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Practice Ideas Please

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Gasp100, Jan 7, 2008.

  1. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Silver Supporting Member

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    I think I can realistically devote 3 hours (on and off throughout the day) devoted towards practice, but I'm having problems trying to build a practice regemin. I want to accomplish the following:
    Learn the entire fretboard and be able to play solo's and chord work across AND up and down the entire fretboard
    Learn to sight read well and be able to play melody/rhythm in multiple positions
    Play over changes
    Build up my dexterity and increase my speed and technique
    I have a Mel Bay beginners reading book and I'm blowing through that pretty quickly on my own (but only playing each part in first position.
    I have "A Modern Method For Guitar" 1,2,3 which should keep me busy for some time.
    I'm going to try my hand at trascribing solo's from people I admire (Eric Johnson, Robben Ford, etc...)
    I need something for learning scales/patterns and building up speed though - maybe Sheets of Sound?
    Anyone with a solid practice regimine that is working for them please chime in - Thanks!
     
  2. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    Organize it, and do timed intervals, e.g.

    15 minutes sight reading
    15 minutes transcribing
    15 minutes new chords and their inversions
    15 minutes learning the fingerboard exercises (with or without the metronome)
    15 minutes learning new scales
    15 minutes practicing scales you know (penta/diatonic) in CAGED
    15 minutes arpeggios
    15 minutes learning new tunes & chord progressions
    30 minutes free form blowing over various chord progressions
    30 minutes blowing over a newly learned tune

    Or something like that is how I'd approach it. The time frames can vary, but to be honest, I find starting out with a new regiment it's best to give no more than 10-15 minutes on something like reading (which can sometimes be boring or hard and easy to give up on). Those can be more logically ordered/altered based on what works for you, I was just throwing the ideas out there. I use a countdown, digital egg timer to keep those times accurate too.

    Don't forget to keep a log!

    Best of luck!
     
  3. Sunbreak Music

    Sunbreak Music Member

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  4. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Silver Supporting Member

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    Dude, that is hilarious... I have to get a fur vest for sure.
     
  5. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Silver Supporting Member

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    Hey, that is a great way to start. I'm going to pull together some materials (did the sight reading already) and do a mock practice routine today following your guide. Pretty cool, I just copied / pasted it into my Outlook calendar for today and I'm checking off as I go. I'm sure I will be tweaking this stuff, but I know at least for sight reading that short periods of practice throughout the day really help - hopefully the same will ring true for other skills as well. Good deal, Thanks!
     
  6. Dickie Fredericks

    Dickie Fredericks Member

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    I can tell you whats working for me though Ive only been at it for a week or so. I think you've got some of the same goals as I have though I have some of it covered even if only in a basic form.

    Here is what I suggest...Its what Im doing.

    Get a fake book of standards. Pick some that you recognize the name of or have heard. Get your hands on as many recordings of the ones you chose. (my first 2 tunes are "All the Things You Are" and "On A Slow Boat to China")

    1) I got copies of no less than 5 versions of each song to listen to over and over.
    2) I worked out a simple chord melody to each.
    3) I opened up band in a box and created a backing track for the song (1st time through I do the chord melody, second pass solo over it, third time do a combo of solo/chord melody)

    This is gonna help you (in the areas you posted as wanting to work on):

    1) Learn the entire fretboard (learning all the inversions helps a ton)
    2) you'll be able to solo over the changes (Im not doing anything outside or special here, just wanna be able to hang onstage w/ real players)
    3) Learn to sight read. I can read but not that fast.
    4) Play over changes
    5) Build dexterity

    Its working for me...Im hoping to post some extremely humble clips here of what Im doing. Not so much for a critique but mainly to see if Im on the right track and maybe it will help someone else try it...
     
  7. JohnM

    JohnM Member

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    Keep a journal of things you learn each day/week/whatever. Always a good thing to do.
    Also, everytime you sit down to practice, since time is a commodity, always focus on practicing something new, not noodling on the stuff you know already.
    All of the things you mentioned wanting to learn or improve upon are time-intensive things, and you are going to have to put in the hours somewhere, especially sight-reading.

