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steve25
post Sep 16 2008, 11:38 PM
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I confess to GMC, i haven't actually "practiced" for about a month now, and the worrying thing is i still don't feel like practicing. I've lost motivation in that department and i'm not sure why. In fact i spend more time editing/making pod tones then i do playing. Main reason is that i'm extremely fussy with tone but it obviously does nothing for playing. And when i do play its usually just random improvisation and maybe a song or a few riffs and thats it.

I want to get better but i just don't feel like practicing. About a month ago i was really into it and i enjoyed practicing and then all of a sudden, i just stopped. Although oddly enough having tried a few of my practice licks the other day i've actually somehow got about 10bpm faster at all of them, they all suddenly seem easier i guess its not all bad after all.

I don't intend to be a shred player UNTIL i become a good player. That is, i'm able to write good riffs/lick/solos without using speed and i'm able to improvise well. Because my theory is if i can do it before i become a shred player by the time i build up the speed i'll bring those skills with me which will stop me being a mindless shredder. So i'm thinking of changing my practice around entirely and i'd like some advice on how i should go about doing it. I know a few things that i really need to practice which is:

- Vibrato. I was doing well with this but now i'm stuck in a rut with it. I'm not improving anymore and my vibrato is the same and it just sounds boring. Any tips on how to make vibrato even better and how you could use different styles?

- Phrasing. Everything basically, i've got to try and improve on this somehow.

- Songwriting. My songwriting is just terrible. I've been playing for over 2 years and i haven't written a single song. EVERYTHING gets thrown out the window eventually nothing seems to be good enough.

- Improvising. This is also terrible, i play the same stuff, the same licks and patterns and all the same ideas it seems i can't break out of it.


There's a few things but of course there's many others as well like riff writing and solo writing which i've never improved on anyway but would like to and ear training. Quite literally, i give up after about 5 minutes and download tab because i get frustrated and put the guitar down. So, any ideas on creating practice schedule maybe thats the main thing i fall back on after all?
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Ivan Milenkovic
post Sep 17 2008, 09:49 AM
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Don't worry mate it happens to all of us, sometimes you just don't like feel practicing. Usually these periods are a consequence of periods before, when players play repetative things over longer periods of time, don't know what to practice, feel like they are not advancing too much etc. But no matter what is the problem, it can all be worked out.

It feel to me that you already know what you're gonna practice, so I suggest you take a notebook and write down exercises there that will help you determine and work on your goals.

Here's a couple of suggestions from me:

- Vibrato: It is good to practice bending half step and whole step every fret on every string with every finger, and with metronome. Divide the exercises to days, so you go half a string one day, half another, then move to another string aso... Because these exercises are boring you can do them while whatchin TV, they don't require that amount of concentration as some other lessons. You should have plenty of material for a month.

- You can learn phrasing through licks, and work on different phrasing elements, like bending, release, vibrato, hammer on pull offs, slides, or just about anything that works for you.

- songwriting: check out my songwriting lesson carefully. It will give you some ideas to work on. Also it is good to know your theory for much more easier composing.

- improvising is always the hardest. breaking out new ground usually means that you have to systematically cover the basic scales, chords, arpeggios in order to connect your licks with other patterns, and be able to acquire technique for moving freely on the fretboard. I suggest learning scales first in depth, tryout mu pentatonic workshop for that, and also, soon it will be live a modes workshop as well, so you can start doing some three-per-string patterns and learn modes. When you know your scales, it will be much easier, because then you know how to break out of same ideas, and go to some other more interesting sequence.


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steve25
post Sep 17 2008, 10:55 AM
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Cheers for your reply Ivan i'm glad to know i'm not the only 1 who encounters this problem. I have a few days off of college until Monday now so i'm going to try and pull together a more interesting practice schedule today, and start on it tommorow.

As for the bending, 90% of the time my bends are in tune whether they're quarter, half or full step bends its just when i go to do vibrato it doesn't sound all that great. I'm particuarly attracted to Yngwie style and Gary moore style.

I guess i just need to learn more songs and solos? The problem i have is i usually don't learn a song all the way through, just the bits i like
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Pedja Simovic
post Sep 17 2008, 10:09 PM
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Hello Steve!

I think you are going trough something that everybody goes trough in one period or another. Questioning your practice habits and motivation is very normal process for any musician.
My advice is try not to stress too much about it! Whenever periods like that come you should play something that makes you smile and happy . If you don't know anything in that area, well learn it then biggrin.gif There are bilion solos riffs chords etc there is something for everybody.

