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Stage 1 Practice Schedule

The Justinguitar.com Beginner's Course

So let's make the most if our practice time now and look at exactly what you should be practicing before you move onto the next stage. Try and get into the routine here and you'll reap the benefits later. Yes it takes a little effort, but the most valuable things in life usually do!

In this first stage we're going to keep it nice and simple... only 18 minutes per session.

Stage 1 Practice Schedule

Description
Time
Chord Practice (Strum / Pick / Strum) 5 mins
1 minute Changes  
--- D to A 1 min
--- D to E 1 min
--- A to E 1 min
Songs / Chord Sequences 5 mins
JUSTIN Training 5 mins

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Things To Remember

Chord Practice
The point of this exercise is to get your chords sounding clear, and to train your fingers to go to exactly the right spot to get each chord sounding great.
• Start with a strum, then pick each note individually, and then strum again. 
• Don't play any strings that have the X next to them in the chord diagram. 
• Try to play the notes with the tips of your fingers. 
• Remember that dead-sounding notes need to be fixed, and the usual causes are either:
       a) The finger is too far from the fret.
       b) One of your fingers is touching a string that it shouldn't.

Move your fingers around as you pick out the strings until they all sound good and then strum the chord again; as you play the last strum, tell your fingers that this is how you want them to go next time. It will look a little strange to anyone that is watching you, but it really helps! ;)

One Minute Changes
The object of this exercise is to get your fingers moving quickly. Although you should be trying to get the fingers in the perfect positions that you have been working on in your chord practice, if they are a little sloppy it is OK, we are working up the speed here!

The important thing here is to practise the chord changes that you struggle with the most. In your practice schedule you should write in the amount of changes that you made in that practice session. Make sure you use your timer, and push yourself to go as fast as possible.

Songs / Chord Sequences
The idea here is just to have fun and dig on the fact that you should now be able to play some of the songs from the songbook. Pick one song per practice session and work on getting it as smooth as possible. Memorising the chord sequence for the song will certainly help if you are able to. However, I would recommend maybe starting off with some ‘made-up' sequences just to get you going. Below are some short chord sequences using D, A and E to try (1 bar of ech chord).

Progression 1

A

D

E

D

Progression 2

A

E

D

E

Progression 3

A

D

A

E

Progression 4

D

A

E

A

 

Playing chord sequences, or progressions, is a great way to develop your chord changes without the pressure of playing songs. I have to admit, the majority of people enjoy playing songs more, but they are both of great benefit.

Because there is no melody or lyrics to the chord progressions you can concentrate fully on making the changes between the chords as smooth as possible. The aim is not to stop at all, and to keep the timing of the strums perfectly evenly spaced. You are sure to recognise some of the progressions as being from famous songs too. You could even make up your own chord progressions if you want to!

J.U.S.T.I.N. Training
This is really important! Put the work in now and you will reap the benefits later.

I have given you some exercises to work on in the last lesson but you will certainly find it easier if you can find a jam buddy to play the chords for you, but you can also use a recorder. Have a look at the ear training course here

When to move on to the next stage?

It's very hard for me to define the point at which you should move onto the next stage. You should understand the content of this stage, but many skills will develop over the course as well.

The real answer is to move on when YOU feel ready. However, I know that it can be hard to tell when you feel ready or not! So, here are some suggestions as to what you should have accomplished before moving on:

• You should know all the chords from this stage, D, A and E, from memory. 
• You should have them sounding good (if not perfect), with most of the notes sounding out most of the time. 
• You should have your One-Minute changes to at least 40 changes in a minute (20 x the pair of changes).
• You should be able to play one or two of the songs from the songbook, even if you have to start and stop a little bit here and there.

Beware of trying to perfect every stage, as that will just lead to a feeling of hopelessness! I'm still trying to perfect simple things, and to be honest, I don't think we ever stop improving, so there is no ‘end game' – don't wait until every chord is PERFECT, be happy with good. Perfect will come later! That said, don't be moving on if you are sloppy as a wet sandwich either!

Hope that helps you decide when to move on!

Beginner products you may like from justinguitar.com
Justinguitar Beginner's Course DVD set
Justinguitar Beginners Songbook
Justinguitar Beginners Songbook
Beginners Course Book
Practical Music Theory

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Lesson ID: BC-119