The Art of Practicing

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  1. JtV
    Member

    It is safe to say learning the guitar can be daunting. All those method books sometimes make the task more difficult. Maybe this has been talked about previously, maybe not, but I am wondering what peoples views on practicing are? More specifically how everyone here approaches it (I'd imagine there are many different thoughts). What I am interested in is how to practice so that when it comes time to play, the music is organic, and not a bunch of practiced licks strewn together. Hope this makes sense...

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  2. natjanoff
    Member

    Jtv,

    I find that if I take some idea, let's say Triad pairs. Say I want to play Triad pairs on Dom 7th chords. I'll pick Db, Eb+.
    Maybe I'll pick G7, C7, and D7, ( cause that would be a simple blues ). I might take a Abersold playalong and just play
    these Ideas over each chord. Ex. G7 ( Db,Eb+) , C7 ( Gb,Ab+) , D7 ( Ab,Bb+ ). So I will play these Ideas over just
    the static chord. I may sing them as well. Then I will use these over something like " All Blues ". I also will TAPE MYSELF!
    I can't speak enough about recording yourself when you practice. It's incredibly useful. The great jazz pianist Hal Galper
    talks about making your practicing as close to a real playing situation as possible. I find this helps with making new ideas
    I'm learning come out in a organic way.

    http://www.natjanoff.com

  3. Sandemose
    Member

    Good topic,

    I think we practice different things depending were we are in life. I get the feeling that most people practice technique in their teens and mid twenties, then put more time into just playing with people, playing live, perhaps recording etc.

    I myself love to be organized, because I teach for a living (not music though, swedish language and religion), but I dont think they differ so much from each other.

    I think that there are some fundamentals that you always need to work on, for the rest of your life. Time feel could be one of them, and just getting more advanced in your rhythmic vocabulary. One other thing could be writing your own music. I dont think I will ever stop writing music untill I die (in a freak guitar related accident?). I dont think I´ll practice modes as I have done when Im 45. But I dont know I guess.

    Try to systemize your training, from the tunes your currently working on. When you play these tunes with people, were are your limits? "I cant comp very well with chords only containing three notes". Okey, practice that untill you´re free with it. "I feel tense and nervous when I solo with my band". Practice relaxation, work on really fundamental technicall aspects on the guitar untill they are rock solid, even if you´re so nervous you cant hardly speak. The goal must be to play with people, no? What happens when you do that (and infront of an audience). 1 Learn more tunes? 2. Be a better comper? 3. Being a better solo player? 4. Time feel? 5. Writing more challanging/better/ nicer tunes? The number doesnt represent priority order of course. That is up to you.

    good luck, take care,

    Best regards,

    Sandemose

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  4. For technical things that you aren't going to glean intuitively, i think you just need to say "im going to learn this". Then you do whatever you think you should and push it- its always going to be uncomfortable at first. If you arent feeling awkward or confused you arent really getting anywhere, however counter-intuitive that seems. If you keep trying to learn things in what seems to you like the most obvious way, that way will start to become the best way, cause you'll see what works for you and what doesn't and the way will evolve.

    I think once you start to get most technical stuff under your belt, you just need to PLAY. even when you "practicing". Like they tell you in sports to get you to move you ass..."How you practice is how you play"

  5. natjanoff
    Member

    I like your ideas Sandemose and kitties. Great stuff!!!!!!

    I think being organized is great to. I have a notebook I write in everyday and log what I'm doing. I also have list of some of what
    I want to learn so I can see how things progress, or don't progress. I find having the notebook very helpful.

  6. Colonel Trane
    Member

    Every so often I write a big list of things that I need to put into my practicing which helps keep me on track.

  7. Alvin
    Member

    Hey!

    I am also in favor of making a list of things to practice. Maybe even making a different one for every practice session, containing some of the most challenging things from the previous session.
    My list concisted of mainly technical and learning-the-instrument kind of excersizes for years. So it wasn't until recently when I realized that, okay, maybe it's time to start learning to play music at last!
    So yeah, I agree that the younger (in guitaristic terms) the player, the more technical and figuring-things-out stuff should be involved.

    It's quite funny how in most cases, there is no so to say "consistant upward motion" in practice routines. What I mean is that it's all hacked up to periods of time.
    I.e. there are periods when a person is so caught up in learning the instrument that he/she almost loses the ability to improvise on tunes.
    Then the person hears some free improv concert and gets caught up in this kind of stuff.
    Then you (if you are like me) start to freakin' hate the standard jazz language and the "acceptable way to play jazz".
    Then you hear some great record from the cool-jazz period and can't get it out of your head. And then you hear some great classical guitarist... And then you're getting caught up in gardening and not playing for weeks...
    What I'm trying to say is that the ability to accept every period and get the most out of it without feeling guilty about the stuff you're not doing, is golden.

    One other thing I'd like to add is that it's important to listen to a lot of music. The things you listen to can sometimes creep out of your subconciousness into your playing ;)

    And if I could live up to my words, I'd be a great musician :P

    All the best
    Alvin

  8. monk
    Member

    i think one really good way is to transcribe a lot .. and also to sing all your lines .. people can talk about using all sorts of ideas like triad pairs, superimposing triads and using pentatonics .. but often you might just realise that they are just playing some (meaningless) patterns and not really some musical idea that they hear in their head .. and when you ask if they could sing a II-V out on the spot, they cant .. so i guess you wouldnt want to be like that .. cus that's not organic musical way ... old school transcribing and singing works cus all the masters did it this way .. it's hard work though and no fast immediate results

  9. JtV
    Member

    Thanks for the great responses! I definitely like the "idea" of taping ( meaning listening back could be painful) but seriously I have had other people say the same thing. Systemize is a good thing as I get distracted and bogged down in wanting to know everything ( often ending up knowing nothing) Singing is perhaps the best way to get at what is your essential self as a player. With the guitar, it is easy to let your fingers do the walking and just play a bunch of random stuff. But to my ears that is not what music is..... transcribing is a lot of work but the rewards, learning the basic language, structure and feel of great solos can't be overlooked. Two more points I would like to bring up that I feel are important, in regards to practice and ultimately playing freely (not as in Ornette, but as in not confined to licks and preconceived ideas)

    First is an overall knowledge of the guitar. Many great players talk about just knowing the neck backwards, forwards, inside and out. That way if an idea strikes you, it is not cut off because you landed in an unfamiliar part of the neck.

    Second, if the end result is to be able to play tunes, practice should be structured around tunes. Meaning concepts should be applied within the form and harmony of a tune. I view it as the framework is already there and anything; time, feel, comping, soloing and so on can be based on something concrete. So instead of practicing a pentatonic in isolation, put it in the context it will be used, carry it through an entire tune.....

    thoughts?......

  10. 26-2
    Member

    I agree with monk, if you are on the beginning of your studies you should concentrate on transcribing and a LOT of ear training! this is something that comes more difficult to study when you are older, all the rest comes out more easily if have good ears! all the excellent players i know can solfege and transcribe whatever! in the mean time you can still practice your material but you will see that the better is your sence of pitch the better you will be able to improvise with these materials!

    Good luck!


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