Monday, January 4, 2010

The Doctor Is In...The Fundamental Checkup


    You think you know your way around the guitar and have some pretty heavy chops but you're not sure if you can sit in with the local heavies yet.  If only there was a way to figure out just where you are struggling and find the cure for it.  I've got good news for you: "The doctor is in!"  It looks like it's time to schedule your checkup.

    Take this test to see exactly what fundamentals you are lagging in.  Prescribed for inadequacy, it should prove beneficial even to seasoned players.  And remember to get regular checkups!  Take this test every few months or so to make sure you are keeping healthy.  A regular dose of fundamentals is the key to a healthy skill-set.

    To begin, set the ol' metronome to 60 BPM.  Then, pick a key and an adjacent-string set.  Ab and string set [1, 2, 3] for example.  Play all the root position triads in Ab on that string set, in order.  Make sure to play a triad every beat.  The goal is to be able to change between each triad smoothly without pausing.  Repeat for each string set, then do the 1st and 2nd inversions.

    Next focus on individual qualities of triads (major, minor, augmented, diminished).  Take one at a time and again choose an adjacent-string set, this time finding each inversion of it on every adjacent-string set ([1, 2, 3] [2, 3, 4] [3, 4, 5] [4, 5, 6]).  If you really want to put your chops to the test, follow the same procedure for non-adjacent string sets, such as [1, 2, 4], [2, 4, 6], etc.  That brings us to the end of the first part of the test.  On to part two...

    The second part of the test works similarly to the first, except that the second part deals with 7th chords.  7th chords are generally comprised of 4 notes, so you will play this part on 4-string sets.  Again, set the metronome to 60 (it should be noted that the metronome should be at 60 BPM for all parts of this test).  Play all the inversions of each 7th chord type on each 4-string set.  4 notes = 4 inversions, meaning that there will be 4 inversions of each 7th chord on each string set.  Follow this procedure for major 7, minor 7, dominant 7, and minor 7b5.

    The final part of the checkup addresses scales/arpeggios.  This part should be played in 8th or 16th notes at 60 beats per minute.  Each scale is to be played in 5 positions without pause between them.  For example, play the Ab major scale in 1st, 3rd, 5th, 8th, 10th positions.  Play the full position, meaning that you play from the lowest available note to the highest available not in each position.  Also play melodic minor, dorian, and harmonic minor in the same fashion.

    Once you go through all the scales, play the 13th arpeggios for each scale quality.  The 13th arpeggio is simply every other note in the scale until the 13th is reached (1 - 3 - 5 - 7 - 9 - 11 - 13).

    Just make sure you go through the entire thing without pausing and there you have it. The Fundamental Checkup.  I agree, it is pretty intense, but it will surely get your ass in line.

[this test was inspired by an article by Steve Herberman which can be found here]

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