Sometimes as guitarists we tend to get sidetracked when we sit down to practice. What I mean by this is, we decide we are going to practice something, but, we stray away from that. We start doing something we learned ages ago, but, we want to improve on it. This is all well and fine, making something sound better and better is always a positive.
But, what if you practice the same things’ all the time, and then get bored! It is great to have a list of guitar practice exercises available to you, so you can access them when you sit down to practice. Exercises to help speed, strength, or dexterity.
It is all part of growing and improving your skills. Even if it is only for the first 10 or 15 minutes starting your practice session. It becomes a growing progress, Plus, a great warm up for the things’ you need to do. The problem becomes this….we fall into the rut, practicing the same things’ over & over again, then we get bored, and don’t enjoy practicing anymore.
Why Do We Get Stuck?
As I stated in the words above, we need to find things’ to practice that will improve our skills. Exercises that can help us become better at expressing ourselves through the guitar. If you continue day in and day out, to practice the same things’ over and over, then you actually hinder your progress.
Yes, you will continue to get better playing what you are practicing, but, after so long, doing this same thing every single day, will easily get you stuck!
Trust me, it is very easy to get stuck, and I have been there. Even worse, it is a hard habit to break! If you are not learning new skills, and improving overall, you will very quickly become bored, and then, you won’t even want to practice. You could even end up learning something the wrong way, and never know it!! These things’ are hard to correct after doing them for a long period. I have fallen into that trap as well.
Is There a Right Way Or a Wrong Way to Practice?
Practicing the same things’ day in and day out leads to boredom and frustration. In some extreme cases…this could lead to Quitting!! A terrible Result, for someone who is not at fault! Thinking **there is no way to ever improve** is a misconception that needs to be “CORRECTED”.
That thought couldn’t be further from the truth! There are right ways to practice guitar so you do not become bored. You can improve your skills, have fun, and never get bored. Just by following a 1 simple concept.
Try to incorporate things’ into your practice that you have never done before. Something that you always wanted to learn, but felt you couldn’t. Practice lots of improvising. Use backing tracks to infuse your own feelings into the music.
Keep inserting your own twists on things you learn. Make them your own. Hey, last thing in a Practice session… pick a new song that you like. Learn to play it from start to finish. Make it a part of your daily practice sessions!
That’s right…every day until you know the chord structure, the rhythm, maybe even some of the licks. The feeling of success at doing this will keep you motivated more than anything I know.
The “No Time” Myth!
I am far from an expert on this topic, but saying you have no time at all to practice is something I could never understand! Everybody can find some time. Even if it is only 10 or 15 minutes. If your goal is to practice for 1 or 2 hours every day, then you may actually have a hard time finding that time.
However; I am sure you have 10 or 15 minutes free at some point through the day. Just because something comes up that distracts or detains you from that 1 or 2 hours, does not make it a total loss! You can still use that 10 or 15 minutes to do some exercises that help strength and dexterity in your hands and fingers.
Just because you can’t spend an hour or 2 practicing every day, isn’t the end of the world? This is a myth! Sometimes our days get filled with things’ we need to do. Life is Life. We all have those days now and then. But, if we can find just 10 or 15 minutes at some point, we can use that to our advantage. Pick up the guitar. Do a few finger exercises, or maybe a riff you have been trying to learn. Anything can help your progress, just remember that!
The muscles will remember what they need to do if you keep them informed. Without practice, the muscles will Never tone for you. If you happen to find 10 or 15 minutes once or twice through the day, use that to improve your speed, or barre chord shapes, or any sort of skills that you may find need improving.
This will always benefit you. It will also help eliminate that feeling of guilt. You know what I mean…the guilt of not practicing as much as you should.
Decide For Yourself
Giving up is far easier than committing to improving or learning. Only you can decide whether you are willing to put the time in to improve your skills, or to learning new things. Procrastination, or lying to yourself, will never help you.
If you are willing, and you put a little time into learning, then, and only then, will you be ready to move on. The guitar is a very personal instrument. You can learn to express yourself through your guitar playing. You can infuse yourself into your own music. Music with your own style.
Learning new things on a guitar is not that hard. Some of the course structures I have seen are amazing. Some coaches / teachers I have known in my lifetime are second to none. But, unless you practice, none of that will matter. If you are not committed to learning, or practicing, you will never progress. Only YOU can stop YOU!
