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> How Long For Different Activities?
Larry F
post Nov 12 2013, 07:29 AM
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I have always loved the woodshed. It keeps my technique up and gives me a sense of accomplishment, guaranteed. I also love to gig and rehearse. My general approach for a long time has been to keep track of how things are working for me in gigs and rehearsals. If a particular action causes me to stumble, or more likely, and much worse that stumbling, avoid doing certain kinds of things. It's a funny thing, but if a certain kind of activity reaches a level of sureness and ease, then I find my ear, heart, and brain spontaneously come up with ideas and pathways when improvising.

I have always tried to come up with ways of practicing a particular kind of activity. Let's say that I want to improve my dyads. Right now, I have a routine where I play 3rds up/down strings 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, etc. Now, I might also practice playing a minor pent. (my focus is blues, and the minor pent should not be disrespected; if you hear a problem with a guitarist using the minor pent, the source of the problem is phrasing, not the notes.) When using the minor pent, I might do a trill whenever I come to the 3rd string. Or I might play every whole-step interval by bending up to the higher note. There are lots of different things to do when practicing the minor pent.

Anyway, I have three choices in the woodshed. Method 1 is to play dyads for 5-10 minutes, minor pent for 5-10 minutes, something else, another thing, something else, etc. With this approach, I keep these techniques at the forefront of my brain and as reflexes. Method 2 is to play dyads for 15-20 minutes, minor pents for 15-20 minutes, etc. Method 3 would be 30 minutes for different activities. Each method has its advantages. I generally use Method 1, or sometimes Method 2. I am considering trying Method 3 for a while.

The activities themselves are not part of the question I am asking. What I need to hear from folks here, is how should I allot time to each activity?
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Cosmin Lupu
post Nov 12 2013, 03:23 PM
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QUOTE (Larry F @ Nov 12 2013, 06:29 AM) *
I have always loved the woodshed. It keeps my technique up and gives me a sense of accomplishment, guaranteed. I also love to gig and rehearse. My general approach for a long time has been to keep track of how things are working for me in gigs and rehearsals. If a particular action causes me to stumble, or more likely, and much worse that stumbling, avoid doing certain kinds of things. It's a funny thing, but if a certain kind of activity reaches a level of sureness and ease, then I find my ear, heart, and brain spontaneously come up with ideas and pathways when improvising.

I have always tried to come up with ways of practicing a particular kind of activity. Let's say that I want to improve my dyads. Right now, I have a routine where I play 3rds up/down strings 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, etc. Now, I might also practice playing a minor pent. (my focus is blues, and the minor pent should not be disrespected; if you hear a problem with a guitarist using the minor pent, the source of the problem is phrasing, not the notes.) When using the minor pent, I might do a trill whenever I come to the 3rd string. Or I might play every whole-step interval by bending up to the higher note. There are lots of different things to do when practicing the minor pent.

Anyway, I have three choices in the woodshed. Method 1 is to play dyads for 5-10 minutes, minor pent for 5-10 minutes, something else, another thing, something else, etc. With this approach, I keep these techniques at the forefront of my brain and as reflexes. Method 2 is to play dyads for 15-20 minutes, minor pents for 15-20 minutes, etc. Method 3 would be 30 minutes for different activities. Each method has its advantages. I generally use Method 1, or sometimes Method 2. I am considering trying Method 3 for a while.

The activities themselves are not part of the question I am asking. What I need to hear from folks here, is how should I allot time to each activity?


Hey mate smile.gif My personal approach, is based on working on something till I get it down. I had that well known urge of wanting to play all the techniques in the world daily and be good at them all ... but I realized that making music is the real goal, so for me, it's more about what I hear in my head. If a certain thing that I hear, requires a certain technique that I need to use, I will sort it out and rehearse it until it sounds as I hear it in my head, or who knows, even better or different smile.gif

Now, it would be great to have a final goal for the stuff you are practicing - all the things mentioned in your description should be practiced for being used in a musical context. I think that practicing for the simple fear that you might use them ONE day and you will then be ready for it is just a bad way of killing useful practice time.

Focus on the things you are good at, by transposing them into a musical context and on the things that you need to work on, by getting them up to shape when you have a musical context in which you would like to add them. A bit philosophical? Maybe, but, practicing 20 minutes of this and 20 minutes of that and being happy that you can pick at 200 BPM for the sake of it shouldn't be a thing to aspire to.

For instance, to start out pick a part of a solo that you like and see what you need to practice to get it at full speed. One question tho, how much time do you practice daily?