Now , when it comes to practice plan I would advise you to do following things


- Learn about Rhythm ! If you are unhappy with your playing its because of rhythm! Trust me I've seen this way too many times. If you are coolest lick player in the world it won't matter if you don't have rhythmic tools to back it up. So study rhythm values , practice your licks/scales/modes using metronome/drum machine/backing track and try to apply as many rhythms as possible. I strongly advise you to keep a notebook and write down your favorite rhythms you came up with ! In fact, I would record myself playing, transcribe and then dig in to check out whats "wrong" with my playing ! It has done wonders , recording never lies it shows everything!

- Record yourself ! Do this as much as possible - playing exercises, songs , riffs, composing your own stuff etc. This will do wonders to your improvement - it will change your whole perspective on the overall sound, rhythm, melody , technique etc. Very cool thing to do , and it takes only a second to set it up (if you use Cubase , Nuendo and such softwares open up audio track select record button in it and start recording !)

- Vibrato is wide topic , but if you like Malmsteen and his vibrato he is pretty much using very fast vibrato that sounds like he is bending the note almost! So if you dig that, check it out , practice it.



I just want to say that I really like the way you are thinking about music. Songwriting is the most important thing no doubt. So try to come up with a riff, melody , harmony , lyrics whatever is that gets you going and do that every (or every other) day until creativity becomes natural progress!

Improvising is playing pre prepared things 90+% the rest is creativity and magic. Thats what a lot of great players say you even have that written in Mark Levine's Jazz Theory Book. For me improvising is COMPOSITION IN REAL TIME! And I do mean composition, not running exercises and scales up and down with no connection. So approach improvising like Songwriting and you will find you will improve at furious pace.


I hope I helped with all this. Feel free to ask any questions if you need my help!

Thanks

This post has been edited by Pedja Simovic: Sep 17 2008, 10:14 PM


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steve25
post Sep 17 2008, 10:19 PM
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Thanks for the great reply i'll definitely start trying to do those things you mentioned, especially the recording part smile.gif. Yes songwriting is a huge thing that i want to improve on i'd love to be able to write my own songs using multiple instruments but i know you have to start simple. I think i expect too much out of myself too soon maybe? At least i'll know when things are good and when they're not. I was thinking of just recording the riffs/licks i have, not in any structured way but almost like a library of riffs/licks that i keep as a recording
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Pedja Simovic
post Sep 17 2008, 11:01 PM
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QUOTE (steve25 @ Sep 17 2008, 11:19 PM) *
Thanks for the great reply i'll definitely start trying to do those things you mentioned, especially the recording part smile.gif. Yes songwriting is a huge thing that i want to improve on i'd love to be able to write my own songs using multiple instruments but i know you have to start simple. I think i expect too much out of myself too soon maybe? At least i'll know when things are good and when they're not. I was thinking of just recording the riffs/licks i have, not in any structured way but almost like a library of riffs/licks that i keep as a recording


Good stuff man ! You just took a step forward in your practice routine and I am very excited to hear back how those riffs will sound.
You know I used to hate technology because I tought people use it to cover up the lack of their playing ability. I still think this to some extent ( electronic music like house techno etc is all copy paste based stuff with loops) but on the other side we as musicians can benefit a lot with software that's out there today.
Just think about killing yourself to play over and over the same thing until you get it perfect in one take? I used to do this and it made me stronger player , but with technology you can record one bar or even one beat at the time and then put it all together later on. That pretty much helps you to focus on areas you want to work on - maybe you can play the intro of the riff but the solo part is something you struggle - record intro (one take if you can do it perfect) and then do various takes on solo section.
What I use technology today is exactly that. I love to improvise and make improvising into compositions. That's the way I approach music, that's what early jazz was all about - embelishing the main melody. So that' pretty much what I worked on a lot (for more then a year , maybe 2-3 years?), and now it has come to point where I can take any melody and immediately learn things from it , use it in my own playing and create new melodies and riffs based on that.
Its a great thing music man , just don't give up please I will be very sad and angry ! mad.gif

Look out for my lessons you will see how all this relates to them !

Post some recordings whenever you get chance I would love to hear how you are doing .

