I DON’T BELIEVE IN EXERCISES.
I’ve never felt it was useful to spend any
time practicing things I can’t play on
stage or in the studio. I know it’s a controversial point of view, and quite a few
guitar teachers have cast wicked looks my
way whenever I’ve presented this idea at
master classes. Of course, many of these
instructors have their students running
exercises as their entire practice regime.
I just don’t see the point.
Now, we all need to learn and practice scales in all positions. And we deﬁnitely need to know how to play the major
and minor scales in ascending thirds and
sixths—a typical exercise. But why practice them in that sequence if we’re not
going to use them in a musical situation? All these things can be turned into musical lines for major, minor, and dominant
keys, and that is the stuff worth practicing.
I’ve seen people warming up with silly
ﬂat-ﬁve sequences that are completely
unmusical. I’ve seen hand-stretching exercises that cause physical pain after a few
minutes. Why not stretch your range by
transcribing and playing a beautiful Allan
Holdsworth legato line that works over an
F7 chord? At least it has an application,
whereas most exercises don’t.
After you’ve learned all the essentials,
why continue your musical studies by
running down scales and arpeggios when
you can be a musician by using what you
know to play lines? My theory: There are
no useful exercises, only music.
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