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  • The Workout Part 2

    I'm back, and here is the second part of the Workout-series... this time I talk about practicing strategies and some aspects of playing that a lot of people seem to forget

    I am finally back online, and I have to thank all the iBreathe members who made it possible... Thanks guys!!!

    OK, so here is the second part of my workout-series. I was pretty surprised by the feedback from the first part. After all, if you look at the exercises included in that one, there wasn't really a lot of new stuff. Most of those exercises had been featured in older articles of mine already. But I obviously chose the right thing to write about... an organized practicing-schedule which combines both disciplined and focused work on certain aspects of playing, as well as some variety to keep it interesting.

    So what am I gonna write about this time? Well, first of all, I want to show you a few more "blocks", segments of a practicing session, topics to work on.

    But this time, I also wanna show you some different, interesting approaches to add some variety and fun to your practicing session, AND I wanna cover some stuff I haven't talked about before.

    But before I get into all that, I wanted to emphasize something one more time: It is up to YOU to make up your own, customized practicing schedule. Just because I included all these different blocks / topics into my "imaginary workout", it doesn't mean you have to do the same thing.

    You have to figure out for yourself what works best for you (whether focused, repetitive work on just a few different aspects of playing, or a workout that has lots of variety to keep it interesting and challenging).

    No one can play EVERYTHING. Yes, there are some players who are extremely versatile, but there is no sense in trying to cover every single possible aspect of playing.

    Imagine you'd want to work on: Alternate picking, Legato, Economy Picking, Sweep Picking, chicken picking, bending, Tapping, playing with a slide, whammy bar playing, classical style playing (on a gut string-guitar, sight-reading, with the recommended hand-positioning), using FX, jazzy playing (bebop, Dixieland, fusion...), chord soloing, sight-reading (not only guitar-scores, mind you), flamenco, exotic scales (covering the whole fretboard), harmonisation, transcription, various styles of music (country, latin, reggae, oriental music, polka...), finger-picking, transcribing, polyrhythms and all that good stuff in just one single session.

    Believe me, to practice all that stuff in a focussed way, it would either have to be a very VERY long session, or it wouldn't be really effective. You need to focus on some aspects first, and work on those for a while. Don't try to go for the whole thing, try to focus on little bits one at a time.

    And most importantly, try to figure out a) what you NEED to work on (this involves being a bit self-critical) and b) what is interesting for you. You need to make sure that it's motivating, interesting and FUN to practice.

    Sure, sometimes you need to work on stuff that you need for some purpose (e.g. reading if you wanna play with some orchestra or something), but to me, it makes the most sense if you work on stuff you really WANNA learn.

    As I said, sometimes you need to convince yourself that you need something in order to work on it. It sure is more fun to work on wacky tapping-licks than it is to rectify those flaws in your playing, but always remember to take a peek at the big picture.

    If you wanna be a "shredder" (*gasp*), you need to put in some work. You need to work on all those playing-techniques, and it might be frustrating sometimes to listen to the new Dream Theater-record and hear John Petrucci pick 16th notes at 220 bpm, while you aren't yet able to play 16th notes at 120 accurately.

    Try to adjust your way of thinking in a positive manner. Don't think "If I can't do this, I suck". Instead, try to think "If I can nail this, I'll be a better player... it'll be a step forward". Not much of a difference between those two ways of thinking, but actually, it does make quite a difference. The first approach basically is a negative one, the second one is rather positive.

    Keep all that in mind. And don't take my workout-articles literally. Don't try to squeeze all those segments into one practicing session. I didn't either. This is just a list of stuff you can do, and it might make sense to use every single one at a certain point of time. But not all of them at once.

    Let's go ahead, then, shall we?
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