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Thread: Critique my practice routine please!!!!!!!!!

  1. #1
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    Critique my practice routine please!!!!!!!!!

    I need the help of more experienced musicians as I am a 100% self taught guitarist, which means I likely have some poor habits that limit my ability. I have been playing for 8 years, and have been stuck at an intermediate level of playing due to my undisciplined approach to playing. Started playing as a hobby, but as my playing progressed so has my desire for improvement and not settling for middle of the road playing.

    I've posted the practice routine that I started yesterday, please inform me if I'm missing any important techniques/exercises to work on to improve my playing. I know I have left out advanced guitar techniques like advanced chords, diminished scales, sweep picking, hybrid picking, etc, but that's because I am trying to hammer down a solid foundation of technique and understanding of theory before I move to the more complex aspect of music and theory.

    When I feel discouraged because of how overwhelming the thought of mastering all the different techniques are and making it second nature I just refer to an old adage..."How do you eat an elephant?...One bite at a time." Appreciate all the feedback guys!
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  2. #2
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    A couple of things that have been helping me in some of your weaker areas may help you here that I don't see in your routine. First thing is practicing each hand in there own routine. What I mean is just practice your fingering hand (which will help you play legatto, help your pinky strengths with the pulloffs, and help your sync with the other hand as long as your doing so with a metronome) and then after your picking hand doing the same thing with cranking your bpms. I didn't realize until I started this but my picking hand tends to want to go faster and more uncontrolled than my fingering hand and this cleared that up quite a bit. Again use a metronome the same way you have been for both exercises. Also when you play look for what your faults are. Be critical about why things are not lining up the way you want them to. What I mean is, again for an example, if your picking hand and fretting hand are not cooperating seperate them and see which one isn't lining up with the metronome. The scales are a good start, I do that as well, but keep in mind that is going to get you playing scales fast. I would also add licks and techniques you like (aka sweep picking if you like that or some licks you would like to use or do use often in your playing to build the speed at that.) I would say your routine is good, its just time to add some more exercises. Also when i do the leggato thing I just use the 7 scales.

  3. #3
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    It looks pretty good - and Spyk has excellent advice about separating the hands.
    One of the best tips I ever had from a teacher (after being self-taught for abour 40 years!) was to practice scales - or any single-note stuff like melodies, riffs or licks - with fret hand only. IOW, entirely with hammer-ons and pull-offs. And do it to a metronome.
    Some notes you won't hear at all (open string notes played after a note on another string), but the idea is to sync that left hand right in with the beat. Right-handers in particular (like me and most people) benefit from this, because we get used to our good hands (picking) being in charge of rhythm and timing. But if it's not locked in solidly with the left, things can sound sloppy, less legato. This exercise puts the fret hand in charge of timing, and helps it catch up.
    When you bring your right hand back in, you should find everything sounds more positive and dynamic.

    BTW, regarding the metronome, remember its purpose is to improve your time-keeping, at any tempo. It's not for getting faster. There is no need to practise getting faster; just focus on everything else (accuracy, clarity, tone, expression) and you will be more and more capable of speed when you need it.
    The most useful metronome practice is whatever is most difficult. And this means using low bpm values - eg half or a quarter of the actual tempo - because you then have to train yourself to feel the missing beats accurately.
    (Backing tracks are good to work with - and recording yourself and listening back is important - but they give too much information to really train your sense of time.)


    Otherwise, the main thing I'd say about your schedule that it's all about technique. Technique is only one aspect of musicianship. The others, all equally important, are:
    • Theory
    • Ear Training
    • Repertoire

    All of these (and essential techniques too) can be addressed by simply learning songs.
    Pick any tune or song you like, and (ideally) try and learn as much of it as you can by ear alone.
    If you get stuck, there's no harm in checking, with tabs, chord charts or songbooks, or just want to compare your results with (ideally) more experienced transcribers. But always try to trust your ear first and last. If something you see in a tab or book doesn't sound right to you, it probably isn't.

    Obviously the more songs you learn, the bigger your repertoire gets. But also you'll pick up a load of ideas for improvisation in other songs, and for composing your own. IOW, this is not just about learning lots of other people's songs, it's about building a "vocabulary" of musical language that you can use to make your own music. (You can't improvise properly without vocabulary.)
    You'll also pick up all those things that can't be adequately written down, either in notation or in theory books: ie, feel, vibe, swing, various subtle kinds of articulation. In the language analogy, think of this as "accent" or "inflection".