    Most of my leaps in progress were/are had when I have a goal to meet, for example learning how to play a song for a performance or recording session. This forces you to stay motivated and get 'REAL' results. When you don't have a goal it's easy to slack. (At least for me! :) )
     
  8. lifeinsong

    lifeinsong Member

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    If you can get thru the Berklee "Modern Method for Guitar" Books, you'll accomplish a great deal...most of the stuff you want to learn is in those books, especially learning how to sight-read all over the neck, scale patterns, modes etc.

    As far as picking technique goes, you should really try to practice with a metronome and always start very slowly, gradually building up your speed making sure you can play everything cleanly before moving on to a faster tempo.
     
  9. rosscoep

    rosscoep Member

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    Check out Guitar Compendium vol.1-3 by Howard Roberts and Garry Hagberg. Howard has the three volumes broken down into sections that correspond to what you want to learn when you want to learn it. I got this set last year and will most likely be using it for the rest of my life. Very, very nice set. The price of the 3 may be a bit daunting but it is an excellent resource. Cheers. Find it here.

    www.advancemusic.com
     
  10. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    Thanks for the link. I thought (based on my usual sources) that these were long out of print. I'll check them out. I'm a big fan of Howard Roberts' approach (that's the GIT in me). Have had a tattered copy of Super Chops for just over 20 years now.

    Dave
     
  11. jzilla

    jzilla Member

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    +1! keeping detailed notes (metronome settings, problem areas, creative ideas, etc.) was incredibly effective for me. otherwise, it's almost like you're starting over every time you practice... fwiw.


    -j
     
  12. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    Frankly, I'd advise against the dozen-subjects-at-15-minutes approach. In my experience, unless your working against a 10 year goal evaluation timeframe, you will be disappointed with the results.

    What are your real goals? Many of the goals you have listed are ambiguous. What is it you specifically want to be able to do?

    - Go to NY and play at the 55 bar?
    - Be a studio Musician?
    - Play vegas / broadway shows?
    - Tour the country opening for Holdsworth?
    - Play jazz gigs at local eateries/restaurants?
     
  13. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    10 years to become a really good, really rounded player is pretty ambitious! Though I'd definitely advise quarterly goal review/assessment (assuming one has goals to begin with). I'd get away from trying to cover too many subjects in a day too. But in the example I gave above (kinda' off the top of my head) scales, arpeggios & practicing in CAGED, can be lumped into one category. So can learning new tunes and practicing playing over new tunes, etc.

    How would you organize a student's 3 hours based on one or two of the scenarios you gave (and based on that he's said he needs to still learn how to read and still needs to learn and use scales)? I'm not doubting you have a better way, I just want to hear it. My take on the shorter intervals is that the avg. adult's attention span isn't much better than 15 minutes.
     
  14. dewey decibel

    dewey decibel Member

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    I agree with Jack, those goals sound ambiguous.

    There are things on the guitar that are very technical and it seems like it's best to learn them wrote, such as learning all the notes on the fretboard. But IMO, even that stuff is best learned in the context of a tune or something similar. My experience is that when you try and learn things just for the sake of learning them a) it takes a long time, and b) it doesn't stick.

    I also think that the 15 minute interval thing could be a mistake. I think it's good to regement things, but at the same time I wouldn't be strict about it. If you have 3 hours I would pick a couple things to work on in that time, and do them as long as you feel you need to that day. It maybe 5 minutes or it maybe 2 hours.

    As far as choosing what those things to work on are, your playing should tell you that. When you're playing, whether it's improvisng or playing written parts, try and remember whatever you had an issue with as it happens. Then in practice, work on that. Figure out why you had a problem and what you need to work on to fix it. If you were improvising and you ended up in a part of the fretboard you weren't familiar with, getting familiar with that area is what you need to work on. To me that wouldn't have so much to do with laerning notes, it would have to do with improvising that same part of the tune in that area untill I understood it.
     
