My practice 'routine'...

Actually, I don't have one. After you achieve a level of proficiency, for the most part you can simply maintain it by playing. Well, okay, I don't always do that. If I don't play for a few weeks (or months, uhhhh...), I've gotta sit down and focus for a while to get things moving again. That's not really a routine, though. But there was a time... hmmm. Let me tell you about my practice routine back in the 'olden' days. I must warn you, though, it ainít pretty. Maybe you like to have things organized. Maybe you want someone to tell you, "Play scales for 15 minutes to warm up, then work on a song for 15 minutes, then practice lead for 30 minutes, then practice looking cool in front of a full length mirror for 10 minutes, then go down to the bar for 10 minutes, come back and finish up with another song." Well, I canít stand it!

I have always practiced whatever I felt like pursuing at the moment. In fact, I would say that I never even have any sort of "routine," although I do tend to practice certain things in certain ways. Such as:

You should recognize that the purpose of most of the above approaches may be a little different than what you may need at this stage of your development. As a general rule: Start with a book/CD method that suits your current level and area of interest. (Iíve already incorporated a lot of variety into their very structure.) Then learn some songs from outside my methods: whatever inspires you. To this basic repertoire of material, pick one or two to the above approaches and add it into your practice routine as well. Then add other approaches, one at a time, and see what works out for you. As you evolve your own routine, trust your own instincts.

Of course, my list is by no means complete. Compile your own list -- if you need a list -- and add to it whenever you come across something interesting. If you must, you can assign time amounts to each part of your practice. (In which case, Iíll give you a suspicious, sideways glance.) Or maybe you prefer the freedom of having no structured schedule. (In which case, you get an affirmative nod.)

Bottom Line:

There are two kinds of people in the world: the organized and the disorganized. I know Iím organized somewhere deep down, but I apologize for it sincerely and reject it wholeheartedly, preferring the intrigue of chaotic, reckless abandon. Thatís the way I like it. Maybe you like it that way, too. Or maybe youíre a guitar Nazi. Or worse yet, an accountant! But seriously, the point here is to take freely from my list and evolve your own practice routine. Do what works for you.

Footnote: Perhaps the reason I never had to organize myself all that much as far as practice, was because in the course of teaching and writing I was doing way too much organizing already. Teaching is a great way to keep reinforcing all the details like scale patterns, theory, etc. -- I mean, after you've taught your 357th harmonic minor scale, it's pretty well burned in there! Plus, over time learning hundreds of songs on the spot, by ear, has to do something for you, too. So don't take my anti-discipline theory too seriously...

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