To achieve greatness as a guitarist, you have to work on integrating musical skills together in a fluid manner. This means:
* Combination of different skills, techniques or concepts together.
* Actively practice the ability to be creative.
Question: “But Tom Hess, how can you practice ‘being creative’ in your guitar playing? I’ve always heard that you were born creative or you are not.”
Answer: Anyone can become musically creative through practice and hard work. Creativity comes from mastering skills and integrating them. Integration practice is what you need to become a more creative guitarist.
The guitar practice circuit below helps you integrate musical skills together:
Perform these steps continuously (don’t stop between them):
Step 1: Choose any phrase, arpeggio, scale, riff, or lick to work on.
2nd step: Play around with this idea a few times to acclimate it to your ears.
Step 3: Create four variations of the original idea. For example:
* Modify the rhythms of the notes.
* Use the legato technique to accentuate the notes in place of the chosen notes
* Use curves and vibrato on certain notes.
Step 4: Do four new licks using the original rhythm of the idea. Change all of the actual pitches while keeping the pace exactly the same.
Step 5: Use the rubato technique. Speed up or slow down immediately, playing outside of the tempo.
Step 6: Edit the first few notes of the original idea and leave the rest unchanged. Make several variations.
Step 7: Edit the middle notes of the original idea, leaving the first and last parts the same. Make several variations.
Step 8: Edit the last three or four notes of the idea, leaving the first and last parts the same. Make several variations.
Repeat steps 2 through 8 with new variations of the original idea for twenty minutes. After twenty minutes, start again with a new lick.
Tips for completing this guitar practice circuit:
* Choose a practice element of the guitar that you can play well with ease. This way you don’t get distracted trying to play the notes correctly.
* Focus on not stopping between steps. Go from each step to the next as quickly as possible. This improves your fluidity and musical creativity at a faster pace. Track the time it takes you to move from one stage to the next. It is a method to measure your improvement with fluidity and integration.
* Make a list of the elements of creativity and fluidity that give you the most difficulty. For example: you may notice that it is difficult for you to change your rhythm and keep the same pitches or add a legato technique to your ideas. This helps you understand what to work on to improve your onboarding and fluency.
Question: “Tom Hess, what if I can’t think of variations to use with arpeggio patterns?”
Answer: Here are some ideas:
1. Use rests (rests) at random points in the middle of an arpeggio rather than using the exact same rhythm for each note.
2. Use a different number of strings to play each arpeggio. An arpeggio is a chord made up of 3 to 5 strings with notes that repeat at different octaves. Changing the pitch range of an arpeggio gives it a more creative sound.
Question: “Tom Hess, how can I use circuit training with the rest of my guitar practice?”
Answer: Practice playing the guitar just as you would any other skill by adding it to your schedule. Effective planning for guitar practice gives you the time you need to improve weak skills so that you can reach your goals faster.
Use this guitar practice circuit as a test to improve your fluency and integration skills. Work with this circuit several times a week to test yourself. Then use the rest of the time to improve those skills to become more creative.