A Holistic Organized Approach to Fretboard Mastery.

Vreny GTR neck2Derby

Every once in a while, a student gets to the point where they covered so much material in such a short time, that they feel like they don’t see the forest through the trees anymore.

Part of the reason for this, is that it is overwhelming to practice a billion things in 12 keys.

There is power and value in spending some time, let’s say an entire week for example, where you do everything you ever learned in 1 key only for the entire week.

That is why I call this a “holistic approach” to practicing and to fretboard mastery.

For an entire week you focus on every chord, every arpeggio, every triad, every 7th chord fingering, every pentatonic scale fingering, every 7 note scale fingering, every fretboard exercise, every triad on every string set, every relative scale, every interval on every string set, and so on… ALL in the same key.

I can assure you: 7 days later you will become so much closer to being a master guitarist in that key.

Some of the below exercise names (Like for example “never ending scale”) will prob not make sense to you if you haven’t taken guitar lessons with me yet

This Is Basically A Practice Schedule in 1 Key

Let’s use the key of Eb as an example

1. Never Ending Scale in Eb

2. Never Ending Scale in all intervals: 3rd, 4ths. 5ths, 6ths and 7ths in Eb

3. Single String Playing in Eb

a. 3-note phrases
b. Using the correct fingerings
c. Make it interesting with:
i. Note repetitions
ii. Rhythmic note placement
iii. Dynamics

4. Pentatonic soloing in Eb (= C minor pentatonic)

a. Know the 5 fingerings
b. Know their locations and name (root, b3, 4, 5 and b7 fingerings)
c. Be able to horizontally move between positions (finger patterns)

5. Pentatonic substitutions in Eb

a. You could also play F minor pentatonic (up a whole step from the root Eb)
b. You could also play G minor pentatonic (up a 2 whole steps from the root Eb)

6. The 7 in position fingerings in Eb

a. Eb Ionian
b. F Dorian
c. G Phrygian
d. A Lydian
e. B Mixolydian
f. C# Aeolian
g. D# Locrian

7. String Skip Soloing

Solo on only the 1st and 3rd string, using both strings (playing notes on both strings) in every phrase you play.
Solo on the 2nd and 4th string using the same principle.
Solo on the 3rd and 5th string
Solo on the 4th and 6th string

Solo on the 1st and 4th string only.
Solo on the 2nd and 5th string only.
Solo on the 3rd and 6th string only.

Solo on the 1st and 5th string only.
Solo on the 2nd and 6th string only.

8. Playing harmonized lines (On 2 strings simultaneously. 1 string set at at time, linear playing) in Eb

a. 2nds
b. 3rd
c. 4ths
d. 5ths
e. 6ths
f. 7ths
g. Octaves and Unisons

9. Vertical/Harmonic/Arpeggio in Eb

a. 3-note structures
i. Triads (open and closed, all string sets, all inversions)
ii. Palette Chart.
iii. Arpeggio Fingerings

b. 4 note structures
i. 7th chords (drop 2, drop 3, drop 2/3, all string sets, all inversions)
ii. Arpeggio Fingerings.

c. Triadic Substitution

d. Exercises: playing blues with all the triads in the key of Eb:
i. I IV V in Eb are: Eb Ab Bb (blues with triads)
ii. I IV V in Cm (relative minor) are: Cm Fm Gm (blues with triads)

10. Voice leading cycles in Eb

a. Triads:
i. All cycles: helps you memorize all the possible chord connections within a scale
ii. All string sets
iii. Open voiced triads and closed voiced triads.

b. 7th Chords:
i. Drop2 voicings (all cycles, all string sets)
ii. Drop 3 voicings (all cycles, all sting sets)
iii. Drop 2 drop 3 voicings (all cycles, all sting sets)

11. Arpeggios in Eb

a. Triads
i. In position, all inversions
ii. Over 3 octaves, all inversions

b. 7th Chords
i. In position, all inversions
ii. Over 3 octaves, all inversions

In Conclusion

This is a very effective, “holistic” approach to practicing.
Don’t worry if a lot of the above doesn’t make sense. You might not know yet what voice leading cycles are, or what drop 2 or drop 3 chord voicings are.
That is ok: the above list is directed towards the upper intermediate to advance guitar students.

That doesn’t mean tough that you can’t already benefit from this practice system.
Even if you’re not an intermediate or advanced guitarist yet: assess everything you already know or learned about music, then practice all that information and knowledge in 1 key only.
Do so every day, for an entire week.

This practice approach does wonders to a students deeper understanding of the connections between chords and scales, between triads and 7th chords, between chords and their arpeggios, between improvisation and chord playing, between chord and intervals, etc.

This practice approach also gives students an amazing boost in their fretboard understanding and mastery.

Be on the look out for more blogs about practicing, songwriting and anything guitar related.

Meanwhile: by all means rate this blog and do tell me in the comments section if you have questions, or need further info about all this, or if you have any feedback. I believe everything can always be improved, and I gladly would implement your suggestions and ideas in this blog or the next.

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