Multi-Topic Practice Session
This is an example of a multi-topic circuit. This type of routine uses different topic areas as the framework.
They can have more or less points on the wheel, and topics can vary.
The following can be done in a session or over the course of a week. As you get more familiar with the terrain, you’ll become an expert at building your own practice paths.
If an area that you see on one of our paths isn’t a part of your typical guitar practice, take a look and dig in if you find it interesting, or ignore it.
Prepare/Warm-Up : LAPS – Linear Chromatics
To prepare, we get in tune [path page]; get comfortable; all gear & technology within arms reach.
To warm up, we play some type of exercise, slowly. We’ll warm up with lap [linear chromatics].
Laps help with synchronization of the hands & understanding & applying positions. It is recommended that you play these on every string (maybe one per day – “I got my Monday string, and my Tuesday string”). P1 = Position 1, P2 = Position 2, etc. Position is the fret location of the index finger.
Technic : Picking : Pivots
Here we drill down into our picking. We consider our pick location for an exercise on each string couplet. Outsides and insides.
Outsides means that our pick is on the top, then the bottom of a string couplet, picking down-up. Insides means that our pick is on the bottom, then the top of a string couplet, picking up-down. Which is easier for you?
After starting this exercise with the one finger, play it starting with the 2 finger as the pivot tone, then the 3, then the 4.
Then to play all 4 fingerings as an unbroken chain, to a metronome, without stopping.
To make it more challenging, you can change the fret spacing [add a fret space between any fingers].
Read a Melody : 4 Bars of Bach Invention IV
These are the first four bars of the right hand [piano] of Bach Invention IV [BMV 775].
Ways to Practice
- Sight-read it using any fingers and then try the fingerings that are indicated.
- Play just the first measure multiple times. Loop it 10 times. Pause for a beat since the fingerings call for it.
- Then improvise using these tones.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 for measures 2, 3, and 4.
- Loop measures 1-2, then measures 3-4.
- Play all four measures and repeat them multiple times.
- Improvise using the whole set of tones. This way, you really know it. Bach picked the tone set and order, now use his tone set, but reorder them.
Chord Theory : Modifying a D Chord
The best kind of theory is applied theory. We study a naming situation and then play that naming scenario. This is what applied theory is. Here, we take a D chord and modify it to create other types of chords. We see how to change a known thing using formulas. Get the chords in your hands, understanding what you are modifying to get new chord types.
When we drop the upper root of the D chord down a half step, this is the 7 [leading tone is half step down from root], this creates a DMaj7. When we lower the 7 to a flat 7, this is a D7. The flat sign in front of a number means that the tone referenced is being lowered one half step [we are paralleling]. After the reset to normal D, we have Dm. In this chord, we have lowered the 3rd of the chord one half step, this makes it minor. We then add the flat 7 and keep the flat 3rd and this creates Dmin7. Common question: “What is we kept the flat 3rd, but included the normal 7, would that be a chord type?” The answer is yes. It would be a DminMaj7 [D minor Major 7 = minor chord with a Major 7].
Play Scales : Octave 31 at the A Tone Space
For this part of our practice, we are training the scale, getting it in our hands and memorizing the pattern. We set the metronome at a comfortable tempo and play each scale up and down in 8th notes [2 tones per click]. Then we bump up the metronome a few clicks and play them again with total control. Repeat at a higher tempo until you find your ‘hard to control zone’. Make a mental or physical note somewhere. This will be a benchmark for next time.
A Major Pentatonic
For the numbering below the tone names underneath the tablature, we are using Numera.
We can see the space where the 5 & 11 [the tritone] will go to make a complete Major scale.
Here, we’ve added in the 5 & 11 to create the Major scale. The 5 & 11 are the 4 & 7 in the traditional naming system.
To wrap up our session, we play some music. Any of this can be done within the circuit when you are practicing the particular topic, or reserved for this moment. Here are some possible applications for this circuit:
- Improvise with A Major Pentatonic and A Major. To do this, we tinker around with the tones of the scale. We go in any tone order, singing to ourselves vocally or subvocally. We look for every harmonic possibility as well – we play double and triple stops; some of the triples will be triads.
- Play Bach. Run the bars that you now know. If it were the complete piece we are working on, we could play it in performance mode.
- Experiment. Using the D type chords from our theory section, make up a cool progression.