• Paul Anderson

What/how to practise?!

Practice! (Part 2 of 2) - What/How to practise?

So, you’ve tuned up, got your self ready - Now what? Just play your favourite bits and ignore the tricky bits? That’s the trap a lot of guitar players fall into. I would say that a little planning and structure can go a long way. Check out this very simple plan and then the explanation below.

If we’re practising for 30 minutes a day -

  • First 5 minutes - warm up with scales and arpeggios using a metronome

  • 20 minutes - Concentrate on difficult sections/ideas from songs you are working on that you know need work

  • 15 minutes - play through your other pieces that are slightly easier and finish on something fun so that you want to come back to it tomorrow!

The next day do the same thing but look at any scales/pieces that you didn’t manage yesterday. This way you can rotate them to make sure that you practise everything equally.

So if you have 3 pieces to learn but only manage pieces A and B on Monday, do pieces B and C on Tuesday, then pieces C and A on Wednesday and so on. However, this is just an example, you can mix your pieces and scales any way you like, just make sure you give them all equal time!

Scales and Arpeggios

So why scales and arpeggios?

Guitar scales are an organised sequence of notes that can be played in ascending or descending order. They help increase your knowledge of the notes on the fretboard and help you to navigate your way between them.

Arpeggios (ar-peh-jee-oh) are simply notes from a chord played individually instead of strummed together. They are a great way to add interesting melodies to your playing.

Practicing scales and arpeggios is a fantastic way to build finger strength and dexterity, hand coordination, develop your musical ear, help you learn new songs (which are almost always built from scales and arpeggios) and provide lots of ideas for creating your own melodies and songs.

Keep a practice journal

Have you ever thought about jotting down your practice plan for the week, making notes of areas you’re struggling with (or excelling at), or recording ideas for songs you’d like to practice? A practice journal doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a simple notebook will do. It’s a great way to track your progress over time and help boost confidence if you’re feeling deflated. When you see it all written down in black and white, you may be surprised by how far you’ve come in a short time.

Why warm-up with scales to a metronome?

This strengthens your ability to hear and play in time as well as the benefits of scales listed above. Relaxation is always the key - try to produce a clean, smooth sound with as little effort as possible - whatever speed that is. Paul Anderson has a cheesy phrase for when he is asked ‘what speed should I practice at?’,

Answer - ‘The correct speed is the speed that you can play it correctly!’

Each day you should note down your metronome speed and gradually try and improve upon it. This may feel slow, but adding 1 or 2 bpm a day will really add up over 365 days a year!

One of our favourite things? A countdown timer! Set 5 or 10 minutes to play all the scales you know repeatedly. When the timer is up set another 10-15 minutes to tackle a new piece- focusing on the trickier elements. Once that timer is up set another timer and run through some of your stronger pieces or just play your favourite things trying to improve the smoothness and tone rather than speed. Personally we always like to end on something fun so that we leave the guitar excited to pick it up again.

And lastly and most importantly- be kind to yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Have faith that if you play every day consistently you WILL improve. It’s literally guaranteed.

We hope you’ve found this blog useful. If you’ve got any questions, pop them in the comments below and please sign up to the mailing list!

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