What are your practicing goals?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Ides of March, Feb 10, 2012.

  1. Ides of March

    Ides of March Member

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    I am curious to know what you guys have as your practice goals for your practice routine. I am so many different practice materials for technique, scales, covers, and the lot but am having a problem deciding on what to make goals of. I ususally get an hour a night to practice so alot of time I am frantic to pick out what it is I really need to work on that I would actually use the most. I am mostly a rhythm player but my technique needs alot of work I am not afraid to say. But for goals I get lost, do you list them by week, month a couple days or what. There are songs I need to work on for my band so that is def one goal. But the rest of my time I get lost in what to do. Can anyone offer some suggestions.
     
  2. Manicstarseed

    Manicstarseed Member

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    To each his own.
    My take.... start with the band work. Dedicate half of your time to prepare yourself for the band. It will take a little time figuring out what you want to do here

    From there, I suspect after 1/2 an hour, you will have a better idea of the general challenges that are hindering the band prep and focus on those issues. It could be certain chord shapes or right hand technique. Use the band prep to bring issues to light and go from there.

    A basic goal is to be the best guitar player that the band can hope for. This can drive you to increased musicianship.
    After that, it all becomes a means to that end. This way, the band 'needs' will generate opportunities to learn something new and it will be mixed up, depending on the task.

    Other than that, I would look for the thing most needing improvement and focus time on that.

    Goals can be simple... like .... for the next two weeks, practice x and after two weeks, the goal is met and we can be free to pick something else.

    Making up a preconceived notion of advancement within mental time-frames can be discouraging when it doesn't 'pan out' then the goal clearly isn't met.

    I think goals should be in the doing correctly and not results oriented, but then again that may be the poker player in me.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2012
  3. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Record yourself playing a broad selection of things you can currently do - from easy things you think you're good at, to things where you know you have a few problems.
    Listen back, and you will probably be surprised at what you hear. Probably you'll hear much that is OK, but equally likely you'll hear flaws where you thought you were OK. It may be in things like timing or articulation, subtle things like dynamics or tone. Quite likely, if it's things you're not aware of, the same problems will surface across the board.
    The idea is to listen dispassionately - as if you're a teacher judging someone else (what would a teacher say if they could listen to you?) - and make a list of things to work on. What's the most embarrassing mistake you make? Which ones can you live with for now, or easily fix?
    Fix the easy ones, and make plans for how to tackle the bigger problems (if any).
    Make recording a regular feature of your practice session, to keep a check on yourself.
    Even if you spot no problems at all (unlikely!) you can always think about polishing things: improving things like tone, or choice of effects, not just getting faster or tighter.
     
  4. Ides of March

    Ides of March Member

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    Actually I just started doing that a couple days ago. And your right it's a great idea. I have never seen myself playing some of the songs that I practice so it was good to see. And I am going to continue to do it.
     
  5. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    I guess I practice, but maybe not as disciplined as most...but don't think I should study this scale or whatever.. I just sit and play, and what comes out, comes out. Good or bad. I like playing some Bach stuff, but never have the patience to memorize it note for note. I guess I used to have goals of doing that. memorizing a piece, and did but then you have to keep practicing or you kinda forget it. It's fun to just sit and play and see what comes out all the influences an mood that comes out. For me, it' much more rewarding to sit and listen instead of thinking and playing from memory. My favorite players seemed to always just play and didn't really practice, at least in the formal sense. I don't like that "practiced" sound that can come from too much thinking about stuff.

    What I like to do for a practice session is get on youtube, and watch a monster player, absorb some of it, and then try to do that, but add my own thing in. I try and see how fast I can get the jist of what they're doing. It might be technique, or maybe some kinda cool chording... It's different everytime and I like to challenge myself. I know if I have a hard time on one, I'll be stubborn and sit there until I can get some kinda handle on it, so I guess that'd be a goal for that day.
     
  6. shredtheater

    shredtheater Member

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    Monster advice there ^
     
  7. Seraphine

    Seraphine Member

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    After many years .. decades of "practice" and playing... my usual these days is first to warm up me fingers lol... This usually takes a half hour at least. I run through most everything as far as using a rule.. "Use It Or Lose It"... this keeps things current, rhythm.. chord.. arps.. scale / modes and a pocket full of techniques involving most all of it...

    I'll throw a tune or two I know, which varies, just to use it or lose it... also new tunes so that more ideas and songs and music is added...

    Mind you this is after years of modes scales chords etc everywhere on the fretboard. At this point it's like Santana I guess... Jam till you reach that special place where it opens up and the inspiration and creativity becomes a session.. This is another reason why it's brilliant to record everything we do... As JonR mentioned.

    Music and even the gtr as an instrument is near infinite and in very practical terms.. There's lifetimes of stuff in a gtr alone... so the journey and not the destination is the thing... Though destination can be likened to ideal and the practice to ideas that work toward the ideal.. Still, the creativity of "practice" can be way beyond "technique and "learning" and in the world of composition and manifestation. After all the practice we've done, we can use it, again as JonR mentions... What use these "tools" if we don't use 'em?

    So at least every once in awhile, make wood shedding and practice composition and creativity... MAKING music...
     
  8. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

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    Since i'm lazy, my only goal for practice (if you call what I do practice) is to write or learn the song or it's parts. Everything I do is in context to making music.
     
