My practice routine needs some spice


My infatuation with Paul Gilbert’s solo albums may have dissipated (just slightly) the past few weeks but that humble, shred-tastic man is rarely far from my mind.  Since I have a blank canvas for five more days until I see Danny, I’ve been doing what I want.  In other words, focusing on lead with a few chords whenever I get an itch to play my acoustic.

Yeah, yeah, I know.  I know I should continue a balanced practice regimen but screw it.  This one time (don’t quote me), I’m going to ignore the rule of remaining “balanced” all because I want to take advantage of what energizes and inspires me to practice and improve.

What you may or may not realize is that I’m in limbo.  I’m stuck between teachers and I don’t know what to practice because my current practice materials are concepts I’ve been looking at since the last time I saw Danny–January.  No, that doesn’t mean I’ve been practicing that material since then, but I see it in my folder everyday and mentally urge myself to review it instead.  Okay, I’ll get real with ya… the mental notes do not help.  I’m simply bored of the January material and want to see something new and change things up a bit!  Since I have 5 days until Danny assigns me something new, I’m going to do what I want!

I know what you’re thinking–this girl is wild and out of control.  Yup, I’m being a daredevil and breaking all the rules.  Hopefully, nothing more than just that.  Okay, but seriously, I do fear adopting poor technique habits but what’s a measly 5 days going to do to me?  I shall find out…

Inspired by Andy Wildrick playing lead guitar in the early 2000’s emo/rock band, The Junior Varsity, I taught myself segments of “Park Your Car.”  Of course, it’s sloppy, significantly slower and disappointing but I am hopeful.  Then I decided to take a break and work on some lead exercises to strengthen the connection between my brain and fingers, and of course, increase speed.  So naturally, who do I refer to? Paul Gilbert.  Surprise, surprise.

I just cannot get enough of him!

Anyways… if anything, have (extra) fun with practicing this week because that’s what I’m doing.  If you’re in a rut or bored, play music that’s fun or inspires you to remember the reason why you fell in love with playing music in the first place.

So tell me, how do you spice up your practice routine?

Image courtesy of artur84 /

Tipsy Tuesday: Play outside of your comfort zone


Exactly two years ago, I was here in Charlotte preparing for my big move to California in August.  During that stressful, scary but oh-so-exciting period in my life, I was losing sleep from the anticipation.  Fortunately, I had the luxury of living alone so I’d play guitar at odd hours of the night–whenever the mood would strike.  I suppose you could say I was strictly a rhythm player although I had a strong interest in playing lead.  Of course, I wouldn’t admit this back then but I lacked the confidence to even attempt soloing.  And here’s evidence of it in an old notebook of mine:

  • “Soloing is like a conversation.  No point in playing a bunch of licks if they don’t convey how you feel.  Say what you want to say.
  • “Hear a lick you like then learn it.  Then change how it’s played: add a slide instead of a bend, play one part slower and the other part faster, etc.
  • “Record yourself improving and listen back.  Listen for parts that excite you and make you proud of what you did.  Then sit down and recreate it and tweak it.”

Then most importantly, “if you want to learn to play lead, don’t spend so much time playing chords.  Yes, learn them but work on LEAD.”  That tid bit cracks me up because I wrote it down to remind myself but I continued to focus on chords due to the intimidation of playing individual notes.  Why?  I haven’t a clue!

Nowadays, whenever I realize something intimidates me or makes me uncomfortable to play… I play it.  It should never take 2 years tackle something you want to play because it’s “hard.”  Nothing worth while comes out of being comfortable.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but no one learns that way.  At least, not me!

Note to readers: Please understand the tips I jotted down are not my personal advice and the sources are unknown–they’re probably from one of the many guitar forums I lurked in.

Image courtesy of John Kasawa /