Time management..

Discuss playing styles and techniques, or share your own here.
Vaiagra
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Anyone else in the same situation?

I've been playing for over ten years now. I'm pretty good, but not good enough technically. I spend more time thinking about theory than reading up on it or practicing scales :? .

Example: Sweep Arrpegios..
At the moment, I can pull off a few nice ones every now and then, but I can't really perform the actual technique flawlessly. It seems so boring and repeptitive to sit down and play the same thing over and over and over again with an annoying metronome clicking in the background. Maybe I'm just scared sh-tless of becoming a slave to technique, I don't know..

On average, I have about 3-4 free hours a day to practice, but for some reason I usually end up smoking/drinking/watching movies instead. I play for at least 8-12 hours over the weekend (alone and + band).

I'm not sure if this is a motivation issue, if I'm doing something wrong or if I need to find a better strategy and practice routine..

Any advice on time management?
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Ricardo
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It seems so boring and repeptitive to sit down and play the same thing over and over and over again with an annoying metronome clicking in the background.
Turn whatever you do that is repetative, into a cool rhythm with accents and funky off beats or some synchopation or something, and do it like a groove, a loop, to the metronome. Make sure it "feels" like something, then it becomes a more "fun" exercise. Even a sweep arp can be fun if you approach it from a more rhythmic angle, rather than just up and down four notes per beat, faster and faster. Start on the off beat 16th before the beat, on the up beat "&", or right after the beat. Or do an odd note sequence, but like even 4 feel with little pauses so your "groove" stays like 4/4 or something. Or make it all swing. Or do it like triplets, but again start on the off beats. Etc. Make it fun for yourself, but never look at the metronome as "boring".

Ricardo
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Big Bad Bill
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It sounds like your 3-4 hours a day are simply not efficiently spent. I suspect a lot of people who say the practice 10 hours a day spend a lot of that time messing around-otherwise surely we'd have Steve Vai's coming out of our ears! They could probably distill it down to much shorter and productive sessions. It reminds me of a friend of mine who never did very well in her exams even though she seemed to be working much harder than me (and she was brighter than me!). But I discovered that her study time consisted of copying sections from a text book and copying it out over and over! That's the worst way of trying to learn something! Whereas I was using 'mind maps', mnemonics, rhymes etc which are a more intensive way of studying/learning.

For example I practice slightly more than an hour a day-I simply do not have the attention span to do much more (I have a PhD, subsequently I'm a very disciplined person used to doing boring things for a long time if I need to!! You don't need to be clever to do a PhD, just very determined!). But in that hour I really concentrate on the issues I need to address and focus in on them. If I'm working on sweeping I really home in on the problem I have and dissect it into its constituent parts and address each of those individually, then reconstruct them and practice them with a metronome until I can't get any faster or I start to get sloppy. Also each session isn't the same. I have a 'split routine' (to borrow a phrase from the world of weight training!) where one day I work of flashy stuff the next I work on chords or rhythm playing/chart reading or mix it all up! But I always finish a session improvising to a backing track and trying to be as 'musical' as possible and incorporating the ideas I've worked on. Theory, i tend to do away from the guitar, but I can see I need to do that within a practice session, now.

So, if I were you I'd address what you actually do with your practice time. Shorten its duration, focus on the things you can't do, evaluate yourself honestly and alter your practice accordingly.

Good luck!
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guyver_dio
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Big Bad Bill wrote:But I discovered that her study time consisted of copying sections from a text book and copying it out over and over! That's the worst way of trying to learn something! Whereas I was using 'mind maps', mnemonics, rhymes etc which are a more intensive way of studying/learning.
Off Topic: Actually BBB, isn't it proven that there isn't a right and wrong way of learning, just simply different ways that people benefit from more then other methods? I know that writing a passage of text down numerous times over is one of the methods that can be used in remembering information. Maybe she just felt comfortable with this method and that it suited her regardless of her end result.
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Big Bad Bill
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guyver_dio wrote:Off Topic: Actually BBB, isn't it proven that there isn't a right and wrong way of learning, just simply different ways that people benefit from more then other methods? I know that writing a passage of text down numerous times over is one of the methods that can be used in remembering information. Maybe she just felt comfortable with this method and that it suited her regardless of her end result.
Some of my educationalist colleagues claim that copying over and over and concentrating notes is the least efficient means of learning-the information doesn't seem to be retained for very long and this type of learning seems to prevent the synthesis of information into other areas or disciplines. It's also boring too! They show me the research, but I turn off at that point! It seems that the more involved the learning-eg drawings with lots of nice colours and 'kinesthetic' techniques (for example I get my students to make a model of the brain's arterial system out of pipe cleaners-it really makes them remember what's what!) burns the information into ones memory. It's interesting that I remember detail from my degree whereas my old friends have completely forgotten it!
spanishphrygian
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I had a Jazz teacher once say that being a musician/instrumentalist is more of a blue collar thing then most people realize. Sure some may know all of your music theory, advanced literary theories, and Calculus, but alot of these people still can't play very well.

In fact I knew a Concert Master that had a few Advanced degrees, but as he went in to the promotions and fund raising aspects of the Orchestral Company that he worked for he openly admited that "I don't have time to practice anymore, and rather then make the Orchestra sound bad, I will give up my position, to help the many as opposed to the 'one'-me."

