Practice routine (30 mins/night)

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by gtrfinder, Jan 18, 2008.

  1. gtrfinder

    gtrfinder Supporting Member

    Oct 10, 2006
    First some clarification:
    I have some questions about developing a practice routine, but noticed there is another thread already started.
    If it sounds too much like the thread already started here, then please feel free to let me know. I think this board is big enough for 2 relatively similar threads in the same day.

    I'm a married man, and don't seem to have the time to practice like I used to. My wife is very understanding, but I don't think it would be too respectful to expect to be able to dedicate hours a night to practicing the guitar. I figure that 30 minutes to an hour a night (or maybe every other night) would be an acceptable compromise. She sings and plays piano, so she understands, and I'm willing to afford her the same amount of time for practice on her instruments.

    So with that said. Should I pick a theme for each night's practice routine. Say scales one night, chords one night, songs one night? Or is there something else I should be focusing on?

    My favorite guitar player is Robbie Mcintosh. He just always seems to know the right part to play at the right time. I'd like to become a player more like that. I don't have any interest in being a "guitar hero" or playing really flashy stuff to show off (not that I could anyway). I want to be able to be a good accompanyist. My wife and I currently gig about once a month doing an acoustic set of her songs and some covers, but I'd like to get to the point where if we can get a larger band or group together I can bring something complementary to the table and be able to play in any situation.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  2. countandduke

    countandduke Member

    Mar 23, 2005

    Yep, I am in the same boat. Don't have time to practice like I want to. BUT, the good news is there's actually more time than you think if you really want to find it. Can you get up a little earlier? Can you practice before she comes home? Can you bring your guitar to work and practice on a break? You will get what you put into it, let's put it that way. I practice at night with my wife sitting right next to me on the bed. She understands but there are of course days were I don't practice at all.

    If you want to be able to comp well, I would suggest trying to learn say 6 different inversions for major, minor, dominant, and diminished chords. One of the very best books in my collection is a Joe Pass book about chords. It's only about 18 pages long and shows TONS of inversions. Get yourself a Real Book and learn to comp through some easier tunes like, Night and Day, Satin Doll, Blue Bossa, Wave and just keep getting better....

    Good luck.

  3. KRosser

    KRosser Member

    Oct 15, 2004
    Pasadena, CA
    Why not devote an hour a night to you & your wife playing songs together?

    That's what I'd do if I were you - and playing music is the best practice.

    Plus, it points up what you really need to work on in the "alone practice time" you do manage - if something is difficult in your playing sessions ("I can't lock into a 3/4 groove", "I never know what to play when she gets to those maj9 chords", etc...) then make regular practice time to deal with those issues.

    Practice devoted to addressing the music you're playing is the best way to get better, IM very HO...
  4. Kappy

    Kappy Member

    Jan 26, 2005
    Soho, NYC
    Yeah, the wife and I got a piano recently and are both studying the piano together (but individually if you know what I mean). The plan is for both of us to be able to play piano, but my plan is to get a stand up bass and park it by the piano and play with her and do duets with bass and piano or with the guitar and the piano. (Kind of a circuitous route with my learning to play piano too, I admit, but circuitous is the kinda' guy I am!). Anyway, we've been having fun both practicing the new instrument and working towards a similar goal together. Plus it brings her closer to my love of music which isn't something we've always shared (she's had her music and I've had mine, so it's always been kind of a separate experience). I think the piano's given her some understanding of why I spend a lot of time with the guitar too. It's all good.

    P.S. I'm convinced that a musical family with regular family jams could be one seriously cool thing on a lot of levels, not only for the health and togetherness of the family, but for having quality entertainment and for entertaining and engaging friends and family, etc.
  5. countandduke

    countandduke Member

    Mar 23, 2005
    Yeah, playing music with other people is great. My 12 year old step-son and I have been jamming Zeppelin tunes which is a lot of fun. My 17 month old son likes to sit on the seat and bang on the drums too...His signal for wanting to play the drums is waving his arm frantically which is pretty cute.

    KRosser has great advice about working on things together...

  6. Swain

    Swain Member

    Oct 2, 2005
    N. Little Rock, AR.
    Great advice, above. Maybe I can add something.

    Grab a few of the Hal Leonard Play-Along Book/CD series. They have selections of tunes in different styles. Practice playing along with the included CD.

    Also, learn a couple of the "tasteful" tunes, by players you really admire. Learn them note-for-note. And, I would suggest that you learn these tunes by ear. Then, analyze the fills, rhythm choices, voicings, etc. of these players, in the different contexts. Try and adopt what you've picked up from this analysis into your playing. Little things can be the key to new pathways. You may start out with a pre-conceived notion of what someone else does, or what you think you're going to get from their playing. But, I usually find that I will discover some "hidden gems" that I had never noticed before.

    As far as hands on, physical stuff; I usually pick a "Key of the day" to work with. And that's the Key I warm up with. I'll take all of my Chord Scales, Arpeggios, Modes, etc. and work them through the day's selected Key. Plus, I'll take whatever tunes I'm working on, and play through them in that chosen Key.
  7. ddewees

    ddewees Member

    Feb 14, 2006
    Gtrfinder, 30 minutes a day can be productive with a plan. I'll refer to a 4 instruction based authors that teach this theme

    Shane Theriot
    Pete Huttlinger
    Dan Crary
    Jack Grassell

    Each have various dvd and books available that can supplement your practice. They all come back to the same theme; have an agenda for your session, keep it focused (human attention span is only good for 20 minutes on 1 topic), work on 1 thing until you know it, write it down, set goals in writing and journal. Rinse and repeat.

    Effortless Mastery by Kenny Werner and Inner Game of Music by Barry Green go deeper into this topic as well.

    This material is relevant regardless if, like many of us you only have 30 minutes a night or if you aspire to be a pro.

    One example of this in use: after 10 years of struggling of and on I finally used this 20 minutes a day format to nail the head to Eric Johnson's Cliffs Of Dover. Somedays I worked on other things during additional 20 minute sessions and I didn't work on Cliffs every day. But I would journal where I left off, then come back to that point, learning a measure at a time at a painfully slow metronome setting. It took about 2 months to get it to 2/3 performance speed.

    You could split your 30 minutes into 15 minutes of technical learning, including warmup and 15 minutes on 1 song. The suggestions to do create time for duet practicing could / should create additional playing time. Consistent suggestion from instructors listed above, practice is different than rehearsal.

    One other book/dvd that could be useful - Adam Levy's new book - it's not advanced, more at the advanced beginner/intermediate level. Good tips for accompanying and fitting into a band situation. Good inversion exercises too.
  8. jzguitar

    jzguitar Member

    Jun 23, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    If I only have 30 minutes or so I'll usually do 10 minutes of warmups, 10 of picking exercises, and 10 of left hand/legato excercises. Of course that's strictly a technique session. You can do the same for other aspects of playing (10 min warmup/10 minute chord study/10 minute scale study) etc....
    John Petrucci wrote about his filing system a while back - he has folders for specific areas of practice. For example, have a folder for picking exercises, one for legato stuff, one for chords, one for arpeggios, etc..... Whenever you come across something you like (maybe a column in a guitar mag or something) file it in the appropriate folder. Then when you plan a practice session you can pick things from these folders to work on. Good luck and have fun!


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