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Thread: What's your practice routine?

  1. #1
    Chicks dig me Danster's Avatar
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    What's your practice routine?

    I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours… your practice routine that is.

    I finally decided to get serious about my practicing, and stop just freakin’ noodling all the time. Seven weeks ago, I made of list of short-term and long-term goals I wanted to achieve with the guitar, and then I wrote down the things I would need to practice in order to get me there. After that, I made up a grid which has headings for the general categories I want to practice in, and a place for the date. I use one page per week. Then, as I practice, on the grid I write in the specific things I’m doing. For example, “7A (60)” in my “Manual Dexterity” column means I did picking exercise 7A (my numbering system) of Eric’s picking exercises articles at 60bpm. Below is what I’m currently working on. I do each of these every day typically, except for the "Performance", which is once a week, and the "Ear training", which is three times a week.

    Fretboard learning: Minor pentatonic scales, major pentatonic scales. Practice naming (or playing) notes on fretboard.

    Repertoire: I play whole songs from beginning to end. My ongoing goal is to learn one new song per week.

    Performance: Once a week, I record myself as if I’m performing (I’m a living room player right now, but watch out world, I’m coming! ). That is, I play songs from my repertoire, and if I goof, I keep going as if I was performing. (I don’t make small talk with the audience though )

    Ear training: Currently using the Interval Ear Trainer at musictheory.net. They’ve really got some great tools there.

    Rhythm playing: I’m going through the lessons in a book by Al DiMeola called “Scales, chords, and arpeggios” (or something like that).

    Manual Dexterity: I’m working through Eric’s picking exercises articles.

    Leavitt (Sight reading, and everything else!): This is William Leavitt’s “Modern Method for Guitar. Vol’s I, II, and III.” I typically do 3 or more exercises a day.

    I usually practice twice a day—first for 30 minutes during lunch, and then at home for at least another 30 minutes, but usually more like 1-2 hours or more. I cannot tell a lie (oops, just did! ), I don’t quite follow this scheme 100% every day, but for the most part I do. In between this planned stuff, I do noodle, or play fun licks, or jam with a CD or backing track.

    I have tried structuring my practice before, but for some reason, it never stuck, usually it would last for maybe one week. Writing down the goals really helped me focus I think. And making the grids allows me to document my work and my progress, and that’s good for keeping me inspired. Another thing that’s been cool is that since I’ve started playing during lunch at work, I have realized the importance of being focused when you’re practicing. I work at a university, and there are private music practice rooms. Wow, I can get so much done there in just 30 minutes! At home, my practicing is not quite as focused, ya know, the TV, the kids, the phone, the refrigerator, etc.

    Anyhoo, if ya wanna, tell us your routine.

  2. #2
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    I was the same way, with noodling and stuff and not getting serious about practicing, and I never advanced very far. For the past few months, I've written up a schedule that I've stuck to pretty well.

    Every day, I start out with finger independence exercises, then some trem. picking. I then work on new chords for the week(maj. min. sus. etc), then some rhythm to work on new riffs and ideas and to work on riffs I've already written.

    Then I'll do some stretching excercises, speed exercises, sweep picking which I'll alternate with 5-string patterns and 6-string patterns, finger picking, tapping(most of the time, I'll just come up with my own patterns instead of from books), legato and bending.

    Then depending on which day it is, I'll work on a different kind of harmonic--classical style, pinch, etc.

    I alternate days with working on a new scale for the week and scale improvisation one day, and the next I'll work on string skipping and whammy bar.

    Each day I work on a different 'trick' like pick scrapes, 2-handed slides, etc.

    Each day I work with the Fretboard Warrior for learning notes, and then I work on ear training.

    My practice is usually about 3 to 3 1/2 hours.

    I usually noodle a bit during this time, but for the most part, I stick to my program. I find it best this way for me, to have it all written down. Otherwise I just noodle and never get any serious practicing done.

    Saturday is the only day I don't do any technical stuff, and I just jam and work on riffs.

  3. #3
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    For the last couple of years, I have been re-learning everything I learned with the pick, and adapting it to fingerstyle playing (working out the best fingerings,etc).

    I prefer the tone I get with my fingers, however, as much as there are some advantages to fingerstyle, there are also some disadvantages. Alternate picking on one string is harder, and sweeping is almost impossible. However, this forces me to stay away from patterns, and to concentrate on phrasing and melodies, as well as do more legato playing, and string skipping.

    Anyway, I warm up by doing a couple of pages of Leavitt's book. I am half way through the second book. This way, I get my warm up and sight reading done at the same time. I don't believe in mechanical/non-musical exercises.

    Then I will pick a key, and in that key, I will play the chord progression, scale patterns, and arpeggio progression. If today I do the A minor scale, the tomorrow I would do the A pentatonic minor, the next day the A harmonic minor, etc. Also, I like to play the scale up and down each individual string (to break away from patterns).


