New! February Practice Plan (In Full Detail)

After nearly a year of creating a new Guitar Challenge for you every single weekday, (phew! that’s a lot) I can confidently say that I’ve continually refined what works, what you have the most fun with, and the best way to keep you engaged throughout the month. But as usual, I’m not done improving (ever!) so I’m always going to attempt outdoing the previous month.

February is no different. But before getting into specifics, I want to recap what Practice Plan is and the philosophy behind it. If you already know how it works, just skip to the “detailed outline” section!

The ULTIMATE Guitar Practice Routine

Just show up every day, and I'll tell you what to play!

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What is Practice Plan & Why Should I Care?

The practice plan idea came from doing live hangout Q&As. The practice question would come up every time I talked with aspiring acoustic guitar players. Things like “what’s the best way to practice” or “how do I know if I’m practicing the right stuff” or “how often should I practice?”

This made me reflect on what had worked for me, but also, it made me think about what the perfect practice plan would look like if it existed.

Over the last year, with your feedback, I’ve been able to refine the perfect practice plan. We’re still listening to feedback and considering ideas for improvement, but where we’re at today is something I’m very proud of…

The Practice Plan is THE most effective way to practice in my humble opinion because it takes into account these key elements:

  • Your limited time and crazy daily schedule
  • Your need to be a well rounded player
  • Your need to be entertained in order to stay engaged and interested
  • Your need to stay organized in order to stay focused and consistent
So why should I care?

Practice isn’t really what we all want to be doing with our acoustic guitars. We’d all prefer to know hundreds of songs front to back, easily jam with buddies at the drop of a hat, or confidently take the spotlight at a campfire jam or family gathering.

So what’s the fastest, most enjoyable way to get there?

  1. Strengthen your skills with a daily practice routine
  2. Apply those skills to learning songs
  3. Perform those songs regularly

This combination equals one happy and fulfilled guitar player (and these three objectives happen to be the sole focus of TAC!)

February Practice Plan (Detailed Outline)

As you can see, the foundation of your ultimate guitar happiness starts with building and reinforcing skills. With these new and improved skills you’ll learn songs faster and with better technique. You’ll write songs easier, with more assets to pull from. You’ll play for others with more confidence, and they’ll perceive the difference.

The following is a detailed outline of exactly how the February Practice Plan is going to deliver the dream for you:) One thing I DID NOT include here are the weekly overviews. Those will be emailed to you every Monday throughout February.

Your Weekly Practice Framework

MONDAYS
Warm-ups & Exercises

TUESDAYS
Licks

WEDNESDAYS
Improvisation & Scales

THURSDAYS
Chord Progressions

FRIDAYS
Surprise Challenges!

February Curriculum in Detail

Week 1: Key of C Major

Day 1
Do You What C What I C?
Key:C Genre: Flatpicking Difficulty: Easy

Day 2
Sneaky Snake
Key:C Genre: Flatpicking Difficulty: Int.

Day 3
Rawlings Express
Key:C Genre: Flatpicking Difficulty: Int.

Day 4
Fancy Feast
Key:C  Genre: Flatpicking Difficulty: Int.

Day 5
Bonus Lick # 35
Bonus Chords # 15

Week 2: 16th Notes

Day 1
Gavalanche
Key:G Genre:Fingerpicking Difficulty: Int.

Day 2
Rainbow Shimmers
Key:D Genre: Fingerpicking Difficulty: Hard

Day 3
Octavius
Key:G Genre: Fingerpicking Difficulty: Int.

Day 4
Sweet Sixteen
Key:G Genre: Fingerpicking Difficulty: Int.

Day 5
Bonus Lick # 36
Bonus Chords # 16

Week 3: 8th Notes

Day 1
Stairs of Stutterness
Key:N/A Genre: Flatpicking Difficulty: Easy

Day 2
Stutter Step
Key:G Genre: Flatpicking Difficulty: Easy

Day 3
Know Your Roots
Key:G Genre: Flatpicking Difficulty: Int.

Day 4
Bathing in Bass
Key:G Genre: Flatpicking Difficulty: Easy

Day 5
Bonus Lick # 37
Bonus Chords # 17

Week 4: Blues in E

Day 1
Fantasy Fingers
Key:E Genre: Fingerpicking Difficulty: Easy

Day 2
Teeter Totsky
Key:E Genre: Fingerpicking Difficulty: Int.

Day 3
Blues Blaster
Key:E Genre: Fingerpicking Difficulty: Easy

Day 4
Blues Bonanza
Key:E Genre: Fingerpicking Difficulty: Int.

Day 5
Bonus Lick # 38
Bonus Chords # 18

 

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What’s your take?

I think there’s a great opportunity for this new Practice Plan overview to be a monthly check-in for TAC members. A way to publicly declare your intentions so you feel an added sense of obligation!!!

