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> Do Practice Routines Suppress Creativity?
Cosmin Lupu
post May 26 2014, 11:08 AM
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How do you think having a ‘routine’ affects ‘creativity’? Somehow I can’t help feeling there is a contradiction between the two words.

Are we perhaps a bit overly concerned about our progress ? Maybe we should just relax and try to free time and energy for creativity, and not worry so much about having a routine?

I for one, am mainly practicing what I need to perform onstage or what I need to record, these days. Time is pretty scarce and I usually find myself with very little time on my hand when it comes down to practicing. This is why I adopted a pragmatic approach:

- What are my guitar related activities this month?
- What do I need to do to master/improve the things I need to be able to play?
- How much time do I have for that?
- How much time do I have left for 'more relaxing/pleasurable' guitar related activities - playing acoustic and singing, for instance?

These are the main factors that affect my 'routine' let's say, but when it comes down to creating, there's one more element:

- I hear something in my head
- I learn how to play it on the guitar
- I record it
- I start noodling with it so that I may develop it into something that sounds like real music
- Is there anything I can't properly execute?
- If the answer is yes, then I go straight to step 2 in the previous list smile.gif

That's how my work goes around these days! How about you? How do you mix creative with routine?


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Gabriel Leopardi
post May 26 2014, 04:12 PM
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This is a very interesting topic Cosmin. I also use to ask myself all these things and try to organize my time to dedicate time to practice but trying to make it in a creative way. When an idea comes to my mind, I record it and the creation process can take lots of hours which pass so fast, I could say that time flies when I compose music. There is something magic that happens with time and it's so beautiful.

This year I started to use a notepad to write down the things on which I'm working each week / month. I have weekly, monthly and year goals there, and I write down routines that can help me to achieve them. Most of the times I use GMC lessons for that, and my way to get the best from them and doing it in a creative way is applying these ideas:

1. Listen to the backing and understand the theory behind the chords used.
2. I check the scales suggested by the instructors to know and try them over the backing.
3. Start learning the different parts. I try each part over the backing track. I repeat it many times, even in parts where it doesn't seem to fit perfect. I like to hear what happens.
4. I play variations of the lick. I change the last notes, the first ones, some in the middle.
5. I keep on playing variations of the lick and combine it with some improvisation using the scales suggested.

In this way, I feel that practice becomes more funny, more creative, and in the end I feel that I get most from the lessons.



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Mudbone
post May 26 2014, 04:25 PM
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In my case, absolutely. My practice routines are very regimented, so I use a stopwatch to control and track my practice sessions. Sometimes I make a mistake while practicing that actually sounds really good, but instead of developing it into something musical, I go back to the repetitive practicing routine. I feel that the little noodling will taint my practice session, and I will not get the actual value of the 15 minutes I've allotted to that technique.

So what's been happening is I've become good at playing little nuggets of technique, but cannot put all these little things into a musical concept! laugh.gif

I've realized that time should be put aside for just free-styling, but not aimless free-styling. Listening to other guitarists and trying to replicate what they're playing produces great results, especially if you can't recreate it but create something else entirely. We make tremendous progress when we're passionate about something, and that is something that is usually overlooked for following something more structured.

This is probably because the structured system seems like a safer route. We are raised from a young age in a structured education system. If we achieve certain goals, in a certain amount of time, we get a piece of paper that we show to the world saying that we are qualified in a particular field.

The arts however, don't work like this. We ultimately get into the arts to have a means to express ourselves. Creativity is an output, not an input. Practice, however, is an input. It is a component of the output, but not the heart and sole of it. YOU are the heart and sole of what you produce. The creative person needs an output to have harmony in their lives. Encoding your mind with routines won't satisfy your spirit.

You can't have all this information going in but nothing coming out. I guess you could call it creative constipation laugh.gif


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klasaine
post May 26 2014, 05:05 PM
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I'll take a different angle on this.

I don't think your 'practice' routine should even be about creativity. That's where you learn how to play and get better from a technical and/or academic and theoretical aspect. Get the things done you need to get done to be a better player.

I believe you can set aside time for creativity: writing, jamming, just listening to the sound of your instrument, finding weird (potentially inspiring) sounds with a pedal or software, etc.
That time can be w/in your practice schedule but you may have to be willing to morph the schedule when the inspiration hits. For example if you're working on an exercise or riff and you make a mistake that you think sounds cool and would be good on it's own - go for it! Forget (momentarily) the riff you're working on and start working on the one you found by accident. That's how cool stuff gets written/discovered.


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Marius Pop
post May 26 2014, 07:13 PM
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Lately, I find myself having less and less time for a good studying routine so I try to focus on being creative each time I pick up the guitar. The satisfaction is big when creating something or when using material (concepts, technique, melodic/rhythmic ideas) I already know in different ways. I think each routine should be fun in the end and used in a creative way so there is excitement for each new day of study smile.gif


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Becca
post May 26 2014, 10:55 PM
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Interesting topic. I think it depends hugely on the individual concerned. Practising set licks is inmportant for sure. When I was playing in theatre bands there was no room for anything other than note perfect pieces. Time after time after... and yes, it did get dull after a few weeks of matinees and evening performances. However after that experience, and maybe because of it, I find I am more comfortable with mixing up practise routines with some free form improv. although I agree with Klasaine that creative time can be planned in advance. I set a couple of days to work on getting and developing new ideas. Then record it as best I can. I can then tweak it at my leisure over as long as it takes.
The thing is, practise should not become a chore. If you can plug away at it then great. If it gets boring then mix it up a little. What ever works for you is the right way to do it.


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Cosmin Lupu
post May 27 2014, 08:36 AM
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My conclusion so far, is that practicing for the sake of 'being good' is not a good thing to do. You should practice in order to become able to express the music you need to play or the music that you hear in your head as well as possible.

This occurs at different levels in one's life. For instance, I am at the phase at which I am trying to play less complicated but more meaningful and intelligent. Maybe I will want something else in some time from now on, but this is a phase that I feel right now and I serve it accordingly smile.gif

After all, at the end of the day, you should be able to measure your progress - how often can you say - after today's practice, I can do this or I have written this? That's something we should all thing about, in my opinion.


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