Why Practice This?
If you’re a big fan of songs like All Star (Smashmouth), What’s My Age Again (Blink 182) or I Knew You Were Trouble (Taylor Swift) then the key of F# major matters to you. But, this Jam Pack (and all Music Protest Jam Packs) will ALSO help you if you want to:
- Improve your alternate picking
- Play along with real music in realtime
- Improvise and start soloing!
How to Use This?
There are 3 main exercises that you can explore with the materials in this jam pack. (1) You can begin learning to play guitar solos in any key you want. (2) You can start writing your own chord progressions (for your own songs or recordings) using the chord scale (chord diagrams). (3) You can improve your finger dexterity and independence (and improve your picking hand, too!).
3 General Setup Steps
These are probably the first steps you’ll want to take, no matter which of the 3 suggested exercises you’re interested in:
- First, download the Jam Pack in F# Major.
- Unzip the download and start practicing the chord scale (chord diagrams) and major scale (guitar tab).
- Load the jam track (.wav file) into any media player capable of looping it over and over again
Guitar Soloing Exercise in F# Major
In this exercise, we’ll assume you’ve already done the 3 general setup steps above. You’ll want to practice the major scale in this key until you’ve memorized this pattern. Just take your time – no rush. Once it’s memorized, play it with a metronome set at 60 BPM (this is always a good tempo to start with). Now, play back the jam track (looping it over and over) and just “jam” the memorized F# major scale over the jam track until you start *hearing* melodic ideas. Try to play your ideas and get creative. Avoid running the scale up and down – instead look for melodic phrases. It can be helpful to think of language and imagine yourself playing musical “sentences” with clear punctuation.
Writing Chord Progressions in F# Major
Note: in this key, you’ve got to use barre chords more commonly. Not all chords in the chord scale are barre chords, but this key is commonly going to rely on at least one barre chord.
In this exercise, you’ll want to get familiar with the chords in the chord scale (PDF) and begin gaining facility with transitioning between the chords in the key of F# major relatively comfortably. Once you’re familiar with the chords in the F# major, try joining 3-4 different chords together to make a chord progression. Not all chord progressions sound good, but you’ll find many that will – keep at it!
Developing Fretboard Dexterity
In this exercise, you’ll be learning to play the F# major scale, but you’ll be focused on your picking hand and fretboard dexterity. This exercise is about developing precision and requires a metronome and practicing in a very methodical way to improve your technical fretting and picking skills. Here’s the exercise:
- Set a metronome at 60 BPM.
- Play the scale to the metronome – 1 note per beat/click. This is playing 1/4 notes.
- Play the scale while subdividing the click into 1/8 notes (keep the metronome at 60 BPM).
- Next, subdivide the click into triplets (1-trip-let, 2-trip-let…).
- Then, subdivide the click into 1/16ths (1-e-and-a, 2-e-and-a…).
- Switch back to triplets
- Switch back to 1/8ths
- Finally switch back to 1/4 notes.
If that gets easy, upgrade your tempo – change the metronome to 62 BPM. You might say “What? Only 2 BPM??” Yep, because an increase of 2 BPM at 1/4 notes will equal an increase of 8 equivalent beats once you’re playing 1/16th notes. This exercise develops technical skill, but ALSO helps guitarists learn to correctly subdivide beats and strengthen their sense of timing and rhythm.
While doing this exercise, it is important to start slow and stay steady and focused. Don’t speed up too much – focus on perfect execution at slower speeds. Avoid the temptation to try to be impressive! Also, practice only alternate picking in this exercise as it will have the best impact on your overall picking skills and technique.