Guitar Starter Exercises
What follows are 3 solid guitar starter exercises. All 3 are moving mostly in half steps and can be called chromatic exercises. Yet, we can work endless fret spacing and string/finger configurations to address specific weaknesses that students demonstrate. In fact, learning to design exercises and think about strategies for improvement is what makes us good teachers.
When someone asks you to play guitar for them, don’t play these.
Do these with full focus; you are figuring things out. These can be a default for “what to practice” moments, especially when there might be challenges happening in other pieces.
I often use the term “laps” with kids. They seem to relate to it well and it typically sticks when talking about practice.
First, here’s the single string tablature. Get the pattern → 1234 up, position by position, 4321 down…
Once you are comfortable with playing this on the first string, move it to string 2, then 3, etc.
Try a different string for every day of the week. And, once a week, do all six strings in one practice session.
Try open string picking to gain picking control…any and all strings…
2. Linear Chromatic
Consider your shifting in the above exercise. Often, with shifting (changing positions), our elbow can slightly precede the movement of the hand. Therefore, it can act like slack in a rope. If we move our elbow slightly, the hand will follow. How much we ‘throw’ our elbow, can determine where our hand will end up.
The goal of any exercise like these is to study how our hands work. Start slow, then bump up the tempo. These can help us develop speed.
We aren’t doing exercises just to do exercises. To get the most out of every moment of practice, we focus our energies on finding out what it takes to play with less effort, fatter tone, & get into the pocket with our technique.
3. All Strings in a Position
Repeat the above cycle, position by position all the up the board [stop wherever feels right], then all the way back down.