Wednesday, March 16, 2005

An important message from my guitar teacher

A) Rhythm practice
1. Turn on the metronome to a comfortable tempo. Make sure to do nothing
but listen to it for a few measures in order to feel the beat. Count "1,
2, 3, 4" out loud with it before you start to play.
2. Practice single notes. You can practice with just one note, or by
moving up and down major scales in any pattern. Begin by playing nothing
but quarter notes on the down beats (with the clicks). Then try playing
on the up beats (between the clicks). Try playing 8th notes (two
equal-length notes per click, counted as "One and two and three and four
and"). Mix up 8th notes and quarter notes. Play 8th note triplets (three
equal-length notes per click, counted as "One-uh-let two-uh-let
three-uh-let four-uh-let"). If you can play them comfortably at your
current tempo, try 16th notes (four equal-length notes per click,
counted as "One-ee-and-uh two-ee-and-uh three-ee-and-uh
four-ee-and-uh"). Once you've incorporated all of these rhythms,
improvise with them. Play with different repeating patterns. Come up
with your own rhythmic motifs. The whole time, make sure that you're
always aware of where the beat is falling and which part of the beat
you're playing. i.e., are you playing on the one, the and of two, etc.
If at any point you lose track of the beat, stop playing and listen to
the metronome. When you feel that you've locked in with the beat again,
resume playing.
3. Practice chord strumming. Begin by just playing a single chord,
whichever is easiest for you. Do all of the same exercises listed in
step 2. To play syncopated strums, try to always keep your hand moving,
but miss the strings on certain beats. When you've exhausted that, move
to a two-chord progression. Always make sure that you're staying in
tempo. If you're having trouble staying with the metronome when you
change chords, simplify your pattern. It's better to play one strum per
click and switch chords in tempo than to do a complicated strum and
botch the chord change.

B) Chord practice/note memorization
1. Begin by picking a note on the low E string. Say the note out loud
(or sing it) and play the major chord rooted on that note. Strum that
chord for a few beats, then move to the same chord with its root on the
A string. Then move back to the note on the E string and play the minor
version of the same chord. Do the same for the A-string chord. Always
remember which note is the root of the chord and use that note as your
visual guide for changing chords. Repeat this process until you've
covered every note from the open string up to the 12th fret.
2. Pick a note on the low E string. Say or sing it, then play the note
an octave up, and then the note an octave above that. Move up a major
scale in this fashion. i.e., play E, then the next E, then the next E,
then do the same for F#, G#, A, etc., up the E major scale. Do this for
every note on the low E string, then repeat the process with the A string.

C) Picking practice
1. Practice alternate picking. Turn on the metronome and do all of the
steps listed in 2. A, but keep the rhythm consistent. i.e., use only 8th
notes, or only 16th notes, or only 8th note triplets, and move up and
down a major scale, always alternate picking.
2. Practice arpeggiation. Hold down a single chord and create a picking
pattern. Try patterns on adjacent strings as well as patterns with
string-skipping. Practice economy picking (picking more than once in the
same direction) and then alternate picking (changing direction for every
note). When you're ready, move to a two-chord progression.

D) Practice songs
1. Pick a song from The Beatles book or any other song book. First look
through the entire thing and figure out how you're going to play each of
the chords. Then turn on the metronome or decide on your own tempo and
strum through the song. Keep your strum pattern very simple at first;
one or two strums per chord, but always stay in tempo and make your
changes accurate. If you miss a change, stop playing and isolate the two
chords that gave you trouble. Practice moving between them fluidly. When
you can do this, resume playing the song. Remember to use the root notes
as guides for chord changes. When you can play through all of the
changes in tempo, try to create a more interesting strum pattern. When
you can do this flawlessly, try to sing along while you play.

1 comment:

Rob said...

Hey Andrew,

Cool blog! I noticed you play guitar. I teach guitar in Seattle and I just started a blog on my website about guitar teaching and playing. I just posted an entry titled "How to Practice" that you might find interesting.

http://www.heartwoodguitar.com/blog/blog.html

I've also got tons of songs that I've written out for my students here:

http://www.heartwoodguitar.com/chords.htm

I hope you enjoy the blog. Feel free to join in on the conversation and link to my site if you think you'll be coming back. I plan on updating every couple days or so.

Have fun with the music,

Rob