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Home : Basics : A Note About Exercises
One of the most common questions that students ask is "are there some exercises that I should be practicing?".  My feelings about that topic are very strongly formed.  My position, especially in the early stages of learning, is that it's most important to practice pieces of music.  If you want to get good at playing scales, then you should practice scales.  I you want to get good at playing hammer-ons, you should practice hammer-ons.  If you want to get good at playing specific pieces, then you should practice those pieces.  You're going to get good at whatever you repeat - those things will become habit, and they'll define what you're able to do on the instrument.

In my experience, the only thing that's ever made a difference in musical ability - in my playing, and in the playing of all my students and colleagues - has been the music we've learned.  There are no magic exercises that speed your improvement, and most non-musical examples are a genuine waste of time in the beginning.  As you improve, you'll want to focus on refining particular skills and techniques, and you'll be able to choose/create pattern oriented exercises to work through every possible permutation of a particular technique.  You'll go through phases of learning during which that becomes satisfying and productive.  But while you're a "student", just continue to learn music and introduce yourself to all the common skills and techniques.  The thing that will define you as a player is the music you internalize.

I think you're much better off building a library of music, instead of method books and exercises.  Buy folios of music you like and recordings that inspire you.  In the end, those are the things that'll make a lasting impression on your ability as a musician.

Copyright 2004-2013 Nick Antonaccio, all rights reserved.