What To Practice When Time Is Short

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Rob G, May 7, 2015.

  1. Rob G

    Rob G Member

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    I'm sure many of you find it hard to find the time to play as much as you'd like to. Between teaching, filming new lessons, promo work, rehearsing, playing gigs, maintaining a house and spending time with my wonderful wife and daughter my practice and composition time is not what it once was.

    However I've found that making a list and sticking to it in terms of focused practice time has really helped.

    I work on one musical idea until I feel like I have a grasp on it then move onto the next. Sometimes I don't sit down with the guitar to do this until midnight and even though I might feel tired and vegging out in front of the TV is an easier option the guitar is always more rewarding.

    Also ask yourself what you are practicing and why. If you really have no interest in say bluegrass, for example then why work on bluegrass licks? When time is short go where your passions are and you'll be motivated to play.

    We all lose that feeling from time to time, some days are just exhausting and in my experience putting the guitar down and listening to some music, new or old will help get you re-inspired. Listen to something that got you excited about the instrument in the first place, go back to your bedroom as a teenager playing air guitar and perhaps also explore something different that may stretch you a little and inspire you to search for 'that note.'

    As with many other pursuits in life, studying music and the guitar is a shining example of the more you put in, the more you'll get back.

    Just sharing my thoughts ;)
     
  2. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

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    Good points, Rob.

    Demands of work & school leave me without the 2 hour blocks I used to have to practice every evening and the 4+ hours on Sat & Sun.

    I try and focus on one thing at a time. I've been working my way through your Guitarist Pentathlon package (nice material, btw) before messing with anything else. If I don't dial into one thing at a time, I get too scattered and nothing gets done.
     
  3. Rob G

    Rob G Member

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    Glad you like The Guitarist's Pentathlon, thanks so much for checking it out.

    Yes, staying focused on one thing helps get results. Seems like that's getting more difficult these days especially in our fast food style society.
     
  4. Baminated

    Baminated Member

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    Yup , consistency is it. If you have only 5 minutes a day, practice that one thing for those 5 minutes until they add up.
    At this point it's important to first identify core concepts such as developing your own sound, timing & technique.
    Then apportion the core stuff over those short periods and stick with it
     
  5. ari

    ari Member

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    I try to put in 30 minutes each day. I've been focusing on just increasing my speed -- just a simple, 16th-note figures on a single string. Started at 105bpm and now up to 125bpm. I'm approaching the area that was my glass ceiling before, I'm hoping to stay focused and break through it.

    ari
     
  6. T-Funk

    T-Funk Member

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    Some good information in this thread.

    My biggest daily challenge is not so much the total available time to practice, but splitting the said time between three instruments (guitar, bass and trumpet) while still making progress. I usually work on trumpet for 30 minutes before work and 3 hours after work is split between bass and guitar.

    Being consistent over the years has been a difficult, but I cannot imagine discontinuing any the said instruments after playing each of them for over 25 years. I love playing each instrument, but for different reasons. The things that have helped me the most is a dairy and weekly plan of the things I wish to accomplish in the practice room. Also, a timer has been beneficial to help me to stay on track and not spend too much time on any one item.

    With that said, I did study Jazz and Classical piano for eight years as a young adult, but had to let it go as graduate school (Computer Science and Electrical Engineering) and more of life's responsibilities materialized. However, I never really bonded with the piano. So, it was not a big issue. Furthermore, my brother is a professional Jazz and Gospel pianist (and a good drummer). One pianist in the family is enough. LOL
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2015
  7. djdrdave

    djdrdave Member

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    Nice thread. This has been a struggle for me as well. At work now
     
  8. Kingpin

    Kingpin Member

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    Here are some things that work for me...

    Don't practice when you are tired... you're better off taking a half hour nap and then playing for 20 minutes than you are playing for 50 minutes when you're not fully present.

    Turn off the TV when you play... give the guitar full focus. I know a lot of people say they practice while watching the tube. It doesn't work for me... I think your technique actually suffers from inattention, and I think your musical ideas go on auto-pilot as well.
     
  9. YOGA64

    YOGA64 Member

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    True, I totally agree with this statement.
     
  10. ZeyerGTR

    ZeyerGTR Supporting Member

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    I go back to my goals, and tend to do one of three things. I often only have 15 minutes to squeeze in practice, so for me:

    1) Work on reading - pick a tune from the Real Book, go through random classical pieces, etc.
    2) Work on rhythm - I created a bunch of backing tracking with a groove for one or two measures, then a bunch of measures of rest. I practice keeping the groove going during the rest and lock in w/ the groove when it returns. Really challenging for me, but making progress. It's hard to really focus much more than 15-30 minutes anyways.
    3) Just start playing and explore a new riff, chord progression, new voicings, etc and see what comes out. If I get something cool I'll record the unamplified electric on my phone and come back to it later, or write it out.

    IMHO, making progress is as much about how focused you are when you're practicing than how much time you put in. Lord knows, I've spent a lot of time noodling and jamming... back when I had more free time. :) While it's certainly fun and it helps in some ways (applying what I'm learning), it doesn't stretch me as much as 15-30 minutes a day of focused practice on specific goals.
     
  11. Uchison

    Uchison Member

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    Thanks for this. Got me focused again
     
  12. Rob G

    Rob G Member

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    Great posts, especially about focus. I agree that 15 minutes of focused practice is much more productive than an hour of noodling.
     
  13. Guinness Lad

    Guinness Lad Silver Supporting Member

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    If you can practice only one thing it should be ear training, everything comes from this.

    Things to do -

    1. Singing all the scales, this means calling out a scale and singing it without mistakes.
    2. Bending to pitch, a great thing to do is have your guitar plugged into a tuner, hit a note and bend it up a half or whole step until in tune with the tuner, not what you think was correct.
    3. Singing through jazz chord progressions. Pick any song and sing the notes within the chords listed.

    I can't do any of these how I would really like, but I'm far better at it than I used to be, this is not simple stuff but yields more rewards than anything else I can think of.
     

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