View Full Version : What's your practice routine?
01-17-2005, 07:10 PM
I'm trying to develop a good practice routine that is roughly an hour long. That seems to be an amount of time I can consistently have uninterrupted on a regular basis.
Although I've played for a long time (20+ years), I'm really trying to get serious about making progress and growing as a guitar player and musician in just about every aspect.
So what routine works for you? What things do you practice and how do you use your practice time?
Old Tele man
01-17-2005, 07:38 PM
...since I'm a rhythm and chordal jazz player, MY warm-up goes like this:
1) randomly pick a KEY...any key (use a spinning wheel pointer)...say key of "C"
2) randomly pick a DEGREE...(same way as above)...say THIRD, an "E" in the key-of-C.
3) now...cycle (play) through the "harmonized" scale for the KEY while holding the DEGREE-note as a "pedal" note.
4) first, cycle forward (ie: CM7, Dm7, Em7, etc..).
5) then, cycle backward (ie: CM7, Bm7-5, Am6, etc.).
...remember you want the LAST note played in EVERY chord to be an "E" (same string or not), so for example the first four chords for a FORWARD harmonized scale would be:
CM7 with 3-degree on 2nd string, fret 5.
Dm9 with 9-degree on 2nd string, fret 5.
Em7 with root-degree on 2nd string, fret 5.
FM7 with M7-degree on 2nd string, fret 5.
01-17-2005, 08:27 PM
Excellent suggestion, Old Tele man. Rhythm playing and chordal knowledge are high on the list of things to improve. Thanks! Follow up question... are you meaning play each chord as an arpeggio?
One additional question to the group. Do any of you keep a practice journal, or have you ever in the past? If so, have you gotten much from that?
01-17-2005, 09:02 PM
Here is my regimen. Some days I can devote time- others I can't even play let alone practice.
Three things needed for this.
2)loop station or other Looper
I try to practice rhythmic grooves, scales, arpeggios, alt picking, finger/banjo picking, modes with a metronome as often and as long as I can stand it. I start slow with a figure/motif or a patern- say quintuplets or a shape like a major 7th arpeggio and run it to the click. Over and over, in different keys, different tempos and different strings/positions. I tucker out after about an hour of this, tops...two. Some days I can only hang with it for 20 minutes then I'll go onto something more fun. I equate this with doing crunches. Unplesant, but mandatory.
Next- I'll take a song or chord progression and play it into my loop station. Then I'll figure out the melody and harmonize it in 2 parts and in some spots 3 voices. This opens up harmonic skills and teaches ear training while containing yourself to a more vocal/melodic approach to phrasing. Lately I've been doing lots of Beatles, some Ray Charles, TV themes, and Stuff from childhood like "rainbow connection" from the muppet movie. By now I've got afew little chord melody type things cookin'- Fun!
If this isn't happening I'll throw down some blues or perhaps a standard progression like I, VI, II, V. With a diminished chord here or there. I'll loop that and practice that for a while...like 20-30 minutes. Practice turnarounds or II Vs. Try to do new things and work out phrases that lead to the next chords. Sometimes I do them really slow so I can think more, and practice ballad playing. Other times I'll laydown a fast, country kind of blues thing and see how the chicken pickin' chops are doing.
The best and without a doubt hardest thing to do in a practice regimen is to transcribe another musicians solos. This is where the learning begins. Mimicry, imitation and the ability to see great ideas in context. That's the best stuff right there. Ear training and licks you don't know already played by your heroes. A great opportunity to learn from the masters.
Some try to do it a tempo. I can't hear that well yet so I use the Amazing Slow Downer for trancribing. I can't imagin doing it without this program. Cost $20.00. It enables you to slow down and loop the section of music you want to decipher so that you can really nail it. What's amazing for me is how long this can take. Serious wormhole. Start with something you know...or think you know by heart but don't know how to play. I love Elliot Easton or Eagles stuff- Zeppelin too. Crazy wah can be hard to hear slowed down, so look out. I can do this for hours on really complicated solos, trying to get the fingering just right. Or the inflections and vibrato of someone like Gilmour/Angus/ Knopfler. Very interesting to see a perfect solo slowed down. It lets you see why these solos work and allows you to practice it at say 1/4 then 1/2 speed and then finally full. Hands down the best thing for my playing this year. Try sax, fiddle or harmonica stuff for new licks and approaches. Coltrane, Miles, Parker bebob heads can be broken down pretty easily. Playing those lines along with the records at tempo is another story!
Sorry for the length of my reply, but this stuff works for me.
Best wishes and happy playing,
Old Tele man
01-17-2005, 09:05 PM
...depends upon your playing style!
...if you're a "finger-picking" kinda guy, then arpeggios are great for building leadlines; but...
...straight-ahead, simple, "chunk" chords are good for building up your timing skills.
...ie: getting from one chord to next without loosing timing and yet keeping that "pedal" note sounding either: (A) continuous (think: "One Note Samba", "Moonglow", etc.); or, (B) ping-ponging back-n-forth between 1st and 2nd string "pedal" notes (usually because of voice-leading on the bass strings).
01-18-2005, 08:28 AM
Great ideal, Old Tele man! I've found that learning chords and where the degrees fall within them translates directly into soloing skills. When I practice scales and modes a lot I end up noodling too much in my solos. I solo better when I can "see" the chord I'm playing over on the fretboard.
I try to work on (in order of difficulty and benefit (funny how that works, huh)):
1. Transcribe solos.
2. Learn the head from a new Real Book tune.
3. Practice heads I already know with a metronome.
4. Work on improvising with an Abersold tape/CD.
5. Practice modes, arpegios and digital patterns with a metronome or Abersold tape/CD.
Old Tele man
01-18-2005, 01:20 PM
tsvaughn -- the wording I use with my students is: "...play the melody out of the chord..." This allows you to actually SEE "how" the harmonized-scale chords and the modes are inter-related!
01-19-2005, 02:51 PM
Lately, my routine is to mainly sit down and pick up new licks off of records. For today, I started working on Will Ray's version of Sweet Dreams off of the 1st Hellecasters album. I like doing this, because I would never in a million years come up with these licks on my own! Once I get done with the Will Ray, I need to sit down with some jazz and get it right. BTW, I am using the Slowgold program for my PC to help with the fast licks. I slow them down, loop them and get them note for note. Then I gradually speed them up while playing along until I am satisfied, so not only do I get an ear training workout, I'm also getting a workout on feel, rhythm and chops.
01-19-2005, 05:52 PM
I noodle until even I'm bored by what's coming out. If I hit a snag, I noodle on something else that's easier. Then I go get a beer. :(
There are a lot a really great suggestions here. Thanks for posting, y'all.
01-19-2005, 11:58 PM
i practice 2 hours a day, but i break it up in 20 min sessions. i have a kitchen timer that i set.. (my girlfriend appreciates it more. one sitting for 2 hours, she gets bored.) it works out really well for me! i find that i improve faster this way.. if i was to sit for a long amount of time, i start to noodle and get away from what i meant to be working on.. i do these six things for 20 min a day.. at random times ( i keep a notebook with some logs i made in Word.. check it off when im done)
1) scales / technique
2) sight reading (random songs from the Real Book)
3) chord theory
4) transcribing (just picked up a tascam GT-1!! a MUST have!)
5) composing (work on my own stuff!)
6) improv - ALWAYS goes over 20 min!! :)
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