Tag: Practicing

10 tips on Practising Guitar


  1. It’s better to practice 30 minutes a day than 10 hours once a week.
  2. Take frequent breaks, distract your mind to then go back and give full attention to what you are doing. Usually 45 minutes practice followed by15 minutes break works for me.
  3. Always warm up and stretch before playing for hours. Start slow with some technical exercises. I did a theatre gig for 3 years that had a 15 minute band call. I used that to warm up with different technical exercises, and I was shocked how just those 10 minutes every day gave a massive boost on my speed and articulation. 10 minutes!
  4. I find that practising tunes (playing actual music) is better than spending hours practising technical exercises. Those are great to warm up. Composing new tunes, finding new ideas , learning and transposing tunes in all keys are by far the best things you can do when practising.
  5. Try playing/practising in the dark (pitch black room or blindfolded). You will become more musical and less dependent on ‘visual patterns’. John Scofield used to do this all the time.
  6. Keep a basic setup ready to go at all times (if you can at home), this is great for impromptu sessions, when you are more inspired to write/record/practice without loosing momentum by trying to find picks and cables.
  7. Record your practice sessions and listen back after a few days to find what you can improve. If you practice with a computer or a phone, video your sessions and you’ll find also you can correct postural problems or see if your performance is visually boring!
  8. Practising should not be a boring task. If you find it boring, don’t do it. You should be curious/excited about improving.
  9. It is better to practice with a friend than along to backing tracks. Invest in a looper pedal (they can be super cheap these days), it can be fun and beats playing to a backing track. Playing along to tracks is not bad, but I find that after a while it’s easy to loose focus and just ‘noodle’. If you practice to tracks, take a short break after each one, don’t let one roll into the other.
  10. Change your practice routine often. Just like working out at the gym, your body gets used to doing the same exercises and stops reacting. Rotate different exercises/tunes/tasks.

Factorial Thinking (Combinations applied to music)

Today’s’ tip has to do with mathematics applied to music…we have already seen how in the finger combinations exercises we have used all the possible combinations of 2,3 and 4 fingers of our left hand to make sure we cover every possible motion. This is not only a great warm up and technical exercise, but also a way to keep your brain connected.

Let’s see how we can now apply this to notes, chords, arpeggios, and so on. These are the combinations we have see in the previous post:

Finger combinations (combinations of all numbers from 1 to 4 as left hand fingers are numbered that way on guitar)

12 13 14
21 23 24
31 32 34
41 42 43

123 124 132 134 142 143
213 214 231 234 241 243
312 314 321 324 341 342
412 413 421 423 431 432

1234 1243 1324 1342 1423 1432
2134 2143 2314 2341 2413 2431
3124 3142 3214 3241 2413 2431
4123 4132 4213 4231 4312 4321

Let’s apply this to a 7th arpeggio: I will replace all the 2 with 3s, the 3 with 5s and the 4 with 7s.

Combinations applied to Chord Tones

13 15 17
31 35 37
51 53 57
71 73 75

135 137 153 157 173 175
315 317 351 357 371 375
513 517 531 537 571 573
713 715 731 735 751 753

1357 1375 1537 1573 1735 1753
3157 3175 3517 3571 3715 3751
5137 5173 5317 5371 3715 3751
7135 7153 7315 7351 7513 7531

Let’s make an example in the key of C: this is Cmaj7 every possible combination of the four notes.

Combinations applied to Chord Tones of Cmaj7




Obviously this is not music as such, but I always find that incorporating things like these in your daily practice routine can lead you to discover new material, or just find faults to fix in your playing. As an example go through the combinations and find a combination you like and that sounds more musical to you…play in all 12 keys, apply it to a tune like ‘Autumn leaves’ taking it around the changes and modifying it to match the chord of the moment.

Good luck!

A list of the most popular jazz standards

This post if for the jazz guys, and possibly those that want to venture into jazz territory. I talked about repertoire yesterday, and today I was asked by a friend to put together a list of the most popular jazz standards that might be called at a jam session…this is what I came up with, and I thought of sharing it with you. Comes without saying that this list is by all means incomplete and dictated by my experience with jazz jams.  Feel free to add your suggestion in the comments section!

