View Full Version : Actually practising

01-03-2003, 01:44 AM
Ive read these forums a lot, and many of the tips are good and helpful, but something Ive realised recently is... I don't know HOW to practise. I know that doing scales is good, and playing with a metronomne is good, but I have no idea how to make up a practise scheldule and what ratio of say scales to real songs I should be playing.... I have no idea. Until recently, Ive alwayts just messed about and got better any way, but now I want to improve at a steady rate by concentrated practise, and I have no idea how to do it? Can anybody reccomend a practise scheldule / ratios?

01-03-2003, 02:28 AM

Shred Fan
01-03-2003, 02:44 AM
Ok, here we go...........

There is a large difference between playing and practising, but don't think that playing song you already know is not practising it depends on how you do it.

In a nutshell....

Playing -I see as using the Abilities / Technique you already have to play something you know.

For example say, I was to pick up the guitar and start playing...I dunno we'll just say a Metallica song for now. So if we're standing there jamming out on Enter Sandman or Fuel or whatever you want.

Now while it may benefit you as you are playing it to reinforce what you know , it is considered playing, as you are not really improving on what you know, you are reinforcing what you already know, so it is playing.

You can play this was and you will improve to an extent.....

HOWEVER (and it's a big however)...the real gain is to be found in.....Practising (oh come on , you knew that one was coming, don't look surprised)

Practising - I see as working on the the Abilities / Technique you have to play something you know Better , Faster or Cleaner, with your teeth etc.

Back to our example, say your playing Sandman and now rather than just jam out on it you look at how you play and observe things such as "that could be faster, this bit is out of time a little, there is some noise happening here, it would be better if I picked harder etc." .

Now when you observe these things and start working on them so you can play the song BETTER , then you are practising.

So what you would do is....stuff like....

Eliminate noise, find where it's coming from , slow down and prevent it. Speed up bits that are slow. Work with a metronome to fix up bits out of time, pick cleaner and harder for a better sound etc.

Start by making all the improvements and then work up speed slowly until you can play the song at full tempo with all the improvements.

After all this , next time you play that song, you will be playing it better.....and that is what I see as improvement in you playing. You can play it cleaner , more in time etc.

By observing and finding ways to play a song better (practising) for an hour you will find that it will do you more good than just playing a song over and over for an hour (provided its a song you know already)

Asleep yet? No? Good ....moving on.......
Now a lot of people tend to practise different things for different amounts of time. But if I had to recommend some things you should without fail practise every day

Warmup (always warmup)

Chromatic Excersises (1,2,3,4 \ 1,3,2,4 \ 1,2,4,3\ etc.) up and down the strings.

Paul Gilbert Lick ( this one is a killer excersise , just great)

B--12-13-15------15-13--- Repeat x 10000

And various scale patterns.

Those are just some basic ones and there are heaps more you can do.

Be sure to play these excersises at all different points on the neck and on different strings. Also , its good to start with both and upstroke and a downstroke (alternate pick).

The reason for all this variation is that the point of these excersises are to get you used to things you will have to play in songs , solos, licks etc. and if you only practise at say the 5th fret..when you have to play something up at the 12th , you will have difficulty, so practise it everywhere.

For some more picking Excersises check out some of Eric's articles, there's a lot of good info in there.

Yeah ok , when doing the excersises always use a metronome cause you gotta stay in time, its very important, and a great way to track progress.

Now the main thing behing picking excerisises are that they are simple excersises that are supposed to be done with very high repetition to build/maintain technique. Now we often pay a lot of attention to playing excerisses clean fast and with a metronome but some don't treat songs the same way , this defeats a purpose. When you learn a song, be sure to treat it just like an excersise, play it the best you can and work up with a metronome.

Yngwie even said himself he never actually "practised" in that he never really did excersises and scales all the time, but he did say that he always made sure he played clean and in time all the time. In such , he treated everything he played with the same importance to playing clean and in time as you do with an excersise.

So it's not totally necessary to do endless excersises but because of their simplistic nature in which they can be repeated many many times in a small timespan, they give more gain.

