Kido's Practice Approach. Mods please make into Article.
This article came about for two important reasons:
A.) I want to be a better musician.
B.) You want to be a better musician.
Both reasons should be important enough for me to draft this, and also important enough for you to read it. I hope we find both statements true.
So lets begin with what this practice approach is, and more importantly what it isn't. . .
It IS a very sound, informed, and non-contradictory approach to learning, what I feel, are the most important aspects of guitar study.
It IS NOT a perfect approach to guitar Practice. Or by any means the "proven" most effective method.
Since I began playing I could never find a step by step approach to a good practice session schedule or even what I should be practicing. Now notice I didnt say "perfect" practice schedule. This being that there is no perfect method with everyone being at very different technical levels and ability. This method has worked for me and is an informed approach using my private teacher of seven years and many of the following books:
"The Guitar Cook Book" Jesse Gress
"The Guitar Grimoire Series" Adam Kadmon
"The Hal Leonard Series"
Many of the Berklee Press issues,
formost: "Guitar Voice Leading" John Thomas
Jazz Improvisation and Technique Dale Harbour
And lots of others that I dont have with me.
I have filled volumes of fretboard paper, chord grids, and tab sheets for likley hundreds of hours. There are notebooks, everywhere in my home that have never seen review and never heard an accompanying metronome. I have revised and changed this, and have broken down all the information in to the most easilly remembered sequence I could find. I have mapped out the intervals for all scales and modes using both dot and note sequences and ended up with an OVERWHELMING amount of information which would have taken months to properly unravel.
I have had those months.
Now, to make sure you at least know Im NOT JUST some confused young adult with too much time and too little knowledge. I have been playing for almost 8 years, with weekly live performance around my town to my credit. I am, however, by no means better then most of you at playing the guitar or performing, and would never claim to be. This being said I have learned a ton about theory in my free time and I hope some of this would be of use to you. Any feedback would be appreciated along with input to how I could make the procedure better. This concludes my most likely unecessary introduction. Now down to business.
So lets begin with the fundamentals of what in my opinion we should be practicing on a daily basis. You may revise as you see necessary.
Overview of the essentials. . .
1. Scale study
2. Arpeggio study (would include triads)
3. Chords and voicings
4. Sight reading
5. Vocal and Song contruction depending on your personal goals.
Now before you start to ask about some things you may not see here, or something which you beleive doesnt belong, let me repeat you may include or remove things as you see fit. Im just laying down what I practice daily and which seems most applicaple. The following will be my approach to each of the 5 sections. This will be the most summarized and methodic approach I have found to this date for practicing.
Section One: Scale Study
Now we all have the books. I know we do. Its one of the things that we do, buy them that is. Because every book we purchase is another step to being the best, isnt it? No its not. And we should know it by now. But somewhere between denial and acceptance lies the truth of buying learning materials. I own Forty-Seven books, mostly in the music theory and guitar technique categories. Most of them cost between 15.00-50.00.
So lets say on average around 30.00.
Thats 47 x 30.00 = $1410.00 (More then Ive made at every gig
played since age 15.)
In other words too much money.
So you too have seen the charts, displaying endless strings of black dots. They say put your finger here because this is how it goes and thats it. Maybe this works for you, it didnt for me. This is what I think you should do.
Note: Since it would take an extremely long time to approach all the exotic scales in addition to the extra harmonic scales, I will exclude charts for the Melodic minor, Harmonic minor, Whole tone, half tone, diminished scales, and additional exotics. This isnt because they are unecessary, but because they arent required to be on our way to you applying my methods. I will place printable blank sheets at the bottom of this article so you may draft your own versions of the approach.
The major scale and remaining six modes are my concern for the time being.
Seven modes, seven notes. Easy.
Im making the assumption that we all know what modes are, even if we dont know all the fingerings and relationships.
To abbreviate each mode is a corresponding interval of the primary major scale or Ionian mode. Each number next to the mode designates its relationship note wise to the original major scale. In the key of C it looks like this:
(DONT WORRY IM NOT WRITING A THEORY BOOK HERE, THIS IS THE ONLY TIME YOULL SEE A BORING CHART.)
C MAJOR SCALE
MODES. . .
So why would we learn the modes and not just the major scale?
