Tag Archives: how to practice guitar

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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The Two Things You Need To Practice More

In most Jazz practice routines there are two things that you probably don’t focus on as much as you should. In this video, I am going to go over what the problem is and give you some suggestions on how to solve that problem, and I think it is more a matter of how you think about practicing and structure your practice routine than anything else.

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You can download the PDF and the GuitarPro file here: The Two Things You Need To Practice More

Content:

0:00 Intro – Getting more efficient with practice.

0:28 Flexibility – Remember the goal you want to achieve

0:52 The Progression and the basic exercise

3:32 How to open it up

4:31 Taking it further

5:23 Open up Technique Practice

5:51 A quote from Kurt Rosenwinkel

6:12 Application

6:25 From Scale Practice to Michael Brecker with Magic

6:41 Making using the material a priority in practice sessions

7:00 A Step-wise Plan

8:21 Limitation is efficient

9:45 The Worst Mistake When You Study Jazz

10:01 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page?

Avoid Long Practice Plans – This is what you should focus on

You can make a lot of mistakes and waste a lot of time by having inefficient and unrealistic practice plans tie you down. At the same time, a Great Guitar Practice Plan can help you progress and make a huge difference for your motivation.

This video deals with that and helps you make better choices.

Goals and Guitar Practice Plans

If you are learning guitar or learning jazz then a part of what you are doing is setting goals for yourself and trying to reach those goals. That is a natural way of learning, but when you make a practice plan there are some things to be aware of. A Guitar Practice Plan should help you stay motivated and actually reach those goals. It really pays off to be aware of what goals you set for yourself. Especially if you are teaching yourself and don’t have a teacher to guide you.

And that is what I want to talk about in this video: How to set some good goals and work towards them, the 3 things you need to consider when you plan what to work on.

Learn more on Self-teaching

Check out THIS PLAYLIST to see some of my videos on topics related to teaching yourself to play Jazz and Jazz Guitar,

Content:

0:00 Intro – Setting Goals for yourself and learning

0:48 What is a realistic goal and is it realistic

2:02 #1 Long term goals have to have smaller goals along the way

2:35 The Step-wise Plan for Learning to improvise with chord tones

3:25 Be Specific

3:40 #2 Knowing where you are to know wha the next step is

3:55 Am pentatonic! On to Giant Steps!

4:53 Difficult Topics to improve on your own

5:11 #3 The Importance of flexibility

5:39 Stay Flexible don’t force it

5:48 The All scales example

6:36 Making Music Is The Goal

7:24 How do you work on setting goals for yourself?

7:47 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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Guitar Practice – How To Be Your Own Teacher

Even if you have lessons you know that most of the time you need to teach yourself and make sure you are improving while you practice guitar. You need to make sure that are getting something out of how you practice and spend your time.

In this video, I am going to talk about how you can easily add something to your practice sessions that will help you evaluate your playing and give you an idea about whether you are progressing. I will also go over 3 things to keep in mind to get the most out of this way of working.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUFfHa09LM0

Content:

0:00 Intro – How Lessons really work

0:36 How To Teach Yourself

0:53 The Only Approach to Know how you sound

1:22 Why Should You Record Yourself

2:00 The main reason this works better

2:48 How To Record Yourself

3:36 Using Video – A Phone and A Coffee Mug

4:05 More Metronome than Backing track?

4:52 I HATE listening to my own playing. (The Confidence problem)

5:16 Just Get Started! – Notice Negative and Positive Things

5:52 Strategies for using recordings

6:39 The Gap Between how it feels and how it actually sounds

7:14 3 things You Need to Do

7:31 #1 – Distraction

8:14 #2 – How Do You Want it to sound

9:12 #3 – Measure over a longer period

10:01 How Do You Use Recordings of your playing in your practice?

10:13 Like The Video? Check out My Patreon Page.

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That is not a Musical Exercise, I don’t like it!

You hear exercises being described as unmusical very often. But how much sense does it make to label a jazz guitar exercise as unmusical? When we practice then it is maybe more about looking at the skill we are improving than whether an exercise is musical or not?

