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James Walkers

Guitar Blog

YOUR PRACTICE ROUTINE

Why do you need a solid routine? If you haven’t already, you will come across many times that you’re in the mood to practice, but can’t think of anything good to practice that isn’t whizzing up and down a single scale shape. It affects us all, making a clear routine, and a schedule to go with it will take all of that out of the equation.


The amount of time you will want to practice depends on your goals, a 30-minute daily practice session is definitely a good start. What matters more is QUALITY practice - dividing your time efficiently and using it wisely.



DIVIDING PRACTICE

I divide my practice time into 6 categories that all benefit from regular practice, they are as follows:


Scales

Play all of the scales you know in different positions/keys, ascending and descending. As well as this you should play the scales in various orders, if you just ascend and descend every time you play a scale then that will translate into your playing and you'll be running up and down scales in your solos, which is not that they're designed for. They are there purely to give you a choice of notes, the order in which you play those notes are where the magic happens.


Arpeggio’s

Play all of the arpeggio’s you know in different positions/keys, ascending and descending. For the arpeggios I recommend that you sound out either verbally or in your mind, the intervals of each note in your arpeggio, for example I would say in my head 'Root, third, fifth' as I play those notes in the arpeggio


Chords

Take each chord that you know and play it in every key, use the circle of 5th's for this, go around the circle on the outside, and then on the inside, this will mean that you've played the shape in all keys, then do this with the rest of the chords you know, or the ones that you need to practice with.


Technique & Exercises

This section is where you work purely on technique such as legato, alternate picking, speed, bends, string skipping etc.


Ear Training

Pick a song, either random or a song you know and learn it by ear, even just a riff or some chords, the more you do this the more in tune your ears are to music and the more easily you’ll be able to improvise and understand music.


Improvising

Use backing tracks while improvising, there are many great ones on youtube. Make sure that you improvise in both major & minor keys. Start with just pentatonic soloing as well as using chord tones of the chords, make sure you always know the chords and which notes to target. E.G hitting the Root note of the chords.




MY PRACTICE ROUTINE

Below is my practice routine, this is a two hour routine which I do around 3-4 times a week.

For a one hour routine you could do something similar and just do 10 minutes for each section. This excludes warm-ups which I do for 3 minutes before I start the routine and then some warm ups before I do any speed work.



YOUR PRACTICE ROUTINE

Keep it simple. Write down all of the chords/scales/arpegios you know and group them, think of which areas of practice are important to you currently and divide your practice accordingly. For example, I'm brushing up on my grades for my student so that's taking priority, and I'm feeling comfortable with most of my chords so I'll put that on the back seat for a while.


Use a metronome. This is very important, keep your playing clean and lean and know where you are with the beat, building this into your playing will come in very handy when you start to play more complex pieces.


Set a timer. It's all well and good saying you'll play for one-hour a day but the chances are you played for 30 minutes and noodled the rest of the time. Quality practice is paramount, set the timer and don't stop until you hear the beep. It's also a great sense of accomplishment once you're done.


Adapt. Your practice routine should change as your skills and knowledge do, when you learn a new shape or pattern that will be useful to you then write it down and make it a part of your regular practice, if you don't do this then it will more than likely be played a few times and forgotten about.

 FREE PENTATONIC

SCALE CHEAT SHEET

 

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