Thanks smile.gif

This post has been edited by Pedja Simovic: Sep 17 2008, 11:02 PM


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steve25
post Sep 17 2008, 11:07 PM
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I'll be sure to post some recordings when i get round to it and i'll let you know smile.gif. Admitedly my riffs are better then what they are say 6 months ago but still not the style i want to be doing exactly. Sometimes i can hear r iff in my head that i'd like to play and is original but don't have the skills to pull it out yet. Some of them stick in my head for a long time so i'm hoping they'll stay there smile.gif.

Yeah i know what you mean about the recording. Do you mean like with sampling and things like that where people aren't actually using real instruments? I guess i can understand it if you're on a limtied budget but when you're a professional musician i guess you should go further. 1 of the problems i have is that all i have to record is guitar, no drums, no bass, no other type of instruments or no samples or synths nothing. I need to change this but to be honest i don't know what to get or how it all works.
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Pedja Simovic
post Sep 17 2008, 11:22 PM
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QUOTE (steve25 @ Sep 18 2008, 12:07 AM) *
I'll be sure to post some recordings when i get round to it and i'll let you know smile.gif. Admitedly my riffs are better then what they are say 6 months ago but still not the style i want to be doing exactly. Sometimes i can hear r iff in my head that i'd like to play and is original but don't have the skills to pull it out yet. Some of them stick in my head for a long time so i'm hoping they'll stay there smile.gif.

Yeah i know what you mean about the recording. Do you mean like with sampling and things like that where people aren't actually using real instruments? I guess i can understand it if you're on a limtied budget but when you're a professional musician i guess you should go further. 1 of the problems i have is that all i have to record is guitar, no drums, no bass, no other type of instruments or no samples or synths nothing. I need to change this but to be honest i don't know what to get or how it all works.




You are hearing things in your head ? Better get that checked out before its too late ! biggrin.gif

That's awesome man. In that case you should practice ear training, which is basically ability to pick up things by ear and to play back things that you hear in your head.
Good exercise is anything from transcribing melodies bass lines string lines voice anything really with
1) Reference to the starting note of the melody
2) Without use of instrument !!!
This way you will make sure you train your ear and not fish for notes. I know plenty of guitar players that fish for notes - this is in my opinion bad approach in long run if your intention is to make your own music and not just play other peoples song and riffs!

When it comes to computers you can pretty much buy anything you need. There are drum samples that contain library of different drum grooves with fills. I use EZ Drummer. For bass guitar I type it in myself and assign VST in Nuendo.
It depends what you want to do with it. If you have firm understanding about how all these instruments work (bass drums at least) then you can pull it off (with very little effort trust me). If on the other side you are having lots of trouble I would definitely try to find a person who plays these instruments even at very basic level and teach me fundamentals about it.

If you ask me I would rather bring in bass player and drummer to record because they can definitely play their instrument then I can by typing them in (guys from my band at least).

Its not about being on limited budget at all. I respect people who do FILM SCORING where they instead of paying whole orchestra experiment everything on computer using their arranging and scoring techniques.
Its about changing the culture of live performance. Now (at least in my town and country) electronic music has taken top spot and there are rare places for live performance. Young people dig the samples and they have no understanding about real playing and music art - that's what bothers me.
Having said this I do perform twice a week in my town (one solo one with my quartet) and I must say I am very happy how things are going - every time there is more people and feedback is just awesome!

Keep up the good work - you are on a great road to success ! (sounded like some LA type of commercial sorry ) biggrin.gif

This post has been edited by Pedja Simovic: Sep 17 2008, 11:25 PM


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Sep 18 2008, 07:35 PM
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QUOTE (steve25 @ Sep 17 2008, 11:55 AM) *
Cheers for your reply Ivan i'm glad to know i'm not the only 1 who encounters this problem. I have a few days off of college until Monday now so i'm going to try and pull together a more interesting practice schedule today, and start on it tommorow.

As for the bending, 90% of the time my bends are in tune whether they're quarter, half or full step bends its just when i go to do vibrato it doesn't sound all that great. I'm particuarly attracted to Yngwie style and Gary moore style.

I guess i just need to learn more songs and solos? The problem i have is i usually don't learn a song all the way through, just the bits i like


No problem mate, glad to help fellow GMCer.

As for vibrato bends, I learned them by practicing regular bending really, no big science there. The only difference with vibrato bend is to get the feel for the vibration, because it is a smaller bending range then when you do a regular vibrato, if you know what I mean. Just practice some more vibrato bends, but try not to overdoit, 10 minutes a day is enough really. If you want to do more, try often pauses between exercises cause they put much strain on the fingers.