So I say that everyone needs to practice more. I understand the position of practicing better with your time, but believe that one can only be good at one thing in their live. You can't be a master of everything.

haha I am no authority on the subject. I just like to type too. haha.
MatJB
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[quote="Vaiagra"]= It seems so boring and repeptitive to sit down and play the same thing over and over and over again with an annoying metronome clicking in the background. /quote]

Use music as a metronome. You can't adjust the speed directly, but it isn't anywhere nearly as boring.
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Big Bad Bill
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spanishphrygian wrote:I had a Jazz teacher once say that being a musician/instrumentalist is more of a blue collar thing then most people realize. Sure some may know all of your music theory, advanced literary theories, and Calculus, but alot of these people still can't play very well.
I think you're (or your tutor) is probably correct. I think most of the 'hair bands' of the 80s were 'blue collar' in that they weren't schooled but the could play their songs really well. But that's the thing, could they improvise convincingly or would they need to spend quite a bit of time just working out what scales they could use and then try and be musical? There are quite a few people with natural talent out there who can play really well-they're just wired up naturally for playing guitar. But I'd say most of us have to work at it and I agree with you, spanishphrygian (or should that be Phrygian major? Or Phrygian dominant? Are you impressed with my theory? No, I didn't think so) we could all do with a bit more practice, but I say a bit more efficiency would make life easier and free up some time to eat, bathe and speak to the missus! :lol:
spanishphrygian
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Efficiency and Knowlege was most lacking in most of my practicing life. But Dawg Gone it I tell you I got all of my chops from elbow grease! I practiced like I was possesed or something.

All of the hard (blue collar) work paid off too! Now I have tons and chops. I can sweep pick arpegios all over the place, two hand tap, and shred scales.

Now, that does not make me anything near Steve Vai though. I don't have a marketable compostion or songs with good melodies and such. I do have the chops though.

I mean I think that I am revealing a lot here too!

One thing that I forgot to mention though, is this Jazz Teacher said that some of us need to stop practicing and start reading more books and putting together theory on scratch pads as well. That would be me.

I've met people that know a lot but still there fingers can't play what they know. I think that the only way to get over that is by practicing more!

I really think, and I could be very wrong. That a person should practice the same scale a million times until their fingers do it in their sleep if that is what it takes.

I think it all boils down to how bad someone wants it.

Sometimes instead of going to the bar, or out to eat or a movie you got to stay home and practice scales.
Vaiagra
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Here's my new routine:

1. Scales (focusing on ones I don't know yet), warm up excersizes: 30 min.
2. Legato - 30 min.
3. Sweeps, tapping, alternate picking, string skipping: 45 min. - 1 hour (focusing on what I can't pull off yet)
4. Improv to CD's and backing tracks: 1 hour +

After that, when I'm watching TV, listen to music, etc, I'll keep practicing scales (sans amp) until I can do them subconsciously.

Songs to tackle this year:
1. SV - 7 string demo
2. SV - I'm the hell outta here

Any suggestions for one or two more tracks that incorporate sweep picking, tapping and string skipping (not neccesarrily Vai songs)?

Thanks,
Jonathan
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Big Bad Bill
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Oh another effective thing to do is a technique that atheletes and pilots use-visualisation. So you might imagine your fingers moving in a certain scale, sweep, string skip etc. Apparenetly it's the next best thing you can do to actually practicing!

By the way, I see you haven't included chords/rhythm playing into you regime. I was the same until I started taking grades and had to read rhythm charts and play them. I know it might not be 'sexy' for us lead players, but without it you're only learning half the story. Remember Steve has to play the rhythm over which he delihgts us with his lead playing!
Zebula77
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Well, I personally don't practice like PRACTICE practice, heh.

I just watch tv with the sound off, try to create a groove and challenge myself by doing stuff I know I'm having problems with. If it's something REALLY hard, I'll slow it down and try to get it clean. But I'm always just noodling and playing around. I never get stuck doing the same licks over and over. That would seriously dampen anybody's enjoynment of playing.

I did do the extremely meticulous and repetitive excercises for a while, and sure, it helped my technique but at the same time it made me really tired of playing the guitar for a period. And that's something you really wanna avoid.

Keep it fun, keep it groovy and continously challenge yourself. I guarantee progress. :wink:
spanishphrygian
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I think that more talented people should play guitar at least nine hours a day or something. You get out of it what you put into it. For me three hours a day just does not cut it, and I feel really bad for slacking off so much.

Plus I feel like a liar or something. I told my parents and friends that I was serious about playing the guitar, and if I started slacking off everyone would think that I was some sort of liar just playing to score chicks and to become popular or something. That really seriously bothers me too. Not that I should care what others think though.
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Big Bad Bill
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spanishphrygian wrote:I think that more talented people should play guitar at least nine hours a day or something.
:shock: :lol: You obviously don't have to work for a living if you can practice this much! This is simply not feasible for a full-time working person. Also, after a day's work, many people couldn't face a four hour practice session or even be able to fit it in between eating, household chores, interacting with ones loved ones etc etc. This is why I think intensive, problem-focused practice is the only way for working adults.
vaiisgod8
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Check out www.daveweiner.com someone there just asked this question and dave gives a nice long answer and it makes alot of sense.
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