Practicing Away From The Guitar
By Chris Glyde
There are only so many hours in a day and since many of you work eight hours per day, I figured it would be a great use of our time to discuss how to practice away from the guitar. The great thing is there are tons of things that you can practice away from the guitar that will help you leverage your time and make you a better player… faster.
Depending on how prepared you are, you could do these exercises while you are on the bus, walking to a place of residence and while you’re working depending on the job.
Rhythm is easy to practice just about anywhere. All you need is your foot, one hand, some rhythmic beats to visualize and a couple seconds. In order to really get anything from this, you will need to have an understanding of rhythmic notation. If you don’t, I would suggest checking out my articles one rhythm. Just google “Chris Glyde Rhythm” and you should find it pretty easily.
If you do have an understanding of rhythmic notation (quarter notes, eighth notes and sixteenth notes) all you need to do is visualize two beats, three beats or four beats of a measure and work on playing it. If you’re at a place where you could write out a rhythm, take a piece of paper write out a rhythm and then work on playing that measure of rhythm.
Writing it out is a more isolated practice and visualizing it, is a more integration/improv based practice. Both are important, so I would make sure to spend time doing both.
2. Practicing Visualization:
For those who don’t know, visualization is your knowledge of the fretboard. This includes but isn’t limited to, knowing what the notes on the neck are and being able to visualize all the pentatonic shapes and extend them from one another. You can go much deeper than this, but that’s not the point of this specific article. This is just to help you get the general concepts so if you already know these specific examples, don’t worry there’s still much more to learn.
To practice scale visualization, you can do several things. For finding the notes on the neck and basic scale visualization like the pentatonic, you can get a picture of the fretboard and carry it around with you and even leave it at your desk if necessary.You can use dot schemes as well. A dot scheme is simple, it’s made on any paper and you can use a pen or pencil. Look at the picture below for an example.
3. Working on Theory:
A lot of learning theory is repetition and using the tools enough to get the sounds in your ears. As a result, practicing theory the way it should be practiced, with the guitar, won’t be possible. However what you can do is do a lot of the drilling exercises.
Music theory is actually fairly simple, but it does involve working with the concepts for a very long time. This is what makes it hard, you have to get used to the thinking process. So, in order to do this more quickly, you can spend time working out this stuff in your head.
For example, and this will probably seem really dull because I’m going to operate from the thought that you aren’t aware of any music theory for a second.
You could spend time memorizing the spellings of the chords. Meaning a C chord is spelled CEG. There are 14 basic chords and you can write out the spellings and work on memorizing them. Again, keep in mind that memorizing is just one way to practice theory. You can also practice by building chord progressions. If you understand harmonic progression, this should be fairly simple for you. Building tons of chord progressions in different contexts, different extended chords, modes etc. will be great practice for you and will allow you to do more of this work on the spot.
If you want to combine this with a visualization exercise you can also draw out chords and the frets they go on via tablature or an actual chord diagram. Both are effective ways to do practice away from the guitar.
About the Author:
Chris Glyde is a guitar teacher and practice fanatic based in Rochester, New York. For more practice tips you can check out tons of his other articles and check out his guitar lessons website.