This week I've decided to work on my songs, solos and arpeggios, so I wrote down these 3 things. I may do more, I may do less but I really want to get my songs moving forward this week and I really want to nail the solos I'm working on. One is from the song "Vultures" by Arch Enemy. Two are from Amon Amarth.
Each week I write down my goals and have them crystallize in my mind before me on paper.
SongsI have many songs so I pick the one that’s tugging at me the most and of course those are the new ones I’m working on. I don’t do lots of covers so I’m talking mainly about my original songs. This doesn’t mean that covers are bad though. If you like learning covers then by all means do so. You learn a lot by doing so. Pick the ones that you like the most and try to nail them start to finish. Or at least move forward with it this week.
Sometimes songs are not able to be learned entirely in the timeframe we want them to be due to a lack of technical skill or speed but don’t let this stop you. Learn as much as you can and then you will know what you need to work on to get those parts done. If its speed then work on your speed, if its a solo that takes some extra time then work on your lead guitar skills such as scales and arpeggios, bends and vibrato etc. When working songs you want to go section by section and not let the length of the song discourage you. The smallest progress will keep you feeling happy and will get you closer to your goal. Remember that progress equals happiness.
SolosWhen learning solos you want to go through all the measures first and work on each phrase individually. Once you get your fingers warm to the phrase itself then go and do the same phrase in a few other keys before moving forward. You can also try to do it at a faster or slower speed so you really get to know the phrase. Continue like this for each measure or phrase until you get to a certain point in the solo. For instance if you have a solo that is 16 measures long it may be a good idea to learn it in 2 sections. If it’s really tough then you want to learn it 4 measures or even 2 measures at a time and by breaking it down into sections. Don’t cheat and move forward before nailing the first section. Make sure you‘ve got a good grasp on it before you start to move on. Moving forward too quickly will only deter your total time it takes to get the entire solo mastered.
I currently have 3 solos I want to master. I have a good grasp on 2 of them but I still need to work on them. My strategy for these will be to play the entire solo 10x each. Since I know the solo and all the phrases its just a matter of rehearsing them and getting them tight. The 3rd solo I only know a few phrases so I will have to use the process of going measure by measure but it’s totally worth it because you really work on getting your phrasing ability to a higher level while also learning the kinds of phrases the pros do.
One thing to keep in mind is to pick a solo that you can do with your current skills unless you want to sink into a discouraged mindset. I suggest you pick something at your level and keep working on your technique and speed to nail those that you REALLY want to play in the meantime. Step by step, you WILL get there. Put in your daily practice and stay FOCUSED and you’ll soon be playing the guitar like you never thought you could.
ArpeggiosAhh, arpeggios, There are so many of them! Don't get bogged down with this though, especially if you are sweeping them. This will murder your chances of ever playing them in your own music. Take your time and go slow. The way I did it was I learned 2 string arpeggios first and then 3 and so on. Transpose the arpeggios you already know to all other keys. Yes, all other keys. If you don't know your fret board too well yet and you are just beginning this means to go up and down the neck with the same arpeggio shape. Learning them in different keys will get you closer to mastery. And if you can do them in any key well you can do them in any song.
What I'm working on this week will be 4 string arpeggios in 16th notes. As you can see I'm very specific. Since I always play 3 and 5 string arpeggios, I may do some of those but I really want to get ahead with my 4 string shapes and possibly 6 string shapes. Also, my 2 string shapes I will take into account and move them around in different keys at much higher speeds than before. If you play a 7 or 8 string guitar then work on the ones you don't know so well yet. Same goes for 6 string players.
Keeping your practice fresh and invigorating is key to having a daily practice regimen. If it aint fun you're probably not gonna do it with as much enthusiasm as you would if it were fun. So why not make it fun if it gets you practicing. Sometimes you have to dig in and do the dirty work by doing things you cant do yet but for now just focus on getting into the daily habit of writing your practice goals down and getting them done. You will begin to see greater results pretty quickly.
About the Author:
Mike Socarras is a solo artist and guitar teacher. He teaches guitar lessons in the Miami, Fl area and if you would like to know more about music and playing guitar you can visit his YouTube channel.