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Larry F
post Nov 13 2013, 06:27 AM
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I decide what things to practice based on my performances with the band. For example, I stumble playing the backing riff of Killing Floor. This involves playing 5 16ths in a row on one note. I practice the song, of course, but I feel like I need to spend more time on the 16ths. As usual, I make up a little pattern where I play the strings on each of the strings, instead of just the 5th string as I do in the song. After spending maybe 15 minutes a day for a week, the next time we played this live, I was able to do more fluidly, relaxed, and with consistency and confidence. I also found that I was spontaneously playing phrases that began with different kinds of pickup or grace note figures. Finally, I found that I was spontaneously playing phrases that sometimes had one note played twice, now and then. This helps me play in a more vocal style, as when singing words, it is quite common to have one pitch played as two syllables would be sung. Vocal lines, in general, tend to use more repeated notes, since they are important for intelligibility (Claude Shannon's information theory deals with things like this in speech and electronic communication).

Now, the thrust of my question is this: if I practice this 15 minutes a day for, say, two weeks, will I do better with it, musically, that if I practiced this for 1 hour a day for a comparable number days? Another related question, concerns maintenance. If I can use this ability in my music after a period of time, say, two weeks, is maintenance necessary and how would I incorporate this into my practice routine? Of course, I will use this in Killing Floor, but this figure is used in only, say, 5% of the song.

I used this figure only as an example. I do this with other figures, as well. I find that playing live, I have a hangup or two. As always, the hangup not only causes me to stumble, but also prevents me from opening up my inner hearing to new ideas that mastering the hangup will help me imagine.

As for practice time, I am very fortunate in my job. I teach in a university that gives faculty loads of 40% teaching, 40% creative/research work, and 20% service. Since playing blues guitar is something that I will be using in my new music using interactive electronics, practicing the guitar is literally part of my job. Most of my creative work, though, is not guitar-based, and I focus most of my music on composing for instruments and electronics. My practice time is 2-4 hours a day, and rarely less than 1 hour. This does not include gigging and rehearsing, writing out exercises, and fiddling with gear and stuff. Just hands-on guitar playing.
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Cosmin Lupu
post Nov 13 2013, 12:58 PM
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QUOTE (Larry F @ Nov 13 2013, 05:27 AM) *
I decide what things to practice based on my performances with the band. For example, I stumble playing the backing riff of Killing Floor. This involves playing 5 16ths in a row on one note. I practice the song, of course, but I feel like I need to spend more time on the 16ths. As usual, I make up a little pattern where I play the strings on each of the strings, instead of just the 5th string as I do in the song. After spending maybe 15 minutes a day for a week, the next time we played this live, I was able to do more fluidly, relaxed, and with consistency and confidence. I also found that I was spontaneously playing phrases that began with different kinds of pickup or grace note figures. Finally, I found that I was spontaneously playing phrases that sometimes had one note played twice, now and then. This helps me play in a more vocal style, as when singing words, it is quite common to have one pitch played as two syllables would be sung. Vocal lines, in general, tend to use more repeated notes, since they are important for intelligibility (Claude Shannon's information theory deals with things like this in speech and electronic communication).

Now, the thrust of my question is this: if I practice this 15 minutes a day for, say, two weeks, will I do better with it, musically, that if I practiced this for 1 hour a day for a comparable number days? Another related question, concerns maintenance. If I can use this ability in my music after a period of time, say, two weeks, is maintenance necessary and how would I incorporate this into my practice routine? Of course, I will use this in Killing Floor, but this figure is used in only, say, 5% of the song.

I used this figure only as an example. I do this with other figures, as well. I find that playing live, I have a hangup or two. As always, the hangup not only causes me to stumble, but also prevents me from opening up my inner hearing to new ideas that mastering the hangup will help me imagine.

As for practice time, I am very fortunate in my job. I teach in a university that gives faculty loads of 40% teaching, 40% creative/research work, and 20% service. Since playing blues guitar is something that I will be using in my new music using interactive electronics, practicing the guitar is literally part of my job. Most of my creative work, though, is not guitar-based, and I focus most of my music on composing for instruments and electronics. My practice time is 2-4 hours a day, and rarely less than 1 hour. This does not include gigging and rehearsing, writing out exercises, and fiddling with gear and stuff. Just hands-on guitar playing.


Wow biggrin.gif Lucky you, mate biggrin.gif I think that the approach described in the first part of this post is great! Now, the more time you spend on something and the more constantly spent, that time is, it's only natural to become proficient at doing that particular thing. I always go for consistency rather then piling up things in one day and not practicing them for a week after.

