Tag Archives: guitar exercises

5 Exercises That Will Boost Your Technique And Practice

The exercises that really improve your playing are usually not only developing one thing. You can be a lot more efficient by improving your guitar technique and also learn something about the fretboard, music theory, or rhythm when you practice.

In this video, I am going to give you 5 examples of exercises like that so that you can start making your practice more efficient. Some of these exercises are made so that you can work on them as a part of a technique practice routine to develop your skills, but others are more exploring what is there and some of the later ones I found that even if you go through them once slowly they really open up things for you and give you new ways of playing and exploring things.

#1 – Alt Picking exercises + Diatonic Chords:

This way of practicing is combining two very important techniques: Alternate picking which is the default approach for most melodies and diatonic chords which is one of the most important things to know about any key or scale. With alternate picking, I found that working on very difficult things to pick really helped me overall and the most tricky thing to alternate pick is probably one note per string patterns. But Instead of just running up and down the same arpeggio all day I often combined this with learning diatonic chords, especially Drop2 voicings. A basic example would be to play C major like this Exercise 1 but you could also challenge your music theory a bit more by doing this in Eb and then starting on the lowest available note Bb: Exercise 2 This exercise forces you to have a good overview of the diatonic chords, and you could take it even further and do E harmonic minor Exercise 3 For me, this was a great way to develop both my alternate picking, fretboard overview, and knowledge of diatonic chords. Notice that I included the diagrams because it is really important to think of the chords as one thing when you do this exercise.

#2 – Economy Picking and Phrasing Triads

This exercise is great for knowing the triads in a scale, but is also a technique that I use very often in my playing. There are a lot of structures that we play that have three notes and that are one note per string, especially triads, but also quartal arpeggios and shell-voicings. This way of playing them works really well for jazz lines because you have a melody that is the highest note in the triad and it is naturally accented and moving on top of the beat: C major from F major triad: and of course, you can work on stuff like this in a more challenging scale, for example, G melodic minor:

#3 – Music Theory and Drop2 Voicings in all keys

Another way to work on chord voicings and diatonic chords is to take a common chord progression and work it out through all 12 keys. For example: Let’s say that I want to play a turnaround like Cmaj7 A7(b9) Dm7 G7(9) and then take that through some keys staying in the same area of the neck.

#4 – Fretboard Overview – Extreme visualization

With the two first exercises you are working along the neck and you are using your ability to see arpeggio shapes along the neck using your knowledge of the key or scale. But you could also take another structure that you move where you really use your overview of the fretboard to see the pattern move up the neck. An example could be playing diatonic quartal arpeggios in different keys: So playing this exercise is a way to tap into your overview of the C major scale by moving a pattern up note-for-note, similar to this: And you should try to see that as notes moving up along the fretboard in the scale like this:  

#5 – Position Workout – Chords and Arpeggios

A great way to turn exercises into a way of creating new material is to design them directly on songs. In the exercise below I am taking the first 8 bars of Stella By Starlight and practicing the arpeggio from the 3rd of each chord. This way of practicing helps you:

  • Practice material that you can use on the song
  • Learn the song better
  • Get a better overview of the chords in the song

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Amazing Little Solo Exercise That You Don’t Want To Miss

Working with limitations can be a really good way to help you explore and dig deep into how you solo over a chord progression.
This exercise that I am going to show you works great as a few different levels of practicing and will help you develop:

  • Fretboard overview
  • Making it impossible to rely on habits
  • Creativity with Rhythm and Melody

I am going to apply this to the song Ladybird in the video, but I actually also used to practice this with a single pentatonic scale, and you can also change the way you approach it so that it fits you.

Start with a song you know, but you can also use it to open up songs you are studying and really work on connecting the harmony and moving freely through the chords.

A Pretty Simple The Exercise

I am going to stick to one position and use 3 strings to really explore:

  • How the changes connect
  • What Melodies I can make
  • How to make music with a limited amount of notes

It is a limitation but it is also in a way really making it a lot easier because I don’t have to think about a million possibilities and scale…

Ladybird and Some arpeggios

If you look at the Chord Progressions of Ladybird you can see that essentially it is in C major:

The Basic Scale position and reduction

Since the song is in C major then the basic scale position could be:

And I am going to reduce that to these 3 strings:

The Arpeggios and REALLY knowing the Harmony

The first part of the exercise is to take this small area of the neck and find all the arpeggios. This is because I want to improvise in this area just using the arpeggios, which is a great way to REALLY solidify your fretboard knowledge and know the harmony of the song.