  15. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Silver Supporting Member

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    Well, some varying viewpoints and some great ideas on how to practice from everyone so I really appreciate the feedback. I guess it's fair to say that there IS overlap in the some of the bullet points of the 15 minute interval approach that was listed (and remember, this was right off the top of his head too) that I have been working through today.
    I really just spent the day gathering information, ordering some more resources and I did a good deal of sight reading (still in first position) but small intervals as recommended. I guess my goals are really based on the holes that I see in my playing right now. I was a practicing, schooled, gigging musician when I was younger (15 - 25) but even when I was at Berklee I didn't practice nearly as much as I could have (or should have). So, I'm in a strange position where I KNOW the areas I need for improvement, it's just a matter of getting the right resources and dedicating the time and energy to get "there". I'd love to hit 40 (now 37) and be able to play with some local musicians over many different styles convincingly. Maybe meet some fairly accomplished people who can actually grab a Real (or Fake) book as common ground and just go...
    ****, just to buy some Beatles books and stuff for when company comes over and play some cool arrangements.
    I assume my old dreams of being a studio musician are probably behind me now, my life has taken a different path, but I can still devote a good deal of time to re-learing how to play and also do a lot of home studio recording.
    One thing I did today which I never did in the past was concentrate on one riff/lick over and over again for speed/dexterity training... I am already seeing results in one day. I happened to see JZucker KILL on a youtube vid (forget the name, "500...?" and then I saw his EJ / Bonamassa entry and I had to try and learn it:
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=rJ9VNox-XrI&feature=related
    Of course, this is a tiny, tiny morsel of what I need to pratice but it felt good to really dig in there and get used to repitition. All of the sudden I'm paying very close attention to my form, finger position, strap height, etc... The stuff I never cared about when I was young. I used to be able to read fairly well, so I know I can get that back. There is a ton of good material out there so I really have no excuse to get my playing better than what it used to be. It feels good to be back on the journey again.
     
  16. dewey decibel

    dewey decibel Member

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    I think your goals are totally in reach. A lot of times when people list the things you did (knowing the notes, sight reading, playing changes, etc) and you ask them, "Why?", they can't tell you. It's because they think they should, but it's not grounded in any reality of why it would actually make them a better player.

    But you seem to have reasons for the things you listed, so I think you have a good start. I'd just remember that while you're working on the "means" to keep the "ends" in focus, a lot of the things you've listed can become ends in themselves if you're not carefull.
     
  17. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    I had the exact same problem during my year at GIT. I had never learned how to practice in any formal way whatsoever, and all of a sudden I had a whole year to do nothing but play guitar and try to catch up to some of the monsters that I saw there every freakin' day! (I was there when Diorio, Gambale, Scott Henderson, et. al. were there pretty much daily) It was completely overwhelming. Couple that with the fact that I was 18, first time away from home in a big city like LA and it was pretty hard to focus!

    Honestly though, the smallish intervals has been the best thing for me. And nothing's stopping me from meeting my core requirements in a day and then playing for 6 more hours in a free-form or focused way. There's a psychological component too. When I hear the timer go off, I know I've just completed whatever assignment it is I gave myself. It's like an incremental reinforcement, taking small successes and building on them. It also helps me not drift and spend too long or too short on any given subject. So with some flexibility it can be pretty powerful.

    Regardless, I always try to read about alternative methods of learning/studying/playing/practicing. I haven't really heard anything else that's grabbed me, but I'm open. I want to hear what JZ has to say about it, since he's actually a teacher, unlike me.
     
  18. Dickie Fredericks

    Dickie Fredericks Member

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    I picked up superchops and man its great. I have looked through it but havent started as of yet.

    I think it will help me with the changes.
     
  19. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    I ordered from them, then they wrote and said they forwarded to their US distributor, so US folks might just want to go direct to Aebersold:

    http://aebersold.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=GC&Category_Code=

    Dave
     
  20. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    It is great, but it's pretty daunting. I did about a month on it and drove myself nuts. But at the time I knew very little about playing over changes, so it was a real drag. Now that I have a somewhat better grasp on chord tones, scales and arpeggios, I can probably hang a bit better with it -- but am going to take my time before tackling it again.

    What I think is particularly cool in that book is the chord voicings he suggests you use for recording the tunes. They're these monster voicings that will do as much to limber up your hands as the single note portion of the lessons will.

    He was a hell of a player, seemed to really love the guitar and enjoy playing it as well as he could.
     

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