The Evolution Of My Style, a self analysis put forth for your evaluation
Spiderusalem
May 14 2008, 11:31 AM
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From: San Francisco, California
WARNING: this is a rather long and involved analysis of the decisions I made in my evolution as a guitarist. I put this here for evaluation and some helpful comments/criticism/joking. You may encounter some naughty thoughts. Read at your own risk.

Before I decided to set out and develop my own style of play, I did everything the way I’ve always been taught was right. I installed my closet worship shrine to Jimi Hendrix. I memorized my major and pentatonic scales, and all my 7 chords in first inversion on the 6th and 5th string. I kept my picks in my pocket, next to the “protection” lol. I warmed up using chromatics. I played primarily electric and I thought that anything outside of single note lead guitar meant only playing chords.

This all changed when I started doing Kosei’s lessons, and decided to add more “exotic” techniques to my pallet. This happened with a series of big decisions. The first of which was to sell my electric guitar and go acoustic/semi-classical (semi-classical because I only play nylon string guitars with cutaways, electronic, and necks no wider than 5cm or a little less than 2 inches) I did this for a variety of reasons:

-I wanted the option to play classical pieces, which I feel is harder on a regular thinner neck
-I was getting into jazz, and felt that jazz on a nylon string guitar was an area with lots of room left for exploration.
-I wanted to use flamenco techniques, some of which require some vicious usage of the nails and fingers, which would hurt really bad on a steel string.
-not only was my playing getting more rhythmic, but it was also getting more percussive, so having an acoustic body gave me something to drum on for fills and whatnot.
-the ladies really dig them Spanish grooves

Ok so that last one was bull**** (sort of) but regardless, I felt that a semi-classical better suited my developing style. The next big issue was what to do about the pick situation. Search for my posts and you may find my breakup letter with my guitar pick. The reason I decided to end our relationshiop was to be able to play the aforementioned classical pieces (also fingerstyle) and flamenco which does not use a pick. But here was my dilemma: I freakin love alternate picking and sweep picking. Even on acoustic that S*** sounds awesome. So I wanted to be able to fingerpick while still having the option to go alternate picking. I tried out quite a few things to achieve this:

-I tried using only classical technique, free strokes with the thumb and rest strokes with ima, but I just couldn’t get it up to speed/coordination.
-I tried using just fingers, and “alternate picking” with either the flesh/nail of the thumb (like Wes Montgomery) or index finger. Even with nail hardener, this did not work. I’ll spare you the bloody details.
-I tried hybrid picking (use of flatpick plus middle, ring, and pinky finger) but the inability to use my index finger really bothered me.
-I tried giving in and asking my flatpick for forgiveness, but she had moved on by then.

I finally switched to thumbpicks. This was a really jarring transition, which took months to get use to, but is incredibly rewarding because now I can go from fingerpicking to alternate picking and back without having to put anything down. Of course, the thumbpicks have to be sized correctly, filed down, and secured with plastic cement before they’re %100 to my liking. But it’s a lot of fun, when I’m making my own picks I feel like batman or a jedi or something.

My practice routine also evolved. Before, I use to do my daily chromatic workout, then play some scales, and then some alternate picking exercises. Then I would either a.) mess around, b.) improvise over a chord progression, c.) work on a lesson for a while, then move on the next without getting those techniques down, or d.) look up some tabs for a song I liked, play it, forget it later, then go back to a.) mess around.

Not the greatest use of a 2-4 hour practice session, which has gone through its own evolutions:

-I use to practice technique for hours and hours. I played all sorts of exotic exercises up and down the neck, and it would eat up all my time.
-I would spend that time writing music, which was good for creative reasons and would force me to research theory sometimes, but too much time spent writing is not progress.
-I would learn new material the whole session, but I wouldn’t play it later to remember it.
-I even kept a blog of my progress in music, but that fell short due to boredom.

As you can see, I’ve made every mistake and wrong turn you could possibly make in the process of teaching yourself. I’ve learned a lesson or two though, and now my routine looks something like this:

-I spend the first hour – hour and a half on nothing but technique, and applied theory (like mapping out arpeggio patterns, or finding every chord shape of Maj7b9)
-then I spend a few minutes playing some selected repertoire (especially stuff I haven’t played in a few days)
-the rest of my time is spent either a.) sight reading or b.) working on a new piece.
Or both!

So I guess, if anyone has any comments about anything I said, or any advice about style or my current practice routine, I’d love to hear it.

-Spider

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Chris Evans
May 14 2008, 12:35 PM
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Some big changes you have gone through on your journey to where you are now, one thing I`d like though as I`m sure others would too, is there any chance that we can have an mp3 or something recorded by you to hear where your at now?
That`d be cool smile.gif

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DeepRoots
May 14 2008, 12:47 PM
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Great post- lots of stuff there to make me reconsider how i use my time.

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Daniel Robinson
May 14 2008, 01:19 PM
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From: Normal, Illinois
This is a definte must read for aspiring musicians.

Just like learning to play more cleanly and accurately and faster requires honing of skills thru conservation of motion. So does the ability to learn material and ideas more quickly thru conservation of time and energy.

I always try approach guitar in this manner. Always asking myself, how can i get the most out of my time practicing with marked results.

Sometimes you might develop a practice schedule that doesnt have any set barriers and it may look like your doing everything you can be doing but after much analysis realize that your not getting the most out of it.


Constant refinement of this time spent practicing is a must to acheive your goals as a musician.


Excellent topic man!


Daniel

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Canis
May 14 2008, 01:22 PM
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Great topic. Very inspiring ^^
I would also like a sound clip to hear where you are today =)

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PassionPlay
May 14 2008, 01:46 PM
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From: Denmark, Copenhagen
Hmm .. my pracitce schedules are almost as bad organized as yours were (unfortunately) tongue.gif

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Hisham Al-Sanea
May 14 2008, 10:18 PM
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nice topic spiderusalem

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Fran
May 14 2008, 10:40 PM
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Interesting read Spider, you should post it in your Practice agenda, would be nice to read/listen to your new projects and evolution.

QUOTE (Spiderusalem @ May 14 2008, 12:31 PM) *
But it’s a lot of fun, when I’m making my own picks I feel like batman or a jedi or something.


As a star wars fan, that part was priceless laugh.gif laugh.gif , you are now like Master Yoda to me wink.gif




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Kosei Kubota
May 15 2008, 03:35 AM
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Somewhere in the world, my style influenced somebody.
And yours will influence somebody else.

Global chain of music on GMC!

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Pablo Vazquez
May 15 2008, 12:03 PM
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Nice man!! Great topic!!!!

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Andrew Cockburn
May 15 2008, 06:26 PM
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Fascinating! I love the way you took a thumb pick and made it work for alt picking, truly innovative!

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