With that in mind, I have two asks of you…

#1: I want your feedback.

Leave a comment with your feedback, experience thus far, ideas or thoughts about Practice Plan.

#2: Tell me how you did last month and what you want to do this month.

If you’re so inclined, include a song you want to learn and the target date for submitting your performance badge. Example: I’m starting Freight Train this month and I’ll submit my performance badge by March 1st!

Comments

  1. Profile photo of David A
    David A

    Hey Tony,

    I absolutely love the new practice plan this year. I feel I had huge improvements with the new structure in January.
    Simply put, I think I just sound better…..
    My challenge is dedicating time to learn songs. I’ve been so focused on the practice plan and keeping up with the daily exercises that I neglect to spend time on songs. My goal this month is to get the finger picking pattern down by heart for Freight Train, I still seem to get my fingers twisted up.

    So for me, daily exercises working towards a specific song would be cool.

    Cheers,
    Dave

    1. Profile photo of Tony P
      Tony P Post author

      Dave,

      Excellent feedback!!! Thank you for taking the time to comment. I am glad the new format is helping with your progress, I am excited to refine this even more 🙂

      Cheers,
      Tony

      1. Profile photo of Tony P
        Tony P Post author

        Oh I wanted to add that we just added a new stripped down version of freight train, which will help a ton in learning the other more syncopated version 🙂

        Cheers,
        Tony

  2. Profile photo of Anna K
    Anna K

    Tony & TAC Team,
    I’m loving the convenience of online lessons with a very helpful team and forum. Your lessons are fundamentally sound and well organized. I am finding my own musical voice and learning style. I do not complete each week because I feel I need more practice. Letting go is tough but hanging on to a lick I like and perfecting it is very rewarding.
    I will complete Guitar 101 when I have better access to wifi. A GREAT BIG thanks and hug for all your efforts in that!!! I am also trying to absorb the book you recommended “Edly’s Music Theory For Practical People.” It’s in Amazon and iBooks now. Easy to read but taking my time to comprehend it all.
    My goal is to play every day, understand more theory, and just enjoy the learning process no matter how slow I go.
    I can’t wait for your Blues Blaster in week 4. ( Lately, I’m falling in love with Keb Mo’s style of playing.) I still do not want to perform in front of others but at least I’m not so concerned if someone happens to hear me play. That’s improvement!
    Lovin’ huggin’ my guitar. ❤️
    Thank you TAC!

    1. Profile photo of Tony P
      Tony P Post author

      Anna,

      Thank you so much for your kind words and feedback!!! I love that you are enjoying the time you get with your guitar and that you are going to dig into both Edly’s Music Theory and the Acoustic Guitar 101 course!!! Thank you so much for being here in TAC and for sharing your enthusiasm!!!

      Cheers,
      Tony

  3. Profile photo of Haviv m
    Haviv m

    Hi tony!
    I want more information about the caged system, combining melody with chords, using capo, using other chords shape for fingerpicing ( not just the open chords ), tips about interesting pedals like the Bose rc-300…
    keep on the good work!!!

    1. Profile photo of Tony P
      Tony P Post author

      Haviv,

      Thank you so much for your feedback!!! Thank you for being here!!!

      Cheers,
      Tony

  4. Profile photo of Bernard G
    Bernard G

    I also enjoy the new format . And February seems to be very exciting with fingerpicking, flatpicking….. I need to work fingerpicking, for example I learnt Freight Train a few months ago , but even if you call it easy Tony, i found it rather difficult and I still work to play it faster.
    I’ve been a member of TAC since may or june and I also noticed an improvement . But when I see the february program, I think this improvement will grow. Thanks a lot, because I pick up my guitar and play nearly every day and about one hour a day, that’s also a great improvement.

    1. Profile photo of Tony P
      Tony P Post author

      Bernard,

      what an awesome report!!! I am so glad to hear you are grabbing for your guitar everyday and that you are progressing!!! Keep up the awesome work!!!

      Cheers,
      Tony

  5. Profile photo of Fred R
    Fred R

    I love the morphing of the lessons into its current form –having a theme for the week and each day having a different focus.

    And I appreciate the “interval training”: daily degree of variations of easy, intermediate and hard; and weekly variations, too. I see in February there is a more difficult week followed by an easier week; and a fingerpicking week followed by a flat picking centered week.

    You have done your homework and listened to what works for your mentees–the names and a happy style of introduction.

    I enjoy the practicing and have gotten to know my old Guild D 125 again.

    Now I need to break out my Rev Gary Davis vinyl.

    One personal note: when I practice in the morning, I go for half an hour. When I start at 11 pm, I’m likely to go until 12:30 am! What’s up with that?

