Friday, December 7, 2012

Practice routine development - Stay focused

Lots of guitarist seek to develop a practice routine that will take their playing to another level. No matter what that level, there is a common mistake to overwhelm oneself with too many technical drills. Now technical drills SHOULD play some role in your practice time... But what amount is the right amount? Well, one thing to me is abundantly clear: What you practice comes out when you perform. SO if you are always running scales etc - what do you think your improvs will sound like? ... so if that is true then how would one make their playing more creative and musical? (hint: maybe by practicing creativity and musicality more)

Before I say this let me say - these amounts change depending on your current place on the curve. This is to provide you a basic guideline or food for thought.

This would be my breakdown:
  • Technical drills 5% - including scales, keys etc (ALWAYS to a click of some kind)
  • Expanding your Chord Vocabulary 5% (ALWAYS to a click of some kind)
  • 20% spontaneous composition (ALWAYS to a click of some kind)
  • 20% planned composition (ALWAYS to a click of some kind)
  • 50% ear work - learning entire albums - NO TAB ... EVER. 

Away from the guitar:
  • Song analysis - write out the album songs you figured out and figure out , the key, time signature, the chords (break them into a I, IV, V - type numeric system), the scales, look at the solos and find the chord tones used.
  • Read Theory books, also practice sight reading without the guitar. Tap the rhythms, imagine your fingers playing the notes.
  • Read musician biographies looking for the little pearls of wisdom buried inside their words
  • Explore new genres of music - ALWAYS seek out new music.

Three things make a great musician to me
1. Imagination
2. Sense of Rhythm
3. Ear

With these 3 things everything else falls into place. So make sure whatever routine you do it addresses these areas.


  1. Hi Jeremy..
    I have to stop reading finally and post a comment.. more of a complement...
    I got into reading one of your blog..Six String Obsession.. and .. its just a couple of weeks after that and now.. I feel confidence in my playing..

    Keep up the great work...

  2. Thank you for the nice words and it makes me very happy to hear that this blog is helping people. It's the only reason i do it! Cheers

  3. Hi Jeremy!

    As always, great remarks, truly invaluable for someone self-taught. Your blog was an inspiration for me to focus on ear training and it was probably the best decision I made, guitar wise. Nowadays I do technical drills only so that I can play effortlessly stuff I've transcribed (I make drills out of licks) and I can't even imagine going back to 1,2,3,4 etc. routine.

    Have a great 2013!

    Best regards from Poland,

    1. Hey Bartek,

      Thanks for the kind words and it is awesome to hear that feedback. Sounds to me like you are solidly on the right track. Now it's just a question of logging the hours!