Holistic Guitar

by Kevin De Souza

If you missed Part One click here


Activating the layers

After you have gathered the sub routines you can start to get them to work together. You will need a quiet room big enough to pace around in (with the guitar strapped on). Try not to have any breaks until you have finished the whole exercise. If your fingers or wrists start to hurt, wind down by playing a few gentle riff's then stop and try again the next day, don't over do any of the sub routines, build up over a few days adding more to each sub routine each day.

Before starting the main exercise relax for ten minuets, if possible don't listen to any music or use your hands for that time.


Start by walking around the room with the guitar strapped on, and just go through some basic warm up exercises (or scales). Sensitize your fingers, feel the tips of your fingers and strings below them.

The pacing/walking is also very important for the increased oxygen intake, this will also raise your heart rate, increasing general awareness. It is also helpful to be comfortable with the raised heart rate when playing as this is quite often the norm when you go out on stage, or are being counted in for that important studio take.

You will need to pace all the way through the exercises, but feel free to slow down, speed up, spin around crouch, stretch or stop for a few moments.

Pacing coupled with consistent intense use of your fingers can burn up a lot of energy and place a high workload on your heart. Don't push yourself past any pain barriers, if you feel really faint or have any pain wind down and start again the next day.

After a few minuets of basic warm ups you can go into 'Sub routine A'.


'Sub routine A' should be concentrating on hitting the notes (of your chosen riff's) cleanly and accurately keep trying to improve or maintain the accuracy with each repeat. Keep this up for a maximum of ten minuets then move on to 'Sub routine B'.


In 'Sub routine B' we will be concentrating on the tone whilst still maintain the same amount of awareness of accuracy. After five to ten minuets move on to 'Sub routine C'.


In 'Sub routine C' we will be concentrating on rhythm whilst still maintain the same amount of awareness of accuracy and tone. After completing 'Sub Routine C' move on to 'Sub routine D'.

If you start to feel a bit spaced out at this point and start to get a bit forgetful as to what to do next, don't stop pacing/walking, keep your fingers moving by falling back onto some of your favorite licks, while you gather your thoughts (if your fingers are tired pick slow licks that are easy to play).


In 'Sub routine D' we will be concentrating on melodic construction, getting to know where the note's are on the frettboard, whilst still maintaining the same amount of awareness of accuracy, tone and rhythm. After completing 'Sub Routine D'move on to 'Sub routine E'.


In 'Sub routine E' will be working on 'staying clear' and keeping the flow unblocked with correct percentages of awareness , i.e.:

1)Concentration 25%:

2)Openness 25%:

3)Awareness 25%:

4)Expectation 25%:

It is very important to not let the accuracy, tone, rhythmic and melodic content of what you are playing deteriorate in this sub routine!, but do let yourself go to full power, i.e. play something aggressive, play something sweat, play something delicate, play some thing bold, BUT always maintain the correct percentage of awareness.Do this sub routine for five to ten minuets, then move on to the wind down exercises.



All you need to do here is to stay 'spaced', while maintaining the previous levels, and percentages of attention.

In the first part of the wind down exercises we really want to burn off any stress and negative energy, Finally end with around five to 15 minuets of playing something repetitive that isn't to demanding to wind down with, this should feel a bit like turning the engine of in a car then just letting it glide in neutral to a stop.

After five to fifteen minuets STOP, and take the guitar off !

Sit down and have a rest, try and clear your mind, don't play the guitar for at least twenty minuets, if possible don't play for a couple hours.

Remember that the muscles in your hands have had a good stir, and are still reforming as your hands cool down. It is really important not to let any glitches set in at this point. Try to keep your hands open (with your fingers straight-ish), avoid picking up heavy objects or gripping things tightly with your frettboard hand, and don't let your hands get cold (if you live in a cold country put gloves on for twenty minuets after doing these exercises).

When you next pick up the guitar, don't think about the exercises or technique, just let yourself play guitar. A lot of the energy that you have stored from the exercises will re-surface in your next jam or gig.

Try and do the whole exercise for at least three days in a row, if you can manage to do this for five days in a week spend the sixth day JUST PLAYING.

By Kevin De Souza

Scapetrace - The language of jazz, mixing the contemporary with world influences Mark Wingfield contemporary jazz guitarist and composer. "One of the most striking and original voices on the guitar today" Richard Newman - Noted U.K. author and music journalist.

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