What do you guys do when you sit down and play guitar? What do you practice? Do you just learn songs or learn scales or improvise?
Also how do you make sure that you get the most out of your practice?
Quote by alexriffs
What do you guys do when you sit down and play guitar? What do you practice? Do you just learn songs or learn scales or improvise?
Also how do you make sure that you get the most out of your practice?

I don't get to practice any more. That's for people with free time. Since I'm always teaching, I am always playing the guitar, showing what I teach, and occasionally teaching a song.

At this stage of my life, I can pretty much listen to a song on the go and work out the exact notes, or the changes in real time, so given my life of playing, my exposure to many songs (at one time people used to say I knew over 1000 songs...and could play anything on the spot, I don't know if its true or not...) and my knowing music theory so well, I never have to "learn" a song. If I want the song, it's pretty much there for the taking. So, I don't have to "practice" in that regard. I'm constantly immersed with teaching and developing new material, and in recent years that's spilled out to the bass, and more so, the ukulele, and I play those a lot also.

I have a particular fondness for the ukulele, and play and work out ideas to that in my down time. I've pretty much been carrying a ukulele with me for the last 3 years now. And, now I teach that to a few people as well.

So in my case, a life of music, leaves no time for practice, but my particular musical goals center around my teaching and lots of courses that I'm developing.


Warmups - 10 min
Scales & modes with metronome - 30 min
Playing cover songs for fun or my own songs - 20 min

it works for me
Scales w/metronome for about 20 min, chord changes for another 20-30min then noodling around and jamming riffs and improvising for about 30 min...really helps out a lot
Learn the latest cover song by ear....15-20 mins. This is warm up.

Improvise melodies and chords to a drum machine.... probably 40 mins...it can be longer or can be shorter.

I do this every day...or 97 percent of days
Quote by AlanHB
It's the same as all other harmony. Surround yourself with skulls and candles if it helps.
I'm confident there are a lot of Creed haters. But, they are a good band to learn several songs from starting out. If you have already progressed into more advanced material then Creed is good warm up material. 'Whats This Life For', 'Pity for a Dime', 'Say I' and 'One Last Breath' to start. Then I'll normally play a few scales and start on whatever project I'm working at that time. Also, any time you're learning anything, it's good to play it either acoustic or clean until it is immaculate. I always try to play with a metronome as well. Just my two cents. Cheers
I start every practice session with a long version of my “groove scales.” I play very slow, and “monitor” my body, make sure shoulders are loose, that I am breathing deep and not “pushing” or “squeezing” the notes too hard. Practice consistently, musically and mindfully and take good care of your body
Last edited by richardsnelson at Aug 25, 2014,
Warm up.
Start working on the 3 tunes i am working on. (I always have three tunes at work all the time, in different styles) (By ear)
Improvising over changes from whatever jazz standard is added to my repertoire.
Sight reading practice.

There are a few things that makes me get the most out of my practice, that i have been doing for years now.

1. Always relax. Dont force playing something if you are not ready for it, play it at a lower tempo where you can play it relaxed with your eyes closed.
2. Get it right, all of the time. Mistakes are made from being impatient, unfocused and tense. You got to relax your mind and live in the now, everything takes the time it takes.
3. Consistency. A 2-3 hour routine everyday is better than an 5-7 hour routine 2-3 times a week.
4. Have patience and don´t rush it. If you keep at it with the other steps you will get there eventually.

Has worked well for me so far. I see players i used to go to high school with that were going past me in technique and tempo then to now being behind and injuring themselves, cause they were not willing to have the patience or willing to relax completely.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”

Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
Something that really helps me...

I started an excel spreadsheet and laid out the different categories (these can be whatever you feel will help you grow as a musician). For example, singing exercises, pitching games, scales, jamming along to music, practicing tab, songwriting etc. As a singer I also include a box for yoga/physical exercise, diet (to record some of the foods I am eating e.g. dairy / caffeine / sugar as this can affect my voice) and a space for general comments where I can record how I am feeling and my progress.

I also have a box for studying "music business" where I write what I did that day to further my career weather it be working on my professional website, listening to relevant seminars or just reading articles about my favourite musicians...

Rather than force myself to do all of this every day, I go with the feeling, but make sure I fill out at least a couple of these columns every day. I am motivated to do all these throughout the week but sometimes something in particular more than others. I also record how much time I spend in each area... The idea with the spread sheet is to capture a visual representation of your progress to feed your motivation and better understand your strengths and weaknesses. It also reinforces your commitment to your own evolution as a musician through taking inventory and holding yourself accountable for your actions.

I hope this helps!
Quote by alexriffs
What do you guys do when you sit down and play guitar? What do you practice? Do you just learn songs or learn scales or improvise?
Also how do you make sure that you get the most out of your practice?

I only practice things I write or improvise at this stage, but I've been playing for twenty years, so that's probably of no use for someone who is looking for practical advice on how to improve.

I spent ( a ton of time) doing:

1) learning songs and solos by ear and jamming with albums- a crucial step to improvising and composing your own songs and solos.

2) basic exercises - picking, legato, classical exercises etc. to a metronome.

3) learning songs with tab or notation ( when too difficult/fast or time consuming to do by ear (i.e. Dream Theater etc.)

4) learning major/minor scales and modes and basic chord theory - practicing improvising and composing using these.

5) playing in a band and playing shows - this helps move everything forward and get your act together.

6) recording - this forces you to really hear your mistakes and master timing.

7) improvising.

8) composing.

On any given day I would spend some time on one or some of these. When not playing, I'm always jamming in my head or listening to drafts of tunes I'm working on, so that maximizes my playing time in some sense even when unable to play.
The best thing to do is create a to-do list, as some of the previous replies have mentioned:

1 - 15 minutes, warm up exercise

2 - 15 minutes, G Major scale, 2 positions

3 - 15 minutes, G Major chords, 2 positions

4 - 20 minutes, learn a song in G major

This type of thing will bring results. I actually just wrote an ebook on this exact subject, as I couldn't play a single note on guitar a few years ago, but now I'm gigging regularly in a classic style metal band.

You can snag it for free at my blog - alphadark.com

Yes, I ask you to subscribe, but you'll get a 40 page ebook for free and I never send spam.

Good luck.
Last edited by TheRiz at Aug 12, 2014,