Pushing Your Limits

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Examples of each topic are given below. All of the examples are meant to inspire you to learn more. There is not really an order or one of more importance. Your goals are up to you and no one else.

1. Scales and Speed

What scales do you already know? What scales do you not know, but want to? Why do you want to learn these scale and do you even like them? Are you going to use them in your music? These are questions you should ask yourself. Knowing why you are doing something will give it more meaning when you follow through with it. Wouldn't you like to be able to command any speed of yourself at will?

If you do, theres some work cut out for you. But I promise, it's all worth it. I'm not at the speed I'd like to be but I'm much faster than I was just a few years ago and it's all been worth it. Speed is not everything but it sure is fun when you feel like going fast and you can instead of getting a bit bummed out because you're not there yet.

Here are some examples of how to push yourself.

1. Work consistently with a metronome and figure out what your highest speed is at this time. Do it with either triplets or sixteenths. You can even go with 8th notes or quarter notes if it's a brand new scale for you. Without knowing your top speed you're unlikely to beat it.

2. Once you have your top speed, push it from 1-10 bpm higher depending on how fast you are. The faster you are the harder it will be to jump so many bpm you might be at a point where you can only move up 1 bpm. The ascent is faster in the beginning. As you get faster the rate of increasing your speed will be slower. Persevere.

3. Take the scale into another key. Can you play it at the same speed? If you can't maybe you've gotten fast in that position of the neck and not necessarily the scale so you wanna try and move around to the keys you like to play in as much as possible.

4. Explore new scales. There are many of them out there. Jazz scales, octatonic scales, exotic scales, whole tone, etc. Push yourself to write something with the scale or do a short improvisation. Even if you don't keep what you write it serves as an excellent exercise.

2. Arpeggios

Arpeggios can range from 1 to 6 to 7, even 8 strings. If you don't know them on a single string that can be a place to start. Then you can move on up in sequence. If you know them on 1 string then progress to two strings and so on. Can you do them in several different keys?

The process for speed also applies to arpeggios. Keep pushing yourself and the rewards will be worth it.

1. Learn the inversions.

2. Connect the inversions.

3. Connect arpeggios with their scales.

4. Apply them to improvisation.

5. Apply them to music.

These of course are not to be done in a hurry these are short term or long term goals depending on where you are at so choose what you do in your practice time carefully so you make the most progress.

3. Music Theory

1. Learn the chords in a key and be able to distinguish its relative minor.

2. Learn the chords in the 3 forms of the relative minor.

3. Can you read music? Do you want to?

4. Can you write it? Do you want to?

5. Can you apply the things you know to your music and use them in your songwriting or composing?

4. Chords

Chords are a very important part of guitar playing and shouldn't be neglected. Your open chords and power chords should come first then you can move on to barre chords. It's easier to start now and get better as you progress than delay yourself from working on them. If you are just starting you will need some time for your fingers to get adjusted.

1. 7th chords. Once you know your chords in a key (diatonic chords) learn the 7th chord for each one.

2. Extensions of these chords such as sus chords, 7ths, 9ths, 11ths, 13ths.

3. Inversions. For example can you play the three inversions of an A major chord. Knowing these things will help you spice up your riffs and songwriting skills.

4. You can also learn secondary dominant chords and how to use them.

5. Chromatic chords and how to use and apply them as well.

6. You can learn voice leading.

5. Songs

1. Whats your number one top favorite song that you would like to be able to play on guitar?

2. If you could do one song which one would it be? If it's too difficult at the moment then keep it as a long term goal and pick one that you are able to do at the moment.

3. If you can do the rhythm of a certain song, learn the solo. If you can do the solo, learn the rhythm. If you really like the song you can try learning parts of it or the whole thing if you'd like in a different key (transposing it will give you a deeper understanding of how the guitar works and will enhance your music theory skills).

4. Stick to one song as long as possible before you move on to the next one. You have to keep yourself motivated but try not to go crazy and learn 10 different riff without mastering any of them. It will teach you discipline and if you stick with it you'll know what it feels like to attempt to master something on the guitar. Repetition is key but if you're not used to repeating something over and over again then you should start because thats exactly what it takes. It will be worth it I promise.

About the Author:
By Mike Socarras. If interested in guitar lessons and you are in the Miami area click here.

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Ashutosh Pande
Ashutosh Pande


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