Practice help

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Onswah, Mar 25, 2008.

  1. Onswah

    Onswah Member

    Jun 7, 2005
    I'm going to school for music, but I've taken this current semester off because of some work and personal problems. I've finally straightened those issues out so now my focus is being prepared for returning to school come June, however I'm kind of stuck. For the past month or two I've been practicing but without a teacher or a lab or an ensemble, it's lacked any kind of focus. There seems to be a huge gap between what I know in my head and what I can actually accomplish on the instrument. Drop twos, scales, modes, arpeggios, rhythm exercises, comping, repertoire, etc. I feel overwhelmed trying to fit everything in. I try to work for about 2 hrs a day because after that I get sore, but I rarely get half of the list above in and it really feels like nothing is sticking. I know this seems like a loaded question, but does anyone have any suggestions?

    I have primarily been studying the basics in a Jazz setting, but have always been in love with bluegrass and the rare folks that seems to combine the two (Bill Frisell, Tony Rice, Chris Thile).

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Kappy

    Kappy Member

    Jan 26, 2005
    West Village, NYC
    I understand all too well how easy it is to get overwhelmed by the vast amount of material that one can cover in a lifetime. It's a tough balance between keeping practice from getting stale (and covering new material) and mastering what you can cover. It sounds like you just need to prioritize a couple of subjects and focus on those exclusively for a while until you feel a small degree of mastery of the subject (conceptually and playing-wise), then move on. I won't tell you what to focus on, since that's something you have to decide for yourself.

    Best of luck!

  3. Austinrocks

    Austinrocks Member

    Feb 10, 2007
  4. brad347

    brad347 Member

    Feb 8, 2006
    Brooklyn, NY
    Sounds like a classic case of too much, too soon.

    Instead of trying to 'get it all in,' do it one thing at a time. Pick a day and work on just your drop two voicings for instance.

    Here's how I might approach it:

    1. Relax, breathe, remember that music is a joyous act.
    2. Pick a single seventh chord and practice all drop 2 voicings (all inversions) on one set of four strings.
    3. Play each one over and over with your eyes closed and just drink in the sound.
    4. Write a song that uses each voicing you just practiced. Have fun.
    5. If there is time, pick another chord of the same quality, or choose a different chord quality on the same root.
    6. Repeat until dinnertime, or bedtime, or until you get tired of it.


    Absolutely never pressure yourself. If you get overwhelmed, frustrated, tense, or tired then you are "full" for the day and come back tomorrow.

    best of luck
  5. Aj_rocker

    Aj_rocker Member

    May 13, 2006
    Bath, Uk
    you can do a few at once, like try runing a scale using like 8th notes, then 8ths triplets, then like 8th 8th triplet 8th 8th triplet etc. then you are working on your rhythm as well as scales. the same idea for comping.

  6. Clifford-D

    Clifford-D Member

    Jan 8, 2007
    Close to the burn zone
    Hunt for definitions, clarity.

    You mentioned drop 2, what does this mean to you?
    In school this was used with horn sections in big bands.
    Not discussed in class regarding our guitar.
    Well, the guitar is a "mini orchestra" and drop 2 works
    great with it.

    You have closed voice chords

    and drop 2

    make a list of all CV and D2 four note chords like above
    with each note of a scale in the top voice.
    Then do the same thing on different the sets of strings.

    This will combine scale chords and drop 2 voicings. That's alot
    of studies that work together.

    Also, I'd suggest learning the CAGED Chord System, that may
    simplify all the chords and scales.
  7. Onswah

    Onswah Member

    Jun 7, 2005

    If you stack a 4 note chord in thirds(closed voicing), for simplicity's sake CMaj7, you'd drop the second note from the top of the stack down an octave. So in root position it would be (from the bottom up) B, C, E, G. and the inversions would follow 1st - C,E,G,B, 2nd - E,G,B,C 3rd- G,B,C,E
    It's easier to represent on a staff.

    I am not familiar with this could you please explain?

    Thanks everyone for the help, I appreciate it beyond measure.
  8. Clifford-D

    Clifford-D Member

    Jan 8, 2007
    Close to the burn zone
    Here's my CAGED rap

    I know I've posted this before and we are supposed to be
    creative with our posts, but it's a good explanation that I'm working at
    making better.

    So, here is a good way to exploit the CAGED Chord System....


    The CAGED Chord System is a clever way to understand how chords
    relate to the fretboard.

    First of all, you don't need a zillion words to discribe the CAGED Chord System, keep it simple.

    For the most part, the 5 CAGED chord shapes are simply TWO intervalic shapes.

    Here are the 5 CAGED Shapes



    Now, let's create practical 4 note structures from it.

    .....C.......A......G.....loE.....hiE........D... ..

    The above G shape, C shape, and High E shape all share the
    same intervalic structure of


    .......G............C.........hi E

    = same chord, same note arrangement R,3,5,R

    One more observation, they all slant downward to the left. like this \

    The other chord structure. is the one that slants to the right. like this /

    ....lo E.........A.........D
    = same chord, same note arrangement R,5,R,3


    So, only two chord structures.

    In this system, we have the Root (R) in the bass, and that bass note is on the 6th, 5th, and 4th strings, or,the lowest note in the chord.

    Notice that each of these "bass/Root strings" generate,from their "lowest note position", only two chords interval shapes.
    One that slants this way \ ,, and one that slants this way /





    Once you realize these fundamental "inner structures" in the CAGED Chord System you can;

    1. Change the fundamental to "other" chord structures,iow, make other types of chords. very simply.

    2. Create an appropriate scale for your newly formed chord. scales come
    from the chord and its function, not the other way around.

    3. Have a system that requires minimal "thinking". Very important when playing.

    Anyway, I hope I've explained this clearly to you. And I hope you see how cool it is.

    For simplicities sake.


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