    1. Profile photo of Tony P
      Tony P Post author

      Fred,

      Thanks so much for your kind words and feedback. Happy to hear the the guild is getting playing time!!! Big yes on the Reverend Gary Davis vinyl, and an even bigger yes on falling into the guitar time warp… the equation is basically this: when holding the guitar one half hour guitar time is equal to 1.5 hours of regular time 🙂

      Cheers,
      Tony

  6. Profile photo of leslie c
    leslie c

    Hello Tony and crew
    Thank you for a great 10 or 11 months lessons
    I have never missed a day I think? well maybe
    a day or 2 that’s all
    I have come a long way forward in playing the
    guitar, I have no Idea if I am slower then the
    other younger members of TAC, BUT it is not
    a race is it? I look forward to every new day
    to learn more and more. Your method for
    teaching is great.
    January has been great a great collection of
    practice lessons, I did not get time to learn
    the Months song, Detroit Moan,
    this is when I feel I am maybe
    a bit slow compared to the messages i read and
    listen to from the fun Forum’s. I just about manage to
    learn the lessons of the day and practice them, but
    not the song for the month.
    I will get there I suspect after hearing your encouraging
    remarks to other TAC members, which I take on board

    February is going to be even better, I imagine.
    Now
    I have said this a couple of times to you Tony,
    Things can only get better, It is a song by
    D.Ream look it up on you tube.
    I look forward to the day when I can learn the
    song of the month and forward my playing it to TAC
    so members can listen and comment, I enjoy
    listening to the members who do forward their
    efforts on the Forum. and hope one day I will be able to join
    in with you all.

    Thank you for the past months Practice Plans

    Cheers

    Les.

    1. Profile photo of Tony P
      Tony P Post author

      Les,

      Thank you so much, and you are right, things can only get better 🙂 Keep at it and the more practice and time you put in the easier those monthly songs will come. Thank you for being here and tuning in every day 🙂

      Cheers,
      Tony

  7. Profile photo of Joseph F
    Joseph F

    Guess I am a dissenting opinion (I am usually not). I’ve only been around AC for a couple of months, but I like the current variety of the daily lessons. One thing I really like about AC is it’s NOT attempting to teach me a performance piece a month – BUT rather I feel you’re lessons are teaching me to improvise are create my own music from the building blocks. To me that’s a unique quality you bring over the other guitar sites. There are plenty of “teach you a song” sites/courses out there. With AC you bring something fresh and unique to web based guitar teaching and it’s one of the reasons I look forward to picking up my guitar and playing along each day. As Sean F. mentioned, if the daily lesson were geared toward a piece that just wasn’t one I cared to have in my repertoire I’d probably not be that involved in completing that month. But in that event I guess I’d dig into the AC vault of other stuff and just blow off that month’s studies in hopes that the next month of lessons were geared to something I’d like more. ~ Just being the devil’s advocate here I guess.

    Cheers
    Joe

    1. Profile photo of Ted C
      Ted C

      Hi Joseph,
      I agree wth you. I like the variety. The songs I can learn on my own, with some nudging from AC and the tools provided. But what really makes AC work is the breadth of what is being offered, and the opportunity to find the space to create and explore each in our own way.

      1. Profile photo of Tony P
        Tony P Post author

        Ted,

        Awesome comment, thank you for sharing this!!! It is great to read everyone’s thoughts on this topic 🙂

        Cheers,
        Tony

    2. Profile photo of Tony P
      Tony P Post author

      Joe,

      Thank you very much for taking the time to offer your feedback, this is wonderful stuff!!! I am glad to hear your thoughts since we are always trying to make the site more comprehensive and ultimately approachable.

      Cheers,
      Tony

  8. Profile photo of Carol M
    Carol M

    Hi Tony!
    I can’t wait for February to give this a try!
    As others have already said, I agree that it would be cool if the daily lessons could be short building blocks of something bigger like the monthly song challenge.
    Also would love to see a full length song once in a while, like a full length lesson of “Smoke has Cleared”
    I have to say that I love this whole website and community- you guys have created something wonderously awesome here- Thank you, and keep up the great work!

    1. Profile photo of Tony P
      Tony P Post author

      Carol,

      Thanks so much for the feedback, this helps big time as we go forward and continue to optimize the awesomeness of the site!!!

      Cheers,
      Tony

  9. Profile photo of Donald L
    Donald L

    I agree with Sean. A practice plan for the month that leads to a song …it could be song of the month or another… I remember a post that asked for songs that we would like to learn……this could even be a supplemental practice plan.

    1. Profile photo of Tony P
      Tony P Post author

      Donald,

      Thank you for your feedback, I like this idea, now just to formulate it 🙂 I like that this would offer even more cohesion!!!

      Cheers,
      Tony

  10. Profile photo of Garrett
    Garrett

    I think I can speak for others when I say that I’m looking forward to bathing in bass.

