View Full Version : practicing

01-27-2003, 01:02 AM
I was wondering about developing a practice routine.

First, people have said that in order to become better you need to have repetition.

However, John Petrucci emphasizes changing what you practice alot.

Which one?

01-28-2003, 03:06 AM
i say have allot of different things 2 practise
but practise them everyday

01-28-2003, 08:50 AM
Well its simply not black or white.

First of all, I think what Petrucci meant is to keep your practising schedule ( which can consist of many different things ranging from picking exercises to sight reading and theory ) interesting by working on new material often... like i.e. you take a few different exercises which require the same technique, lets say alternate picking.
I mean, imagine youre working on the "Perpetual Motion" one wekk, and then the next week you work on a caprice by Paganini... you have a consistency ( cuz you play both with constant alternate picking ) while the actual pieces change. Of course, this is a bit exagerated, since you wanna finish one piece before you move to another.
Also, you can take some exercises that you play every day, while others are changed every day. That relates to what 7stringa is saying... there are a lot of exercises you can do. Change some of them, keep others in your practising schedule.
And remember, its not that much of a change if you keep changing the exercise often, as long as you keep the technique youre working on the same.
So, again, its not a "black or white" situation

01-28-2003, 08:39 PM
Working on new things that focus on the same technique is a method that works well for me, like playing three-note-per-string runs with alternate picking, but a different run each day.

Eric, would you like to share with us how you used to practise at GIT? What routine you used etc... That would be great.

01-28-2003, 09:25 PM

Well, it was pretty much what I explained above, some things changed everyday, some others stayed the same.
I split up my practising time into several segments. Starting with warmups, next I worked on picking and legato techniques. The exercises for those were separated into "fixed ones" ( exercises Id do constantly, like the PG-exercise etc. ) and "variations", exercises I had just learned or were meant to work on a new aspect of the techniques I was working on.

My tools ( I had a table and a chair plus a music stand set up ) were:
A metronome
Papers to write down exercises and markers / observations ( when I was working on picking, I wrote down things to remember that would help to improve, i.e. "Floating Hand ! Relaxing !", plus I added some drawings to help me remember certain things. )
A folder filled with exercises, separated into different topics ( Arpeggios, Chords, Etudes, Picking, Sweeping, Sightreading etc. )
A CD Player

After the technique section, I worked on music theory. Practising and memorizing scales, working on chords, harmonisation...

Then, Id transcribe something, since that would combine the theory- and the playing technique part. Which means I was able to apply what I had just worked on.

Then, I would write down what I had just transcribed in notation.

Next, Id take a break. Then, Id take some notation of a piece I had transcribed the week before... most of the time, I had forgotten big chunks of it, since I hadnt been playing it anymore. And that was good, because now I would play through it sight-reading.
Also, I would be working on new material I had gotten that day. So Id sight-read through both older ( my transcriptions ) and newer ( stuff from school ) music.

Then Id go back to technique. The break in between usually proved helpful.

At the end of this 3-4 hour practising session, Id put on a jam track or a regular song and jam, trying to apply what I had just been working on.

Then Id take a longer break... eating, watching TV, calling someone.

After an hour or so, I would return to practising. No real need to warmup again, so I could just jump back in.

Now, without going even further into details, I had a certain schedule made of small segments. ( I talked about the "Im gonna play for 8 hours" vs. the "Im just gonna play for 15 min." thing in one or two of my articles ).
I would try to change the schedule in between, guided by both the requirements ( what I HAD to learn ) and my gut-feeling ( what I FELT like learning ).
Some things would be the same every day, some way to measuire my improvement, others would be different every day to keep it interesting.

Instead of ONE block of practising, I did several throughout the day, just to not burn out, and to keep it interesting.

Also, when I was out shopping or eating or whatever, I often found myself thinking abotu certain things, like i.e. some music-theory related topic, going through it in my head. So right then I was really using my brain, while when practsing strict technical stuff, I kinda was on "autopilot", "zoning out".
( I remember being on a date, and the girl was like "Whats up ? YOu seem distracted ?". She must have thought I was having an affair or something, while I really was going through the tapping part of "Satch Boogie" in my mind, analyzing what scales Satch was using throughout that part... I guess I had already lost my mind back then =) )

I also took breaks whenever I felt strained or just aggrivated / frustrated. Becaue I didnt wanna burn out or start to hate practising.

I gotta say that I still roughly follow those procedures today, although its usually a bit more relaxed, and less intense.

01-28-2003, 09:54 PM
Thanks alot!

Another question if you dont mind... What do you think is the best way to practise arpeggios? Keep in mind that Im a beginner, so how would you recommend one to get into arps, and how should the routine change over time?

01-28-2003, 10:19 PM
Well, the way I was taught arps was a bit frustrating... Someone threw a big pile of papers onto my desk with all kinds of diagrams and arp-patterns, and for a while it was "Ok, here is a chordprogression: Dmin7-G7-Cmaj7... now, over those play those arps: Dmin7-G7-Cmaj7"

Years ago, arps was considered a hip thing, cuz it translated well to all the "new" playing techniques such as sweeping, string skipping and tapping. But also, one important thing seemed to be forgotten... that arpeggios are a great melodical tool.
So my recommendation would be to check out two or three arp-patterns / shapes, memorize them and practise them a bit ( with a metronome, of course ), then put on a jam track and try to use them in a melodical context, as some kind of counterpart to scales, to create cool melodies etc.

When it comes to exercising them, try a few different patterns, try to i.e. play the same arp ( i.e. a C Maj arp ) in different positions on the fretboard, slowly at first, making sure youre playing the right notes before you play them.
Try to "see" them on the fretboard.

Then, apply them to different techniques... i.e. string skipping ( check out Geoff Thorpes article about that, or my Paul Gilbert-profile to see some string-skipping arps... those allow for even bigger interval leaps, which might be a nice change after playing scales for a while ).
Also, you could try to apply them to tapping, trying to tap different inversions of the same arp etc.
When it comes to sweeping, make sure you do have the two basic things before you even attempt to go for that. Those two things are: a good picking technique ( incl. good synchronisation ) cuz its the basic building block for sweeping, and some knowledge about the construction, positioning and melodic potential of your arps.
Then, you might wanna work your way through some sweeping-material, i.e. my article about it here at ibreathe.
Hope this helps / answers your question

01-29-2003, 04:18 PM
Thank you, Ill get right on it!