The same "problem" I have with songs - even today! And guess what, it's not that big of a deal afterall. Other than several songs I can play, the only songs that I've really learned from beginning to end are the songs on my gigging list.

But if you do feel you need to work on some songs, try doing a song that you really like and learn it a whole way through. I know a number of strumming songs that I can play and sing, so these songs were nice for me to learn, because I can play full chords and sing and it sounds good. I avoid learning whole songs if they don't sound good when I play them in solo.

This post has been edited by Ivan Milenkovic: Sep 18 2008, 07:37 PM


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Nazgul
post Oct 16 2008, 02:36 PM
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Hi there! smile.gif

I didn't want to make another topic, so I'll post it here.

My problem is: I have about one hour to practice per day. But I don't really know how to divide this hour. I already had a look at Kris' "How To Practice Guitar" and it helped me, but I would like to know your opinion according my specific practice plan.

At the moment I practice like this:

"Smart Fingers" and "Finger Shifting" 10 min

Alternate Picking 15 min

Tapping 5-10 min

Downstroke 5-10 min

Scales + Chords 15 min

Lesson from GMC 10 min

Licks 5-10 min

I really would like to know if this is a good practice plan. And I would appreciate comments how I could improve it (what should I practice longer? etc...)

Thanks for your help in advance! smile.gif



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Pedja Simovic
post Oct 17 2008, 12:20 AM
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QUOTE (Nazgul @ Oct 16 2008, 03:36 PM) *
Hi there! smile.gif

I didn't want to make another topic, so I'll post it here.

My problem is: I have about one hour to practice per day. But I don't really know how to divide this hour. I already had a look at Kris' "How To Practice Guitar" and it helped me, but I would like to know your opinion according my specific practice plan.

At the moment I practice like this:

"Smart Fingers" and "Finger Shifting" 10 min

Alternate Picking 15 min

Tapping 5-10 min

Downstroke 5-10 min

Scales + Chords 15 min

Lesson from GMC 10 min

Licks 5-10 min

I really would like to know if this is a good practice plan. And I would appreciate comments how I could improve it (what should I practice longer? etc...)

Thanks for your help in advance! smile.gif


This plan is good if you are improving with it and you feel satisfied with your progress.
If you don't, then I suggest doing following

- Take couple of areas and do it in one hour rather then all of them
- Next day take other areas you didn't address in previous day

This way you will gain 2 things

1) You will have more time to grasp each technique in that given day
2) You will keep things fresh by rotating techniques and exercises

Check out my topic Practicing with exercises , you will find useful things in there.

Thanks


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Nazgul
post Oct 17 2008, 09:49 AM
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Thanks for the reply, Pedja! This seems a very good idea, but is it still effective practicing for example Tapping every two days instead of every day?


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Pedja Simovic
post Oct 17 2008, 11:46 AM
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QUOTE (Nazgul @ Oct 17 2008, 10:49 AM) *
Thanks for the reply, Pedja! This seems a very good idea, but is it still effective practicing for example Tapping every two days instead of every day?



You welcome Nazgul.
It is indeed effective because in order to practice things you mentioned every day you need more then one hour. If you had 2-3 hours that would be possible. As I said every other day is not as effective as every day , but if you practice 5 mins vs 15 or 20 mins every other day then I would definetely recommend every other day approach.


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Muris Varajic
post Oct 17 2008, 12:03 PM
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Hi Steve.

You mentioned fussy tone you have.
Must admit,fussy tone can be real impact on your motivation,
in a negative way of course,that's how things work for me at least,
I get more motivated to play when my sound is nice. smile.gif

So perhaps you should do some updates on your gear?

This shouldn't mess with your practicing routine but will help you eventually.

As for the shredding,always aim for intelligent kind of shredding,
make it sounds good and interesting,not just fast.

If I read it right,you have 2 years of experience with guitar so far.
That's really not long run and there's no need to be stressed at all,
time is on your side for sure.

You've got some great advices above about what and how to practice,
nowgrab your guita,do some work,
and ask if you run into any problems. smile.gif


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post Oct 17 2008, 12:04 PM
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I must admit when I have days with awful sound I feel much less like playing. Since recording Muris' lesson I have lost that tone I liked and I can't find it again now at all. It's annoying.


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