  11. Profile photo of DeeDee L
    DeeDee L

    Hi Tony,
    I’ve been a member of TAC for 8 months (time flies when you’re having fun) and I have definitely noticed a huge improvement with my finger strength, rhythm, fingerstyle, and cross picking, to name a few, as well as understanding the fret board, which all still need improvement.

    You are an awesome guitar instructor and your clear explanation of each lesson makes it easier and fun to learn. I joined TAC for the fingerstyle lessons so I am thrilled when the practice plan is fingerstyle. Don’t get me wrong I also love the flat picking lessons and need work on that as well. It’s just right now at this time in my life I prefer fingerstyle. Next week, might be different LOL! I really like the alternating weeks between flat picking and fingerstyle. It gives variety and keeps everyone on the happy boat. Ha!.

    Last month I did learn Temperance Reel finally after several months of on and off learning to play it. I still need to clean up the timing a little, but for me an accomplishment.

    This month I am working on Freight Train. I need work on the thumb and volume. Which leads me to this question, how can I get better volume using my bare fingers?

    Thank you for helping me progress in my guitar playing.
    With Smiles,
    Darleen

    1. Profile photo of Tony P
      Tony P Post author

      Darleen,

      I want you to know how humbled I am to have read your kind comment. I really appreciate you taking the time to write that all, wow, how cool 🙂 It is so awesome to hear that your playing is progressing at an awesome rate, and that you are digging the fingerstyle stuff. Which brings me to your quesiton: “how to get more volume from your fingers?” I think as you develop in your fingerstyle playing your confidence becomes greater and it is then that you begin to push the strings a bit harder… that being said, to get more volume I would recommend trying to physically push the strings harder… don’t be scared to really dig in with your finger pad… that is where a lot of the volume comes from… a great listening reference would be Reverend Gary Davis… solid volume, and a very strong picking hand presence. I hope this helps and if you have any more questions please let me know I am happy to help 🙂

      Cheers,
      Tony

  12. Profile photo of Sean F
    Sean F

    I think this is all cool BUT it seems to me, that the warm ups, licks chords and even solos should ALL roll up into playing the song of the month. Each month there is a song…so the licks you teach would be licks you could play in (or while soloing in) the song. The chords you teach would be the chords used to play that song. Everything flows. By the end of the month, you are ready to perform the song and submit it.

    The down side is that if a person doesn’t like a particular song, that could be a bummer. Still, I think one day should more roll into the next, so each thing could be applied in a linear fashion to the next.

    All the usual IMHO, YMMV and OALA applies.

    1. Profile photo of Tony P
      Tony P Post author

      Sean,

      This is great feedback, thank you for taking the time to write it down 🙂 I am working up to that currently, trying to make the weeks even more tight knit and relate to the song 🙂 It is just a matter of time for sure!!!

      Cheers,
      Tony

  13. Profile photo of Glenn A
    Glenn A

    Tony
    1. Once again I think you have hit on something awesome here. Changing up the practice plan the way you have for Feb. should provide players at all levels a pathway to push the envelope. I am not discounting the concept of daily practice in fact I am endorsing it. Daily practice, is so critical to keeping ones skill set honed to a fine edge.

    2. What I would like to see down the road? Great challenges are at the top of my list. Example, we have here flat picking and finger picking songs both at the basic, intermediate, and advanced levels. So what about a basic, intermediate, and advanced version of the same song? Take for example, Big Sciota, I had never heard it until you introduced it here. Fell in love with it then and now but when I listen to say Russ Barrenberg’s version (your suggestion by the way) I go wow where did all the extra notes come from, where do I get them from and then finally what do I have to do to play them. Anyway, that’s my 2 cents worth.

    1. Profile photo of Tony P
      Tony P Post author

      Glenn,

      Thank you so much for your feedback!!! I am really happy you dig the new monthly layout and can see it’s advantages 🙂 As far as the different versions of the same song… your feedback on that is very well-timed 🙂 We just uploaded some alternate versions of tunes that are already on the song page, and there will be more to come for sure, it is just a matter of time now 🙂

      Cheers,
      Tony

  14. Profile photo of BillG
    BillG

    Tony,

    Congratulations on your upcoming one year TAC anniversary! You guys have put a tremendous amount of work into this project and I can’t THANK you enough! I have definitely seen improvement in my playing since I started with your site and I hope to one day soon have the confidence to play an open mic. I am buying the first round at the TAC retreat!

    Cheers!
    -bill

    1. Profile photo of Tony P
      Tony P Post author

      Bill,

      Thank you so much for your congratulatory wishes 🙂 We are so excited about how far the site has come and where it is going!!! The TAC retreat is going to be a blast and we are pumped to clink some glasses with TAC’ers!!!

      Cheers,
      Tony

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