    Naturally, the more you do by ear, the better your ear gets (it's much better for ear training than any specific exercises).
    And it teaches you theory too, in the most organic, natural way possible. Theory is the "grammar" of music and, while you can study it in books, it doesn't really make sense until you hear it in action. If a song or tune sounds good to you, then it's worth studying (and maybe stealing) both its vocabulary (riffs, melodic phrases) and its grammar (chord changes, keys or modes).
    Last edited by JonR; 01-15-2013 at 05:14 PM.

  4. #4
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    While you are practising with a metronome, record yourself playing it! I recommend using Audacity because it has a metronome itself and you can actually see how much you are missing from the beats/subdivisions.

    I would suggest memorising the fretboard. What I tend to do is that I memorise the fretboard with chords, not scales.

    For instance, if I am to play a C major seventh, I will locate all the notes, C E G B on the fretboard. You probably will be looking at your fretboard but eventually, you will want to take your eyes away. Then after, I will start making different inversions of the particular chord, because now that I know where the notes are, I know where are all the inversions. I suggest starting with major and minor triads from the high E string, B and G string. There are only 3 inversions shapes of these chords there. Then slowly move yourself up to the D string, A string and lastly, the low E string. This is going to take a hell lot of time of you. You must know the note and its interval while you are at it.

    I hope these help you. :)

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ToneDeaf View Post
    While you are practising with a metronome, record yourself playing it! I recommend using Audacity because it has a metronome itself and you can actually see how much you are missing from the beats/subdivisions.

    I would suggest memorising the fretboard. What I tend to do is that I memorise the fretboard with chords, not scales.

    For instance, if I am to play a C major seventh, I will locate all the notes, C E G B on the fretboard. You probably will be looking at your fretboard but eventually, you will want to take your eyes away. Then after, I will start making different inversions of the particular chord, because now that I know where the notes are, I know where are all the inversions. I suggest starting with major and minor triads from the high E string, B and G string. There are only 3 inversions shapes of these chords there. Then slowly move yourself up to the D string, A string and lastly, the low E string. This is going to take a hell lot of time of you. You must know the note and its interval while you are at it.

    I hope these help you.
    Not that I disagree with this one bit as far as what you do to memorize the board but I tend to do this with scales myself. Just put a thread up about it actually. If you can learn the three string patterns for the modes you can tell where your at by what pattern your in and which should come ahead and before it. Something new I have started doing to help me memorize the fret board a bit better but everyone works around things differently (and TBH I usually do things a much more absurdly hard way that could be simplified and I never realize until pointed out.)

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spyk View Post
    Not that I disagree with this one bit as far as what you do to memorize the board but I tend to do this with scales myself. Just put a thread up about it actually. If you can learn the three string patterns for the modes you can tell where your at by what pattern your in and which should come ahead and before it. Something new I have started doing to help me memorize the fret board a bit better but everyone works around things differently (and TBH I usually do things a much more absurdly hard way that could be simplified and I never realize until pointed out.)
    Yea, everyone pick things up differently. I was just hoping that by sharing my practice methods would come handy to anyone reading it, subsequently developed a new practice method for themselves effectively, not mimicing it.

    Also, I will like to take this opportunity to explain the rationale of my method - It is for one to memorise the notes, location on the fretboard and it's relation to one another, that is, the diatonic intervals between each other. This is because there are too many chord shapes out there. Ted Greene's chord chemistry shows the vast amount of chords there are. Furthermore, we want to be able to improvise with multiple key changes. To be able to do this, we need to know chords well. To know chords well, we need to know arpeggios well. To know our arpeggios well, we need to know every note's relationship to each other. Hence, when we work this fretboard memory out with chords, we are actually learn the arpeggios and the relationship of the notes.

    To look at it broadly, here is an example:

    A is the second interval of G and G is the minor seventh interval of A.
    A is the third interval of F and F is the minor sixth interval of A.
    A is the fourth interval of E and E is the fifth interval of A.
    A is the fifth interval of D and D is the fourth interval of A.
    A is the sixth interval of C and C is the minor third interval of A.
    A is the minor seventh interval of B and B is the second interval of A.