A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Sqare

Agua De Beber

Ain’t Misbehavin’

All Blues

All of Me

All of You

All Or Nothing At All

All the Things You Are

Alone Together

Angel Eyes

Autumn Leaves

Beautiful Love

Billie’s Bounce

Blue Bossa

Blue Monk

Blue Moon

Body and Soul

But Not For Me

Bye Bye Blackbird

C Jam Blues


Chelsea Bridge


Come Rain Or Come Shine

Cry Me a River

Darn That Dream

Days of Wine and Roses


Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me

Don’t Get Around Much Anymore

Donna Lee


Easy to Love

Embraceable You


Everything Happens to Me

Everytime We Say Goodbye

Fly Me To The Moon

Foggy Day


Gee Baby Ain’t I Good to You

Gentle Rain

Georgia On My Mind

Giant Steps

Girl From Ipanema

God Bless the Child

Good Bait

Green Dolphin Street

Have You Met Miss Jones

Here’s That Rainy Day

How Deep is the Ocean

How High the Moon

How Insensitive

How Long Has This Been Going On

I Can’t Get Started

I Could Write a Book

I Didn’t Know What Time It Was

I Get a Kick Out of You

I Got Rhythm/Rhythm Changes

I Hear a Rhapsody

I Loves You Porgy

I Remember You

I Should Care

I Thought About You

I’ll Remember April

I’ve Got You Under My Skin

If I Should Lose You

If I Were a Bell


In A Sentimental Mood


Isn’t It Romantic

It Ain’t Necessarily So

It Could Happen to You

It Don’t Mean A Thing

It Had to Be You

Jitterbug Waltz

Joy Spring

Just Friends

Just One of Those Things

Killer Joe

Lady Is A Tramp


Lazy bird

Like Someone In Love

Love For Sale

Lover Man

Lullaby Of Birdland

Lush Life

Mack the Knife

Maiden Voyage

Mercy, Mercy, Mercy



Mr. P.C.

My Favorite Things

My Foolish Heart

My Funny Valentine

My Little Suede Shoes

My One and Only Love

My Romance


Nature Boy

Night and Day

Night In Tunisia

Now’s The Time

Old Devil Moon

Old Folks


On A Slow Boat To China

On The Sunny Side Of The Street

One Note Samba

Over The Rainbow

Polka Dots and Moonbeams

Prelude To A Kiss

Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars (Corcovado)

Round Midnight

Satin Doll

Scrapple From The Apple


Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

So What

Softly as In A Morning Sunrise


Someday My Prince Will Come

Someone To Watch Over Me

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Song For My Father

Sonnymoon For Two

Speak Low

St. Thomas

Stella By Starlight

Stormy Weather

Straight No Chaser




Sweet Georgia Brown

Take Five

Take the “A” Train

Tea For Two

The Man I Love

The Nearness of You

The Night Has 1000 Eyes

The Shadow Of Your Smile

The Very Thought of You

The Way You Look Tonight

There is No Greater Love

There Will Never Be Another You

They Can’t Take That Away From Me

Things Ain’t What They Used to Be

This Masquerade

Time After Time

Tune Up

Watermelon Man


Well You Needn’t

What is This Thing Called Love

When I Fall In Love

When Sunny Gets Blue

Work Song


You and the Night and the Music

You Don’t Know What Love Is

You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To

The Importance of Repertoire

In this short post I want to spend a few words on the importance of knowing tunes, either written by other musicians or by yourself. ‘Repertoire’ is often a fancy word we use to identify ‘all the tunes we know’.

In my experience as teacher I have found to be a divide between the guitarist that is obsessed by theory and scales and that who is just interested in learning songs with no real interest in knowing how this songs are created.  I always wondered why  the second category were happier about their playing…

We spend as musicians most of our time learning theory, techniques and we often wonder how these fit in with ‘real life’….a lot of times we forget that tunes and musical pieces/compositions should be the goal of what we do. All these exercises and music theory studies should be a way to better perform and understand the tunes we know and write.

I always suggest to all my students to always keep an updated list of all the tunes they know (or they can busk), and a folder with all their original material, from the completed tunes to the ‘work in progress’ type material.

Keep writing and learning new tunes: this will give you a sense of purpose  in your studies and also it will be a test for all the techniques and theory you have learnt…

Good luck!