Also, be sure to make up/find other excersises that possess aspects which you find difficult because if you play things that are easy , then you won't gain to much , yet if you practise things that are hard and work on them to make them easy , then you have gained a lot.

Ok , thats basically my whole Philosophy on the practising/playing topic......I could go on for longer but I kept it reasonbly short.

I could write up a bunch of excersises for various aspects of technique etc. but it would take a while and i'm sure they could be found elsewhere.

So , for those of you who have actually read it all, I hope you learned something and are enlightened to go pick up you axe again. I just outlined my views on the subject and hope it helped.

-Shred Fan

01-03-2003, 01:27 PM
Gather up exercises that you think will be useful to you.
Get a place to practice, with no distraction, a music stand, and a good chair with a footstool or foot rest. Make sure there is adequate light. Get a diary or practicw notebook or use a spreadsheet or database program on your computer.

Paper and Brain Exercises:
Learn the construction of major scales from any starting note, by interval and then by modifying one note at a time (to create the cycle 4 or cycle 5). Write out all of the major scales on staff paper.
Then learn how to construct triads on each note of the major scale and invert them first in close then open voice. Write out all the close voice triad for at least one scale on paper (it would help to do all of them). Learn the modes from a static root and as they occur through a scale, learn how to modify a major scale to get any of the modes from the same root. Write out the modes from a single root and then write out the modes from each starting note within a mojor scale. Learn how to construct harmonicminor and melodic minor scales from major scales first from the root then from the 6th tone and in the case of Melodic minor from the 2nd tone as well. Learn how to extract the Major and Minor pentatonic scales from the major scale in all three places.
Learn how to add the b5 to the minor pentatonics to get the blues scale.
Read my articles:

Get a drum rudiments book and learn to read rhythms, you can eithe use your hands to tap them out like the book says or use up and down strokes of your pick to simulate left and right hands.
Make sure you have a metronome and track your progress in your diary.

Learn the names and staff position of every note on your instrument.
Map all of the things above to your fretboard.

Get some simple reading books for guitar and practice sight reading daily. Do this with a metronome and keep a record of your progress. Make sure to cycle through the tunes so you don't end up learning the pieces by rote.

Apply mathematical set theory to the scales to create sequence exercises, number them and practice them using the different scales you have learned. Track your progress in your diary.

Practice triads in close vioce on sets of three strings, in all inversions. Then in open voice ( here you need to choose your inversions to be playable and to limit the possibilities since they are infinite).

01-03-2003, 01:42 PM
What's up?
Do you all frequently practice with a drum machine rather than a metronome?

I noted that when I'm using a metronome I would usually end up not counting and follow the metronome. Any tips to avoid that? I'm currently putting the click on beat 2 and 4 so that I would actually have to count 1 2 3 4 rather than blindly juz following the metronome clicking.


01-03-2003, 01:49 PM
You can use a drum machine, but you need to program it like a metronome, usually a different click on the 1 beat and make sure it is not swinging the time. With a drum machine you can make it play a different click on every beat if you want, so that is pretty cool.

01-03-2003, 02:02 PM
I use a metronome for straight practising, and a drum-pattern when applying a new lick to actual music... making it groove, or putting it into an actual solo etc.
So... metronome= mechanical practising, drum machine: turning it into music, groove

When you use a metronome or drum machine, make sure the sound it uses is a straight, short one. Some use a cymbal-sound, which is way too undefined, cuz it lasts for a while. A straight click or something is better


01-03-2003, 02:42 PM
Originally posted by EricV
When you use a metronome or drum machine, make sure the sound it uses is a straight, short one. Some use a cymbal-sound, which is way too undefined, cuz it lasts for a while. A straight click or something is better


That's a really good point, didn't think about that b4...Thanks a lot.


01-03-2003, 05:48 PM
Practice with purpose. Have goals like; this week I am going to work on the modes of C major or the modes with C as the root.

01-04-2003, 02:09 AM
Currently I'm learning how to combine 2 major scale patterns together.


01-04-2003, 09:13 AM
having practiced for the day, ask yourself what you have achieved thusfar...