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Shred Academy - Free Guitar Lesson by Jon Björk


 
 

Improving Your Technique With Accents

By Jon Björk


One of the best ways to improve your technique is to work with accents. In this lesson my aim is to give you some specific and practical ideas on how to apply this to whatever is holding you back technically.

The basic idea is to accent specific notes while you’re practicing, mainly those that are giving you trouble. In an ideal world you would only practice your weaknesses but it can be challenging to find out what your true weakness is in any particular lick/exercise.

I like to be systematic when I practice since it lets me feel in control of what I’m doing. The opposite would be just playing the material over and over and hoping for the best.
If you have a line that uses 16th notes (4 notes to every beat) the possible accents would be the following sets:

Single accent combinations:
1-2-3-4
1-2-3-4
1-2-3-4
1-2-3-4

Double accent combinations:
1-2-3-4
1-2-3-4
1-2-3-4
1-2-3-4
1-2-3-4
1-2-3-4

Triple accent combinations:
1-2-3-4
1-2-3-4
1-2-3-4
1-2-3-4

The last one would be where you accent every note, but that wouldn’t really classify as accents since every note would be the same volume.

If you look at the above combinations you’ll see that it can easily be applied to any note grouping. The only difference would be the number of possible permutations, when you get up to 32nd notes (8 notes per beat) it’ll start getting kind of crazy. What I usually do, and to make it practical (and keeping sane?), is to use the same accent patterns as the 16th notes on every subdivision that can be divided by 4.

In the example below you’ll find the above accents applied to the first bar of N.Paganini’s 16th caprice. Start by memorizing the example, then start applying the single accents. Do this without a metronome at first using just your foot as a timekeeper. Start extremely slow and make sure that you are accenting the right beats. When you start getting comfortable just tapping your foot you can start using a metronome.

The next step for you would just to apply the rest of the combinations to this piece or preferably to something that you’re currently practicing.

For the best results I would advice you to go through all of the accent patterns at first and make note of the ones that are giving you trouble. Spend most if not all of your practice time on the hard ones and just go through the others as a warm-up if you feel like it. The thing about practicing this way is not to have to practice a million different combinations, but rather find out where your true weakness lies and then target that until it’s not a problem anymore. Personally I don’t spend any time on the ones that I can do well, I rather spend time on the ones that will make a difference in my playing.

If you have any questions regarding this practice technique feel free to e-mail me at jon@jonbjork.se

 


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