Because if youre like me, Obsessively compulsively enriched and a creature of habit, you will have a very hard time taking your C major scale and starting and ending on any note besides C. And I guarantee that any solo you want to play is not going to be interesting if you run up and down the C major scale in perfect sequence around a relative chord proggression.
Long story short. To learn the major scale you need to learn every note within it and thus the modes. . . the whole story so to speak. So lets ditch the theory stuff for a quick sec (or a long sec) and see what it is we actually should be practicing. . .
CAGED FORMAT <---- Method for memerizing scale patterns
I BET YOU KNOW WHAT THAT IS. IF YOU DONT, EMAIL ME AND ILL EXPLAIN.
I DONT USE IT. WHY?
THIS IS WHY.....
Caged format is an approach to learning the major scale and modes based on taking the open possition chords and applying fingerings to them. Most of you will eventually practice scales using caged format. Good idea? Yes. Great idea? No.
Why is caged format not the best approach? Well let me show you.
First of all, caged format is alot of unnecessary repetition. It states that there are 5 fingering patterns for the major scale. This is true only because of the interval change between the 2nd and 3rd strings. There are in fact less fingerings.
This is how I do it:
KIDO's THREE FINGERING POSSIBILITIES:
These are the fingers you start each scale with. CAGED format says there are five fingerings because it compensates the different positioning when you adjust to the 2nd and third strings...but why not just use three fingerings and adjust those ANYWHERE on the fretboard?
No reason why we cant. And we will.
Download or print each of the following sheets I have created for you.
A tetrachord is a concept I found in the, "Guitar Cookbook" by Jesse Gress. On a side note lets be sure that Im not claiming the rights to any of the concepts contained here in, only my organization of the concepts. Not like Im getting paid for this anyway. :)
So anyway. . .
A tetrachord is a 4 note division of any 8 note scale/mode. For example:
The major scale/ Ionian mode is a composite of two 4 tone tetrachords combined a whole step apart. This makes breaking down my three fingering options very easy... because as you can see below there are three fingering possibilities for each of the 4 tetrachords, and yes thats correct, one beginning on each of the three fingers: 1st, 2nd and 4th.
Major scale intervals: W, W, H (W) W,W,H
Looks like two major tetrachords a whole step apart to me. . .
Each of the remaining modes is a combination of the 4 tetrachords below seperated by either a whole or half step. Practicing tetrachords is a great way to begin practicing and learning your modes, because it breaks down the required memorization to half the amount.
Once you have mastered the 3 fingerings of each of the 4 tetrachord types you can take on the 3 fingerings for each of the 7 modes. There are a few different ways to memorize the formations quickly. You can memorize the "I" Ionian major mode first, and then take on the corresponding modes and compare how they differ. If you count out scale degrees while you play, 1,2,3,4... youll be able to see how each of the modes differ from one another in a single key based on the individual intervals. This being, flat 3rds and 7ths etc.
Or you can take on one mode at a time and memorize the 3 fingerings for that specific one.
So. . .
Since there are three fingerings and seven modes, thats a total of 21 total scales you can memorize.
With the caged format it would be significantly more, not to mention very difficult to discover the notes outside of the major scale box.
IE: The "D" fingering runs across one octave and is in the center register of the fretboard, leaving lots of notes on the outside. If you remember the three fingerings for each mode you can then work on finding out which notes are in a certain key and what their possition is in reference to the mode. For example in the key of "C", D would be the Dorian mode therefore you can play any of the three fingering from any D on the fretboard and also be picking out notes from the C major scale.
Theres little doubt that a thourough understanding of music theory would go a long way to help you understand the relationships better, but Im assuming most of you reading this have either similar methods as mine or those which use the caged format. I think this is better.
Im also sure alot of you who use the "CAGED" format notice a couple of different fingerings here, such as the 7th note of the 4th fingering of the Ionian scale. Normally it would be a first finger stretch and not a fourth finger.
MY explanation for this is as follows.
A.) If you combine all the fingerings together onto one fretboard grid you get a very tidy 8 fret connection of all notes in the corresponding scale, rather then having that one 7th note poking into the top 9th fret.
B.) If you are to follow my system and always make sure that a mode is a combination of Two tetrachords you must make a few finger adjustments so that the system is never contradictory.
""MY SYSTEM IS NEVER CONTRADICTORY""
Dont quote me on that though
C.) The fingerings for a few of the modes would need to be adjusted to compensate for the adjusted Ionian, which is unnecessary, and a lot of extra work.
