practicing licks

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  1. Matt

    i have trouble practicing licks. i have transcribed solos, analyzed them, and can sing along with them, but i find that certain phrases or licks in them that i would like to have in my playing don't come out naturally. i have tried taking a tune and then applying one lick to every place it fits, but this hasn't helped those licks come out naturally when i play.

    so how do you guys practice licks? how do you approach developing language?

  2. I wouldn't trust me but, it's not clear what your struggle is with these licks.
    If you can play it and you understand where it goes, I can't see the problem. Thus may sound too simple but transcribing the lick and knowing where it is to be plugged in ( intellectually ) is one thing . Having it under your fingers ; playing it w conviction ... As an old teacher said : having the lick be " bullet proof " would be essential .
    As an aside , beyond learning a lick and it's correct or acceptable contextual backdrop , looking at the overall harmonic arc of the thing. Not just doing the lick mechanically- knowing the harmonic makeup ( beat to beat ) to derive your own flow ; occupying the same color or terrain just in ways that may feel natural to you now- as an alternate perk from having checked out a window into someone's deal note for note and the harmonic/ mechanic benefits of that.. So it's not so static.
    Sorry ... Beers

  3. jorgemg1984

    Not all licks can be put out of context... and some I like to grap the concept of the prhase more than the phrase itself.

    Of course some are very good for language, like II V I licks. For those I have found that studying 5 licks one key per day it's MUCH BETTER than one lick trough all keys in one days. Staying in the same key for one day it's very effective... try it, David Arguelles told me this.

  4. Gesture

    I know exactly what you mean. The licks I practice only occasionally show up in my playing and it takes a VERY long time until they come out naturally.
    I checked out some lessons from the Tim Miller site and he also says you'd have to play them hundreds of times and in all keys to really get a line in your system. What did help me was coming up with line-etudes (which tim also does) which include licks you are trying to learn. This way you put vocabulary in a context and it doesn't sound forced (like "insert lick here").
    You're already doing it right.. Keep singing along and apply it to different tunes and tempo's. Just be patient I guess..

    I read an interview with Mike Brecker once and he said it would take months for new vocabulary to show up in his playing and it would sometimes come out of nowhere.

  5. Gesture

    Oh and also: Maybe instead of practicing the same lick over and over again try learning the sound of the thing you're learning.
    For example if you're learning some w/h-diminished line just mess around with the notes a bit and come up with different ways of playing that sound.

  6. Matt

    @floatingbridge, i think what i mean to say is that there's a gap between having the lick be bulletproof and having it come out in a performance setting. i find myself able to sing them, play them, and apply them variously, but only in the practice rooms.

  7. I remember in college most of the other guitar players practiced a lot more than I did. But I was the one assimilating the language quicker. Because I was more talented? Hardly! It was because I was playing gigs almost every night while the other guys were sitting at home practicing. I realized that that was key ---at least for me. Practice enough to learn the basic notes---but be playing with other people in a real world situation and it will appear quicker. It could have something to do with the fact that when you are at home at most you might play for an hour---and you can repeat yourself more. When you are under the gun you can't repeat as much. Maybe something else takes over and it just happens. Once I can do it on the gig I usually can do it at will. No scientific proof---just a thought.

  8. Matt

    @larue: you may be onto something...when i record myself practicing, i am much more disappointed than when i listen to a recording of a gig or of a session.

  9. I think it does make a difference....even if it's just a jam session. It's like the difference between practicing speaking French with a cd or actually going to france.


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