View Full Version : Requesting advice from the weathered.

08-25-2002, 03:29 AM
17 years old, have been playing for about 8 months.

I have reached the 'plateau' so to speak, but this one revolves around a lack of practice, mostly, I have run out of motivation. Although my goal of 2 hours a day was not only reasonable, but less than I should probably practice, I have come to a situation where my practicing time is closer to 10 hours a week. When I do practice, I find difficulty in sticking to the latest challenge offered by my guitar teacher, instead falling back to the basics, which I seem so comfortable with.

Essentially, I have two questions:

1. How many hours, and what, should I practice per day in order to attain an above-average level of playing skill.

2. My current viewpoint shows guitar as being divided up into 3 main sections; lead, rhythm, theory(please expand on this or add new sections if you see flaws). Of which of these 3 should a player of my 'experience' focus on in this stage?

I would greatly appreciate even the smallest advice. Throughout my life, I have always been pretty good at taking up challenges, but this guitar topic has me feeling pretty inadequate at the moment.


08-25-2002, 04:17 AM
Question 1. As Long as it takes.
What is your goal?
If you have a clear goal it is easier to decide how to get there.
It really depends on your ear, level of talent and brain-hand coordination.
I can remember a time when I played between 7 and 10 hours a day and I can remember times when I didn't pick up the guitar for months.

If you have a good ear and good coordination I would say you could get a great deal out of 2 hours per day.

Maybe you don't know how to practice, to get the most benefit.

Question 2.
I think Lead Rhythm and theory is a pretty narrow view of things.
You have physical, spiritual and mental aspects of playing.
Learn how to count (musically ) get a drum rudiments book and learn rhythm.
Learn how to read music, get easy music and read some every day, later get more difficult music.
Ear Training: Listen to all kinds of music learn to sing along with your playing learn to recognize intervals and chords in their inversions.
Math: Learn the mathematics of music theory. Math is a good way to understand what is happening. There is a lot of SET theory going on in music.
Practice chord construction, scale construction, arpeggio construction.
Learn the common types of chord changes in different types of music.
Learn to channel your emotions through your playing and or singing.

Learn multiple fingerings for all of the material you study.
Learn scale systems that exhaust the possibilities of fingering.
Learn to play whole songs.
Learn some standards (of whatever genre you prefer)
Practice transposing everything you learn to new keys and different fingering patterns.

I would practice at least 1 hour a week reading drum rudiments.
Work on a different mode of one of the seven note scales everyday for 15-30 minutes(this way in a week you can complete the scale).
Work on Eartraining at least 15 minutes a day.
Work on reading/learning a piece for 1/2 hour.
Forget everything and PLAY for 15 minutes.
Work on picking exercises for 15-30 minutes.
Record some change and try to improvise with it for 30 mnutes.
On some days transcribe some one else's playing not always guitar.
Sing ( this cannot be overemphasised).
Spend several hours a week studying music theory with out your guitar using your BRAIN.
Listen to music constantly, not just stuff you like.

08-25-2002, 04:23 AM
Work on bending and vibrato a little everyday.
Spend some time studying modern techniques, wang bar scoops,
sweeping, tapping, economy picking, string skipping electric drill etc...
If you play electric guitar learn how to use your delay effects and volume based effects. Learn how to get a good tone.
Learn how to perform without getting uptight, and without drugs or alcohol. If you are going to play in a working band learn how to sing lead and backup vocals. Learn everything you can about mixing and recording, MIDI synths. Learn to play what people will pay to hear.

08-25-2002, 04:38 AM
Before I start anything, I'd like to say 'thank you,' just because I was amazed to get such a precise and well-written response in such a short amount of time.

However, I do need clarification on a number of points:

1. I'm assuming that learning how to 'count' refers to time? What are 'drum rudiments?'

2. I don't really have a singing voice, is that something that would require instruction?

3. Do the mathematics of music theory have to do with the 1, b2, 2, b3, 3, 4, b5, 5, b6, 7 chart I have been going over?

4. What is 'construction' in general, does it relate to theory?

5. What kind of music do you recommend I start listening to? I'm currently into progressive rock, Lennon, and The Doors.

Thanks again.

