Practice Timetable

You’ve probably noticed that learning jazz guitar involves practicing many different things from scales to chords to arpeggios and so much more. You may even start to realize that there is an overwhelming amount of material to practice. Yes, there is a lot to practice but it’s all very doable. Knowing how to effectively organize your practice time is critical to moving forward. So what do we do.

Although you do need to practice everything, you need to practice the areas where you are weak more often and areas where you are strong less often. In other words, work on new techniques and concepts should take up the majority of your practice time while leaving a little time to review techniques and concepts you are more confident with.

A practice timetable is an excellent way to organize your practice time. A timetable allows you to keep track of the things you need to practice, how much time you will spend on each and what you are practicing each day. This way you keep track of the things you practiced yesterday or last week and have a clear record of everything you have done and everything you need to do. It’s so easy to find yourself wrapped up in something new, especially when you are excited about practicing it. This can lead you to neglect areas that may not be one hundred percent and require attention.

The table below will help you to keep track of what you need to do and what you have already spent time on. There are different ways you can use this table.

1 – Place a checkmark in the boxes for the items you have completed.

2 – Mark in the amount of time you have spent on each task. (ex. 20 minutes)

Now there are a lot of items on the list so how much do you do each day or each practice session. That’s a good question that I will for the most part leave up to you. Generally, I would suggest that you spead the items out over the week. As an example, maybe you could work on one or two forms from each of the 3 scales per day. Practice one or two forms of the major scale, melodic minor scale and harmonic scale on the first day. On day 2, choose another one or two from each and so on.

For all of the other categories, you can do the same type of thing. Practice different repertoire on different days, sight read different pieces and work on different chord voicings as you progress through the week. If you are using the the timetable and marking down everything you’ve practiced, you will have a good record of what you’ve done and what needs to be done.

You may not be working on everything in this table. Start with the items that are part of your practice routine and add more as you progress. Keep in mind that there are many other items you could add to this table. My goal is to get you organized so you can have productive practice sessions. Productive practice sessions translate into better results and in less time. Happy Practicing!

Author: Michael Berard

Michael Berard was a part-time music professor for over 25 years at Concordia University in Montreal Canada. There he taught jazz guitar, jazz arranging, jazz composition as well as other jazz related courses. He has worked over the years as a jazz musician playing jazz clubs, concerts and studio sessions. Michael has played on numerous recordings including 3 of his own: "It's Autumn," "Little Voices" and "Good News." Michael is also the author of "Jazz Guitar Elements," a comprehensive jazz guitar method and "Jazz Reading Elements," a new jazz sight reading book geared towards jazz guitarists.