  9. Sensible Musician

    Sensible Musician Member

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    my #1 is to simply spend time in music. the end goal of doing music is to do music, so if i can do music at the exact same time i prepare for music, why not? sounds silly but consider all the things that aren't very musical:

    scales
    patterns
    arpeggios
    transposition for sake of learning in all 12 keys*
    theory
    technique

    ...all the stuff we guitar players obsess over

    if, instead of holing away in a practice room with a metronome, i simply play along with recordings i admire, soaking up every detail to the point where i can make my version in the same style on a looper - then what am learning?

    groove
    rhythmic vocabulary
    tonal vocab
    hyper-sensitized awareness of form

    ...all the stuff i wish i had obsessed over my whole life LOL

    ironically i actually improve technique much more by just horsing around with music than by traditional, knuckle-down woodshedding. consider articulation: i can sit by myself, trying to invent a whole system of musical expression ex nihilo, or i can just imitate my favorite player, who is in turn imitating all of his favorite players. it's an efficient way

    non-contextual technical exercises are mostly wasted time/effort. most people advance in skill in a such a way that they can play anything they can "hear". if i have something in my vocab it will just come out of me when i "think" it. when i have to work on something specific to push a tempo, i will get there very quickly. the idea that i can do a bunch of exercises really fast, therefore i can play music fast, works up to a point, but it is an abysmally low point - very poor return on investment

    for me the whole game of practicing is about reconciling the following imperatives: i want to play music that appeals to me, and i want to have a structured, productive practice time. it's kind of a balance beam between lapsing into passive entertainment and the self-infliction of non-musical chores

    at the most basic level all i have to improve as a musician is to pay close attention to music. it's the closeness of attention that is tricky - at least for me


    * if i know a bit of music and i know my instrument, it will come out of me in any key; i.e. i need to know how to play music in general in all keys. if i need to learn new vocabulary on the guitar in individual keys something is missing
     
  10. Ides of March

    Ides of March Member

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    So your saying you play along to cd's. Which is what I have been doing. And the parts that are difficult I practice. Different genres, different styles. There are techniques and practice items in all of these songs we choose to practice. And it sounds musical. Yeah I agree. Maybe I should continue on that road.
     
  11. Jim Soloway

    Jim Soloway Supporting Member

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    My only practice goal is to continue learning and getting better.
     
  12. Jeremy_Green

    Jeremy_Green Member

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    Mine is ever changing depending on where the biggest hole in the boat is. Mostly transcribing, writing, or playing through odd chord progressions with a looper pedal. ALWAYS witht the core focus being around rhythm.

    When this gets boring I follow my heart to some new idea and riff on that until I am done with it. Keep it fun and engaging and you are on the right path
     
  13. Crankston Shnord

    Crankston Shnord Active Member

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    To have fun :)

    Seriously, forget about trying to learn or practice or whatever sometimes, and just have fun . I've written my best music that way :rockin

    That may not be very helpful :)
     
  14. fr8_trane

    fr8_trane Member

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    Nothing wrong with that method at all. It can be very instructive and it focuses on the main thing which is making music, not boring exercises.

    Learn the melody. This is where any concept of soloing should start. Play the melody in as many different places on the neck as you can.

    Learn the chord progression and associated rhythm part. I like to write out the chords with roman numerals as well so I can see common progression like I IV V or ii V I.

    Pay attention to the form as well (intro, verse, chrorus, bridge, outro) as this will help you learn something about arrangement

    If there's a solo learn it by ear or, if you can, transcribe it. Even if you can only snag a few licks thats a good start.

    Learn what scales are being used by the soloist. Are there any others that could be used? Arps? Triads?

    Do this for every song you want or need to learn and you'll absolutely see results.
     
  15. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    Right now my practice goals is to have fun. Playing for a living I do so much playing for others that I find it good to get in touch with the selfish part of playing..having fun. Recently this has meant learning a bunch of fiddle tunes I didn't previously know.
     
  16. Seraphine

    Seraphine Member

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    Are you jestin' man? I wish I would have mentioned this! lol Brilliant point and required as a basic rule. Fun is to be demanded! ... and fun in no way means it's not work.. It certainly is work it's just not a JOB :p

    Thanks for reminding me.
     
  17. craigoslo

    craigoslo Member

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    Always have a practice plan before you sit down. Don't use practice time trying to figure out what you practice. This goes for youtube as well. If you want to get some practice ideas from there, fine, but do it with your morning coffee, not during your practice time. I am very busy and don't get a lot of time to practice, so I am very selfish with those minutes that I get. If sound is not coming out of my guitar, then I am not practicing. Holding the instrument does not count (it is nice though).
     
  18. craigoslo

    craigoslo Member

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    It is a job for some people, but it's still fun.
     
  19. dallasblues

    dallasblues Member

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    I specifically define my weaknesses and actively work towards strengthening myself in that area. I've played guitar for over 22 years, but jazz has been, and is, a weak spot for me. So, I found an instructor who specializes in jazz and take lessons once a weak and practice every day.
     
  20. CowTipton

    CowTipton Silver Supporting Member

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    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

    but the other side of that coin is also true (at least in my experience)

    All play and no work makes Jack a dull boy.


    I probably spend about half my practice time having fun and the other half working on improving my ability. That could be technique, grasp of theory, applying that theory in practice, learning songs, etc.
     

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