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Guitar Practice Regimen


Academic year: 2021

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By Michael Fairbrother


There are three qualities that you need in order to make the most of your practice sessions:


You have to want to practice. If you do not, then your practice time will be tedious and unproductive. If you take the mental attitude that practice is boring and uneventful then you might as well give up the instrument because you are not going to get anywhere.

I have met many great guitarists that say they do not practice or have never practiced to get to their level of skill. Do not be fooled by those that say they never practice. Yes they do... in some way, shape, or form they have

practiced to get where they are.

You have to learn to enjoy the art of practicing guitar itself. You should get excited about your practice sessions. If you get into it and it makes you feel good knowing that you are accomplishing something worthwhile, then you will look forward to it next time. Get addicted.

Willingness is your mental level of enthusiasm towards practice. Basically, if you believe it will be boring, then it will be. If you believe it will be fun and productive, then it will be. If you believe you posess the willingness to practice, then read on.



Anyone that knows me knows that I am big on discipline. No, not the punishment aspect of it, but the training aspect as it relates to learning something. If you already show the willingness to practice guitar, then disciplining yourself to practice will be easy.

This is the militaristic part of the process and something that most people want to avoid. However, you must set yourself apart from the rest and prove to yourself that you have what it takes. There are three main aspects to discipline as it relates to practice:

•First, you have to be able to set aside the time every day to practice, no exceptions. It should be scheduled the same time every day and for the same duration. Make it set in stone. If you only have an hour to spare, fine, just make sure you practice intelligently for that one hour. It should be a time of day when you will not be interupted and you are most alert. Be there and do not skip a practice session.

•Second, your practice must be correct. Do not practice something sloppy... you will only get sloppy results. If you can only play it at a real slow tempo, fine, start with that. Do not think that practicing something anything less than perfect will get you good results. Make sure that whatever you are practicing is controlled and correctly executed.

•Third, the key ingredient to discipline is repetition. Perfect repetition to be exact (refer to the last paragraph). Repeating something perfectly over and over and over ad nauseam is the only way to properly develop it. However, once you have it, you have it. It will become ingrained in your muscle memory and will be easily retrievable. Discipline is not something you can do without if you want to be a great guitarist. Just remember, you have to stay commited and work diligently at what you are currently practicing. It is the only way to achieve greatness on the instrument.



If there is one thing I am bigger on than discipline, it is focus. You must be able to zone in and follow through with every minute part of your practice session. This is the zen part of the process:

•Pay attention to detail. •Concentrate.

•Do not waver.

•Do not let your mind wander. •Stay in the present moment.

•Get in the zone and focus on the task at hand.

Keep an open mind about everything that you learn as it pertains to the guitar, but really zero in on the things that are important to you.

For example, you may really want to develop a particular technique, yet are having a difficult time getting the hang of it, so you let your mind wander during the execution of it. You have to bring yourself back into the "now" of the exercise and pay attention to what is going on as it unfolds.

Certain aspects of practice may be more enjoyable than others and you may tend to lose interest on the less enjoyable things. Yet, you must apply an equal amount of concentration to each thing you are practicing. Make the best use of your time by dialing in on what you are currently doing.

Develop the skills you need to play the music you want and follow through on everything.



The following two practice routines are examples of what I used to do.

Routine #1 is something I followed in my twenties. Routine #2 is an example

of a plan I used in my teen years of practice. These are only suggestions and I am including them as guides to help you build your own.


5:30 AM (WARM-UP)

(60 min.) - Guitar Workout: Studies, Etudes, etc.

---•1:30 PM


(90 min.) - Recording Session: Originals, Covers

---•4:00 PM


(30 min.) - Technique Study: Triads, Sequencing, etc.



(30 min.) - Theory Study: Circle Of 5ths, Fretboard, etc.



(30 min.) - Composing: Songwriting, Transcribing, etc.

---•5:30 PM



===================================================== ROUTINE #2 FIRST HOUR (7PM) 1. Warm-up (15 Minutes) - Chordal Exercises - Scalar Exercises 2. Chromatics (15 Minutes)

- 3-Octave Chromatic Scale - Various Exercises

3. Right-Hand Development (15 Minutes) - Palm-Muting/Damping

- Alternate Picking/Tremolo - String Skipping

- Strumming

4. Left-Hand Dexterity (15 Minutes) - Atonal Complex Exercises

===================================================== SECOND HOUR (8PM)

5. Sweeping (20 Minutes)

- Sweeping Etudes (stuff I compiled on diskette) 6. Tapping (20 Minutes)

- Two-Hand Tapping Exercises (stuff I compiled on diskette) - My Own Etudes

7. Harmonics (10 Minutes) - Natural Harmonics Exercises

- Artificial/Pinch Harmonics 8. Speed (10 Minutes)

- Virtuoso Lessons (stuff I compiled on diskette)


THIRD HOUR (9PM) 9. Theory (10 minutes)

- Various Guitar Magazine Theory Articles 10. Ear Training (10 Minutes)

- Ear Power Program 11. Sight Reading (20 Minutes) - Metodo De Guitarra (Dionisio Aguado)

12. Improvisation (20 Minutes) - Rock Jam Trax

- Jazz Jam Trax

===================================================== FOURTH HOUR (10PM)

13. Scale/Mode Studies (30 Minutes) - MON./THURS. - Various Books

14. Classical/Fingerstyle (30 Minutes) - TUES./FRI./SUN. - 120 Right-Hand Studies (Giuliani)

- Classical Guitar & Fingerpicking Book 15. Blues Study (30 Minutes) - WED./SAT.

- Various Guitar Magazine Blues Articles 16. Composition (30 Minutes) - EVERY DAY

===================================================== Michael Fairbrother



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