If you want to maintain a certain thing that you don't need to use in that particular period of time, I say, practice it once or twice a week, just to keep your muscle memory in shape wink.gif This is what I do for songs which I know I will play onstage at some point, but without knowing exactly when. For instance, I am part of a Pantera tribute band and the playlist is comprised of about 14-15 songs. I try to play them maybe once a week - at least the difficult parts, so that when the time comes, I won't have to start practicing them from scratch all over again. I just have to enter Pantera focus mode when the gig is close smile.gif

That's my approach wink.gif


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Gabriel Leopardi
post Nov 13 2013, 01:30 PM
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QUOTE (Larry F @ Nov 13 2013, 02:27 AM) *
I decide what things to practice based on my performances with the band. For example, I stumble playing the backing riff of Killing Floor. This involves playing 5 16ths in a row on one note. I practice the song, of course, but I feel like I need to spend more time on the 16ths. As usual, I make up a little pattern where I play the strings on each of the strings, instead of just the 5th string as I do in the song. After spending maybe 15 minutes a day for a week, the next time we played this live, I was able to do more fluidly, relaxed, and with consistency and confidence. I also found that I was spontaneously playing phrases that began with different kinds of pickup or grace note figures. Finally, I found that I was spontaneously playing phrases that sometimes had one note played twice, now and then. This helps me play in a more vocal style, as when singing words, it is quite common to have one pitch played as two syllables would be sung. Vocal lines, in general, tend to use more repeated notes, since they are important for intelligibility (Claude Shannon's information theory deals with things like this in speech and electronic communication).

Now, the thrust of my question is this: if I practice this 15 minutes a day for, say, two weeks, will I do better with it, musically, that if I practiced this for 1 hour a day for a comparable number days? Another related question, concerns maintenance. If I can use this ability in my music after a period of time, say, two weeks, is maintenance necessary and how would I incorporate this into my practice routine? Of course, I will use this in Killing Floor, but this figure is used in only, say, 5% of the song.

I used this figure only as an example. I do this with other figures, as well. I find that playing live, I have a hangup or two. As always, the hangup not only causes me to stumble, but also prevents me from opening up my inner hearing to new ideas that mastering the hangup will help me imagine.

As for practice time, I am very fortunate in my job. I teach in a university that gives faculty loads of 40% teaching, 40% creative/research work, and 20% service. Since playing blues guitar is something that I will be using in my new music using interactive electronics, practicing the guitar is literally part of my job. Most of my creative work, though, is not guitar-based, and I focus most of my music on composing for instruments and electronics. My practice time is 2-4 hours a day, and rarely less than 1 hour. This does not include gigging and rehearsing, writing out exercises, and fiddling with gear and stuff. Just hands-on guitar playing.



Hi mate! I think that this topic is really cool and that your approach is very close to mine. It's great to know that you can use your "job time" to do what you love. smile.gif

There are two important things happening in your post that I would like to remark. The first one is about "practising 1 day a lot" vs "practising less time but every day". Based on my personal experience and also based on what each professional guitar player and teacher, the most effective way is practising every day. It's much more effective to practice 15 minutes a technique every day than practising it for 1 hour only one day. Your brain, your fingers and your muscles will feel more comfortable with the technique if you train them every day.

The second important thing is what you say about practising until you are a master on it, until you feel 100% comfortable with the scale, concept, riff, etc. Then you feel that you don't have to think to much on what you play, and you open your creativity. I believe that this is 100% true and there is a very good book called "Effortless Mastery" which is based on this idea.

http://kennywerner.com/effortless-mastery

So I think that you are on the right track and that this thread can give really good suggestions to other students at the site.


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Cosmin Lupu
post Nov 14 2013, 10:44 AM
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QUOTE (Gabriel Leopardi @ Nov 13 2013, 12:30 PM) *
Hi mate! I think that this topic is really cool and that your approach is very close to mine. It's great to know that you can use your "job time" to do what you love. smile.gif

There are two important things happening in your post that I would like to remark. The first one is about "practising 1 day a lot" vs "practising less time but every day". Based on my personal experience and also based on what each professional guitar player and teacher, the most effective way is practising every day. It's much more effective to practice 15 minutes a technique every day than practising it for 1 hour only one day. Your brain, your fingers and your muscles will feel more comfortable with the technique if you train them every day.

The second important thing is what you say about practising until you are a master on it, until you feel 100% comfortable with the scale, concept, riff, etc. Then you feel that you don't have to think to much on what you play, and you open your creativity. I believe that this is 100% true and there is a very good book called "Effortless Mastery" which is based on this idea.

http://kennywerner.com/effortless-mastery

So I think that you are on the right track and that this thread can give really good suggestions to other students at the site.


Great observations from Gabe, especially in respect to that book wink.gif Get your hands on it ASAP!


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