Guitar lessons for beginnersHow to Practice Guitar Effectively

How to Practice Guitar Effectively
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An Effective Guitar Practice Schedule
Feel free to practice these things in any order, but always do #1 first, the warm up. You also don’t have to do them all in one sitting either. You can do a few at one practice session, and next time you sit down to practice, you do the other items in the list you didn’t do the first time, etc. Also, feel free to change the number of minutes for each to suit your own needs. Maybe you want to practice for 2 hours; maybe just 30 minutes – it is completely up to you. You can view this schedule as a general blueprint, which you can modify as you like.

Warm-up – 5 minutes. First of all – tune your guitar! Then, play anything you like, but don’t do anything that is really hard on the muscles in your hands. Let them get warmed up first.
Scales – 10 minutes . Work on scales you don’t yet know well. You probably have scales tabbed out and printed. Take your time and play these slowly with the metronome. Play the notes of the scale in question in any order, random, sequential, etc. As you do this, try to visualize in your head the patterns this scale creates on the fretboard. Over time, you will be able to “see” the scale on the fretboard without thinking much about it.
Arpeggios – 10 minutes. Do the same as with the scales mentioned above. An arpeggio is a group of notes which are played one after the other, either going up or going down, where the notes belong to one chord. Again, visualize and try to remember the patterns you play.
Chords – 10 minutes. Learn new voicings of chords. Learn new chords. Practice chord progressions with some of the new chords you are learning.
Theory – 5 minutes. Get a good book about music theory. There are many out there. Alfred Essentials of Music Theory: Complete Self-Study Course (Book/2-CD)
Technique – 10 minutes. Work on things that need improvement or that may be new to you, for example – hammer-ons, pull-offs, bends, strumming, alternate picking, sweep technique, tapping, etc.
Fretboard training – 10 minutes. Set the metronome at a low BPM. Start with any note you want. Find and play that note for every click of the metronome on every string, but start with 2 strings at a time. Once you have that down, move to 2 more strings, then practice finding that note on those 4 strings. Continue with the last 2 strings and finally do all 6 strings. Play the notes in any order and direction. The purpose here is to find the note in question as quickly as you can. It will become “transparent” with enough training – you will be able to find any note anywhere on the fretboard without having to think
Work on a song – 10 minutes. Work on a song which has something challenging in it, something that gives you an opportunity to practice something new.
Reading music – 10 minutes. Work on reading TAB and music notation. Practice reading rhythms, notes and sight reading.
Transcribe something – ANY minutes. This is the best way to teach yourself, and it’s fantastic ear training. Listen to a few seconds of a song, over and over. Imitate best you can, try to figure out one note at a time. This means replaying the same sequence many times. After a while, you will be able to do this quicker, as well as picking out more than one note at a time.
Play anything – ANY minutes. Noodle around and play whatever you want – playing should first and foremost be FUN!

Important things to remember

Always tap your foot with the metronome and the rhythm you are playing. That way, you will lock your body into the meter, and you will become good at playing tight. Good timing is soooo important! I cannot stress this enough.
Use that metronome/drum machine! Any time you are working on something with a beat to it, get that metronome/drum machine going. You get two benefits at one time – you may be working on scales, chords, etc, but at the same time, you will also improve your timing when you practice this to the metronome.
Visualize the notes you are about to play. Practicing enough will get you to the point where, for example, you can see the note “A” on the B string before you actually play it.
Record yourself regularly, and then listen back to it with critical ears. What problems do you notice? Timing issues? Are notes played cleanly and accurately? Determine what the weaknesses are, and focus on correcting them.
Sing the notes – as you are playing through, for example, a scale or an arpeggio, sing the notes as you are playing them. This will train your ear and will also help you learn where the notes are on the fretboard.
Play with others – jam with friends, your teacher, anyone. Play something for your friends and family. Get a little gig somewhere – it will help you stay motivated. Playing with people with improve your ear and you will develop your musicianship further and quicker.

Hope you find these tips useful. Remember, a focused practice routine will lead to improvements faster.

Lastly, don’t forget the most important part – TO HAVE FUN!

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Robert Renman is a guitar player and guitar teacher in Canada. His website http://www.dolphinstreet.com has a large selection of free video lessons, as well as articles and videos about guitar equipment, and much more.

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