In this video, I am discussing this and also going over some common misconceptions about different types of guitar practice like metronome practice.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:19 Avoid Un-musical exercises?

1:05  Unmusical Exercise  Exercise #1

1:20 Unmusical like Pat Metheny

1:51 The Musical Exercise in a “Facebook video”

2:38 Skills involved

2:53 What is the point of an Exercise?

3:47  Unmusical Exercise #2

4:07 Benefits of Robotic Exercises

4:56  Unmusical Exercise  #3

5:07 How It sounds and What it is

5:40 What you learn!

6:57 Unmusical Exercise #4

7:08 Innovation is the tradition in Jazz

7:26 Just Try something!

8:01 What Is Your Opinion on Musical/unmusical exercises?

8:21 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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Don’t Waste Your Practice Time On These 3 Things

It is important to know how to practice jazz guitar so you don’t waste your time or focus on the wrong things. Here are three topics that I think too many jazz guitarists spend practice time on and think that they need to know which they really don’t. Most of this is related to a myth or misunderstanding and I think this is really worth talking a bit about because it doesn’t help you and it really works against you.

This may also be the first video I ever made telling you to not practice something instead of giving you stuff to practice.

Of course I would love to hear what you think, because maybe it’s different for you or maybe I am completely wrong?

Content:

0:00 Intro – Don’t Wast Your Practice Time

0:58 #1 Sight Reading – What Do You Actually Need?

1:23 The Big Myth about Sight Reading

1:53 How the real process is.

2:20 Learn Music By Ear

2:31 A More Useful Goal and Approach

3:15 #2 Voice-Leading

3:50 A Time and A Place for Everything

4:35 Don’t think just play

5:23 #3 Scales – What You Need and What You Don’t

5:54 New scales ≠ New Melodies

6:32 The Gypsy Mixolydian #4 b9 scale

6:39 What Else Are We Wating Time on?

7:01 Like The Video? Check out my Patreon Page.

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Get the PDF!

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How to Solve the “I Have no Practice Motivation” Problem

It is very difficult to keep motivated and figure out how to practice guitar so that you feel like staying with it. This is especially true if you practice and learn something complicated like Jazz Guitar. But you also know that you have to be consistent and dedicated to book improvements in your playing and develop you skills. If you don’t practice you probably will just end up in a vicious circle that will stop you playing all together.

In this video I am going to go over 5 things that helps me keep motivated and inspired to practice. Things that are coming from my own experience but also from having taught a lot of students and been around a lot of jazz musicians in general.

This video will give you some ideas to keep inspired and working and also some other perspective on what playing an instrument and playing music is about. Not all of these tips are really about the practice situation but about what else you do.

Hope you like it!

Content of the video:

0:00 Intro – Staying Motivated Why it is important

1:17 #1 Is You Practice Session Fun? How To Improve it!

2:24 #2 Check out Live Music – Get Inspired!

3:43 #3 Track You Progress and Keep Track of Your Work

4:56 #4 Play With Other People

6:28 #5 Taking Lessons

7:06 What Keeps You Motivated? Leave a Comment!

7:24 Like the video? Check Out My Patreon Page!

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The group is almost at 500 members and we have a lot of great discussions on Jazz, Guitars and everything related to that!

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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

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.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram,Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

Jazz Practice Routine How To Find The Perfect Balance

If you have to make a 30 minute Jazz Practice Routine, what should you include?

We are all different so there is no one solution that fits everybody, but you don’t want to waste time or leave out important things to practice.

In this video, I am going to go over what I think a 30-minute practice session should include. I am of course a guitarist so it will be aimed at jazz guitar practice, but I am sure the philosphy and topics will fit all instruments. Some of the topics that I think are important for a jazz practice routine would be:

Technique, Repertoire, Exercises, Vocabulary, Theory, Ear-Training,
Transcriptions

I am really curious about how your practice routine is, so if you have a routine then please leave a comment with a list of stuff you work on. This is useful for people looking for inspiration and certainly also for you to evaluate how you work. I will do the same 🙂

Content:

0:00 Intro – A 30-minute Practice Routine

1:24 Technique and Warm-up

1:32 Warm-up and Synchronization – 10 minutes

2:05 Arpeggios – Right hand warm-up

2:31 Working out with Spread Triads (Steve Morse)

3:00 Technique – Musical Practice

3:19 My Basic Fretboard Visualization

3:41 Practice in all 12 Keys! (are there only 12 keys?)

