Practicing an etude on guitar will help you improve, but do you want to get the most benefit from your etude? Many musicians don’t practice in a manner where they get the most benefit from their practice time. Everything you can do to improve your practice is well worth it. So how do we get the most from practicing an etude?
The first thing that should be mastered from practicing etudes is keeping your eyes on the music. You may feel the need to find the note on the guitar at times, but every time you take your eyes off the music you are delaying your eyes. You lose your spot and when you finally find it again you lost a lost time. Saving all the time you can to look at music is very important when you are reading music. Keeping your eyes on the music allows you to move on to the next way to improve your reading skills.
Keep your eyes moving ahead whenever it is possible. If there is a half note, get your eyes moving ahead to see what is coming next. During the time you are playing that half note you already know what you are playing, prepare for the future. Reading music is like driving a car. Next time you are in a car look far ahead and see how fast things move, then focus your attention to the dotted lines as you drive by. As you can see, when you keep your eyes moving ahead, music will feel slower.
Noticing patterns will help you play with more ease. There are rhythm patterns that you will and should become familiar with, and there are note patterns as well. Keep an eye out for scales and arpeggios as you play through your etude. To do this you may have to mentally reorganize the notes to see their scale forms. When you recognize something you’ve already seen it is much easier to play. So keep an eye out for rhythm patterns and note patterns that may pop up.
Take these 3 tips and apply them to your etude practice. You could try to apply one at a time, or just work on them all at the same time. However, these are the 3 tricks that make musicians good at reading musical notation. Keep your eyes on your music so that you can look ahead to notice patterns. You now have what it takes to read well. Apply them and you will improve.