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There are times when I don’t have my guitar with me or I can’t play for whatever reason and I am really eager to improve my skills and give my playing a boost.
When my kids are watching TV and I can’t interrupt, when I’m sitting or waiting somewhere and I am bored out of my skull I like to use my time wisely practicing without the guitar.
One of my favorite ways doing this is memorizing the notes of the scales, chords and random notes on the fretboard. I have noticed that knowing my way around the fretboard has an amazing impact on my playing.
Besides guitar playing there are a lot of things you can do to improve your playing. These are all things that really matter and make a big difference on you becoming an advanced player.
Here are 5 ways how to practice without the guitar:
1 – Memorize
Memorize all the notes on the fretboard one string at a time. Memorizing the notes on the low E string and A string is a must for every guitar player. Most barre chords, power chords and scales start off on these strings, so the notes on these strings determine what the name of the chords or scale is.
Memorizing all the notes on the other strings (D, G, B and high E string) will be a great advantage to your guitar playing and guitar vocabulary.
Remember: “The notes, scales, triads, intervals, and arpeggios are the letters and words to create phrases (melodies) which expand your guitar vocabulary”
Memorize the notes in small steps on a regular basis. Memorize in waiting rooms, while you are walking, when you are stuck in traffic or memorize in bed before you fall to sleep. Memorize notes of chords, scales, anything that will help you to know your way around the fretboard.
2 – Listen
Take your ipod to work or school in the car or in the bus and listen to guitar players. Listen to as many different guitar players as possible. Be inspired by their playing. Listen how they phrase, study their styles and skills. Learn from the greatest. Really listening and analyzing the music is one the best ways of practicing.
3 – Read
Read guitar magazines and guitar books. Guitar magazines often contain great articles from the best players in the world with great tips on how to improve your playing and stories on how they became better players. There is also a lot of info on guitar equipment, guitar setups, maintenance, guitar theory, technique and styles. Go to your public library for a great collection of guitar books.
4 – Watch DVDs
Watch great guitar players in concert. Check out guitar instructional DVDs. Watch them on your laptop or mobile phone where ever you go. There are many great guitar instructional DVDs that take you to the next step and can change your playing for once and for all.
5 – Practice theory
Grab yourself a pen and paper and write down the circle of fifths. Learn the key signatures, how many sharps and flats are in each scale. Study and learn the circle of fourths. Learn chord formulas and scale formulas. Practicing theory is most important when learning how to improvise, building chords and chord progressions. It’s the next step in becoming a better guitar player.
He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast. – Leonardo da Vinci
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