What to do when your playing becomes stagnant

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by cbickford84, Apr 9, 2015.

  1. cbickford84

    cbickford84 Supporting Member

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    I feel like I haven't added much lately; I don't feel I have been improving. Ever get that feeling? If so, what do you do? Any tips?
     
  2. Mark Robinson

    Mark Robinson Member

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    Take a lesson, tackle a song you should have learned years ago, find a gap in your chord vocabulary and work it out, refresh your knowledge of the pentatonic scale in five positions on the neck for every key, then do the same for major and minor scales, and then half-whole note scales in a few keys. Get a looper going in your practice space and work with it. Play along to records. Get out all your song lists from various bands and see how many tunes you can get through "clean". Call up some friends, have them over and play songs.
     
  3. CowTipton

    CowTipton Silver Supporting Member

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    Another rut-buster that works for me:

    -Learn a piece of music that was not necessarily for guitar. It will likely force you out of your comfort zone because the fingerings, picking patterns, and such will be different.

    I learn video game music, movie music, hammond organ parts, vocal lines from famous singers, etc. It works for me.
     
  4. chillybilly

    chillybilly Member

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    Brian May tip in response to this question posed in a guitar mag: 'practice' without an actual guitar in your hand, presumably to avoid allowing muscle memory to force you back into ruts.

    Personally, I scoffed at this - it seemed as if May was having a bit of fun with the question but he said it nevertheless.
     
  5. Fretsalot

    Fretsalot Member

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    Don't know the level of your chops, but... what do you rate as one of your weaknesses? Start working on that and the sense of satisfication you will get for taking up the challenge will likely push you to some new ground. I find that one skill is often a building block for another skill.

    best wishes,

    Fretsalot/Scott
     
  6. cbickford84

    cbickford84 Supporting Member

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    Great suggestions. I'd say my speed and dexterity are always areas that need to be improved, but not allowing my playing to be repetitive and stale is always my biggest concern.
     
  7. gennation

    gennation Member

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    I haven't been in a rut in many decades. This is how I do it...I never get a change to let boredom creep in and influence me actually playing and learning. I worry about burning out at times but I've been going for decades and haven't got close yet.

    I keep myself busy so I don't get bored or stagnate. I'm always practicing 3-4 setlist at a time. It usually consists of my classic rock band, my modern jazz quartet, an Elvis impersonator show, and a big band I work with.

    From those setlists there are always 3-5 songs I either need to work on to get better or just need to keep in my muscle memory. For instance....

    I'm always working on playing/improvising over stuff like 500 Miles High by Corea. I'm always going through the muscle motions for Black Magic Woman, Red House, Bright Size Life. I'm always trying to maintain the speed of James Burton's solo on See See Ryder from Elvis's opener at the Aloha Hawaii show...it's simple but he plays it flawless at about 145bpm!...and the guy I work with wants to play it faster, around 160bpm...so I have to be ready to play it at blistering speed as the first solo of the night!

    I also practice about 5-10 minutes of reading charts a day before going to work. I still suck at reading but for some reason I get calls to do it all the time. So, it's something I have to practice and practice at...I can't ever see that ending.

    And if that isn't enough...I keep a playlist of "Tunes to cop from" on spotify. Anytime I need something to do, I hit it. Most of the tunes are there because of their melody or for one simple lick, chord progression, etc...and rarely to learn the whole tune. So they make great vehicles for short distractions with great rewards.

    For my own exploration and trying to "land on my feet" type playing I also just come up with really off the wall chords progressions and try to play lines in a way to make the progression sound coherent by using half steps into the "next chords" chord tones. It's a great work out...giving direction where no direction exists at times.
     
  8. BetterMeThanYou

    BetterMeThanYou Member

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    What about learning another instrument even if it is just another stringed one like banjo or ukelele? For that matter, a different tuning can move you in an entirely new creative direction.
     
  9. straightblues

    straightblues Member

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    Learn a song from a completely different genre of music. Or pick up a different instrument. Getting a mandolin and a bass really helped my guitar playing.
     
  10. tjontheroad

    tjontheroad Supporting Member

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    Do some transcriptions and don't limit yourself to guitar. Transcribe horns and other instruments to get you out of your funk.

    Good luck
     
  11. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    I read the essays in Mick Goodricks Advancing Guitarist and feed the ducks.
     
  12. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

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    Great idea. :aok

    That book never fails to force me to look at the instrument differently.

    Not sure about the ducks. :dunno
     
  13. amstrtatnut

    amstrtatnut Member

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    Im not this disciplined but yeah, stay busy. For me one thing leads to another. Ill be working on a song and that reminds me of a skill I want to improve upon. Or Ill be sucking on a song and that makes me think of different ways of achieving my goal with given tune.
     
  14. Guitardave

    Guitardave Supporting Member

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    Join a new band...
     
  15. Sweetfinger

    Sweetfinger Supporting Member

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    Pick a song that you like but that is just a bit over your current skill level and woodshed it.
     
  16. Nick-O

    Nick-O Member

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    Trying a different genre of music as mentioned worked for me. Got into some Wes Montgomery and went a whole different direction. We all need to explore a little more.
     
  17. BetterMeThanYou

    BetterMeThanYou Member

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  18. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    The ducks are Micks' idea. I would have never come up with something so beautifully simple. It works.
     
  19. Aaron Mayo

    Aaron Mayo Member

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    Get a good teacher and do what he says.
     
  20. DeaconBlues

    DeaconBlues Member

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    Take a break from your guitar playing. Might be for a few days, a few weeks...months.

    Seriously. I've had to do it for physical reasons. It's not easy to do, but seems to work.
     

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