- Make useful observations about others’ guitar playing.
- Here’s an example of what I did when I thought of guitar techniques or styles I wanted to incorporate into my playing. I simply started with the list of guitar playing qualities and questions I listed in Establishing Guitar Goals and now made more specific statements about what I wanted.
- Alex DeGrassi: use of arpeggios… every note enhances the melody
- Phil Keaggy: phrasing is articulate and original
- Nightnoise and Andy McKee: combination of musical elements creates emotion
- Pierre Bensusan: knowledge of intervals and relationship between notes
- Tommy Emmanuel: Dynamics and attack!!
- Doyle Dykes: song arrangement, dynamics and resolution.
- Steve Morse: picking technique and tone.
- Write out how to improve your guitar playing.
- Now that you know what you need to focus on, write out your goals. Focus on what you practice AND how you practice guitar. I wrote my weaknesses first (in light of what I’ve already written) in order of importance. There’s a worksheet you can use on the Guitar pdfs page for you if you want to do the same.
- 1) Elements of music
- Because music is a relationship and the interaction of these things determines the quality of music you compose I really need to explore the elements of music. (NightNoise) I don’t have a good command of these, maybe my weakest. I’m including the structure of song with this.
- 2) The fretboard and intervals.
- Without knowledge of the fretboard, I have no freedom. I need to memorize the notes and gain muscle memory of their location. (Pierre Bensusan)
- 3) Dynamics. Right hand attacks.
- These I can probably consider as part of elements of music but we’ll see. (Emmanuel) My melodies tend to be static and monotonous so I need to study as many ways to make my music dynamic as possible.
- 4) Scales and phrasing.
- These are the building blocks of chords and progressions. I should really learn the theory behind scales as well. Can only help. (Keaggy) All of my solos sound like major scale exercises.
- 5) Losing sight
- I play way too many grace notes that don’t lend themselves to moving the music. They’re just there. Which I think is a common problem among fingerstylists. I want not to play notes just to make my music sound more complicated. I want them to direct the emotion and mood of the piece. Degrassi is the man at this.
- Write your goals out.
- Based on what you have so far, write out specifically what you want to change in your guitar practice to try to reach the point where you want to be. Little by little, your goals won’t seem that far away. And you can always redefine and refine your goals and your guitar practices. Again, my list is below.
- “When I practice I’ll dedicate one section to studying the elements of music, their relationship to one another, and the emotional effect of each of these relationships.”
- “When I practice I’ll dedicate one section to studying intervals and the emotional response to them as well. I also will train my ear to identify the intervals forward and backward.”
- “When I practice, at all times I will try to keep focus on relaxing (right hand in particular) and I’ll study right hand technique and it’s effect on the elements of music. (We’ll get into this in the technique section more)”
- “When I practice, I’ll dedicate one section of study on practicing and creating different phrases for different scales tying them into my interval study and dynamics study.”
- “I will create an entire piece with arpeggios strung together and use dynamics and elements to identify the melody. “
My Guitar Practice Schedule
Warm up: 10 minutes
Elements study: 15 minutes or 20%
Interval and ear: 15 minutes or 20%
Right hand technique: 15 minutes or 20%
Scale studies: 15 minutes or 20%
Arpeggio / composition: 15 minutes or 20%
Unstructured play time: whatever time I have
Cool down: 5 minutes