Bridging Beginner to Intermediate Practice Routines

This lesson will give precise guidelines to help you structure effective practice routines and stay inspired for the long haul.


Was waiting for this one! What Justin is talking about here really speaks to me. I started feeling a little lost right after I finished grade 2 around the middle of last year. It was Justin’s Grade 2 consolidation video that convinced me to start my rock study and focus on rock/metal in general. I can tell I’ll be coming back to this video from time to time like I did with the grade 2 consolidation video whenever I need some perspective.


hard to narrow down what my “genre” is. favorite players are Clapton, knopfler, garcia, neil young. i hate metal, so thats an easy elimination. not a big straight up country music fan, but if i listen to young and garcia i hear a lot of country and even blugrass. garcia also gets pretty jazzy. clapton obviously blues but also rock. knopfler i dont know how to define but i luv it. tunnel of love on alchemy is just stupendous.

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My interests are similar. I’d call it classic rock with a tendency toward Americana/roots rock.

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But there are no set practice routines for the last modules of Grade 3. The legato lesson defo needs practicing.

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My interest is for the British blues players of the 60’s and early 70’s: Clapton, Peter Green, Rory Gallagher, Paul Kossoff, Gary Moore. I know that Gallagher and Moore aren’t exactly British but IIRC both were born in Northern Ireland!

But then we get a random fingerstyle lesson in Grade 3 so that opens up my interest in Country Blues: Rev Gary Davis, Blind Boy Fuller…

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Strange/Interesting Video which really gave me thoughts about, well… “What do you need to learn” for a given path.

Justin says, it was pointless learning harmonic minor scale(up to a point), until Jazz improvising was used. But, you dont know what you dont know. ! How would I know that I don’t need to learn a harmonic minor scale. I can’t. !

I can’t help but feel I have a little bit of an issue with this video.

It speaks to self imposed limitations and not exploration…

I’ve never been into Jazz but, I’ve heard Jazz recently through this site lol…that I listened through.

A bit of an odd video. !


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@Libitina Its not Jazz unless there’s a banjo in it :laughing:


No, Nope, We Ban Jo’s


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Knopfler has a lot of country-ish and melodic influence in his playing, with some light blues, major pentatonics and arpeggios and triads.

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Thank you for sharing the lesson!

Love the advices and insights from Justin. One thing I would like to add is, when I went further down the road and learn more songs, I found out I got to think in big picture, and every little details I could pay attention to, for making a song feels good.

Not sure if I put it correct, it is like being extremely good in certain thing(s) while being okayish good with other things. Broadening the mind (which seems to be contradicting to narrow down the path I choose after learning the guitar basics), in my humble opinion, is the way to bring my playing one step ahead :heart:

Hi I have been playing for a year and a few months and currently nearly finished on grade 3. Roughly how long should you be playing for to finish grade 3?

And how long should you spend on each module and consolidation of grade 3?

Everyone is different. I’ve been practicing 30-40 minutes per day, 5 days a week, for almost 3 years, and I’m about 2/3rds thru Grade 3. Everyone’s brain and fingers learn at different rates, especially depending on age and level of focus during practice.

There is no average time in each module either. I’ve felt confident with some techniques within a week, where others have taken me months to get under my fingers.

IMHO, what’s important is that your strumming, basic chords, and left hand -right hand coordination are solid and your hand strength is now adequate to take on barre chords. If you’re still mostly looking at your hands when you change chords and play scales, you’re not ready yet.

I plan to learn songs I like that utilize as many of the Grade 3 techniques (hammer-ons, pull-offs, 12-bar Blues, target notes while strumming, connecting chords with scales, vibrato, etc.) as possible before moving on to Grade 4.

Hope this helps.

Hi this helps a lot, what songs are you practicing at the moment?

I’ve been practicing for 3 years and haven’t got to Grade 3!! Mind you I’m in no particular rush and it will take whatever it takes. I have been side-tracked though with Theory and the blues :slight_smile:

Currently, I’m working on:

  • The Jack by AC/DC (big finger stretch, simple Blues in E)
  • Breathe by Pink Floyd (target notes while strumming, the “Hendrix” chord)
  • Jesus Just Left Chicago by ZZ Top (Blues Turn-around lick, G-shape and E-shape embellishments)
  • Heart of Gold by Neil Young (I recorded the chords into my looper and am practicing playing the vocal and harmonica melodies over them. I also transcribed the vocal and harmonica parts myself)

Next, I’ll probably learn Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding to utilize connecting chords with scales (nice ascending/descending bass during the verses).

I’m still trying to decide on a song to utilize hammer-ons and pull-offs. There’s lots to choose from, but it’s hard to find a song I like that has them but doesn’t also have alot of bends (I haven’t worked on string bending yet). I might just choose to learn the vocal melody of “Wish You Were Here” for this, or maybe learn the “Thunderstruck” main riff.

BEST LESSON EVER!!! thank you Justin - May God bless you! all this stuff is good for life too

Nice lesson and good thoughts and advice from Justin. As a 56-year-old intermediate player who recently started playing again after a break from ten years (and will now keep it up) I feel some pressure to play all the songs I still want to play, but time may be too short. Justin teaches me that you can’t play everything and that gives me some peace of mind. Like to play the songs of Pink Floyd/Gilmour, the famous songs of Jimmy Hendrix, Mark Knofler, blues and fast riffs. Hopefully (especially the latter) that is still doable at my age.

Justin, you might not be Brian May :wink: but you definitely excel as a guitar teacher! Many thanks

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