A Few Great Practice Exercises
Here are just a few exercises, that I have found very helpful for me:
The Spider Walk
These tabs show you how to actually play the Spider Walk. Simply number your four fingers on your fretting hand, starting with your pointer – 1,2,3 & 4. Place your fingers one at a time, down on the 6th string on each fret. (1,2,3,4)
Then, go to the next diagram and follow the same instructions. This time it will be 2, 3, and 4 on the 6th string, and 1 on the 5th string. Now, continue the same pattern until all 4 of your fingers are on frets 1,2,3,4 on the 5th string. Continue on until your fingers are on the 4th string, then the 3rd etc. Once you reach the High E string, (number 1 string at the bottom of your guitar), then try the exercise backwards. Do this until you are great at it.
Play and Say
So as you can see here. The right side of this diagram is the top of the neck near the Headstock. The first fret covered is an F note. If you were to pluck it open, no part of the string covered, it would be an E note. Every note is shown here all the way up to the 12th fret where the pattern starts all over with the E note again.
The 6th string open is an E note. The 6th string covered on the 12th fret is also an E note, however; it is the next Octave higher. Any spaces between the notes are either Sharps or Flats. If you were moving up the neck toward the body of the guitar, these notes would be sharps. In other words, the first fret is an F, the 2nd fret is an F sharp, the 3rd fret is a G, the 4th fret is a G sharp.
If you were moving down the neck toward the headstock, the 4th fret would be an A flat, the 2nd fret would be a G flat. So, based on that, the A flat, and the G sharp, are the exact same note. Depending on whether you are moving up or down the fretboard determines what the note is called.
Simply make each note, and say it out loud when you pluck it. This is GREAT for memory retention??
A hammer on is when you have your finger on a note, and rather than pick the next fret to it, you “hammer” your finger down onto it. A great exercise for this would be to put your first finger down on any fret and pluck that note. Then, rather than pick again, hammer your next finger down onto the next fret.
Then hammer your next finger down onto the next fret. This helps strengthen your fingers for those hammer ons! Just put your first finger on any string / any fret, then pluck the string. Hammer your 2nd finger onto the next fret, and then your 3rd finger onto the next fret after that. This will strengthen your fingers, and toughen up the tips.
A pull off is simply the opposite of the hammer on. Lets say your ring finger was on the 5th fret of the 1st string, and your 1st finger on the 3rd fret of the same string. Pluck the string, then, remove that finger slightly plucking the string while you remove it while still keeping your first finger on the 3rd fret. Let that note ring out.
You just played an “A” note, and then pulled off to a “G” note. This technique takes some practice. As with the hammer on, choose a string and a fret. Put one of your fingers on any note on the 6th string. Pluck that note, and then slowly remove that finger while gently plucking it as you remove it. Use another one of your fingers, to keep a fret covered before you pull that finger off.
Now your doing a combination of hammer ons and pull offs. Place your finger on any string / any fret again. Hammer onto the next fret, or even 2 frets up, then pull it off right away. You just performed a TRILL. Do it again. Then again. Now, do it over and over, non stop for about 15 or 20 seconds. You can slow, medium, fast, whatever suits the application.
These few exercises can help improve the dexterity and strength of your fingers. They can also help with your speed. Hammer Ons / Pull Offs – Trilling….these are all techniques to help make different licks and solos your own. Like I said before, you can learn certain techniques, add them to your practice sessions, and then fill them into your improvising over a backing track. You will be amazed how quickly your improvising starts sounding unique, just as if it was your very own….hey, if you use your improvising time correctly, they actually will be ?
Do It Your Way!
Everything you just read in the above paragraphs, should be the way you look at learning and practicing guitar. The Guitar Practice Exercises that I listed above, are just a few of many that you can use to help different areas in your guitar playing.
These exercises will certainly improve your strength and dexterity, and, the Play & Say will also help you in learning where the notes are on the fretboard. All of these things’ can contribute to your awe-inspiring improvement. The type of improvement that has your friends and family saying just how great you sound.
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Enjoy your journey into the World of Guitars. Where anything and Everything is possible!! Keep On Rockin ??