Practicing 


1. Practicing: metronome speeds
2. Practicing the scales
3. Scale sequences
4. Practicing time
5. Improvising
6. Making Progress / Practicing
7. Practicing away from Your guitar


1. Practicing: metronome speeds

Question: At what speed should I practice my scales, arpeggios, and ├Ętudes?

Answer: I can't give You a specific number. Practice with a metronome setting that is 80% of Your maximum speed. Begin at 80%, then if You notice problems, do it at 50% until the problem is mastered. You will need to check Your max speed every now and then to adjust Your practice speeds / needs. If You want to play on a virtuoso level, the speed would need to be AT LEAST 1,000 notes a minute, but not everyone wishes to have skills on such a high level. There are no fixed speeds for everyone. A good goal is to work with a metronome and strive to make small incremental progress every week or every month. The better You get, the harder it will be to get to the next level of speed, but that is fine. If it takes time (and it will), so be it. You will get better if You practice these each week.

Question: Should I be using a metronome?

Answer: Yes!

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2. Practicing the scales

Question: How should practice the scales/modes?

Answer: As far as scales go, practice the first scale until You have it totally memorized then add the next scale until You can go back and forth between the two by memory then add another, then another and so on. Also be sure to memorize the names of each mode also, this is very important.

Question: I am now playing a fair bit faster than last week (100bpm.) When I make a mistake, should I stop and go back to the start of the mode or recover it & carry on keeping to the rhythm of the metronome?

Answer: If You are making mistakes with scales, You are playing too fast for Your brain and fingers to follow. Play slowly and concentrate until You train your hands and mind to work in sync with each other. Then You will not make these mistakes. And be patient with Yourself during the process. It can be frustrating to play slowly, but it is necessary, in order to master muscle memory and synchronize all parts of the body and the mind.

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3. Scale sequences

Question: What is the learning objective in the scale sequences?

Answer:

  1. Learn them.
  2. Memorize them.
  3. Play these sequences in other positions, modes, and keys (take the basic scale sequence concept and apply them to other scales you may know).
  4. Work to increase Your speed and fluidity.
  5. Always use a metronome and write down Your progress as described in the lesson Practicing Part 1 or in the Practice and Progress Log Book.
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4. Practicing time

Question: About how much time per day should I spend practicing?

Answer: This depends on many factors. Some of these factors are within Your control and others are not. Set a realistic goal for Yourself and try to stick with it. Some people have only 30 minutes a day to practice, others may have 2 hours or more. How much time do You have? Try to get in an hour a day if possible, but if You can't do that much, then it is no big deal. If You can do more, that's great. I only have two things that I feel strong about:

  1. Do not practice more than 3 hours a day on technique.
  2. Practice something everyday if possible.
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5. Improvising

Question: Are there any other ways I can practice my improvising skills (in addition to these lessons)?

Answer: A great way to improve Your improvisation skills is to take my Improvisation Training Classes. Also the Rock Tracks CDs (Rock Tracks I or Rock Tracks II) were made specifically for practicing Your improvising.

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6. Making Progress / Practicing

Question: When you were learning to become a great player, did you sometimes experience periods of time when it seemed that your progress was not moving forward even though you were practicing each day?

Answer: Of course we all struggle at times, and then there are moments of breakthroughs. The key is to keep working and persevere. Don't be discouraged during times when it may seem that little or no results are occurring.  If You are practicing well, then You are making progress, even if You cannot see that yet.

Real long term development occurs in steps. It is like climbing a stair case.  You are not moving upwards at an even slope. Of course, Your "efforts" must be in a steady slope upwards, but often the big results will occur by going from one plateau to another. That is why so many people give up so quickly, and some work towards advancing, but if they don't see an immediate result, they give up. This is one reason why some students start taking lessons with a guitar teacher and then stop after a few weeks. Those that understand and believe what I am saying here about progress, results and reaching the next level, are the people that become good musicians, reach their goals and/or become professional musicians. The people you see on the Feedback page and the Student's Spotlight page understand what this means.

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7. Practicing away from Your guitar

Question: This is probably going to be a weird question, but I'd like to know your thoughts on it. First I must explain a few things. I work 12 hour days and am gone 14 hours a day as I have an hour bus ride to work each way. This leaves little time and usually I am too exhausted when I get home to fully concentrate on practicing. Most of my practicing is done on my days off. However. At work I have created a guitar neck using cardboard, close to scale, with lines for strings and frets. I find time at work to run through chord progressions and the theory I can understand. My first question is....What would be some useful things I could use this time for? For instance, learning the entire fretboard, which leads me to my next question. I'll word this the best I can. At this point would it be better to associate the notes in a scale with a number, (1-7) and learn what notes will sound good in each scale. For instance...(F# minor chord: minor scale notes 1,3,5 major scale notes 1,3,6) I think that makes sense. Not the primary goal of this email though.

I am looking for a way to improve my knowledge and skills, essentially without a guitar, only a neck fashioned out of cardboard. I guess what I'm asking is what are your thoughts on this and what, if any would be your recommendations. This probably isn't a common question.

Answer: No it is not a common question but it is a very good one! I commend You for making the best of your time that You have available! You will have great benefit from this type of dedication!

Yes, I think learning that memorizing the fretboard is the best activity You can do with cardboard neck. However, You can also practice aural skills too, try fingering some notes on the "cardboard" neck and singing what You think they are, and when You get home check Yourself for accuracy.

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