    Then, I just write stuff, bring out the slide, whammy bar, e-bow, effects, etc. and when something good happens, I develop it, record it, and at some point it becomes a full song or piece.

    I also have to play around with alternate tunings almost everyday, because sometimes, I find myself sounding too predictable/safe/like millions of other guitarists with standard tuning.

    This is not written in stone for me, sometimes I will just use up all my time writting music.

  4. #4
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    I would like to add that....

    I used to be caught in this "weird" idea that I had to just practice and practice, get really good, and then after I was an amazing player, I could then start to make music. After years of practicing with nothing to show for it (except playing exercises at very fast tempos), I realized that being a good player didn't mean I was a good musician, as I wasn't applying any of my knowledge/skills to "real" music.

    As odd as it sounds, I still meet youger players here and there that are caught up in this idea.

    The reality, is that you can apply whatever skills you have to a musical situation. Obviously, as you become a better player, you should also become a better musician, but to even be considered a musician, you have to make music.

  5. #5
    Registered User CaptainCarma's Avatar
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    damn´right... nothing to add...

  6. #6
    Chicks dig me Danster's Avatar
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    Re: I would like to add that....

    Originally posted by Oceano
    I used to be caught in this "weird" idea that I had to just practice and practice, get really good, and then after I was an amazing player, I could then start to make music. ......
    Obviously, as you become a better player, you should also become a better musician, but to even be considered a musician, you have to make music.
    Hey Oceano, By "make music" do you mean "compose music" or "play music"? Currently, I don't have much desire to compose any music, (although I did write some songs in my younger days).

  7. #7
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    I meant composing music, writing your own music.

    I guess even if you are just playing someone else's music (like most classical musicians) you are still considered a musician by defenition, however one is really interpreting someone's music.

  8. #8
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    just to clarify my earlier post

    What I was getting at, is that practice is important, but one should apply whatever skills one learns to musical situations along the way. Be it your music, or someone else's music.

  9. #9
    Chicks dig me Danster's Avatar
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    Hey Oceano,
    I've never meditated on the matter, but to me, I s'pose I think of a musician as one who plays or sings music, whether it's their own or someone else's. Even though I am not such a proficient musician at present, I do still get goosebumps when I play certain songs. Come to think of it, I suppose I do do some informal composing too. I do some lead-type improvising over backing rhythm tracks, and also, it is almost always the case that the first thing I play when I sit down with a guitar is a little ditty which at one time came outta my own brain kinda spontaneously. Currently though, I don't try to compose music. I have on occasion recorded original things when I was noodling, because it sounded good, and I thought I might use it someday.

    Anyhoo, I'm not too comfortable with calling myself a musician at present. With my current level of talent, it kinda doesn't sound right to refer to myself as such.

    Senseless ramble completed
    Cheers,
    Dan

  10. #10
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    I guess this is one of those questions with many possible answers.

    What makes a good musician? Talent, or good intrumental skills?

    There are so many talented musicians that might not be very good players, but who wrote/write great music.

    There are so many amazing players who also write/wrote great music.

    There are so many great players who might not be able to create music.

    ..etc, etc, etc.........

  11. #11
    Registered User d7th's Avatar
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    I have no time to practice guitar I do maths and physic all day

  12. #12
    IbreatheMusic Author Bizarro's Avatar
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    I used to be caught in this "weird" idea that I had to just practice and practice, get really good, and then after I was an amazing player, I could then start to make music. After years of practicing with nothing to show for it (except playing exercises at very fast tempos), I realized that being a good player didn't mean I was a good musician, as I wasn't applying any of my knowledge/skills to "real" music.
    This isn't so weird... I was the same way when I started out. After playing for 2 years I had picking chops close to Paul Gilbert and legato chops like Ritchie Kotzen, really good fingerstyle technique, and so on, but I wasn't a very good musician. I just assumed that if my technique was as good as "Guitarist X" I would be as good as them... Boy was I wrong!

    For me, technique is the easy part and musicianship is the hard part. But I've spent nearly 20 years working on musicianship now... Unfortunately my chops didn't stay super sharp, but it doesn't really matter anymore. I'm still pretty quick but that's not even really a consideration in my music nowadays.
    -Bizarro
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  13. #13
    IbreatheMusic Author daviej's Avatar
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    I had a lesson with James Muller and he said that he used to just practice by imagining or recording a chord progression and then blowing on it. I've found that I've been improving so much more quickly using this approach. But then again, how you should practice has everything to do with YOUR personality, YOUR strengths, YOUR weaknesses, and YOUR desires (how yu want to be able to play).

    By the way, James also said that transcription is important, which I strongly agree with.

    David

  14. #14
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    Looks like a very thorough practice regimin you have there Danster. Are you finding progress in all those areas?

    What do you think of that sight reading book? I have Alfred's teach yourself to read music on guitar, anybody else use this?

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