Author Topic: Came up with a practice exercise for Beginner/Intermediate players  (Read 1535 times)

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Offline PatrickT

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Hi, I'm an intermediate guitar player who recently came back to the instrument after not really playing for several years. I just started on Justin's beginner course and grade 1 of the theory course just to make sure I'm relearning with a solid foundation.

Anyway, the theory lessons about learning the note circle on the guitar inspired me to come up with a practice exercise to help beginners and intermediates learn the notes on the fretboard, practice playing cleanly and on the beat, and maybe even get some ear & vocal training along the way. I haven't had time to fully implement it myself yet since I just came up with it but it at least sounds to me like something that would be helpful for me and others. Would love to hear thoughts from more advanced players or feedback from anyone trying this out themselves.

So basically there are multiple levels. The exercise starts out simple and then gradually gets more complex later on as you get better.

Level 1: There's a theory part and a technique part. Both involve using a metronome, and you should try to include both of them equally in your practice routine starting out. We'll consolidate later. The theory part is to simply start from the open note on a guitar string and move up one fret per beat, saying the note names out loud as you go up until you reach the octave on fret 12, then the same thing backwards as you go back down. Use sharps ascending and flats descending, and make sure you do all six strings. Start at a comfortable tempo and then gradually increase the bpm each time you do the exercise once you can do it slowly without messing up. The metronome forces you to think faster until eventually you don't have to think about it at all, it just becomes instinct. You could do this exercise in your head but it's easier to check yourself if you follow along on guitar--you'll know whether or not you messed up by the time you reach fret 12. You can pause for a few beats when you hit the octave if you need to but once you're comfortable you should try to ascend with sharps and descend with flats seamlessly without stopping.

The technique part is basically just doing the physical part of the exercise without worrying about note names. You still go from open string to 12th fret and back down again, but the focus is simply about picking the notes cleanly, sticking to the beat of the metronome, and maintaining good fretting hand position. So in other words, play open, then first finger on first fret, second finger on second fret, third finger third fret, fourth finger fourth fret, slide your hand up the neck so the first finger moves to the fifth fret, second finger sixth, third finger seventh, fourth finger eighth, and so on until you reach fret 12, then descend doing the whole thing backwards. Again, make sure you do each string and stick to the click, starting at a comfortable tempo and speeding it up as you get better.

Once you're comfortable with those exercises separately and can play them at a reasonably fast tempo (don't run out of breath or anything, lol) you should be ready for the next level which is simply....

Level 2: Combine the theory and technical parts above so you're doing both at the same time. Say the names of the notes out loud as you move up and down each string, using the same techniques you practiced in level 1. (if you're already comfortable doing both parts together you can just start here, but I found it easier to manage when broken down into separate chunks like in level 1)

Level 3: Once your good with that, try singing the note names as you play them instead of just saying them. Try to match the pitch of your voice with the note on the guitar as closely as you can. It doesn't have to sound beautiful, as long as you do your best to match the sound of the note. This should help train your ear to internalize what a semitone sounds like, and by extension the note circle itself (otherwise known as the chromatic scale). Might also help train your voice a little and your ability to sing and play at the same time. You can test your accuracy by singing into a tuner if you want, but this isn't strictly necessary and if it ends up being more trouble than it's worth, don't worry about it. Just match your sung notes to the guitar as best you can and don't mess up the note names, timing, or technique.

From there you can kind of take it where you want. Maybe if your metronome can do triplets or other different beat groupings, you could try doing it that way. Or maybe you could go all the way up to the highest fret on your guitar instead of just the first 12 (if you have 24 frets that's two octaves per string). Or maybe instead of simply moving along each string, you could play the chromatic scale vertically across all six strings, playing the whole pattern up and down the whole guitar neck as you go. Or use other scales/modes/arpeggios, or other picking techniques, or singing solfege instead of note names. Whatever you want to work on that will help you on your journey as a player.

Thoughts? I hope someone finds this helpful. I just started level 1 and it's already a little tricky for me, but not overwhelmingly so. I'm hoping by making this a regular part of my practice routine I can improve my fretboard knowledge, picking technique, rhythmic timing, and maybe even get a little more comfortable with chromatic playing or singing + playing at the same time. I know there's other good ways to practice those things individually but this seems like a good way to blend all of that together without starting out too crazy.

Offline swaffi

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Re: Came up with a practice exercise for Beginner/Intermediate players
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2021, 09:57:38 am »
I wouldn’t mind giving that a go but my big enemy is distraction. There are so many fishes in this guitar/musical ocean and analysis paralysis tends to stall me. I’d be interested to know how you’re going with it since this post. Thanks Patrick.

Offline Muzzy

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Re: Came up with a practice exercise for Beginner/Intermediate players
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2021, 09:13:25 pm »
Thanks for sharing
It does take patience and practice to move up the levels.


Offline Fred Garvin

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Re: Came up with a practice exercise for Beginner/Intermediate players
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2021, 02:17:07 am »
Thanks for posting but I'll stick to Justin's method and routines.
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Offline frito

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Re: Came up with a practice exercise for Beginner/Intermediate players
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2021, 03:45:49 am »
I kind of like that approach.  I need to use the metronome a LOT more than I do and I often go one step forward two back with learning the fretboard.  This does seem like a good way to kill two birds with one stone.
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