Practice What You Want To Be Able To Play
I constantly see people complaining, exclaiming and venting their frustration about learning scales all over the guitar’s neck. Practicing this exercise or that one, generally working hard on their guitar playing without seeing many results. It doesn’t have to be that way!
Good vs Bad Guitar Practice
Firstly, we need to understand what is good guitar practice and what is unhelpful to your development as a musician. Especially as it’s easy to form bad guitar habits.
It can seem meaningless to just learn scales or practise them up and down, and down and up again. It’s likely, you don’t achieve anything meaningful out of doing that, other than learning how to play a scale up and down. How do I know? Well I did that for years. I worked on learning my scales, like my guitar teachers told me, but did it help me become a better musician? I don’t think so.
What is Good Guitar Practice?
Good guitar practice is easy define. Simply put, it’s what you will use on a gig. So, instead of scales or exercise, try to refocus, work on your ability to play something that sounds melodic.
Why? I think, we are all drawn to melody and not a monotonous series of notes. We spend time listening to music, and usually remember the tune. If you find yourself humming the latest radio hit, then you’ve prove my point! I find as my actual practice time decreases, the more I try to listen to music and sing or hum the melody, which in turn helps in my development.
Another thing you can work on to improve your guitar playing today is to focus on being able to play a song from the start to the end without mistakes. Again you use and need this skill more than the ability to run scales over the guitar’s neck.
Why Scales?! Why Exercises?!
So, if that’s the case, why do we learn scales and exercises and get told to work on them and not on melody? I don’t know. Honestly I think it’s a flaw in the system! Maybe we need a new system J
Of course you need to learn scales and new chords to able to solo and function as a good musician. However, they should learn with application in mind and as a way to translate what’s in your head into your hands.
The same can be said about learning a finger picking pattern, licks, rhythm, create an exercise out of what you will use, practice until confident and then try to use that idea as much as possible.
Again, learning scales, chords, licks, patterns are a necessity, but you should spent just as much time on trying to work the new idea into your guitar playing. If you change the way you practise and what you learn, then you will start to see results!