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> Practice Discipline, Focus, learning abilities.
Marcus Desaiha
post Dec 13 2011, 08:29 PM
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Hello everybody!
I was sitting here practicing the same lick for an one and a half hours straight, increasing the speed by 1% each time I had repeated it 10 times.

Now my head feels like scrambles eggs..

nevertheless!

I would like to hear how you practice to build up speed and technique.

I've got some theories of my own regarding the matter of practicing "the right way".

First I wonder if it really pays of to practice hours and hours every day. And if you always should do it slow? Shouldnt you sort of let your mind get used to the higher speed some times just to remind it of where the finishing line is?

When I started getting serious with my guitar playing (while still in school) I remember skipping school days just to sit at home and practice, I could do that for 6-8 hours straight almost every day of the week. Though, now when I think about, was it really worth it?
Could I have wasted thoose days learning and evolving my guitar skills the worst possible way?

I wonder
Is pushing youself, sitting through five hours straight of full on practicing really the answer? Or could it be better to practice 1 hour, take a break 1-2 hours and then do the other hours of practicing after your brain processed the info you just put in it?

Lets make an example!

Billy wanted to become lightning fast, he heard that all of his favorite guitar players sat countless of hours practicing in their rooms, so he decided to do the same thing. Billy practiced for six hours straight without any break, he ate dinner and went to bed, during the night his brain tried to process the information he just put in there, and here is the thing, maybe the brain got too much on its hands and maybe thoose last 5-6 hours of practicing was for absolutely no good? Because you see the next day Billy tried to play the same thing and this time he only got an increase of lets say 3%.
If we rewind and tell billy that he should only practice for two hours, take a break, eat dinner, watch some TV, go back and practice one more hour, then go to bed. Maybe the precentage would be even higher the next day, maybe he would have had a 5 or even 10% increase?




Should you perhaps restrict yourself to a max of lets say two hours a day, just to avoid some sort of "overload" in your mind and optimize your learning ability?

The brain works in mysterious ways and I've always been fascinated by how we humans learn things.

I remember when I was a kid, my mom got me a Super Nintendo, you could sit through countless of hours, trying to beat "That certain level" without any achievement, til you gave up, took a break, went back and all of a sudden you cleared it flawlessly?

There are always better and worse times in your guitar career, some times you got such a flow, and you feel unstoppable, other times you feel like you're going nowere. Could it be that you were practicing in a slightly diffrent way during thoose periods of time without knowing it?

Please tell me your stories about how you practice, what you've learned from practicing in diffrent ways, and how you obtain maximum focus when practicing.

Your sincerely
Marcus





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Tangomouse
post Dec 13 2011, 10:16 PM
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I've been learning Canon Rock for about 7 weeks, hammering the guitar a good 7 to 8 hours a night from 6pm till 1am, I still can't play the bit at the beginning at full speed of 200bpm, the last few days I've cut down the hours to about 4 or 5 and taking breaks every now and then, tonight for some strange reason i seem to be able to play it better and cleaner and a bit quicker.

So you have probably herd the saying "To Much Of A Good Thing Is A Bad Thing" I'm beginning to think this famous quote is true!!, And as you can probably guess I'm on a break right now smile.gif
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Ivan Milenkovic
post Dec 13 2011, 11:26 PM
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Well, it's important to constantly repeat certain passage to memorize it, and the slower you do it, more precise you will learn it. More precise you learn it, more faster you can execute it. Ain't nothing to it (just time and nerves that takes to get there) wink.gif


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Daniel Realpe
post Dec 14 2011, 12:40 AM
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Practice for me is a very involved and active process. You have to be aware of your goals and how you can achieve them.

So if you are practicing say scales, make sure you are always aware where you could use them and think about that while you practice


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Todd Simpson
post Dec 14 2011, 01:05 AM
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Great Question smile.gif Short term, playing in "bursts" of intense time like several hours in a row, for several days/weeks, can help you break through a particular hump/problem. However, longer term, your best bet is simply not to quit. I see players get burnout all the time right when they are making progress and simply stop playing.

Now and then, it will be something that they have seen someone play, perhaps even something they learned from me and then asked "how fast can you play it?" , at which point, I'll give it a shot and they'll say. "I'm gonna play that by the end of the week at that speed", and proceed to kill themselves trying it. It has taken me honestly years to play as I do now and while I understand the impatience ( I was frustrated at the start like everyone else) please, please, hear me when I say that just playing an hour or two everyday, in a consistent manner is one of the best things you can do.

Burning out because you put to much time/effort in and getting carpal tunnel synddrome (did that to myself actually at one point) or not being satisfied with your progress despite practicing 23 hours a day is a sure fire ticket to fail.

So while I applaud your enthusiasm, and drive, I would encourage you to perhaps back off just a bit and take a longer view. Mastery of an instrument is a noble goal and one that takes an entire lifetime. Mastery itself is impossible to obtain, it's really the pursuit of mastery that is one of the most noble goals we can make for ourselves as musicians.