The way I found these arpeggios is using my fretboard knowledge, so the way that I see the notes on the neck and how I organize using the Arpeggio fingerings that I am familiar with. It is very important that you use your own version of this, you could play through mine and see what you think, but it is more important that you use your own choices, that is the information you want to get better at using and my arpeggio fingerings may not help you with that.

Cmaj7

Fm7

Bb7

Cmaj7

Bbm7

Eb7

Abmaj7

Am7

D7

Dm7

G7

Cmaj7

Eb7

Abmaj7

Db7

If you want to download a PDF of my Arpeggios then there is a from further down in the article.

Getting Started

The first exercise is to use the arpeggios above and then solo on the song.

If this is completely new to you then it can be good to run through the song in rubato and get used to making melodies within these limitations.

I play two different solos with this in the video, one with and one without a backing track.

What You Want To Improve

What you want to focus on when playing like this:

  • Freedom when improvising, try new things
  • Using your overview of the fretboard
  • Find NEW melodies

The Next Step – Adding the context

The next thing you can start working with is to take the overview you have of the arpeggios and the harmony and then add in the rest of the material you usually use, so scale, chromaticism etc.

I have a solo demonstrating that in the video as well. Again you want to focus on how free you are and finding new things to play. Really digging in and getting everything out of the few notes you have available.

Putting this to use on other Jazz Standards

It is important to work through the harmony of standards and really get the scales and arpeggios under control just like you need to know the melody and the chords by heart.

This collection of lessons will help you build that foundation for 5 songs:

Getting more arpeggios and scale positions

If you want to expand your knowledge of arpeggios and scales you can also check out the PDF chart section of my website:

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This Is How You Should Use Scale Exercises

If you want to play jazz and want to learn how to play jazz solos then you are probably also practicing scales and working on scale exercises.

In this lesson, I am going to go over a few scale exercises that you probably already know or at least should check out and then I am going to talk about how to connect them to chords and really use them to make music.

It is very important that you don’t just work on moving your fingers with exercises, you should always try to practice the things you need when you are playing.

Getting Started – Basic Scale Exercises

So first I am going to go over a few exercises and then I am going to relate this to a little simple music theory and show you how you can turn that into something you can make music with.

Let’s look at some of the fundamental things you check out in a scale, just playing the scale and playing thirds.

Lets take a Cmaj7 chord and this C major scale.

You want to play these two exercises because they are going to help you develop the technique to play the things that you can use in lines. Of course, you can use both 3rd intervals and scale runs in solos, but that is something I will save for another lesson.

The Mighty Triad – Powerful Melodic Structures

For most of this lesson, I am going to focus on how to practice and use triads because they are both flexible and powerful tools in soloing. But the process is really the same for all sorts of arpeggios.

There are a few great ways to practice triad arpeggios in the scales. First here is a basic version: play Diatonic Triads

But you can also give it more of a jazz sound already at the exercise level by adding leading notes both ascending

and descending:

Now we can start working on making some really great sounding licks with these exercises, but first, we need to figure out which triads will work over a Cmaj7.

Music Theory (just a little..)

Now, we have 7 triads in the scale. They don’t all sound that great on the chord, so first we need to find some that work.

The only note that sounds funny on the Cmaj7 is an F. I don’t like calling it an avoid note, but if we are looking for triads then that is not the greatest one to use.

We have all these triads: C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim,

C: C E G
Dm: D F A
Em: E G B
F: F A C
G: G B D
Am: A C E
Bdim: B D F

If we remove the triads that contain an F then we get these 4 triads C, Em, G, Am

These fit!

C: C E G (1, 3, 5)
Em: E G B (3, 5, 7)
G: G B D (5, 7, 9)
Am: A C E (13(6), 1, 3)

Now we can start making lines with these exercises and then I will show you another exercise that is great for creating solid melodies

Making Lines with the triads

The first example is using an Em triad and adding a leading note to the 5th:

Another way to work with the Em triad is to play the triad as a triplet to change up the rhythm:

You can also chain together triads as I am doing here with G major and Em triads:

Another Great Exercise

Since the triads work so well in licks it is also possible to change the order of the notes. Until now it was always 1 3 5 or 5 3 1 but if you practice other patterns you can really get some great melodies as well.

