INSIDER SECRETS 50. Arpeggiated picking patterns for developing accuracy and flexibility for the improvising guitarist

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1 INSIDER SECRETS 50 Arpeggiated picking patterns for developing accuracy and flexibility for the improvising guitarist by ROBERT MINCHIN 2002 Robert Minchin This publication is protected by United States Copyright. Any attempt to copy in whole or part will be vigorously prosecuted.

2 The ideas that follow are professional level techniques and concepts gleaned from over 35 years of performing jazz and classical guitar and studying from the masters.

3 The techniques in this volume of INSIDER SECRETS are devoted to developing picking accuracy for the improvising guitarist. Most guitarists have a great deal of difficulty in skipping strings and changing direction during a high speed solo. The exercises in this book are designed to help you develop the ability to skip strings, change direction and increase accuracy in your playing. For years, classical guitarists have used arpeggio studies to develop fluency and virtuoso technique to cover any type of musical situation that might arise. In classical guitar, arpeggios are considered very serious study. So they become a critical part of the practice session. Classical guitarists also take difficult sections of the music and make those sections into exercises. For jazz guitarists picking practice has generally been limited to scales. This is a necessary part of study. However, just practicing scales is very limited. That is why arpeggio picking exercise are so important. It adds another dimension to your arsenal of techniques. This book applies the principles found in classical studies and applies it to plectrum technique. It employs arpeggios in the development of these issues. 3

4 PROCEDURE Method 1. The exercises are written in tablature so that anyone can use them. They are indicated on open strings. Method 1, would be to simply practice using only the picking hand, striking the open strings of the guitar. This is a great way to practice if you find your fingering hand is overly tired from too much practice. In addition, it also allows you to focus 100% of your attention on your picking hand. Method 2. This method uses a chord form that would move up fret by fret as you complete a specific arpeggio pattern. I generally use a diminished chord because it doesn t tire the fingering hand as much. But you are free to choose any chord form. To begin, play a diminished chord as shown: Finger as shown keeping the 1st O O and 6th strings open for the entire exercise. Try to keep the 6th and 1st 1 First fret strings ringing cleanly and clearly 2 throughout the exercises. This will help you to improve your fingering hand technique by forcing you to keep your fingers arched and 3 4 accurately pressed on the frets. 4

5 Play any pattern of your choice while you finger this diminished chord. When you have completed the pattern, move the chord up one fret and play the arpeggiated pattern again. Continue in this manner up to the 12th fret, then start moving back down the neck towards the 1st fret as you play the pattern. Do this for each pattern. This will give you a tremendous right hand workout. When you get to the end of the pattern, move the chord form up one fret and repeat the pattern. 5

6 Some words on practice Practice these exercise very slowly. They are much more difficult than the usual picking exercises guitarists normally do. Focus your attention on eliminating unnecessary movement from your picking hand. Also, remain relaxed and hold the pick lightly, don t squeeze the life out of it. The only way to do this is to practice S-L-O-W-L-Y and concentrate. You are also training your picking hand to learn new muscular motor movements, which is another reason to practice slowly. Eventually, increase your speed using a metronome so that you can develop your sense of time and learn to feel the beat. PRACTICE SLOWLY 6

7 Above all, don t get discouraged. These are techniques that take time to develop. We are not striving for speed at first. We are striving for accuracy. But the rewards are great. You will find yourself easily skipping strings and your improvised lines will become easier to play. My suggestion would be to incorporate these patterns as a warm up for your practice session. 15 minutes a day over a period of time will greatly add to your playing abilities. After you have practiced these patterns for awhile, you can invent your own patterns to address specific problem areas in your technique. Most of all have fun and create! USE A STRICT DOWN-UP PICKING STROKE FOR EACH EXERCISE. After you have mastered the down-up movement, start utilizing an UP-DOWN stroke. Then practice using all down strokes, then all up strokes, as well as triplets. Be creative and develop your own rhythmic patterns. 7

8 3 STRING PATTERNS Practice using each group of three string sets. String set 1: 1st, 2nd, 3rd strings String set 2: 2nd, 3rd, 4th strings String set 3: 3rd, 4th, 5th strings String set 4: 4th, 5th, 6th strings String Set 1 String Set 2 String Set 3 String Set 4 8

9 9

10 4 STRING PATTERNS Practice using each group of four string sets. String set 1: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th strings String set 2: 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th strings String set 3: 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th strings 10

11 11

12 12

13 5 STRING PATTERNS Practice using each group of five string sets. String set 1: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th strings String set 2: 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th strings 13

14 14

15 15

16 16

17 6 STRING PATTERNS Practice using all six strings. 17

18 18

19 19

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21 TRIPLET PATTERN 21

22 If you have trouble maintaining a steady picking hand playing these exercises, there are two ways that I use to keep a firm technique. 1) Rest your picking hand wrist on the strings and pivot your stroke from the wrist. And 2), simply place fingers on the pickguard to steady the hand as you pick. I find the first method far superior. Eventually, you will develop enough skill to make your picking hand independent of support. Although everyone supports the picking hand in some manner. Also,there are at least 3) types of picking stro kes: 1) The first would be to pivot from the wrist as you support your self with the bottom of the wrist resting on the strings. I generally just rest the pinky finger side of the bottom of my wrist on the strings, with all the fingers gently curled in (not extended). 2) The second method uses a circling technique. This is much like holding a pen and writing with it. It originates from the movement of the first joint of the thumb and forefinger. This is much smaller physical movement than pivoting from the wrist. And finally 3), would be a combination of the first two methods. You must experiment and develop a technique that suits your own physical makeup. Everyones hands are different and require special attention in order to develop the right picking stroke for each person. 22

23 Musical Examples The musical examples on the next few pages represent a very small sampling of what can be done by applying these exercises to the creation of actual musical lines. Wide intervals, arpeggios, skips of all kinds can be accomplished with the technique you will develop from this type of practice. The following examples are not claiming to be great musical ideas. Only ideas that demonstrate some of the ways you can apply the techniques in this book. When constructing your solos using wide intervals, string skips, and direction change, try to always be guided by your ear. Afterall, music is an ear art. Just because one has developed extraordinary skill, does not mean they should not be guided by good taste. It does not matter what style of music you play, the skills derived from this book will help anyone become a better technician. 23

24 ETC... ETC... ETC... 24

25 ETC... ETC... ETC... 25

26 ETC... ETC... Bbmaj7 ETC... 26

27 As mentioned before, these are based on classical guitar arpeggio studies. If you listen to classical guitar, and I highly recommend that you do, you will hear these types of arpeggios. And, in fact, if you play fingerstyle jazz guitar, these exercises will open up new avenues of playing mechanisms for you to incorporate into your chord melody arrangements. Be creative and most of all, have fun! 27

28 Final W ord s I have been playing for over 35 years and still find these exercises quite challenging. I use them as a warm-up or while watching TV. And after 15 or 20 minutes my picking hand is generally tired, just like after a good workout. So my advice is not to kill yourself with these exercises. Take it nice and easy. You will find that after some time your picking technique will have improved tremendously. But, yes, it does take time. If you practice on a schedule and keep it up, you will be amazed at how fast your technique can improve. 28

Feel good? When done with the first exercise, (it shouldn t take more than a minute), I always feel super relaxed and ready to play.

Feel good? When done with the first exercise, (it shouldn t take more than a minute), I always feel super relaxed and ready to play. Table of Contents Hot Guitar Warm Ups....................................................................... 1 Warming Up Progressively................................................................ 1

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