Are you more of a player or a practicer?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by buddastrat, Jun 12, 2008.

  1. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    I'm sure everyone will consider themselves a player first and foremost, but it seems there's the type of player who will take a riff or an excercise and purposely practice it different ways, working on certain aspects like alternate picking and being able to start on a downstroke or upstroke or inside and outside picking it. Like a Steve Morse or Petrucci type where they analyze their motion and what they're doing at all times as well as being able to play it starting on the opposite stroke, for example.

    Then there's the type of guy who would just find one way to play some lick and if it sounds good and that's the end of that. I remember reading an Eric Johnson interview where he said he'll play around with a group of notes until he finds the way it suits his technique and go with that. So it's a different approach and we know there's many ways to arrange things on guitar to make something simpler or harder. If you watch EJ's technique he doesn't do strict alternate picking, and has his own approach which involves some economy picking and his high speed licks avoid certain right hand movements that can be awkward (for many of us).

    I always admired Yngwie's technique and he fits into the latter type of player. He claims he's very unaware of what he does with his right hand. His lines always are always based off a few different patterns and he'll always do things like throw in a pull off, to setup a sweep and avoid an awkward right hand movement.

    Stuff like that makes some things way easier. But part of me still wants to practice it the harder way to get better at it...and sometimes I think too much...
     
  2. Clifford-D

    Clifford-D Member

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    Make play you practice and practice your play.
     
  3. eleanor296

    eleanor296 Member

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    I used to be a big practicer. I'd analyze myself all the time, practice scales, runs, arpeggios, different intervals, anything that involves evolving your technique. Having achieved a -in my opinion- good foundation, I was able to now focus way more on the playing without having to worry about the technical aspect, since I'm now able to play "almost" anything that comes along. Sure, I'll have to practice something some time, but not an excessive amount. That way I get way more out of playing now than always having to worry about my technique.
    We all fall into familiar shapes at some point, at least to a certain extent. It defines our different styles. I actually enjoy having my own style, and try not to "copy" other players too much, while still analyzing them in order to find the "basic lesson" that they can help me.
    Wow... I hope I didn't go too far off topic.
    Definitely a very interesting topic with much promise.

    ~Andy
     
  4. giggedy

    giggedy Member

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    I used to be a big practicer, but then became more of a player with little practice. Then in the beginning of this year, I got a fire lit underneath me, and I practice a lot again. Then in April my band played the last show, so now I don't play out at all, although I was asked to join a band for 3 shows in July. I miss playing live music for a crowd more than anything else right now. It slowly sunk in that all I am is a nine-fiver, which sucks. Can't wait to play live as much as I practice again.
     
  5. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    That's good basic advice. I was more interested in what everyone's approach was, you know breaking it down as to what type of practicing. There's no right or wrong, obviously great players from all kinds of approaches. And of course the idea is to always fuse the two so it all becomes part of the player.
     
  6. matte

    matte Senior Member

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    i'm a practicing player (i.e, i practice music that i cannot initially play). today, i'm learning lines from a piece that i wrote (i write everything on keyboard, nothing on guitar.) so that i can track it with a guitar.
     
  7. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    Yes Andy that's very much what I was getting at, those "familar shapes". Sometimes at gigs I'd have a song that would twist my right hand up in knots and that's where the crossroads was. I could practice through it, improving that specific technique like some of the guys I mentioned would, or I could find an easy way to do it like hybrid picking or something.

    I wasn't really intending anythign about copying anyone's style. Just their approach of finding one way to execute something vs. the mentality of practicing all the ways to play some line, sort've to be ready for anything.
     
  8. shredtrash

    shredtrash Supporting Member

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    I not a practicer in the sense that I practice scales and arpeggios with a metronome. I spent a year at Music Tech in Minneapolis in the mid-90's and that's when I practiced like that. After that, I just tried to use that stuff in a musical way(like Eric Johnson's approach I guess). Now, I have 4 bands going and they all play different styles so I get an education just by learning and writing songs. I don't have the time to sit down and practice like I used to.
     
  9. willhutch

    willhutch Supporting Member

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    It seems like the two poles you've created are the guys that examine the technique from every angle, on the one hand, and the guys that care about the technique only to the point that they are able to execute what they hear.

    I tend to fall into the latter category. I've come to the conclusion that technical ability that exceeds what I'm able to hear is not that useful. Granted, I envy great technique and work at it. But at this time, the obstacles I am concerned with are in my imagination.
     
