Alternate Picking Exercises – 4 Classical Music Passages to Boost Technique

If your looking for great exercises to help your picking, one of the best places to look is in classical music. Some of the greatest composers have written pieces that have some amazing technique building passages in them. Listen to non-guitar music and try to adapt the ideas that you hear in it to guitar. Its probably easiest to start with a somewhat similar instrument, like the violin, as I have done today. I have given you  a few to help get you started.  The first three are violin parts and the fourth is for organ. For more alternate picking help check out my John Petrucci Alternate Picking Lesson.


This one is from Mozart’s Requiem.  It is a violin part that uses some arpeggios.  It would been pretty much impossible to sweep these so use alternate picking.  Be sure to observe the repeat in measure two.  Great Exercise!

dies irae

BWV 779 Two Part Invention- J.S. Bach

This is only the beginning to this piece, and it is obviously only one part to the two part invention. Nevertheless, it is a good alternate picking workout to practice.

bwv 779

Caprice no.5– Paganini

Many guitarist have done a version of this one.  Jason Becker has a good one. Steve Vai famous solo from Crossroads is based on this song. This is the beginning of Paganini’s original version.


Toccata and Fugue in D minor– J.S. Bach

This is from the toccata part of the toccata and fugue.


If you have any question or comments please email me at

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2 Responses

  1. These are great! Thank you for sharing!

  2. […] organ. For more alternate picking help check out my John Petrucci Alternate Picking Lesson.” . . . and from the same blog, a nice lesson on power chords: “Power chords consist of a root […]

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