When we find ourselves at a roadblock while learning a song, the cause is typically one of the following:
Transitions - changing between chords
Clarity - having each note sound properly
Dexterity - moving fingers in set patterns / shapes
Notice I did not list “Speed” this is because it works its way into all of these categories. Now we will break down each of the following and learn how to create our own exercises.
Example: “I’m working on the Chorus of a song that goes [Am - G - D - C] and I can never hit the (D) chord on time.”
Note: There is NO need to work on all (4) chords right now if my problem is only with (2) of them [G - D]
Analyze the finger positions between the two chords; perhaps starting with moving my ring finger from E-string 3rd-fret up to B-string 3rd-fret will be the quickest move, then shift my other two fingers into the (D) chord shape.
Take a metronome @ 60 and give yourself 4 beats (♩) between each Chord
Once played perfect (x4) times increase by 5bpm and continue
**You can reduce the number of beats between each chord if needed to (2) beats or (1) beat.
Example: “I am trying to play my (C) Chord but some strings are being muted.”
Note: Remember proper technique (playing on your fingertips and keeping your fingers curved)
Break down to one finger, test play all strings to make sure its clear
Add the next finger, test play all strings to make sure its clear
Continue adding fingers until it is finished
**Stretching exercises are also incredibly valuable!!
Example: “I am working on a solo but it gets so high up the neck when I try to play a certain lick it sounds muddy or I accidentally hit other strings.”
Note: Knowing which Pentatonic or Scale Position you are in will be crucial for developing an exercise
Take the lick and transfer it to a key lower on the guitar neck but still in the same position
Use a Metronome / Drum Track to slowly bring it up to speed
Analyze your transitions from note to note, can you: roll fingers over between strings / keep fingers down / change your picking pattern to better suit the pattern
Slowly build up, then move back up to the original key
Keep an eye out for fingertips and that the notes are resonating long enough (not cutting off short)
**Don’t take the entire Solo, work at it in pieces / sections, you’ll get more reps
I cannot stress this enough, YOUR TIME IS LIMITED & VALUABLE do NOT practice what you are already good at. Focus on the “problem areas”. Isolating those spots will maximize your practice time.