In this blog we will look at five essential tips that all guitarists should keep in mind for helping your practice routines be as efficient and productive as possible.
- Warm up- It is essential that you warm up before any practice routine to prevent injuries. Injuries such as RSI (repetitive strain injuries) are the bane of a guitarists life. If you are injured due to overlooking your warm ups, then this will stop your future practice sessions, will stop you from being able to play for fun or worse still will mean you cant gig, teach, play in the studio or anything! injuries can put you out of work so don't let them creep in, warm up thoroughly!
- Use a metronome/time keeping device/track- Playing along with a metronome is an essential part of building your chops. Nobody watches a virtuoso for the first time, picks up the guitar and copies that guitarist at lightning speed. We all need to build that speed through repetition, familiarity and time. using a metronome is not only a great way of making sure your playing is in time, preparing you for real music, but is also a great way of keeping track of your progress, as you can see how much bpm faster you are getting. Playing along with drum machines also gives you the same principles as metronomes its just that they feel a little more 'real' than just a tick. Finally if you are learning a piece rather than just a technique, playing the actual track and finding some software that can slow it down for you until you can play at full speed is an excellent way of building your technique and timing whilst playing the parts to the actual song.
- Don't just stick to one genre- when practicing don't make your routines just about playing rock, or blues. Play many varying styles. this will turn you in to a much more rounded and sensitive player. It will certainly help your overall playing whether your a bedroom guitarist or a pro. As far as the working guitarist is concerned you are far more 'employable' the more genres you have under your belt. One of the best ways to get lots of different things under your belt is to transcribe the licks, riffs and runs of famous guitarists from different genres. Make sure you listen to as many great guitarists as you can.
- Know the fret board inside out- Make sure you've practiced all of your scales and all of your chords, in all keys. Play all the inversions. try to build your own chords. Play your scales in different patterns. play your scales all over the neck. Play over changes so that you don't get caught out by complex changes on a gig. This is a lifelong pursuit to know the guitar in this manner, but if you practice your chords and scales in the right manner you will probably be able to get through most musical situations.
- Don't overlook things you cant do- Sounds like an obvious point to make but so many guitarists don't practice the things they cant do. For example most contemporary guitarists are poor sight readers. When was the last time you practiced that? you may be able to say that you've never needed it, but what happens one day when a gig comes up where you do need it? you will have to say no to that gig because you cant sight read. What about if your an amazing sweep picker, but your alternate picking isn't up to scratch, is there any point in practicing the sweeps for another five hours and only thirty minutes on the alternate? also what if your a great blues player but you have no knowledge of jazz harmony? now is the time to get a few ii-v-i licks under your belt and start playing the changes. Essentially the point here is that you need to practice everything, not just the stuff you can already do. in fact, prioritize the stuff you cant.
Hopefully you will find these tips beneficial to your own playing and they will help you become a more rounded and versatile guitarist. They've certainly helped me a lot on my way! To listen to one of the most versatile guitarists on the planet play in practically every style in one hit click here
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