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Everyday Items For Your Guitar Practice
by Allen Hopgood
What do you practice when you practice guitar? Do you sit down knowing exactly what you are going to be working on or do just go with wherever your fingers take you? Random playing of things here and there, in bits and pieces, will get you there in the long run…a very long run.
However, if you want to get good at playing guitar in a quicker amount of time, having a pre-thought out practice schedule will help you greatly. Working out a practice schedule is an in-depth subject that is one, too big to go into in this short article and two, must be personalised for you to help you become the guitar player you want to be. Your guitar teacher can help with a fully pre-arranged and fleshed out practice schedule.
In this article, I want to share a couple of key areas that will really help you play better if you focused on them all the time when you practice. Working on these areas will quickly help you build up your skills so you can play more confidently.
The first area is technique. This is a wide area with many aspects to it. As a bare minimum regardless of your current skill level, your technique practice should include chord changing. Strumming motion. Fretting hand position. Picking technique. These four basic aspects make up the majority of what you will be playing on your guitar. Focus on these elements and ensure both picking and fretting hands are in a good position at all times.
Next you have rhythm. Rhythm or having a strong sense of timing is an essential skill. Your ability to play in time and to keep in time, will give you so much more confidence and fun when playing your guitar. Start with whole, half, quarter and eighth notes either strumming along and/or muting the strings with various tempos on your metronome or drum machine. Do this over and over until it becomes really solid, and pay attention you are giving the notes their full length of time. Once these are comfortable for you, then add in more interesting and intricate rhythms.
Another item that should be part of your daily practice is single note playing. This can be done through scales, riffs in songs (more on that shortly), bass lines, vocal melodies and even when you are memorising the notes on your fretboard. You can move riffs and melodies you know to different areas of the guitar and across different strings to help you play even really, simple musical lines more effectively.
To develop your skills faster keep learning new chords. These can be barre chords or triads. More advanced minor seventh chords or altered chords. Whatever chords they maybe for you., learn at least five different ways to play a chord in different positions. Not only will this improve your fretboard knowledge, but allow you to sound like yourself when jamming with your friends. You don’t want to sound like one big guitar when playing with others. Most other guitar players will learn only a handful of common chords and never improve their knowledge on this area. Don’t let this be you.
Learning chords is great for playing complimentary musical ideas when other guitar players are just strumming along playing the typical cowboy chords. Chords have magic in them. Knowing them in many different positions will improve your knowledge, make your guitar playing grow and sound better.
The one thing that you can do right now to help you with practicng and improving your guitar skills, while tying all the above areas into one is by learning songs. Every song has chords, rhythm patterns, single notes through riffs or guitar solos, and allows you to practice your technique all at the same time. If you don’t have one already, start writing out a list of the songs you would like to learn and get to work on them today. With commitment you’ll be able to learn them one by one. And the skills and techniques you learn in one song will aid you to get through each successive song on your list easier.
Learning songs is how guitar players learn and develop their craft. Even if you want to play and write your own original music, knowing how songs are put together – with their patterns, form and compositions are a great study for guitarists who want to create, play and record their own songs. Don’t make the mistake of not learning other people’s songs if you only want to write your own. Like knowing how and what to practice and improving your skills, learning and playing songs is the one area everyone has access to. Plus as mentioned above they contain all the skills and techniques you need to develop to become a great guitar player.
Putting all these items together in some type of schedule will help you practice better. Doing this ensures you will play more and progress quicker.
The entire element of practicing is a huge subject to go into depth here. There are many aspects and topics to consider, however bare this in mind regarding practicing. If you want to get the most out of your guitar – know and learn how to practice. The lack of knowing how to practice effectively so you can make faster progress has caused many guitar players to quit because they are not seeing continual results. Talk to your guitar teacher and they will help you learn more about this.
The author, Allen Hopgood is a professional guitar teacher and is the director of his own guitar teaching business. His school teaches guitar students through a modern and complete guitar learning format, helping them to learn guitar faster with less effort and more playing.