Hi Everyone,

I started playing guitar around March of this current year and I fell in love with it. I am in my 20's in college and really wish I would have picked it up earlier, too many lame excuses I guess. Anyways, I am getting much better with the help of a great teacher (through trial and error) and a couple great books. The thing is, I want to utilize the little time I have to really grow as a musician. I got bored quick of just looking at tabs and playing other peoples music and started to really get into theory and scales and soloing. Well, heres my question: What can I add to my current practice schedule that will really help me achieve my goals?

My practice schedule is as follows:
Times are not exact, just to help me not miss anything. I always practice with a metronome, rhythm has not come especially easy to me so I count out loud for everything I do.

Warm-up: Review minor pentatonic scales, Practice major pentatonic over backing tracks. Focus on where roots are. Work on alternate picking. (15-20 min.)

Work on timing using "Study" songs in blues book. (15 min.)

Review root shapes of chord tones. Start with A move all the way to G first finding the root notes, then playing the chord shape throughout the fretboard. Focus on what shape from CAGED model is being used. (Minimum 10-mins.)

Review and practice Major scales. Focus on finding Roots, 5th's and 7th's of each key. Use alternate picking and keep in time. (I have not learned every pattern but add one to my practice schedule every couple of days) (Minimum 20 min.)

Record Backing Track for use in soloing over chord tones, learn new chords .

Solo using scales and especially focusing on hitting target notes (usually roots & 5th's) on correct beats. (as much time as needed)

Finish with fun things (new songs, mess around, etc.)

The books I play with are "Blues you can use" - John Gannapes
"Chord-Tone Soloing" - barrett tagliarino

I appreciate all the help!!
at what point of this are you training your ear though

knowing your technique is great and all but that's just gonna give you what you need to execute the music. if you don't balance ear training (with miles.be or just transcribing music in general) with your technique, you'll end up using a battleaxe to cut paper when you actually want to write music.

if you have to fulfill some kind of graded approach for a class or something, that's all well and good, but i'd personally not prioritize just doing boring mindless repetition.

people will disagree with me, but at some point you have to take the "cmon man, it's art, not homework" route and dedicate that energy towards music you enjoy. i guarantee everything you're trying to learn has already been done by the musicians you enjoy, and is embedded in their music. part of why your rhythm might be lacking would be from not playing these exercises and ideas in context

you're not gonna be soloing nonstop when you actually write music. your shapes and patterns aren't a big deal once you have all your arpeggios and intervals memorized.

when you first take college english, they start you off in classes going over essays and very bare, very clear-cut literature. they're just trying to get the rust off and prepare you to be able to write. this is an important step, but when you move onto your sophomore year and beyond, you actually have to apply all those tools in context to things that haven't been covered because you're reading actual literature and studying what people actually use - not just the theory of it. if you cling too hard to your fundamentals, you're gonna drown when trying to break down pieces bigger than you.

just food for thought
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What I'm not seeing is repertoire. Do you actively learn real music and practice it to proficiency? As said above, ear training is essential, and learning new music (by ear) will help with that.

Your general skills routine looks good to me. Hitting your musical rudiments is the best way to keep your basic abilities ready for use. You might move forward and get the major/minor scales in the routine, then move on to 7th chords and such. Having the full scales under your fingers gives you the vocabulary to play melodies over changes in harmony that the pentatonic scale can't accommodate.

But beyond those skills, you want to sound like a natural musician. You need to spend time on actual music, absorbing it by ear and reproducing it with your hands. Imagine learning a language by practicing the grammar and pronunciation, but not actually having conversations.

I'd recommend that on days you have the time, take fairly simple songs you like and try to work them out by ear. The stuff you already practice will be enough to learn a lot of popular music. Learn entire songs so you can play them start to finish.

Pick out whatever elements you can - bass, guitar, piano, vocals, drums - and listen to it and try to figure out what they're doing. The idea is to get a picture of the whole of the music, because all the parts work together. If the vocalist singings notes A C an E, then the guitar is probably doing something related to that. Even if you start only being able to vaguely describe things, you will be able to hear your part more precisely.

On the days your time is more restricted, spend a few minutes playing through songs you know, or continue working on difficult parts of them.

Music is just like language: to become fluent you have to study, practice, and use it.
Last edited by cdgraves at Nov 5, 2015,
I don't generally dedicate x amount of time to each thing, I feel that might make it too methodical and become a chore.
What I do try to do is concentrate more time onto my weaknesses and just enough time to my strengths to keep them up to scratch. Bear that in mind as it's easy to keep going over the stuff you can do.

But remember to leave time for general playing and keeping it fun!
Last edited by SpiderM at Nov 6, 2015,
This is good stuff, but you may have a few too many areas in here. I've written a short article on this: http://www.stuartbahn.com/guitar-practice-spreading-yourself-too-thinly/