Practice Ideas 5

As I started, I might as well keep posting this stuff. Hopefully some of you (guitarists) will find it useful.

This post turned out to be more of a lesson than others.


I thought about time feel a lot over years. Practicing with a very slow metronome is one of the ways to get better at it – 10bpm ( usually the way to start slower tempos is to start with anything x2, x4 or x8… for example with 40.. then moving on to 20 etc.), then things like placing a beat on 4 only or every 2nd or even 4th bar only on the beat 4. I took one lesson in Indian rhythm concept Konnakol, of course it takes decades to master that.. So for me it was more to know what is Indian rhythm system is all about. I end up practicing it for about a month or so every day, but then realised – I have other things to prioritise in my practice time. So I moved on.

I have had many teachers over my lifetime. And some of the teacher suggestions can be contrasting. One of them suggested to not move along in time, trying to eliminate any kinda movement, including, moving your toe, tongue or even a tiny movement in a shoulder, aiming to feel time truly inside. For some people it helps to visualise time. Other teachers and musicians are all about dancing and moving along the rhythm though. But the common thing they meet is – you gotta feel time inside.

There are natural tendencies of humans of either rush or drag. As the heartbeat gets faster out of excitement. Then things like overall calmness affects time feel. Mindset and awareness. Being nervous will affect your playing for sure. In any case, it’s the repeat repeat and repeat. And being aware. Putting yourself in situations that makes you nervous so many times until you’re not worried any more. Jams help. ( Years ago when I arrived to London I used to go to jazz jam sessions 4 – 5 times a week for about 2 years, later I was hosting one for 4 years weekly. ) But any kind of playing with people situations also contribute. Playing with people is a different skill than practicing at home. It’s adapting and being aware of other people’s time feel and being aware how it affects your own. It’s often a very individual thing.

When talking about time feel one thing that helps is practicing polyrhythms. Things like tapping one time signature with feet and other time signature with hands, or talk it out loud. One of the things that also attracted me to Konnakol.

But haven’t spend enough years/hours on practicing polyrhythms to consider myself any close to an expert though. But even practicing it a little bit every day can contribute to time feel and overall awareness. I sometimes combine multiple things that I either consider my weaknesses or just something that is new to me… and I’d like to explore. It applies to new voicings I don’t normally use, or rhythmical language. I also suggest this to my students – work on that thing you’re bad at, instead of repeating the thing you already know. To me it’s the exploration and pushing myself learning things I don’t know regularly. I love the process to be honest. The individual progress kinda gets me high 😀

So the other day ( I actually wrote this exercise a while ago.. but let’s call it – the other day) I was looking at a few guitar voicings as well as polyrhythm 5:8, and I wrote down and some exercises for probably a fingerstyle guitar ( although this can easily be playing with a pick as well) combining a couple of things, starting with simply no chord – open strings, then adding super simple chord. Actually in this exercise I only added one chord that I don’t usually use as in default. It’s this one.

Cmaj9/D chord diagram for guitar
Cmaj9/D chord diagram for guitar

Here is the polyrhythm exercise I was talking about. ( it implements this chord at the end there)

5-8 polyrhythm for fingerstyle guitar
5-8 polyrhythm for fingerstyle guitar

The idea is to get used to the way 5:8 feels. Then later to remove the notes in between only to leave bass and highest note . That’s when it truly becomes 5:8 . Don’t forget to use the metronome on this one! ( Metronome I recommend and love is called ‘pro metronome‘ – it also have polyrhythm setting. ( I’m not entirely sure if that link works, but you can just search for it in the app store too.)

If 5:8 feels too overwhelming. Take the concept of this and write your own exercise using simpler example like 2:3 .

Here is playing bass note in 3 and melody note in 2 example. ( using open strings A and B ) . ( Correct way to write this would be in a polyphonic way – 2 separate voices, but unfortunately guitar pro 7 doesn’t seem to give me that option.) Compose a little etude using this example adding more notes and chords to it.

This post turned out to be more a lesson type f post than I originally thought..

Try this same exercise ideas adding other chords too. Have fun with it!

Check other more jazzy practice idea posts here.

Also I added one more etude to my etude list, It involves playing Giant Steps in 7. Click – Etude 17 to check out the etude. You can scroll down to listen to it. Other etudes and arrangements can be found there too.

For Zoom lesson inquiries you can contact me here.

Thanks for checking this stuff out.

Keep practicing. And see you around.