  10. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    That's a good summary of it Willhutch. Scratch that..that's a GREAT summary of it. I used to be more of the former, but now I've consciously changed to the latter, and it's a lot more fun for me. There were certain things that I knew I'd rarely or never use in a real situation and thought why am I practicing this! Plus I felt like I had to do everything. Every lick had to be practiced every way I could, and found under real playing situations, that got in the way because I was thinking too much! when I just go with one approach it's much more consistent. Maybe it's the muscle memory thing as well.

    Another thing I was thinking about is I should've titled it different, because there's also a type that probably hasn't ever played a scale straight through in his life, just "plays" as his practice. Probably someone like Hendrix or many blues guys. Not real analytical as far as technique.
     
  11. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

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    I never practice. I know it's not good and i'll never be regarded as a great technical player.

    I'm a Claptonesque Gilmore-ish kind of player and I know those shapes and can do them in my sleep. But nothing seems to unfold until i'm playing in the context of a song. When I write leads for my original music, which is most of what I do these days, i'll role the rythym tracks and just start noodling. Then i'll hit on some cool run that I feel fits and zero in on that and develop it. 90% of the time I end up with a lead that is writen to the song and all the speedy wanking away I seem to do when just practicing is nowhere to be found. It's been an important thing for me to sit down and write leads. My problem before I did this is that every lead was sounding very similar. I started working on scales and basicly I was just re-hashing the scales with no point. Now the leads are a melodic part of the song with significance vs. OK, here's the lead spot, fill it with notes!
     
  12. dewey decibel

    dewey decibel Supporting Member

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    You have to keep the focus on the music. What's funny is when I practice and work on technique it's not to get better at what I'm currently playing, but what I haven't played yet. It's so if I have an idea at a gig I have the technique to facilitate it. So in that sense I'm both kinds of players- some things I'll find a technique that suits it and play it the same way everytime, and others I'll play as many different ways as possible, because at some point the things I learn from doing that I can use for something else.
     
  13. elgalad

    elgalad Senior Member

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    I'm definitely more of a player than a practicer. I do keep half on eye on my technique to make sure I'm not doing anything terrible that'll slow me down, but I'm all about getting lines down in whatever way works for me. My thinking is that the specific way you play lines on the guitar is a major contributor to your individual style. If you play out your technique to the point where you don't have an individual way of playing things, then you lose a little bit of your own input into the music.
     
  14. brad347

    brad347 Member

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    Hmm... I guess I'm sorta both?

    Depending on the day, I guess.
     
  15. Dave Orban

    Dave Orban Gold Supporting Member

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    I play WAY more than I practice.
     
  16. Lucidology

    Lucidology Member

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    Exactly ...

    Gigging all the time makes it tuff to find time to practice for my own self improvement
    or skill development ...

    Though it seems I'm always learning a new song for a particular band, upcoming gig or studio session...
    but really don't consider that as practicing to improve my skills ...

    In other words, since I do it all the time ...
    learning songs isn't the key to improvement in my particular case ...
     
  17. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    Great points everyone. I have to say my favorite players have always seemed to be the guys who find something that works and go with it. more of the player, whether it's VH, EJ, Hendrix or Beck...they always seem to have a more unique style or personality in their playing. Even as technical as Yngwie is, he has a very unorthodox approach even among shredders, and that's why he doesn't sound cookie cutter like most of the shredders out there.

    The real schooled players seem (to me) to be more from the practicing side of the fence. Where they are so aware of all the movements and practice something inside and out. They can be real good too, it's just that they don't always have as much of a signature sound to me.

    I was looking at some chops building book the other day and it showed some excercise, and then it showed a slight variation, then starting with the opposite stroke, then working on econ picking version etc.. Of course all sound a little bit different, and really if it came down to it at a gig, you'd have to stop and think, which way to play it, instead of wiring yourself one way and then you can play it freely and have more thought for the melody, rhythm etc.. Kind've a real life example of what I'm talking about. I think this kind of stuff is the crossroads where we choose different paths and become the player we are or will be. Whether you think about it or not.
     
  18. Dog Boy

    Dog Boy Member

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    For me practicing is a tool just like an amp or pedal. I use it to get where I'm going.
     
  19. Franklin

    Franklin Member

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    I rarely practice, which is probably why I suck. My practice involves learning cover tunes for the band.
     
  20. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    But that's practicing, Franklin. You're learning tunes. That's the heart of good practicing to me. In the end, it's all about the song. Good for you.

    The way I see it, if physically you're playing your guitar, unless you're onstage performing with a band, it's still really a form of practicing in some way. So we're all practicers! lol.
     

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