Why is playing songs not considered practicing?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by CaptainCrunch137, May 19, 2019.

  1. Ed DeGenaro

    Ed DeGenaro Supporting Member

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    Totally agree I'm the first to rip my stuff apart...well actually second my drummer who is also a producer is pretty...uhem...forward.
    And over the decade or so I've been working with him has sent me back to the drawing board a few times.
     
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  2. macrofor

    macrofor Macro Silver Supporting Member

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    I’ve learned a couple important things about practicing in recent years.

    1- playing things I already know, things firmly under my fingers already, is not effective use of practice time. I may be able to eek out a few bpms doing it again, but in a broader sense, I won’t be improving

    2- playing things that reorganize my fingers, take Them to new places on the neck, is building new and different muscle memory, and also new understanding in the brain of how the neck is laid out, how harmony works

    3- applying #2 to an appropriate new tune is putting it in context to see how and why it woks/ sounds.
     
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  3. Papanate

    Papanate Gold Supporting Member

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    Who says playing songs is not part of practicing?
     
  4. Papanate

    Papanate Gold Supporting Member

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    I think that practice in the strictest meaning of the word is not that good
    at helping someone be a good musician.

    For the few people that ask me - I recommend playing songs with other musicians
    as much as possible - that benefits a person's musicality. If someone needs to learn a
    part I recommend learning it with the music. IOWs the theme is to learn through playing
    with musicians - and always practice with music to keep the mind focused on the reality
    of what being musical means in the real world.
     
  5. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    Segovia also said if he had time to only practice one thing, it would be scales. But Segovia's goals and methodologies in scale practice were different than an electric guitarist's are, typically.
     
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  6. Ed DeGenaro

    Ed DeGenaro Supporting Member

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    Fwiw if I had only time to work on one thing I'd alternate between ear training and time/groove.
     
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  7. Megatron

    Megatron Member

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    Yep time feel is huge. It's a constantly evolving thing. If someone reading this isn't experiencing that in their playing, they're working on the wrong stuff.

    I'm working on Garrison Fewell's books right now, but I'm getting myself to the place soon where all I want to do is transcribe and work on tunes.
     
  8. Andre LaFosse

    Andre LaFosse Member

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    As the saying goes: "If everything you're practicing sounds good, then you're not really practicing."
     
  9. ivers

    ivers Member

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    Tom Quayle covers this very subject in this video (at around 13:48 into the video), along with some tips that might be useful:

     
  10. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Yes. Either that, or you're not really listening! :D
     
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  11. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    Nice to know I’ve been “really practicing” for five decades now
     
  12. JonR

    JonR Member

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    I taught myself guitar from Bert Weedon's book "Play In A Day".
    I've been at it for over 50 years now. Still optimistic that that "day" will arrive some time soon....
     
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  13. jackaroo

    jackaroo Member

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    Practice is what YOU call it.

    Playing songs is awesome.
     
  14. PaulHudgins

    PaulHudgins Member

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    There is a delineation here that most people seem to miss in your question. When it comes to this statement "just play songs and stuff" the majority of people are referring to playing something you already know or are good at. The definition of "practice" that most applies to a musician is "to perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient"

    Therefore playing something you are already proficient at isn't really practice. That doesn't mean learning/playing songs is not practice.
     
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  15. AlanH

    AlanH Member

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    This might depend on whether you want/need to improve.

    I joined a new function band just over a year ago. My practice now solely consists of learning new songs and periodically going over others we've already learnt. It's all pop music from the eras and genres and is largely very easy to play technically speaking.

    If I wanted to improve (e.g. become proficient in neoclassical shredding) I'd have to add scales and technique to my routine.

    Fingers crossed no client requests an Yngwie song for their first dance or I'm screwed.
     
  16. JonR

    JonR Member

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    That's a good point.
    IMO, you improve all the time you're playing. The more you play the better you get, you can't help it. You just don't notice it most of the time - except when the technical improvement gets a little out of step with the intellectual or aural improvement. Then, if the intellect or ear get ahead of the technique, you can get the idea that either you're going backwards, or have "hit a wall". You're not, your technical improvement just hasn't kept pace with other improvements. Vice versa (technique gets ahead of intellect or ear), that's when you feel bored with what you're doing and feel to need to "break out" of a rut. Your thinking or your ear has not go worse; your technique has just got so good you find yourself noodling, or wanting something more interesting to apply it to.

    But there are times when you're faced with a particular tune or technique that you really want to master, but is currently beyond you - you get a conscious desire to actually improve. That process is then called "practice".

    The point is that the improvement - IMO - is (or should be) always tied to a specific musical goal. It's not about improvement for its own sake, just so you can tell yourself you're "getting better". It's about being able to play a specific piece, or pieces.

    Naturally, one can be focused entirely in learning new pieces anyway, without making the distinction. It's all "playing" - some pieces take a little longer to learn than others, require more application of effort, that's all.
     
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  17. arayadis

    arayadis Member

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    Playing songs with metronom is practicing I believe.
     
  18. NatGardner

    NatGardner Member

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    To each its own. Here is my idea of practicing non jamming lately:

    Sitting with an acoustic w 12's doing chromatic, major, minor scales ect ( down and alt picking ) in all forms striving for even pick attack, perfect fretting, making sure I don't press too hard or too light on the fretboard while breathing regularly and not feeling any stress tension in my playing hands or any part of my body. Perfect form before speed.

    Turning off the radio in the car on my commute and naming theory ie: the notes in triads, major minor and dom 7 in all keys, 251 chord combinations, alt substitution chords in all keys ect
     
  19. Jonathan31

    Jonathan31 Member

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    I think its funny noodling is always looked down upon. Noodling is so important because it helps you discover new ideas and invent your own licks and phrases. For my practicing is learning anything new I want to add to my playing. Then occasionaly I practice with a metronome.
     
  20. Tmidiman

    Tmidiman Member

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    For me playing songs is just one general form of practice. Another is focused on learning new/difficult concepts. My focus practice is typically with the goal of absorbing a concept to the point where it becomes second nature. Once that takes place the concept is fully moved over to song practice.

    It’s not always that cut and dry, but that’s it in general for me.
     

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