    Assuming that one had memorised all diatonic relationships to each other, he/she will know every note's diatonic relationships to the key and the key changes. Accidentals are just a tweak of the interval. So if you know that C is the minor third interval of A, C# would be the major third of A. C flat is B and that is the second interval of A. With this in mind, I am confident that he/she will know most of the arpeggios there are.

    And he/she will not have anymore issues with chords except the fingering postures. He/She knows where are all the notes and the relationships to the root.

    I suggested to start off with the major and minor triads because they are the 'base' of chords. They determine the chord to be major or minor. In fact, one could also start with major and minor dyads on the B string. Subsequently, the sevenths and slowly branches out to the ninths, elevenths and thirteenths. In fact, all these are just additions to a major/minor dyad. By then, one should be altering the thirds, such as suspended chords. It just keeps going on and on.

    Again, I hope it comes handy to anyone who reads this.
    Last edited by ToneDeaf; 01-16-2013 at 08:21 AM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spyk View Post
    A couple of things that have been helping me in some of your weaker areas may help you here that I don't see in your routine. First thing is practicing each hand in there own routine. What I mean is just practice your fingering hand (which will help you play legatto, help your pinky strengths with the pulloffs, and help your sync with the other hand as long as your doing so with a metronome) and then after your picking hand doing the same thing with cranking your bpms. I didn't realize until I started this but my picking hand tends to want to go faster and more uncontrolled than my fingering hand and this cleared that up quite a bit. Again use a metronome the same way you have been for both exercises. Also when you play look for what your faults are. Be critical about why things are not lining up the way you want them to. What I mean is, again for an example, if your picking hand and fretting hand are not cooperating seperate them and see which one isn't lining up with the metronome. The scales are a good start, I do that as well, but keep in mind that is going to get you playing scales fast. I would also add licks and techniques you like (aka sweep picking if you like that or some licks you would like to use or do use often in your playing to build the speed at that.) I would say your routine is good, its just time to add some more exercises. Also when i do the leggato thing I just use the 7 scales.
    Wow, that was great advice, i really appreciate the time! I'm going to incorporate my left hand legato technique's with a metronome to improve strength, timing, etc..i never thought to seperate the hands...

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    It looks pretty good - and Spyk has excellent advice about separating the hands.
    One of the best tips I ever had from a teacher (after being self-taught for abour 40 years!) was to practice scales - or any single-note stuff like melodies, riffs or licks - with fret hand only. IOW, entirely with hammer-ons and pull-offs. And do it to a metronome.
    Some notes you won't hear at all (open string notes played after a note on another string), but the idea is to sync that left hand right in with the beat. Right-handers in particular (like me and most people) benefit from this, because we get used to our good hands (picking) being in charge of rhythm and timing. But if it's not locked in solidly with the left, things can sound sloppy, less legato. This exercise puts the fret hand in charge of timing, and helps it catch up.
    When you bring your right hand back in, you should find everything sounds more positive and dynamic.

    BTW, regarding the metronome, remember its purpose is to improve your time-keeping, at any tempo. It's not for getting faster. There is no need to practise getting faster; just focus on everything else (accuracy, clarity, tone, expression) and you will be more and more capable of speed when you need it.
    The most useful metronome practice is whatever is most difficult. And this means using low bpm values - eg half or a quarter of the actual tempo - because you then have to train yourself to feel the missing beats accurately.
    (Backing tracks are good to work with - and recording yourself and listening back is important - but they give too much information to really train your sense of time.)



    Otherwise, the main thing I'd say about your schedule that it's all about technique. Technique is only one aspect of musicianship. The others, all equally important, are:
    • Theory
    • Ear Training
    • Repertoire
    All of these (and essential techniques too) can be addressed by simply learning songs.
    Pick any tune or song you like, and (ideally) try and learn as much of it as you can by ear alone.
    If you get stuck, there's no harm in checking, with tabs, chord charts or songbooks, or just want to compare your results with (ideally) more experienced transcribers. But always try to trust your ear first and last. If something you see in a tab or book doesn't sound right to you, it probably isn't.