The Bash
08-25-2002, 06:04 AM
1) Iím assuming by drum rudiments heís referring to books of basic drumming exercises, rhythms and patterns, with the intent of counting and tapping out the rhythm with a metronome. You can also practice strumming a chord or picking a note and perhaps latter series of notes in theses rhythms.
2) It dosenít matter an iota if ya sing like a bullfrog, just so you sing in tune. Your goal being intonation rather than vocal quality. Though guitar players are a dime a dozen; one that can sing harmony wellís worth at least a quarter; and who can sing lead is worth not only bout 50 cents but is a self-contained musical machine and is a priceless commodity unto himself seeing as how he can forgo the often egomaniacal ďLead SingerĒ route all together. Not to mention thereís often more money in it ala 3 piece. Just work on ear training (naming intervals, chords etc.) and sight singing (do,re,mi etc.) If you desire to be a vocalist, by all means sing ya heart out and do whatís necessary to achieve that.
3) Actually this is a huge topic, but yes. As well as other things like finger permutations (Taking a basic 1-2-3-4 finger pattern and arranging so you only use each finger only once in which case you can come up with 24. You can do same with three finger groups like 1-3-4 etc. as well as a billon other things.) It also applies to the basic structure of the musical system as well as the instrument itís self (Hawkingís principles of entropy apply here, because as you learn you begin subconsciously assimilating a unified structure out of all the musical chaos that surrounds you. Even if itís all simple as a C chord and a G chord sound good toghter or hey I can just move this same major scale pattern around to get other major scales.) While this is great itís even greater when you can do it from a conscious standpoint. As applies to music C chord to G chord are 5ths or I-V they sound good. As do all I-V. (Thatís one very, very, very limited example.) As applies to the instrument all your string are tuned in 4ths except your 2nd string which is a Major 3rd meaning heís a half step or one step lower. Now find A on 6th string 5th fret directly beaneath on fith string fifth fret is a D. There is always a D under every single A EXCEPT when going from 3rd string to second string. To correct the second string you must move that note up one fret. Understanding that one basic thing enables you to transfer licks, scales, chord shapes at will across string sets.
4) Learn how chords are built what 1-3-5 means as opposed to 1-b3-5. Same goes with scales which may have been what you were getting at earlier.
Major Scale 1-2-3-4-5-6-7
Minor Scale 1-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7
Etc. Harmonic minor raise the 7th of a minor scale. Mixolydian flat the 7th of a Major scale.
Know why my calling those scales Major and Minor isnít exactly their correct names.
Thereís major mathematical overlap in all this kinna stuff.
5) Listen to anything you want no matter what anyone thinks. I dig the Beatles, The Who, Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Dregs, Yes, Dream Theater, Zappa, Crimson, Prince, GnR, Elton John, Police, Dylan, Stravinsky, STP, Aerosmith, U2 etc. etc. etc. And somebody always has something negative to say about something I like.
Other than that listen to guys doing that you what you wish to do. If you wanna play blues listen to SRV, the Kings, J. Winters etc. Develop vibrato listen to Leslie West, Micheal Schenker, Jeff Beck etc.
There are 3 points I cannot stress enough to students they are:
1)Listen to anything and everything (listen actively and passively.
Active: be into it. Get excited ďhey that was a cool lick etc.Ē Enjoyment music. Stuff ya dig.
Passive: just listen donít judge good or bad just open yourself up and let the music in.
2)Sing! Sing! Sing!
3)GO SLOW!!!!!!!!!!!

08-25-2002, 01:20 PM
Before I start anything, I'd like to say 'thank you,' just because I was amazed to get such a precise and well-written response in such a short amount of time.
That is why we are here, and why I choose to participate in this community.

1. I'm assuming that learning how to 'count' refers to time? What are 'drum rudiments?'
A good book on drum rudiments is a collection of exercises that focus on rhythm (an often neglected part of music theory). Because the exercises are aimed at drum and bugle corp snare drummers there is no note variation ( except rimshot) so everything is about time, counting reading subdividing, this is good for your coodination, when using both hands or sticks.
Your musoc reading will improve drastically from this.

2. I don't really have a singing voice, is that something that would require instruction?
Sing to get the sound in your brain if you can learn to do good vocal vibratto as well since this also will help your playing. Never learn to play a phrase until you can hear it in your head and sing it. Also singing the interval number when working on chord based exercises will help drill intervals into your head.

3. Do the mathematics of music theory have to do with the 1, b2, 2, b3, 3, 4, b5, 5, b6, 7 chart I have been going over?
Everything about music is based on mathematics, from the fact that the frequencies of each note are derived by dividing a string into fractions of whole numbers to the formula for creating the cycle 4 scales to the patterns and shapes of scale and chord fingerings.

