 years (1996-98), but 2 years ago I lost all interest in the drums. I simply felt that drumming wasnīt my thing in life, it was just something Iīve always done since I was a kid. So I quit playing. 6 months ago I felt this urge to go into a music store, and something inside my head told me to buy: yes, you guessed it, a guitar... Now Iīm completely in love with it!! I have finally found my place in life.
The thing is, I would like to attend a music school again but as a guitarist this time. I can only spend about 4-5 hours each day with the guitar, since I have a full-time job. What I need is some help with a practice routine to boost my physical playing ability.
Since Iīve been to a music school, I already know some theory, hearing, arranging and so on, so the first obstacle is the physical ability with the instrument. The music is in my head, but I canīt play it yet...

To work on this I use the following schedule:
Scales/linear examples: 1 hour
Arpeggios/sweeping: 1 hour
Legato: 1 hour
Chords and progressions: 1 hour
I warm up properly with simple stretches and finger exercises to avoid injury, and I practice slowly at first with a metronome (60 BPMs or so), then work it up to speed with small increments, keeping an eye on my technique, using muscle memory to make my fingers do the right thing over and over.
If I have the time I simply jam along with a CD to connect my licks and ideas to the music I want to play.

Since I will compete with people who have been playing for 5 years or more (thatīs my guess, anyway) when I apply for a music school, I really need some help! I mean, Iīm a 23-year old beginner...
Iīm willing to work as hard as I possibly can, īcause this is just something I need in my life. I know it takes time, but Iīm not going anywhere...

Any tips on practicing, comments that will help??? Please, shout it out!!!

11-18-2002, 08:03 PM
Hi there,
welcome at ibreathe. How odd... I am currently preparing an article about that very topic... !!!

Anyway, I think itīs cool that youīre so motivated, although it can be a dead-end street to set some very high goals, or to force yourself to do anything.

You have a nice practising routine, you have theory knowledge, some good strategies ( metronome, warm-ups ).

Now, three things come to mind...

1. Donīt burn yourself out. Try to keep variety in your practising routine. Donīt play till you hurt yourself ( sinews, muscles ) or till you start to get frustrated. Take some breaks, because itīs better to lose a day in between than to lose the love for the instrument

2. PLAY. Asides from practising, always apply the stuff you work on. ( Check out my "Be Creative"-Article ! )... After practising, or in between, jam, improvise over a jam-track or a drum-beat, jam with some friends.
It takes a while to learn how to apply all the abilities and knowledge, to develop a tone etc. YOu canīt take a shortcut there. But improvising, jamming, using all the stuff you work on will help you a lot to become a better player.
Otherwise, all the knowledge you have is pointless, and all your exercised licks will sound like... well, exercises.

3. Donīt worry about competition at the school. Make sure you have what the school wants ( it depends on whcih school you wanna attend ).
When I went to the GIT, I thought I wasnīt all that bad as a player, but man, I met so many awesome players there... that inspired me, though.

Hope this helps

11-18-2002, 08:40 PM
Hi Eric,

Thanks for the reply! (boy, that was quick!)

Speaking (errr... writing) about getting burned out, thatīs something Iīve seen alot, and I always keep an eye out for it. The thing is that right now I just love practicing, since itīs making me better. I thank you for your word of caution, though. Itīs easy to forget about getting burned out or injured when you are doing something you like.

When it comes to jamming, I just feel that I need atleast some decent ability on the instrument to be able to play music, thatīs why my routine is so technique-oriented right now. I do, however, try to jam atleast a few minutes each day, since thatīs probably why we picked up an instrument in the first place (that and to be a rockstar...)

About the music school, I guess all I can do is to work hard and try until someone will accept me as a student, Iīm just eager to get started :-)

Until then, do you have any further tips on practicing/playing, like what types of exercises and so on?? Iīm into alot of styles, but most of all I love music made by guys like Dream Theater, Giant, Morse, Van Halen and the big guy Vai (if you try to reach for the stars, you just might reach the treetops...).

Thanks again, Eric!

P.S I heard "Canyon Of Spirits", what a beautiful song! Keep up the great work!


11-18-2002, 08:48 PM
Hi again,

first of all, thanks a lot for your comments about COS... I am glad you like it.

About practising: Go to the "Play"-area and check out my articles about picking ( Art Of Picking 1-3, Break It All Down, Smooth It Out ) and Legato ( "Good Morning Left Hand" ).
Also, James just recently posted a cool article with some tough picking exercises, and Jamey wrote some articles about general stuff regarding developing and practising.
The Picking-Articles feature a bunch of basic and more sophisticated picking exercises with advice on how to work on them, ( "break it all down" focusses on that ), which should be what youīre looking for. I also am working on an article about practising etc, itīll take a while till that one is available at ibreathe...

Anyway, try to keep a variety in your schedule, donīt forget about transcribing stuff to work on your ear and relative pitch.

What I meant by jamming is not blazing over a chord progression. Letīs say you worked on a pattern of the C Major scale... one position, and you can play that pattern up and down.

Now, record a jamtrack in the key of C ( or any other, youīll need to transpose the pattern then ), and try to use that pattern. Play some simple melodies, make up phrases, some licks, repeating patterns. Tempo doesnīt matter. It might feel and sound akward at first, but what is so cool about this is:
You will hopefully start to add some phrasing to make your licks / melodies sound more interesting. Finger vibrato etc.
Also, you might get some cool new ideas.
And youīll use that stuff in a musical context, which will help you to develop your own tone etc.

As soon as I started practising, working on my technique, I ALWAYS ended my practising sessions by jamming on my favorite songs or a jamtrack. I still do that today.

OK, I hope my articles ( and the others at ibreathe, a lot of helpful stuff ! ) will help you out a bit...
Warm regards

11-18-2002, 08:54 PM
Hi Eric,

Thanks alot, Iīll get right on it! :D

See ya next time!


11-19-2002, 01:48 PM

Iīve read the articles you suggested, and theyīre great. Just what I was looking for.

I have a question, for you Eric or anyone else for that matter, about the left hand.
How do you develop the ability to strech the fingers sideways without getting too tense (I donīt want to stress my joints more than I have to)?
Any comments, tips?


11-19-2002, 01:59 PM
First, I tried to find a good angle for the left hand... kinda parallel to the neck. ( See the attached image )

Next, I started playing regular major- and minor chords in the upper areas of the neck, and then switched to add9-chords. ( Above the 12th fret ).
I also did whole-tone runs ( I.e. Low E string: F G A, A String: Bb C D, D-String: Eb F G etc. ) in that area of the neck.
I then ( over several days ) started to move those patterns down the neck, so the stretch would increase...

If it hurts, stop !


11-19-2002, 02:08 PM
That makes sense, Iīll try it. Thanks!