So in summary of the scale section of this practice regimen. Begin by saving the pictures on this page and printing them out so you dont need to be at your computer to use them.
1. Begin by practicing the tetrachords in any manner you see fit.
Generally every day I like to dedicate myself to one finger for tetrachords, scales and modes, arpeggios and triads. This works well because the arpeggio and chord part of this section will be derived from the sheets posted above, and I think you will have a great understanding of how the chords are derived from the fingering patterns. Just my 2 cents.
2. Continue on to the scales in any manner you see fit. There isnt alot of bookwork needed, but alot to absorb. The best thing about my approach is the few pages needed in front of you to learn all the modes and several fingerings for each. I suggest beginning on the 6th fret and going through your circle of fifths for onr fingering and then repeating the process on the remaining strings until you reach your highest note possible on the high E string. Then repeating the process descending.
You will quickly learn the fretboard and make mode relationship connections using this process.
Section 2: Arpeggio Study (Triads included)
This is where my system starts to get fun, because once you have all those sheets printed it makes the rest of the work really easy...IE the work ive already done for you.
Now for starters when I practice arpeggios, I like to add the sevenths in there...why? Mainly because your still practicing major and minor arpeggios (and diminished) even if you add the 7th. So when your playing them you should constantly be counting 1, 3, 5, 7... and back down while you play. This will ensure you can tell the difference between the different types, Major 7th, minor 7th etc.... and also how they sound.
Playing arpeggios using the same fingerings ive given you, on top of using the tetrachords provided, gives you a very grounded understanding of the intervals for each mode.
So anyway. . .
Once you have your 21 fingering patterns for your modes, you can map out the arpeggios taking only chord tones from the scales. Thus for the modes you will receive the following.
I - Major 7th arpeggio
II - Minor 7th arpeggio
III - Minor 7th arpeggio
IV - Major 7th arpeggio
V - Dominant 7th arpeggio (b7)
VI - Minor 7th arpeggio
VII - Diminished minor 7th arpeggio (b5,b7)
So even though there is 7 scales and 21 fingerings, you only have to memorize 4 arpeggio types for each fingering, so 16 different arpeggio fingerings.
Heres a chart based on what we have. You can also do this yourself so you have a better understanding of what Ive done.
TO GET YOUR ARPEGGIOS ALL YOU DO IS TAKE THE CHARTS YOU ALREADY HAVE AND ONLY INCLUDE THE 1ST, 3RD, 5TH, AND 7TH OF THE SCALE. OR JUST REMOVE THE 2ND, 4TH AND 6TH OF THE SCALES.
THE NEAT THING ABOUT THIS IS THAT SINCE ONLY MINOR ADJUSTMENTS ARE MADE TO EACH MODE YOU CAN EASILLY SEE HOW A CHORD IS DERIVED FROM EACH MODE. THIS MAKES SONGWRITING A LOT EASIER WHEN DEVELOPING CHORD PROGGRESSIONS... DONT WANT TO LOSE YOU THOUGH SO ILL STOP RAMBLING.
IVE CHOSEN TO USE CHORD GRIDS FOR THIS BUT YOU COULD USE ANOTHER FRETBOARD CHART IF YOU SO CHOOSE.
YOU CAN AQUIRE YOUR TRIADS BY USING THE 21 FINGERING PATTERNS AND CHOOSING only THE NOTES YOULL NEED.
MAJOR - 1, 3, 5 (I, IV)
MINOR - 1, B3, 5 (II, III, VI)
ETC FOR DIMINISHED AND AUGMENTED
3. YOU ALL KNOW WHAT TO DO FOR SIGHT READING. I RECCOMEND JAZZ FAKEBOOKS EVEN IF YOU DONT REALLY LIKE JAZZ. BECAUSE THEY CAN VARY FROM SIMPLE TO VERY TECHNICAL AND USE SOME REALLY NICE CHORD SHAPES. ALSO CLASSICAL GUITAR EXCERPTS ARE GOOD.
4. VOCAL EXCERSISES AND SONG PRODUCTION ARE YOUR OWN DEAL.
I will (moderators willing) be drafting an approach for practicing vocal technique and a very in depth look at music theory in the near future.
