Turning Practice Into Music

I love to practice guitar! From symmetrical finger exercises to scale sequence exercises to legato, etc. But then I remember: “Oh yeah! I’m practicing guitar and studying music concepts so I can compose and play music!”

Let’s avoid getting addicted to just practicing. Don’t forget about writing some killer music!

Professional Practicers

In this age of social media like YouTube – raise your hand if you’ve heard of YouTube –there are literally hundreds if not thousands of guitar players who can technically out-play me by a long shot.

Though I’m amazed at their technical proficiency… and I mean no offense when I say this… Please! Can you write some music with those chops?

We have a new genre of professional “practicers”. (Is that a word?) Hey! Perhaps that could be a new genre. If so, I’m in!

Turning Scales into Songs

Scales are probably my favourite thing to practice. I can’t get enough of sequence-type exercises. But the really fulfilling part is when I use it in a song. It’s the payoff for the time put into learning the scale.

If you’re learning and practicing some exotic scales or modes (as an example), definitely take the time to:

  • get them under your fingers,
  • get their sound in your head, and
  • learn the chords that can be built from them.

Then write a melody that really brings out the quality of the scale. Enjoy the reward of your practicing.  

Get Creative With Crazy Chords

Or maybe you are learning these wonderful chords with luscious textures and extensions and, of course, crazy fingerings. Oh, yeah! I feel it! Who doesn’t love those?

Now that you’ve learned them, what’s next? You guessed it! Write a piece of music.

Try firing up a nice ambient clean guitar tone, record a swirling atmospheric keyboard pad, and then freely weave your way through the chords. Arpeggios combined with light strumming, maybe. Even just a couple chords moving through their different inversions and voices as you progress through the tune.

From Technicalities to Tunes

Or how about something technical? String-skipping arpeggios, for example. Go ahead. Learn them all over the fretboard and on different string sets and upside down.

What to write with these? Personally, I might try to come up with some cool melodies with an octave displacement thing going on. What might you do?

Use Creative Freedom to Make Music for the World

Don’t get me wrong. I hope I’m not giving the impression that I think music must be a certain way to be “music” – simple or technical or fast or slow, etc. That’s completely up to you. Take the various carefully practiced and refined aspects of your craft and convey whatever musical idea it is you’re sharing with the world.

Please! Those of us becoming professional practicers, let’s switch gears and start using our well-honed musical vocabulary to write the world some stories!

1 thought on “Turning Practice Into Music”

  1. Hey Lee it’s great to read your articles I could not agree more with so much of what you have said here!!! Very true!! This resonates a lot!!

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