Below is an example of a pentatonic mastery exercise.  The object of the exercise is to develop skills moving between the 5 pentatonic scales.  It begins in A minor Pentatonic with the first idea moving between A minor pentatonic and C Major Pentatonic.  Then the idea is moved up and played between C Major Pentatonic and the 3rd pentatonic scale, and finally the last section moves between pentatonic thread pentatonic 4.  To challenge yourself figure out the next part moving between pentatonic 4 and pentatonic 5 and then finally from Pentatonic 5 to The A minor Pentatonic at the 17th fret.


Practice as Play Article

Musical Paths

Musical Paths:


This is simply a reorganization of the basic chord diagrams sheet.   Once the student has developed the ability to play these chords with a “fairly decent” sound I use this sheet as a game of sorts to develop abilities to play chords in various combinations. Students also start to develop thoughts on musical choices as they try various combinations and find they enjoy the sound of some more than others.  


You can customize the rules for using the sheet for the level of the student and you can use any combination of chords you deem useful.  


Rules Examples:

  1. Have the student start at G and choose any path they want to make it to the end.  You can try variations such as having them strum each chord one time before moving to the next chord.  As you go you could have them try rhythms and strum patterns as well as introduce the idea of measure for each chord.

  2. For a more intense practice regime have the student start at G and make it to the end but they have to play at every circle at least one time.  This requires some moving around and a fun way for them to get use to the idea of repetition and gumption as a practice tool.

Musical Form:  I use sheets like this to help students understand musical form.  If a student is familiar with and a fan of Star Wars these two pieces can be fun and recognizable ones for them to play.   The first piece is the Main Star Wars Theme and uses Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia to mark the two distinct themes in the melody.

The second is the Imperial March which signifies Darth Vader.  I used Darth Vader and At At's to signify the two distinct melody parts.  

Using musical terms like first theme or part A can be confusing to young kids especially if they are also learning the A chord and the see the big (A) marking the A section.  Creating sheets like this adds a fun visual element so that students can understand musical form and begin to understand the structure and repetition in pieces so that they can learn them better and faster.  As the student practices the pieces we continue to discuss "real" musical form terms with the visual aid of the sheet.

Guitar City

Guitar Science World

Dinosaur Game

The Dinosaur Game is and example of a simple lesson you can create for a young child just getting used to chords using keynote or powerpoint.  Due to the requirements and their small hands it can be a challenging and frustrating process.  Dinosaurs are relatively high on the cool scale for young kids.  You can customize the graphics to suit any theme your students may be interested in.

This would be the first step in several.  In these games you can make the adventure in that theme continue for as long as it holds the interest of the student.  If you wanted to teach the student how to play the G chord and be able to move to the Em chord you could make that part of the next phase of the game.

Interjecting lessons with these activities and games can help to keep the lesson experience fresh and exciting for the student.

Some theatrics as you narrate the game and they watch it on the computer screen adds greatly to the impact of the lesson experience.  The last slide is a .Gif so it would appear to be running toward the student which signifies the successful accomplishment of the task and the transition to the next challenge.  

Slide Examples-

Rock Star Composer

Game Board Examples



All About Practice

All About Practice:


Here are some practice ideas that might spark some ingenuity in your practice routine.   This is a general list of ideas and thoughts, some contrasting.  All players and all people unique and what works for someone else may not work for you.  All of the ideas are worth looking into to see what helps you.


  • View your musical development as a pathway
  • All new information is a logical, conceptual, and technical extension of the skills and knowledge you currently have.
  • When working on items that require cognitive skill, focus and total concentration is essential.
  • Try creating practice rituals. For example, a certain spot in the house, a certain time of day, for adults, perhaps with a cup of coffee, whatever works for you.
  • Any focused work in any discipline will strengthen the ability to focus in other aspects of life.
  • It is impossible to work on every single element of your playing in one day, so set up your routine to cover a variety of areas over the course of the week.
  • Write out a practice plan before you sit down.
  • If you have a performance coming up make  the main item in your practice routine the pieces you will be playing.  But don’t let other areas be neglected for too long.
  • Try to be realistic when setting up your practice plan and goals so that you finish feeling a sense of accomplishment when you are done.  Don’t be too easy on yourself though.  Ambition and self-discipline does have its rewards.
  • Create a map of short, mid, and long term goals.
  • Review and update this list occasionally.  Compare where you are with where you wanted to be.
  • Your practice and music is and always and will always be a work in progress. Enjoy the ride.
  • If you are learning a new piece break it up into pieces and divide and conquer.
  • When learning a very complicated piece that feels larger in scope,  find creative ways to map out the song to help you break up your practicing.
  • Don’t be afraid to jump back a few stages from time to time.  I have many times stopped and gone back to be able to perform something better.
  • Don’t get frustrated with lack of progress.  If you are practicing daily you will progress.  You will have times when you hit a wall and times when you break through.  You will also have joyous epiphanies.
  • For many, long term memory works best when you learn things over and over in small amounts.
  • Break your practice into main areas. For example, Performance pieces, new Pieces, general musicianship, ear training, transcribing, sight reading, theory, improvising and so on.
  • Set a date and a goal to finish a piece.
  • Challenge yourself to make your deadline.
  • Take short breaks if your attention is wavering and move around.
  • Keep a practice journal.
  • Venture out from your preferred genre occasionally.  You might be surprised what new ideas it may introduce to your playing.




Practice spelling them

Playing them

Finding them all over the fretboard

Improvise with them

Use in lead guitar

Use in composing

Use in arranging

Learn a song and play with as many variations of triads as you can

  • If you have recording possibilities, practice writing and recording a melody and write a harmony line to the original melody
  • Cool software for guitar practice:  Guitar Pro, Band in a Box
  • Check your tuning before and during practice
  • Tune using a tuner
  • Also try tuning using a reference pitch and your ear, keep trying and double check with a tuner to see how you did.
  • Try online ear-training sites
  • Practice with a metronome or drum machine
  • Practice with a full length mirror setup where you practice to observe your poster and technique
  • Try writing a chord progression to a melody that has no chords given for it.
  • Re-visit simple exercises to practice techniques such as: Legato, Staccato, Picking, Fingerpicking, Slides, dynamics, etc.






  • First you must demonstrate your practice plan and get out of the Forest jail.
  • Perform a 2 song set that is memorized.
  • Play a sight reading piece chosen by your teacher


  • Play a d7#9 chord
  • Play a C bebop scale
  • Play a I-IV-V shuffle progression in E
  • Play a Beatles riff from memory
  • Sight read a Bach piece
  • Ear training:  your teacher will play a chord.  You must find the key and improvise with a scale for 2 minutes.
  • Ear training:  your teacher will play a chord.  You must find the key and improvise with a scale for 2 minutes.
  • Ear training:  your teacher will play a chord.  You must find the key and improvise with a scale for 2 minutes.
  • Ear training:  your teacher will play a chord.  You must find the key and improvise with a scale for 2 minutes.


  1. In C major:


Writes out the notes in the scale

Write out the triads and chord names

Write out the notes in the  natural minor scale

Write out the notes in the minor pentatonic scale

Write out the chords with an added 7th


It is very easy to get into ruts with your soloing.  One way to alter the patterns you hav developed in your playing over time is to introduce new rhythmic elements into your playing that can be mixed in with your standard licks.  For example, in the key of E minor try creating various melodic ideas using this 4 measure rhythmic pattern in 4/4 time. Once you feel comfortable playing this rhythmic phrase all over the E minor Pentatonic scale begin to mix it in with your current soloing ideas.