Although theory wise this Article was not exhaustive, I do beleive that it will get you well on your way to developing a sound technique and hopefully a practice regimen of your own, which is every guitarists ultimate goal.
JUST FOR KICKS HERE IS A COPY OF MY PRACTICE SCHEDULE...
KIDO's PRACTICE SCHEDULE
1. WARM UP: 15 MINUTES
CHROMATIC SCALE THROUGH CIRCLE OF FIFTHS. 60 BPM.
1234, 2345, 3456, 4567...
1X EXCLAIMING NOTE NAMES
1X EXCLAIMING SCALE DEGREES
ASCENDING THEN DESCENDING
2. SCALES: 30 MINUTES
MAJOR SCALE, MODES AND PENTATONICS. 125 BPM.
PLAY EACH SCALE USING CIRCLE OF FIFTHS
USE EACH POSITION (1ST FINGER, 2ND, 4TH) EACH STRING. 6TH-3RD
5X 4 NOTE CYCLES 1,2,3,4 2,3,4,5 ETC (ASCENDING)
5X 4 NOTE CYCLES 1,2,3,4 2,3,4,5 ETC (DESCENDING)
5X 3 NOTE REPITIONS 1,2,3 1,2,3 1,2,3 1,2,3 2,3,4 . . . A+D
REPEAT THE ABOVE FOR EACH CORRESPONDING MODE + PENTATONICS
2.A TETRACHORDS: 15 MINUTES
5X TETRACHORDS (3 FINGERINGS) IN EACH KEY THROUGH CYCLE OF FIFTHS
MAJOR - W, W, H
DORIAN - W, H, W
PHRIGIAN - H, W, W
LYDIAN - W, W, W
3. ARPEGGIOS : 15 MINUTES
MAJOR, MINOR, AUGMENTED, DIMINISHED, 7TH AND MINOR 7TH. 100BPM.
PLAY EACH ARPEGGIO BEGINING ON 6TH STRING USING CIRCLE OF 5THS.
5X ASCENDING + DESCENDING 1,3,5 5,3,1 *7
5X 1ST INVERSION 3,5,1 1,5,3 *7
5X 2ND INVERSION 5,1,3 3,1,5 *7
5X 3RD INVERSION (7THS ONLY)
4. CHORDS AND VOICINGS : 15 MINUTES
GUITAR GRIMOIRE EXCERSISE PROGGRESSIONS
BEGINNING ON PAGE 191 COMPLETE EXCERSISES BEGINNING
ON # 314. MAKE NOTE OF COMPLETED EXCERSISE NUMBER AT
END. 100 BPM HALF NOTES. FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS FOR KEY
5. SIGHT READING: 15 MINUTES
USING HAL LEONORD BOOK 2 BEGIN ON PAGE 1 AND MARK WHEN
FINISHED AT END OF SESSION. USE SLOW SPEED TO START 60BPM.
6. VOCAL EXCERSISES: 15 MINUTES
BEGINNING AT MIDDLE C PLAY LOWERED PITCHES CHROMATICALLY UNTIL
MY LOWEST PITCH IS ACHEIVED COMFOTABLY THEN CHROMATICALLY RISE
TO MY HIGHEST NOTE.
5X FROM LOWEST PITCH BEGIN SINGING SCALES USING CIRCLE OF FIFTHS
5X SING ARPEGGIOS AND INVERSIONS IN ALL KEYS (CO5)
7. DEDICATED SONG CREATION: 15 MINUTES
WRITE LYRICS, ALTER PROGGRESSION OR CREATE MELODY OF NEW OR
8. NEW SONG MATERIAL: 15 MINUTES
TAKE PRINTED TAB AND WORK ON IT AT A SLOW PACE.
9. OPEN PRACTICE: 15 MINUTES
SPEND ALLOTED TIME MESSING AROUND
TOTAL TIME: 2 HOURS, 45 MIN
Maybe that will get you on your own way. . .Well anyway hope I didnt bore you to death.
If anyone has questions dont hesitate to email me. Ive got the time. Tons of it, and in closing, I know that when I began playing what I really desired was for someone to tell me..." This is what you need to do and how you need to do it."
I am here to tell you how if you need the same treatment.
Stay in touch and keep playing. Beat your best, not anyone elses. And remember that it doesnt matter how good others think you are, you dont have time to worry about that anyway.
Youre only as good as youve developed since yesterday...