How to Create Guitar Exercises from Pieces of Music
Many of us prefer to play pieces of music more than exercises. We may understand and agree that we need technique practice to build our hands, but pieces feel more fun.
Here’s a way you can use your pieces of music to create exercises. And these exercises will then directly improve your pieces of music.
Musical Exercises from Repertoire
Within any piece of music we may find a “tricky spot.” This is a snippet of music that gives us more trouble than the rest of the piece.
These are usually short. The problem-spot may be just a few notes or a measure. It may be a right-hand pattern or a left-hand maneuver.
Or it may be that we don’t have the speed to play a section of the music.
Whatever the case, we can pull this difficult material and create an exercise from it.
Take for example a right-hand pattern.
Right-Hand Guitar Exercises from Music
We can take the right-hand pattern from a snippet of music.
First, we play the pattern on open strings. This allows us to focus all attention onto the movements. We can decide the best way for the right hand to play each note.
Next, we can add the left hand. Here, we can use any favorite chords. Or we can use a practice progression. In the video above, we also talk of a diminished chord, which also works well for this.
We can then practice the right hand while getting the interest and challenge of the left hand. This means we will practice it for longer, getting more repetitions of the exercise.
When we add this pattern back into the original piece of music, it will likely be smoother, more fluid, and faster.
Left-Hand Exerices from Music
In the same way we used a right-hand pattern, we can create exercises for the left hand.
For any difficult snippet of music, we can move it up and down the guitar neck. If we find the core issue, it will usually be just a few notes.
We can identify the string-crossings, stretches, slurs, or any other tricky bits. Then we can make fun exercises to practice these moves.
Experiment and Play
This type of practice is great fun. And it will become a useful tool in polishing your music so you can play with fewer or no mistakes.
There is no real wrong way to do this, so long as the core issue is getting attention and focused practice.
So feel free to experiment and play. Explore several potential exercises for any one problem-spot. And watch how your playing gets better.
When you search for solutions in this way, you’ll engage more deeply with your pieces. You’ll bring more creativity to your practice. And music will become an even better way to spend your time. Enjoy!
Hi, I’m Allen Mathews.
I started as a folk guitarist, then fell in love with classical guitar in my 20’s. Despite a lot of practice and schooling, I still couldn’t get my music to flow well. I struggled with excess tension. My music sounded forced. And my hands and body were often sore. I got frustrated, and couldn’t see the way forward. Then, over the next decade, I studied with two other stellar teachers – one focused on the technical movements, and one on the musical (he was a concert pianist). In time, I came to discover a new set of formulas and movements. These brought new life and vitality to my practice. Now I help guitarists find more comfort and flow in their music, so they play more beautifully.
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