Building The Right Guitar Practice Routine For The Advancing Guitarist

Updated: Sep 10, 2020

Are you a guitarist that is feeling stuck in that limbo between beginner and expert, but you aren't sure what your next steps should be?

If you are trapped on a plateau with your guitar playing and your music, but are looking to advance skills with your instrument, then you need to read this immediately because the answers are inside this article.

First, whether you sit down for 15 minutes or 2 hours for a practice session, break it down into these three levels:

  1. Focus exclusively on the topic of the day. Drill down into the exact thing you want to attack and get better at.

  2. Be conscious of the topic of the day. Begin looking at other topics but with this one in mind, and ways to use it practically.

  3. Play whatever you want. You did the work, now follow your imagination to wherever it leads you. It will probably find something new and interesting if you followed the previous two steps.

Second, you should find ways to combine different exercises so you can attack multiple aspects of a practice routine at one time. Scale practice can be rhythm practice can be practicing playing in position.

Third, use a metronome. Set the metronome to around 40 BPM and use that to practice scales, arpeggio patterns and groupings of notes. Start with one note for every click until you play the whole pattern up and down. Then move to two notes, then three, four, five, six, seven, and eight. This ends up being a great exercise for working on your speed chops by gradually increasing the speed, your phrasing by making you play some odd patterns and groupings, and your time feel by needing to be precise against the metronome.

Now for specific scale and arpeggio practice:

  • Cycle up through the circle of 4ths, down the circle of 5ths and vice versa to move your patterns around the fret board. (Ex. Starting on C, then moving to F, Bb, Eb, etc)

  • Choose a different scale or mode on each different change of key (ex. C Major, F Lydian, Bb Dorian, etc)

  • Choose to play strictly in position, or 3 notes per string, 2 notes per string, 1 note per string, or 4 notes per string.

  • Play scales on one string, up and down, then move each final note to the next adjacent string. This works better if you start on the first available scale degree on the low E string, but you can choose to start on the root.

  • Play the arpeggio for each scale you play, determining the 3rd and 7th (the juicy notes)

Remember to combine and mix and match all these ideas into something that's new and challenging every day.

That should get you started ;)

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