4:08 Diatonic Harmony

4:40 Stay Flexible and Practice open-ended

5:43 Playing Music – 10 min

6:13 Play Songs and Put it all Together

6:47 What You Focus on and Learn

7:41 Ear Training – 5 min.

7:52 Moving Melodies through the scale

8:26 Using Apps or Computer Programs

8:50 Advantages to a schedule working with Apps

9:04 Transcriptions

9:28 Figuring Songs out from Memory

9:49 Vocabulary – 5 minutes

10:00 Use Composition and Create YOUR vocabulary

10:28 Share your Practice Routine! Give us some ideas!

10:50 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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Get the PDF!

The PDF with examples for this video is available through Patreon. You can check out my Patreon Page here: https://www.patreon.com/jenslarsen

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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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How To Practice In All 12 Keys – This Is What You Learn!

How to practice in all 12 keys and what will it teach you! In this video I am going to show you some of the things that you will learn if you start practicing in all 12 keys and talk about some easy ways to get started practicing different things in all 12 keys from your scales to complete songs.

The video focuses on 3 main areas:

  • Technique – knowing scales and arpeggios all over the instrument and in all keys.
  • Theory – You can play everything in all keys but can you think in all keys – connecting the theory to what you practice
  • Songs – Taking Technique and the theory and use it to learn, understand and transpose songs and help us learn faster and improvise better.

Content of the video:

0:00 Intro

0:13 Overview of the Topics

1:04 #1 Technique And Scale Practice

1:39 Making a Routine That uses all 12 keys

2:08 How I do this

2:33 Example of Eb Major with 1st inversion diatonic triads

3:08 Scale Practice as Ear Training and Theory Workout

3:44 #2 Music Theory

4:11 Understanding harmony to see how songs are similar

4:29 All The Things You Are & Fly Me To The Moon

5:02 Understanding the Form – There Will Never Be Another You/Mellow Tone

5:45 #3 Learning Songs in All 12 Keys – Myths and Anecdotes

6:08 How to Start Practicing songs in all 12 Keys

6:36 How NOT to start

6:51 The Way I use it in playing

7:25 How to Transpose All The Things You Are To Another Key

7:45 The Melody

8:05 Transposing the Chords

9:00 Soloing in the other key

9:38 The places where you need to take care

10:33 What you need to do this on guitar?

10:45 Like The Video? Check out my Patreon Page

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Get 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.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts, and releases.

Are You Wasting Valuable Time Practicing Jazz Licks Like This?

We all study jazz licks to add new ideas and techniques to our improvisations and our vocabulary. But I often get told by students how they choose a very in effective way of studying licks and are in fact really just wasting their time. In this video I will outline what is not useful when studying licks and also what is a better approach if you want to add material to your repertoire.

I will also use a part of a Grant Green solo as an example of how he gets it right and uses it in his solo.

Practicing Jazz Licks – Contents

0:00 Intro – Learn licks and increase our vocabulary

0:53 The bad way to practice licks even though they are good examples

1:25 Playing some licks (from paper with a metronome?)

1:51 Play the licks over a song

2:22 What is wrong with this approach

2:27 Too Much Information

2:49 A more focused approach to learn from licks

3:10 A II V I lick is about the same as learning a Jazz Standard by heart.

3:35 Why Complete Licks don’t work well in solos

4:03 Converting licks to useful and flexible building blocks

4:33 A lick from the Grant Green Solo on I’ll Remember April and how he uses it

5:21 Finding a better Chunk size

5:39 Making lines with the Grant Green Phrase

6:01 Using the same idea on other chords

6:27 Other examples of how great players use licks.

7:18 How do you work with licks? Do you avoid them? Leave a comment!

7:35 Barry Harris story on learning from Charlie Parker

8:11 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!