#13 Bonus: My Daily Guitar Ritual

Here’s a listing of everything as recorded on the video. I’ve included some notes on each of the techniques and exercises.

There are also included labels on the video so you can reference the sections to this document.

I’ve created this with the intention of giving you an example of how I put into action the principles and ideas of creating a practice routine. I trust you realize this is not something to be modeled exactly for your own practice routine. This is my routine… Based on what I’m trying to achieve and what I’ve done in the past.

In fact it’s just a snapshot of what my routine is at this time. Over time it will change. It will likely look very different a year from now… though some of it will also stay the same.

To make the video easier to watch I played everything just once (sometimes twice). That makes the video a  little under 15 minutes. I didn’t think anyone would want to watch me play the exercises many times (I wouldn’t).

It usually takes me about 50 minutes to complete this entire ritual… two 25 minute sessions with a 5 minute stretch break in between. I do most of the exercises 5 times and the songs/licks 2 to 3 times.

On days I’m pressed for time I’ll do a shorter version that takes me roughly 25 minutes. I cut down to just 2 or 3 times for each of the exercises and play through the songs/licks once each.


Part 1 – Fingers

Full Neck Chromatic Exercise

This is my warm up exercise. I like to start with this because it gets me accustomed to moving around without straining too much. It also helps me get my fingers in the right place.

I play the exercise as quickly as I can about five times in a row. When I say “as quickly as I can” I mean I go as fast as I can without tensing or playing the notes sloppily.

Major Scale by 1/2 Steps

I play the major scale starting with E major, and then going up by half steps up the neck. I usually play this about five times. Along with working my fingers it’s also helps connect my ears with the notes.

Flamenco Scale in Three Positions

This is a scale I use a lot in my improvisation. After practicing this daily for awhile I’ll substitute a different scale. Then maybe a month or two later a different one.

Whichever scale I’m working on I’ll play it in three positions. I find it helpful when improvising to be able to move around the entire neck and not be stuck in one position.

Flamenco Scale by Thirds (one position)

This is the same scale as in the previous exercise… But instead of going straight up and down the scale I’m using a different pattern. I like to use patterns like this when I improvise.

Right now I’m just using one position. This exercise is still a little difficult for me. As it gets easier I may expand it to the other positions as well.

4 Fingerpicking Patterns – up neck by 1/2 steps – E7(b9) chord form

Now it’s time to get my fingerpicking chops working. I stick with one chord, the E7(b9), so I can focus on my right hand.

Here’s the four patterns that I’m using:

  • P I M A
  • P A M I
  • P I M A M I
  • P A M I M A

My goal is to be able to play the patterns fast and smooth. It’s a bit of a challenge for me to slow down and play accurately. I tend to want to speed up even though it gets a bit sloppy.

Also I have to keep reminding myself to relax and not get tense.

Song: Somewhere over the Rainbow (fingerstyle)

When I’m done the fingerpicking portion of my practice I like to end with a song. Right now I’m working on “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.

It’s not where I would like it to be yet. I’ll keep working on it until I get it smooth. I’m not necessarily a fast learner, but I’m very persistent.

I’d like to also add a little more subtleties like slowing down in parts and getting louder and softer.

I usually spend about 5 to 10 minutes on a song each session. Once I feel I’ve gotten the song where I’d like it to be I’ll choose a new song and start the process over.


Part 2 – Pick

This is the portion of my practice where I work on my right hand picking along with coordinating my left hand. I use the pick about 80% of the time when I’m improvising.

I use my fingers when I’m playing chords, arpeggio patterns, or when I want to play a slow melody (more feeling).

Scale Pattern in Thirds (four versions)

This is an exercise I learned from my friend John Gilliat, a wonderful guitarist and recording artist (CDs available on Amazon).

I’m sticking with three notes per string. Again the goal is to play smoothly without tension. Sometimes I use a metronome with this and measure my progress.

Descending Flamenco  Run

This is a lick I learned for my friend Stephen Duros, another talented guitarist and recording artist. His claim to fame: For many years he was the second guitarist touring with Ottmar Liebert.

It’s a lick I really like and I’m determined to get it fast and smooth.

Full Neck Chromatic Lick

This is an extension of my warm up routine. Now I’m ready to step it up a bit. It’s actually one of the harder exercises for me… I’m not sure why. I’ve improved a lot in the past month.

It’s as much a picking exercise as it is working my left hand. Down-up picking… Where I mess up is when I change strings. Like everything else the more I do this the better I get.

Chromatic Speed Exercise (three strings)

This exercise is about speeding up my picking in coordination with my left hand. By working with just three strings I can focus on the picking.

Sometimes I’ll just play on two strings and see how fast I can go. The part that slows me down is changing from one string to another.

Triads (up neck by 1/2 steps):

6th String Root – Major, Dominant 7th, Minor, Diminished

5th String Root – Major, Dominant 7th, Minor, Diminished

Another great exercise for improvising and for ear training.

Triads are chords played one note at a time. Starting on the sixth string I’m playing a major chord, moving up by half steps. Then I go back and do the same thing with a dominant seventh chord, a minor chord, and a diminished chord.

Then I move over to the fifth string and repeat the entire process.


Part 3 – Final

Recuerdos de la Alhambra Intro (tremolo practice)

The tremolo technique is something I’ve been working on for years. There’s still room for me to improve.

Because I really like this song it makes it easier to practice than just doing exercises (though I did start off learning this technique using exercises).

In the video I showed the first part of the song. It’s enough to practice the tremolo, but when I have enough time I play through the entire song at least once.

Rumba Flamenca Lick

I’m  using this lick as an exercise to work on my thumb technique. I originally started by doing simple exercises to get this basic technique.

Song In Progress – Chords/Melody (no name yet)

My passion is composing music. Each practice session I end by either creating something new or playing something that has the potential to be a new song.

Right now this is the song I’m working on. I try different things each practice session to see what sounds good to me. It’s also a fun way to practice changing between playing chords and playing melody.

Once I’ve developed it into a full song and can play it fairly smoothly I’ll record a rough draft so I remember it and move on to a new one.

This is, at least in part, is how I created six CDs of my original music.


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Wow, what a practice routine!

Tomas (Administrator) July 22, 2019 at 10:52 pm

I’m glad you found this Pat. I put hours into creating this.

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