    Obviously the more songs you learn, the bigger your repertoire gets. But also you'll pick up a load of ideas for improvisation in other songs, and for composing your own. IOW, this is not just about learning lots of other people's songs, it's about building a "vocabulary" of musical language that you can use to make your own music. (You can't improvise properly without vocabulary.)
    You'll also pick up all those things that can't be adequately written down, either in notation or in theory books: ie, feel, vibe, swing, various subtle kinds of articulation. In the language analogy, think of this as "accent" or "inflection".

    Naturally, the more you do by ear, the better your ear gets (it's much better for ear training than any specific exercises).
    And it teaches you theory too, in the most organic, natural way possible. Theory is the "grammar" of music and, while you can study it in books, it doesn't really make sense until you hear it in action. If a song or tune sounds good to you, then it's worth studying (and maybe stealing) both its vocabulary (riffs, melodic phrases) and its grammar (chord changes, keys or modes).
    You are 100% right, I do ont spend enough time with ear training or repertoire, and i guess that showed by my practice routine that i posted..I have a horrible ear to be honest, i've always learned songs with a combo of watching someone play the song and tabs, but i will force mysdelf to attempt to play songs through ear training/trial and error..i guess i get impatient and want to learn the song without going through the hassle and time of just figuring it out..thanks for the advice and it will absolutely be included in my practicing.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ToneDeaf View Post
    While you are practising with a metronome, record yourself playing it! I recommend using Audacity because it has a metronome itself and you can actually see how much you are missing from the beats/subdivisions.

    I would suggest memorising the fretboard. What I tend to do is that I memorise the fretboard with chords, not scales.

    For instance, if I am to play a C major seventh, I will locate all the notes, C E G B on the fretboard. You probably will be looking at your fretboard but eventually, you will want to take your eyes away. Then after, I will start making different inversions of the particular chord, because now that I know where the notes are, I know where are all the inversions. I suggest starting with major and minor triads from the high E string, B and G string. There are only 3 inversions shapes of these chords there. Then slowly move yourself up to the D string, A string and lastly, the low E string. This is going to take a hell lot of time of you. You must know the note and its interval while you are at it.

    I hope these help you.
    Audacity sounds like a great tool! I'll look into it today. I agree about your method of learning the fretboard in its entirety, that has to be a more efficient way than just memorizing each individual note

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ToneDeaf View Post
    Yea, everyone pick things up differently. I was just hoping that by sharing my practice methods would come handy to anyone reading it, subsequently developed a new practice method for themselves effectively, not mimicing it.

    Also, I will like to take this opportunity to explain the rationale of my method - It is for one to memorise the notes, location on the fretboard and it's relation to one another, that is, the diatonic intervals between each other. This is because there are too many chord shapes out there. Ted Greene's chord chemistry shows the vast amount of chords there are. Furthermore, we want to be able to improvise with multiple key changes. To be able to do this, we need to know chords well. To know chords well, we need to know arpeggios well. To know our arpeggios well, we need to know every note's relationship to each other. Hence, when we work this fretboard memory out with chords, we are actually learn the arpeggios and the relationship of the notes.

    To look at it broadly, here is an example:

    A is the second interval of G and G is the minor seventh interval of A.
    A is the third interval of F and F is the minor sixth interval of A.
    A is the fourth interval of E and E is the fifth interval of A.
    A is the fifth interval of D and D is the fourth interval of A.
    A is the sixth interval of C and C is the minor third interval of A.
    A is the minor seventh interval of B and B is the second interval of A.

    Assuming that one had memorised all diatonic relationships to each other, he/she will know every note's diatonic relationships to the key and the key changes. Accidentals are just a tweak of the interval. So if you know that C is the minor third interval of A, C# would be the major third of A. C flat is B and that is the second interval of A. With this in mind, I am confident that he/she will know most of the arpeggios there are.

    And he/she will not have anymore issues with chords except the fingering postures. He/She knows where are all the notes and the relationships to the root.

    I suggested to start off with the major and minor triads because they are the 'base' of chords. They determine the chord to be major or minor. In fact, one could also start with major and minor dyads on the B string. Subsequently, the sevenths and slowly branches out to the ninths, elevenths and thirteenths. In fact, all these are just additions to a major/minor dyad. By then, one should be altering the thirds, such as suspended chords. It just keeps going on and on.

    Again, I hope it comes handy to anyone who reads this.
    Got to admit, I LOVE that my original question sparked such a hardcore music debate!! Thats what these forums are all about, lets keep it going guys!!

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