Todd


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Alex Feather
post Dec 14 2011, 04:23 AM
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Everyone is different but I would say spend a good deal of time playing something slowly and really paying attention to your touch on the fretboard until it feels effortless. Then gradually work your way up to quicker tempos. Then at the end of each practice session, see how fast you can play it, just to push yourself and for fun. But make sure you don't fully move on from a tempo unless your technique is perfect at that tempo.


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Marcus Desaiha
post Dec 14 2011, 06:06 AM
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Really great answers guys, but I'd like to know what you think about the whole concept of learning the "best possible way"
Do you for example think that there are "Golden hours" during the day, lets say that it might be better to practice in the morning rather than the evening, since your brain is rebooted after a good nights sleep, or maybe the other way around?
It can't be just me who have thought about theese things, am I right?

QUOTE
I've been learning Canon Rock for about 7 weeks, hammering the guitar a good 7 to 8 hours a night from 6pm till 1am, I still can't play the bit at the beginning at full speed of 200bpm, the last few days I've cut down the hours to about 4 or 5 and taking breaks every now and then, tonight for some strange reason i seem to be able to play it better and cleaner and a bit quicker.

So you have probably herd the saying "To Much Of A Good Thing Is A Bad Thing" I'm beginning to think this famous quote is true!!, And as you can probably guess I'm on a break right now smile.gif


It might have to do with you practicing the song 7-8 hours each day the first week + the second week, and it actually could have something to do with cutting the hours, but the thing is, and this is what I hate about it, it is impossible to know for sure..
I guess the only method to try this out as an experiment would be to have two beginners having the exact same routine though one of the guys cutting down the practicing time to half of the other guy.
Hey that would actually be a cool experiment to try out here on GMC, would just need to find some test subjects! laugh.gif

This post has been edited by Marcus Desaiha: Dec 14 2011, 06:23 AM


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Nihilist1
post Dec 14 2011, 07:48 AM
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I play a lot. I absorb every single thing as well.

My method is this.

Whenever I practice something(let us use a scale as an example) I play it for x Minutes(minutes) straight. Never playing more than 5 minutes at one time. Then, I take half that time as a break, and press forward. So, if we play a scale and repeat it for five minuets, we take a two and a half minute break. This allows the brain and the muscles enough time to cool off, without giving it too much time to lose memory of what just happened. Then, after an hour of doing this, I take a five minute break. Then I move on to my next hour of study(I break down different things into different hours( i.e. exercises/techniques for an hour, theory, scales, etc).

At the Julliard school of music, they teach that a student should take a 2-3 minute break after 15 minutes of playing/studying. I think that when you are practicing exercises and scales(this includes increasing tempo, etc) your muscles wear out faster than 15 minutes, resulting in sloppy playing, and excess tension build-up. I came to this conclusion after experimenting on my own. So, it may not be the case for everyone.

I play for 11 and a half-12 hours a day, and after doing it for three weeks, I can honestly say I have improved a lot.

http://picksnlicks.com/Guitar%20Lessons/Ex..._workout_1.html

My study schedule is the Steve Vai 30 Hour Workout, plus an hour and a half of warming up before hand.

I cool down each night with an ice pack on my picking arm/wrist(I have quite excellent control over my fretting hand so that isn't an issue), and then I use a heating pad on my picking arm/wrist each night as I fall asleep. It speeds up recovery time and removes all possible chances of muscle inflammation and over exertion. I have had carpal tunnel in the past, and I learned many stretching methods and developed many warm-up strategies to counteract the seriousness of muscle/nerve damage.

That is what works for me, and those are the things I do to force it to work for me.


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Alex Feather
post Dec 16 2011, 01:58 PM
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When I started to learn guitar I had a schedule forevery day of the week the most important thing is to have everything organized!


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Ben Higgins
post Dec 16 2011, 03:05 PM
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Another very interesting topic and some great stories and information coming from you all too smile.gif

I would add, that in terms of 'when' and 'how long', it really all boils down to when is your brain free enough to focus exclusively on what you're doing.. and for how long ?

So, one day you might feel fresher in the morning but that might not always be the case. Also, you might try and fit in a guitar session some other time but your mind might be really sluggish so it won't be as productive.

Length of time practising.. well, it will be different for everyone. If you take regular breaks like Nihilist advises (and I agree with this) then you give yourself chance to focus / then rest, focus, then rest etc.. repeat until you've had enough. Whether you play for 1 hr straight or several hours, just be aware of when you're focused and when your mind is tired and wanders.. a focused mind is key to good, effective practice smile.gif

So, as long as your mind is focused enough for the amount of time you want to put in, then it doesn't matter when or for how long. You can make your practice schedule personal based around your own mental and physical capabilities.



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pmli
post Dec 16 2011, 05:48 PM
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Really interesting topic! I absorb.
Since I am not that excellent on guitar I can only refer to other type of learning and I would say that practicing before going to sleep always had a good result for me. I truly admire people that have the patience to practice for countless hours a day, I dont, so I could probably be your test person for that one smile.gif
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