Here is a simple pattern that starts on the third: 3 1 5 pattern example

If I make some licks with this pattern then you get something like this:

Arpeggios and Pentatonics!

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The Exercises You Don’t Do, But You Really Need To

The Guitar Exercises we mostly talk about when it comes to learning Jazz is mostly about scales, arpeggios and hitting chord tones. In this video, I go over 3 great exercises that you can work on that will help you develop your soloing and your skills as a jazz guitarist that is not about the hippest scale or most outside arpeggio.

The exercises in this video will help you work on playing better melodies and playing a solo that tells a story, not just a bunch of licks next to each other.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:09 What You Probably Work On

0:26 What You Should Work On

0:57 #1 Soloing with 3-Notes Per Chord

1:25 The Song and The Exercise

1:44 Getting Away From Dense Solo ideas

1:57 What You Develop with this exercise

2:25 Rhythm?

2:38 How I work with this on the progression

2:52 Choosing 3 Notes and thinking ahead

3:33 Limitation Builds Stronger Melodies

3:54 #2 Vocal Like Melodies

4:19 Maybe You Have A Better Name?

4:40 Every Note Counts

4:57 Things You Develop

5:15 The Pat Metheny Lick 😉

5:53 #3 Solo From The Melody

6:22 Improvising using the melody of the song

7:05 Back To The Roots

7:45 What You Learn From This Exercise

8:15 Limit yourself to expand your skill set.

8:35 A More Abstract way of using the melody9:02 Like The Video? Check out My Patreon Page!

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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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Finger Exercises – This is What You Should Be Doing

This is one of the Finger exercises for Guitar that I often give to my students and some of the things I teach that are almost never really discussed but are so important for good technique!

This exercise is extremely difficult, but also extremely useful for your technique, your ability to play fast and also to think ahead when you are playing. The key things you want to train is your finger independence and your ability to use preparation. In this case preparation is about having the left hand fingers already in place before you want to play the note. This can make your playing much more secure and set you up for playing a lot faster with a good tone.

For me it is coming out of the classical lesson I had when I just started playing guitar, and it is a bit curious to me that we don’t talk more about it with Jazz and Rock music.

I am curious about this so leave a comment if you think there are more things we can learn from classical music!

Left Hand Preparation Exercise

The main exercise I am using in the video to demonstrate what to focus on is this simple semi-chromatic exercise. I often call it the 1234 exercise.

Making it more musical

When playing this it is of course about getting your hands synchronized, but if you focus on playing long more connected notes and preparing the next note all the time then you are going to be able to get much closer to get it to sound like a musical statement.

The idea is to have the next finger in place before you need it. When playing ascending in this exercise that is mostly not possible, but especially when going to a new string you can put your index finger in place in advance

The same type of strategy with the descending version is to put down all the fingers in advance when starting on a string. This is shown here:

Then when playing the exercise you lift one finger at the time.

You can of course after working on this for some time try to incorporate it into your playing when working on scales and arpeggios. I demonstrate this in the video.

Finger Independence and Control

The other aspect that you can work on with this exercise is to improve you control of your fingers. This is mostly your ability to move your fingers independently of each others to the degree that you can do that, this varies and most people (like me) don’t have completely independent 3rd and 4th fingers.

The way to exercise this control is to only move the fingers only as much as you need. Often this is described as making the fingers move less and allow for more speed. I think it is more about being more precise and having control of the movements. 

Often I see students who let go of a string and the finger flies away from the guitar. This means that you have no control when you let the finger go and you have to force it back to wherever it needs to go. This is not so practical when playing.

Improving Finger independence

The way you can work on this with this exercise is that you also stay in control when you let go of the note. This means keeping the finger close to the string and not “flying away”

In the beginning this exercise can be extremely annoying and frustrating. But it is very much worthwhile to spend a few minutes on everyday.

How to work with these exercises

Exercises like this are very dry or boring and I actually don’t think you should spend a lot of time on this, but instead take the approach of just working on them by playing them slowly once or twice and then leave it at that. That approach worked very well for me at least.

