Ok… so total disclaimer, I have been really bad about practicing guitar lately. I’ve had a much easier time learning notes and chords on the piano, and have been totally discouraged when it comes to my acoustic. So, this post would more appropriately be titled, “How I Should be Practicing Guitar Daily”. But don’t shame me! I know that not all of you have been practicing everyday- let’s start together. Here is how my mentor told me I should be practicing guitar right now.
1. Practice playing to a metronome
They make many apps for this, my favorite being MetroTimer. You can also practice to the metronome in your DAW. First, adjust the BPM (beats per minute). This will determine how fast you will be playing your guitar along with the metronome. My mentor (Sean) also told me that a good way to start is by practicing for just a couple minutes at a time, and then taking a break. I like to practice repeating a single chord for a minute, and then repeating a chord progression when I set the time to something longer like five minutes. When it comes to what chords you should be learning first, I’m definitely not qualified to comment. However, I can say that my guitar for dummies book first taught me A Major and E Minor.
I would also like to note a simple trick that I learned very early in the journey: In addition to needing to put just the right amount of finger pressure on the strings to get the right sound, I’ve found that you have to place only the very tips of your fingers on the string, and as close to the next fret as possible.
2. But where do I start?
I kept asking Sean what chords to practice and he told me to keep looking up tutorials for basic chords. I’ve also read that a good way to memorize them is to hold your fingers in the shape of the chord for a few seconds while studying it, then moving your hand away, moving it around while maintaining that same shape, and then trying to smoothly place it back on the strings, and strum again. I can’t confidently say that this has done much for my memory, but it seems to work for a lot of people, so I figured I better mention it.
Some of my favorite guitar instructors on YouTube in case you’re interested, are Drue James, Marty Music, and GuitarZero2Hero.
3. Practice Scales
My favorite thing to practice recently (when I actually have picked up my guitar) has been scales. In one of our recent workshops, Sean taught me a little bit about scales, how to read them, and how to practice them on the guitar. Also note than you can practice these with the metronome as well. Here is a picture of the scale I’ve been practicing:
So I had a really hard time reading this at first, so in case you’re confused too, it goes first finger on the E string of the fifth fret and you strum that string only, then do the same but with your forth finger on the eighth fret. Then, you’re going to move down to the A string, and strum with your first finger on the fifth fret again, and then your third finger on the seven fret, and so on. I hope that makes sense. Once you figure it out the first time the picture becomes really easy to read.
After you practice that, you can practice doing so backwards. Just keep practicing until you get faster at it; it becomes muscle memory (so I’ve heard… I’m not there yet). I have gotten a lot better at this though, and the cool thing about using a metronome to practice is that you can speed up the BPM as you get better at it. Then, once you’re a pro, you can rock out to a Blues backing track on YouTube. It’s really fun!!
Well, that’s pretty much all I have for today’s post. I hope this was at least somewhat helpful for you beginners like me. I really do want to learn guitar and improve my skills, it’s just that I can get so easily distracted when I have production software that I almost entirely know how to use and can make a full song on! In other words, you should be looking out for that post as well! I am going to start practicing guitar more though. I promise! In fact, I am going to start by dedicating myself to five minutes a day, practicing a new chord each day. Each day I will post a brief review of how that went as well to keep you updated! Oh yes, and one more thing, I wanted to give you guys the link to a book that I got for my birthday and have begun reading. It is super informational and detailed so there is literally no room for confusion. Here’s the link: https://amzn.to/2WGgp0D.
Thanks for reading y’all! Stay tuned for tomorrow’s scheduled post: “Interview with Paul Gilbert”.
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