June 18, 2022 by Klaus Crow
We all have tons of excuses to justify the times we don’t practice. We need to work, maintain our relationships, play with our kids, finish up tasks, exercise, eat and sleep. How in the world is there any time left?
How can you improve your skills amidst all of this, stay motivated and keep learning and growing when there are times when you can’t pick up the guitar?
Well, there are many places and times throughout the day where you can do some really valuable exercises to make huge changes in your guitar playing. I’ll first show you WHAT you can do, and then HOW and WHEN can you get better at playing guitar everyday, anywhere and anytime! Let’s check it out.
Memorizing the Notes on the Guitar
You can start by learning the notes on the guitar. Memorize where every note (all 12) are located on the guitar neck on every string. Start by memorizing all the “F” notes on all strings. Say out loud: The F note is located on the Low E-string, 1st fret | F on the A-string, 8th fret | F on the D-string, 3rd fret | F on the G-string, 10th fret | F on the B-string, 6th fret | F on the high e-string, 1st fret.
Try to visualize where the note is located on the neck while you’re naming the fret and string. Then pick another random note and repeat the exercise. Keep doing that until you know all 12 notes from the top of your head.
Next, learn to name all the scale notes of each key out loud. Start with the C major scale: C – D – E – F – G – A – B – C, then the G major scale: G – A – B – C – D – E – F# – G, next the F major scale: F – G – A – Bb – C – D – E – F and so on. Just pick any key in random order, until you’ve gone through all 12 keys.
Memorizing Chords and Progressions
You can also memorize all the chords you can derive from each major scale in every key. C major scale chords = C – Dm – Em – F – G – Am – Bdim , F major scale chords are: F – Gm – Am – Bb – C – Dm – Edim, G major scale chords: G – Am – Bm – C – D – Em – F#dim, and so on.
Do some chord structure exercises and learn to name the notes of every chord. C major chord = C – E – G, F major chord = F – A – C, G major chord = G – B – D, and so on. You can also do this with minor chords, dom7 chords, dim chord, etc.
Learning, memorizing and knowing the notes, the chords, the scales, the circle of fifths and fourths will help you grasp how the guitar works and understand the playing field. It will make guitar playing much more interesting, speed up the progress and connect the dots of everything you play. Take one exercise at a time. Just by doing one exercise consistently you will already reap the benefits.
Listen and Analyze Songs
While your playing songs on the radio “Listen and Analyze“. Learn to differentiate all the instruments and sounds in the song. Isolate each instrument and then really learn to listen to it. Focus solely on the guitar part, then the bass guitar part, the drums, keyboards, and different vocal parts.
Listen to the notes of each instrument, listen to the phrasing, the melody and the harmony. What do you hear? What do you notice? Listen with undivided attention. Do this with every song that comes along on the radio.
Visualizing is a very powerful tool in practicing and improving your guitar skills. You can close your eyes, stare at a blank wall or look up in the sky and visualize the guitar neck, visualize the strings, and the frets on the guitar and imagine where you place your fingers for each chord. Try to see it as clearly as possible.
Also think about what you want to accomplish with your guitar playing. What do you want to learn? What songs do you want to be able to play? Think about your next step. What’s the smallest step you can take to accomplish that step?
Visualize your guitar goals and aspirations vividly and as often as you can, so they become ingrained into your subconscious mind. This is a very powerful tool that has been used by many guitar legends (i.e. Steve Vai) and it keeps you on the right path.
Write it all out
If you happen to have a pencil and paper in your pocket you could write out all the notes, chords, chord formulas, chord progressions, scales, intervals, you name it. The great thing about writing is that it’s a very effective way to memorize, store and save the knowledge into the long term memory.
Anywhere and Anytime
Now when do we do all these exercises? Well, you can learn scale notes while you’re making use of the bathroom, when you’re brushing your teeth, when you’re having breakfast, or when you’re heading off to work.
You can learn the notes of the fingerboard when you’re at a boring event or every night in bed right before you fall to sleep. You can learn the chords of the major scale in the dentist or doctor’s waiting room.
Memorize chord notes during office breaks, while standing in line at the supermarket, when you’re going for a walk, a run, cycling or at the gym. You can listen and analyze songs with your headphones or AirPods on when you take the bus or wait for the train.
There are a million and one ways to improve your guitar skills without even lifting a finger, and they are very rewarding.
Implement and Thrive
Remember to implement these practices into your daily life. Make the best use of the useless moments that don’t have to be useless anymore. It’s gonna be fun from now on. These exercises will become addictive. Trust me, it’s a good addiction.
Before you head over to the next post or to another website and forget all about this, create a note in your phone or set an alarm to remind you to make these small but very effective guitar improvements throughout the day. It’s gonna change everything.
Go get ‘m!