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Download the PDF

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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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This Is How You Should Practice Every Scale Exercise

Most great Guitar Players mix a lot of different techniques when they are playing, and if that is the end goal then the scale exercises you do should also contain that element!

In this lesson I am going to go over some ways to take simple exercises and use them to combine legato, alternate picking and sweeping or economy picking.

Technique and Scale Exercises are for sound

For me it is in the end much more about having techniques so that I can play the music that I want to play and get it to sound right and having a flexible technique in terms of legato and picking is very useful for this.

Technique is there to help me play the Music that I want to play with The Phrasing and Sound I want to hear!

The exercises in this video is My take on how this works it is important to remember that the best solution is for you to 

Find YOUR way of combining different techniques
incorporate it into your practice routine and playing

Basic Scale Exercise and a few options

Example 1 is a C major scale in the 8th position played with a 3NPS fingering.

In the video I play it with alternate picking:

You can do this mixing with legato as well. Let’s do that like this: Down Up Hammer-on:

and of course you can also do Down Hammer-on UP:

 Technique priorities – what to choose

The way I think about this is no that it has to sound the same, different techniques sound slightly different and when I play I am going to use the technique that is playable or easy AND that sounds the best.

The goal is to use the different sounds and dynamics of the technique in our phrasing

So it doesn’t have to sound the same!

Actually you make choices on this already with the exercises.

Here’s the scale in 3rds with alternate picking:

And you can try to add as much legato as possible by doing this:

But somehow it’s nice to have one more picked note to get it to sound a little more natural:


With all of these exercises I am choosing the approach and techniques that I like and that fits to me, but of course this is different from person to person so you might find that other combinations work better for you. The important thing is to make sure you can play it in time and that you get the phrasing or sound that you like.

Adding Economy picking to the mix

Of course you can also work with sweeping or economy picking, When playing arpeggios this becomes very practical. For example with diatonic triads.

And we can combine all of it in an exercise like this with triads up one down the next 

It is up to your imagination and you get to challenge yourself and develop your ability to mix

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This Is How You Should Practice Every Scale Exercise – PDF

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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Practice your Licks in ALL 7 keys!

Scale Practice actually goes way beyond having to work on exercises. Taking phrases or licks and moving them around is a great way to expand your abilities on your instrument.

On the guitar moving to another key is maybe not as difficult as staying in the same key and moving around the neck, and you need to be able to do this if you want to be able to freely transpose songs.

In this video I will go over this exercise and demonstrate what the thinking is and what gain from working on it.

The PDF is available in the Patreon Facebook Group.

Contents:

0:00 Intro

0:07 The best scale exercise to explore positions!

0:35 Expanding your vocabulary

1:02 Jazz demands lots of keys and positions for our licks

1:25 Guitar transposition? Just move your hand!

1:52 The Jazz Lick!

2:10 The Jazz Lick through all 7(or is it 10) positions?

2:55 How to move the lick around.

3:04 The first chunk

4:02 Different possible types of chunks

4:14 moving around the next part

5:00 Choice of technique

5:19 Applying different types of picking and legato for phrasing

5:38 Phrasing above technique!

5:54 What you learn from doing this guitar exercise

6:57 How it makes you test your technique and evaluate your options

7:26 Do you have good exercises for checking out different positions? Let me know in the comments!

8:17 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

3 Exercises you MUST know on songs – Better than the usual Scales and Arpeggios

Working on Exercises while improvising is a very efficient way to improve your jazz improvisation. Developing you abilities while improvising means that you are finalizing what you have checked out as exercises or written new material with. In this video I will cover 3 exercises that you can add to your jazz guitar practice routine and help different aspects of improvising and translating your technical skills to your improvised solos.

I have also added an extra exercise that will give you a new way of developing and understanding of the harmony and voice-leading plus elp you come up with new licks or lines.

 

List of contents:

1:32 Solo only using Basic Diatonic Arpeggios
2:11 Discussion of Arpeggio solo exercise
4:32 Solo in one position
5:08 What to take away from soloing in one place on the neck
6:59 Continuous Motion solo
7:36 What to focus on and learn from Continuous Neck movement on the neck
9:43 When and how to use these exercises
11:04 The Bonus exercise to develop new licks or lines
13:31 How to make guide tones and what you can work on with this exercise.