Implementing "Deliberate Practice"

Next year the term "deliberate practice" will be twenty years old; in that time it has gradually moved out of the academic world and become a phrase uttered in hushed tones in musical, sporting and other spheres. What does it mean and how can we use it?

What is "Muscle Memory"?

If you've ever worked on developing speed on guitar you've probably heard references to "muscle memory". But what is this mysterious facility? Is it something real or just a part of musicians' folklore? Can we do anything to make our learning more efficient, or should we be suspicious of "automatic" playing as less creative?

Periodized Practice

In my own playing I've decided it's time to focus on technique again, which I haven't really given much attention to in the last 12 months. Here's my plan for the next year.

Why I Play With A Thumbpick

I always play with a thumbpick, and have for decades. I get asked about this a lot because it's extremely unusual for someone who doesn't do a lot of acoustic fingerpicking. I believe the thumbpick can be a very good choice for electric guitarists, and here I'm going to say why.

Hybrid Picking Exercise

Just a quick post to mention the hybrid picking exercise I've been working on for the past few days. I'm actually playing different variations on this up and down but I'm sure you can figure those out for yourself.

A Stretching and String-Skipping Workout

I've had about a month of enforced lack of practice; this happens to all of us from time to time. As I often do I devised a little etude to get my hands warmed up and in synch again. I'll be practicing this for the next couple of weeks, and probably using it as a warmup after that, so I thought you might like to try it yourself.

Some 3-String Ladder Patterns for Diminished Scales

Recently we looked at 2-string ladder patterns for the Whole-Half and Half-Whole Diminished scales (since they're modes of each other, the patterns work equally well for both scales). Here we'll look at some similar patterns covering three strings.

Some 2-String Ladder Patterns for Diminished Scales

"Ladder" patters are patterns that climb up or down the neck rapidly using only a small number of strings. Since I'm posting a lot about symmetrical scales at the moment, here are some ladder patterns for the Whole-Half and Half-Whole Diminshed scales. Remember that these scales are modes of each other, so which scale you're playing will be determined by where you play these patterns on the fretboard in relation to the background tonality.

Four Notes Per String from Three-Notes-Per-String Patterns

Three-note-per-string patterns are extremely useful for playing heptatonic scales such as those in the major, harmonic minor and melodic minor modal groups. In the previous lesson we looked at some different patterns we can use to play these to break up the usual straight-up-and-down approach. In this we look at some more.

Three-Notes-Per-String Patterns and Factorials

This lesson and the ones that come after it are about working out the possible orders in which you can play patterns involving 3, 4 or more notes per string. Before we get into that, let's look at an example of what I mean.