5 Ways to Bring Inspiration To Your Guitar Practice Schedule
Do you sometimes get bored of your guitar playing or feel that you’re stuck in a rut for what work on or play next? In this article I will be discussing five tips on how to bring Inspiration to your guitar practice schedule.
There are times when learning how to play jazz guitar when we feel that our playing is going nowhere or that we’re not improving as much as we’d like to.
Don’t worry, almost every musician I’ve ever spoken to feels this way at some point or another in their career, it’s completely natural, but how do we get out of it and have a productive guitar practice schedule?
Learn a New Tune
One reason that you can get bored of your playing is because you are playing the same songs over and over at home, gigs and at jam sessions.
Try and keep a varied selection of repertoire so you, the people you play with and the audience don’t get bored. For example if you know a lot of swing tunes, but only one or two bossa songs, try learn a new bossa nova tune such as Wave for example.
Knowing a lot of songs will ensure you that you don’t get bored of the same tunes and will provide new and interesting harmonic progressions for you to explore.
Off the top of my head I probably know about 10 jazz ballads cold, and at a gig I’ll usually play two ballads per gig, and another two on the next gig, so it will take about 5 gigs before I end up playing the same ballads again.
This means that I don’t get bored of playing the same tunes and the one’s I played a few gigs ago feel really fresh when I play them again a couple of gigs later.
Most standards also make great solo jazz guitar pieces, so by learning new tunes you also getting an impressive new solo piece to play each time you pick up the guitar.
If you are just starting out and don’t know many jazz standards write a list of tunes that you want learn to learn and make a goal of learning one new tune a week, and you will soon develop a songbook to gig with.
Learn a New Lick or Chord
Having great sounding lines and chords to play can inspire you to pick up guitar, but just like with song’s playing the same ones all the time can get a little stale.
You can avoid this by seeing how you can get more mileage from the lines you already know, checking some new cool new lines you might not have thought of, or by doing a mixture of both; learning a new lick and seeing how much you can get of it.
When I was studying at the Leeds College of Music I had a weekly lesson where the class had to learn three new lines each week in as many different ways as possible for the next week.
Not only did this improve my vocabulary, and musicianship, but it also kept my jazz guitar playing fresh because each time I played I had new licks to play over a tune.
On my facebook page I share jazz guitar single line and chord licks on almost a daily basis that you can check out.
Play With New People
Sitting in homes and practicing all day is great for developing chops, but the ultimate learning experiences for me and most other jazz musicians have come from time on the band stand.
Even a great working band that’s gigging and jamming can begin to get stale after a while. One way to stop this happening is playing with different musicians in different ensembles.
If you play a lot of big band jazz, then try get your own trio or quartet together.
Playing with new jazz musicians is not only great fun but it can also be a great learning experience.
If you don’t know any other musicians, check out some of the local jazz jam sessions where you live and there will most likely be some great musicians who will let you sit in.
Listen To Recordings
“Scales are what I practice. Music is what I play.”- Barney Kessel
Practicing scales, licks, and chords, it’s all great, but sometimes we need to listen back to the masters to see how they applied these things in their music and be reminded of why we began to learn jazz guitar in the first place .
Listening to the great music reminds me that you don’t always have to be concerned with exactly what notes are being played.
For example you could listen to a recording and think about the feel, tone, and groove that the musician is trying to get across which is in my opinion is more important than the notes.
Whenever I listen to Miles Davis I am always amazed by the space he leaves and the fact that he rarley starts on beat 1 which makes his lines sound so hip.
For all my beginning jazz guitar students I write a list of musicians and albums that they should check out, because practicing jazz guitar without listening to great players can make you loose insperiation.
Take a Break
“Every July, August and part of September I escape of the guitar, I escape of Paco de Lucia and I go to Mexico to the Caribbean. I have a little house there where I spend two months listening to music, no playing because I don’t bring the guitar with me, fishing and cooking my fish and charging the batteries for new concerts.” – Paco De Lucia
Although I am kind of hesitant to recommend this point and it’s not recommend to beginners, every guitar player can benefit from a break from now and then.
Great jazz guitar players such as Emily Remler and Jim Hall make valid points about how good guitar playing comes from life experiences and feelings which you can always get from sitting in a practice room.
While I do enjoy practicing, teaching and playing guitar on a daily basis I try to have a couple of days where I don’t play guitar each year, and then when I come to playing it feels great and I am more eager to play.
So go ahead, learn a new standard, a new lick, and play with some new people and it hopefully bring back some of the motivation for guitar practice schedule. Do you have anything you like to do when you feel you’re getting fed up of jazz guitar playing? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.