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David's Tip of the Day: 8 Hours a Day Practice

David Barrett Admin's picture

A student asked how I would structure an 8 hour a day practice routine. I thought you would appreciate seeing this...


Assuming I was where you're at right now, this is how I would structure my practice day...

1) 15m - Warm up playing scales: Major Pentatonic and Blues Scale for each chord of the three positions (C, G, D, A) across the entire range of the harmonica.

2) 15m - Arpeggios: Major, Minor and 7th Chords from of all the chords based on the home scale in three positions (C, G and D scales)

3) 60m - Study Song (do all the songs from first, then songs from artists)

4) 30m - Take a lick from the song I'm studying and apply the Chorus Forms process for improvising with it (see Improvising Study 1)

5) 30m - Music Theory: As it pertains to the harmonica... like hole changes for example (Accompaniment Studies 3 and 5)... and learning how to play killer V-IV-I's (Improvising Study 4) and Turnarounds (Study 5), and then I-vi-ii-V-I progressions (Music Theory Study 6), using a program like iReal for example to work on it in motion.

6) 30m - Accompaniment Playing (from studies on the site and/or copying what someone else did on recording and/or playing to songs in my collection that have no harp to mimic real-life playing... again, make sure to finish all your Accompaniment studies on the site first)

7) 60m - Study Song (continued work)

8) 30m - Solo Harmonica Study (chording, chugging, etc., anything that has me playing unaccompanied)

9) 30m - iReal Practice - Grab a random song from iReal and practice playing to it... this helps me to apply my scales, arpeggios and music theory knowledge.

10) 60m - Guitar practice

11) 30m - Standards: Learning the songs that are most likely to be called at a jam session or gig

12) 60m - Study Song (continued work)

13) 30m - Apply Chorus Forms process

Notice a consistent theme... master the material on a given subject from the site first. No need to reinvent the wheel. I had to figure this out on my own... 10's of thousands of hours of work... you can benefit from this. After mastering what I present for you, move on to other artists and learn their approach and vocabulary (technique won't be an issue, you would have already learned it from the site).