4. What is 'construction' in general, does it relate to theory?
If you read an exercise from a book that shows you how to play a certain chord or scale or chord progression you can passively participate and not really learn anything except this particular way of doing this one thing.
Now if you learn how that chord or scale or progression was constructed ( the particular rule, ALWAYS based on some mathematical pattern ). You don't need some little musical road map or pattern of little black dots to follow in order to make more in different keys or positions. This is more like learning to fish as opposed to begging for a fish(or suckling mommy's breast).

5. What kind of music do you recommend I start listening to? I'm currently into progressive rock, Lennon, and The Doors.
Once again, if your goal is to be a musician, the question should be "What shouldn't I listen to?" All music has somthing to offer, even the most rudimentary.
My belief is you can learn more in a short time by starting with Baroque Music then move into 20th century music Jazz and what are referred to as 'Standards'. When you listen to music try to identify the chord changes, eventually you will build up a little notebook of chord progressions ( I recommend using key de-referenced notation ( I vi ii V etc).

Bongo Boy
08-25-2002, 05:24 PM
If you're frustrated and lack motivation because you feel you're not moving forward, then I think you have to come to terms with what 'forward' means to you. More practice and more study probably won't do anything for you if you don't know what you want done.

I'm NOT talking necessarily about the need for a goal such as 'be the greatest rock guitarist in the area' or vague things like that. I get a thrill from what I consider progress--only YOU can determine what progress is, and then seek it out one day at a time.

Your experience right now may be similar to mine--after several days of practice, it's hard for me to see improvement with a particular chord transition, for example. If you're not recording yourself (which I am not), it's hard to notice that in fact progress IS being made. I'm patient though, and am willing to look back to last week (or last month) and compare.

I second the recommendations made above re: listening to a fairly broad range of music. While baroque is one of my favorites, old-school punk and pop-punk is at the top of my list too. But, I find it much harder to find instructive music in, say, Dropkick Murphys, than in say Mozart. Mozart was a rocker--and I think you'll make interesting discoveries if you listen with intent.

But, if you have a vision that is one of yourself being a masterful guitar performer (sometime soon), you may find only frustration. I prefer to set my sights on "let's get this damn F#m7 chord to sound right sometime this week, eh?". THen, I merely put in place all those things I feel are needed to LET it happen--adequate rest, adequate intent and attention, and good posture. The thing I need to WORK at is the hardest: being totally ok with screwing up--over, and over and over--until it's right.

You may also find that you can take a break from the practice while increasing your motivation by reading about the art and artists you enjoy, and/or by doing web research on these topics. I've picked up "The History of Jazz", an act which in itself is odd for me. But reading about how it came to be and who the folks were who made it happen is definitely inspirational. It also highlights that playing an instrument is only part of the picture--the groove comes from somewhere else entirely, eh?

So--to wrap up--perhaps you only need to a) know what your goals are for today (or this week), and not next year, and b) improve your patience with yourself.

Does this make sense, or just feel like bull****?

08-25-2002, 11:29 PM
'Thank you' again to all 3 of you who responded and guided. While I respect and adore my current guitar teacher very much, I can't believe how many rudiments he has neglected to show me. My current plan is to re-address and re-define my current goals, and besides that, as was suggested in Darrin Koltow's article, to write it down.

I'm thinking of re-visiting theory before I begin any new tasks(besides arpeggios, which I have resolved to beat), as I think guitar will definitely require a more cerebral approach at this stage.

Once again, thanks to all of you who were willing to take time out and lend me advice.

Bongo Boy
08-27-2002, 03:11 AM
In all fairness to your instructor and instructors everywhere, you have to realize that 99% of what's 'out there' hasn't yet been shown to you, and 90% of it never will be.

I started with some online lessons I found at jazclass.com (do a web search for 'jazz class'), then bought a book entitled "The Complete Guitarist", and finally ran into Guni's "Chord Scales" series here on this site.

The jazz class materials are really music theory materials, and I recommend you take a look at them--also do a search for 'guitar lesson online', which will lead you to some useful theory as well.

The reason I suggest this is that all of these great sources have slightly different perspectives or use slightly different language--and it's hard to get a good picture without taking them all in sort of simultaneously. THe book I mention above is actually wretched as far as the narrative--but great as far as diagrams and charts.

Guni's series is an absolute must, in my view, even it you do nothing else--it's the kind of stuff that will allow you to discover for yourself a great deal of that "90%" I mentioned above. If your instructor (or anyone else) can get you 'switched on' enough to start the exploration process--little more is really needed (at least on the study side of things).