What inspires you to practice?

JoebuddhaJoebuddha Posts: 2,148
edited November 2018 in Technique Forum
 Hey guys, 
  I have been adding a lot of new material to my teaching curriculum lately, as well as trying to refine my own teaching abilities. One of the things that I have been working on is teaching people how to efficiently practice. As well as trying to provide inspiration for them to practice. 
 So my question is, what inspires you too practice?  And I don't mean sitting down and jamming out your favorite pet licks over backing tracks, that's jamming. I mean practice, turn off the background noises, and learn new stuff, better develop your old skills?
 Also how do you work best?
What is your process like?
Does anyone here work on improving their knowledge of harmony? How do you work on techniques?  Do you prefer to learn other people's licks verbatim or do you compose your own?
Do you jam out over YouTube backing tracks,  or learn from videos,  books? Who do you watch ? Anybody use a looper pedal?
 This is really important to me because right now I have a great group of students and I want them to continue to improve but also I want to be able to help other people really get better at playing guitar.
 So many of my students and people I speak too seem so frustrated and overwhelmed by the theoretical complexities of music, as well as the physical demands of the instrument. Even with all of the resources available to them through the internet. I think with so many amazing players right at your fingertips it may just intimidate many people. 
 Looking forward to the responses.
Post edited by Dinosaur David B on

Comments

  • yngwie666yngwie666 Posts: 6,557
    edited March 2016
    The only thing that works for me nowadays  is when I absolutely want to learn a song or a solo that I really like. Then I practice until I can play it. Sometimes I put away and try again a few years later...
    Post edited by yngwie666 on
  • OskyOsky Posts: 1,089
    Put my music player on random and see what it comes up with then try to jam along and learn as much of it as poss, then onto the next. Some tunes don't work if the tuning is wrong or if the song is way above my ability, but I usually can learn something from most things.
  • Seven MoonsSeven Moons Posts: 8,955
    I generally practice with Guitar Pro. If I want to work on scales, layovers, or that kind of repetitive stuff, it's not complicated to do my own TAB. If it's a cool lick from a certain song, I try to find an already available TAB of the song that sounds decent. I put it on autorepeat and I use the variable speed feature of Guitar Pro until I can play the lick. If only I could have had such a fantastic tool when I was 16... 
  • arbshredderarbshredder Posts: 244
    IMO, good productive practice is about getting out of your comfort zone and working on stuff that forces you to work on your weaknesses or on things that you ordinarily don't focus on. I think the ideal situation is to jam with people that play a style that you aren't used to... Sometimes even something as simple as a rhythmic change of pace can open some doors... If you are a rock / metal player, spend some time getting hip to country or blues playing.  It will make your rock playing much more interesting..
  • jebbuddajebbudda Posts: 5,030
    Inspiration is such an important factor .


    Usually after I see a live show I get very excited and practice non stop . I think going to concerts and seeing live music is essential . I wish I could see more concerts .


    Technique is a never ending struggle for me . I practice with a metronome ....and have for years.....but I'm never satisfied . I go thru phases of working on legato and alternate picking .


    Lately I've been concentrating on originals and composing parts for different Cd projects I'm involved with . Plus my performance schedule increases this time of year . I have four gigs this week so in order to preserve my stamina I try  limit my practice routine to only a few hours a day and avoid stressing my hands out chasing my tail trying to be Vinnie Moore or Shawn Lane . If I'm home I probably average 4 hours or more a day .

    Considering how much I play I should be WAY better than I am . 
  • VenomboyVenomboy Posts: 3,601
    Work, life, etc. are always there so there's not always time to practice.

    However, I just have a desire to constantly improve. So pick things that are manageable.

    For example, I really wanna nail some Liquid Tension experiment stuff. Crazy hard, so I break it into digestible chunks.

    I saw Maiden the other night and realized I never really learned EXACTLY how to play Hallowed be thy Name. So I decided to learn it correctly. In parts.

    I will also challenge myself: take an obnoxious pop song and learn it. Or learn parts of it. I always learn SOMETHING from this.

    Breaking things into manageable, achievable tasks is key. Trying to do it all at once is recipe for guaranteed failure.
  • TravisWTravisW Posts: 1,058
    For me to be genuinely inspired to practice, I usually need to find myself lacking something. That's really not that hard to do, but it has happened that I stopped really practicing for extended periods, and basically just rehearsed material rather than trying to push myself further. This year, I've been consciously trying to improve my playing. As I'm largely self-taught, one thing that made a big difference to me when I was young was developing an internal narrative of what qualities I wanted my playing to have. Before that happened, I would just practice something that I thought would be fun to play, but I found my own style to be lacking. It was just a hodge-podge of licks cobbled together. One thing I picked up from my guitar teacher during our half dozen or so lessons was to record myself as much as possible. I borrowed a 4-track from a guy, and one day was jamming over some lame changes. I lost my place and winged a section - I played something I had never played before. That little bit, even with the of hesitation you could hear, was worlds better than all the rehearsed licks that I was playing. It felt fluid, it played with timing, it moved across the changes. And that was the start of developing my internal list of attributes that I wanted my playing to have. The list changes over the years, but when I hear those attributes in other players, I gravitate toward them and try to learn why they have them. When I listen back to my own playing and hear things that lack those attributes, then it's time to go to the woodshed. 

    As a rock guitarist, I have okay technique. If anything, I try to practice concepts and let technique tag along. My practice generally consists of laying out some sort of context and trying to work on a concept that works within that context. Common example is the time-honored recording of changes and trying to incorporate new ideas into soloing over those changes. From a rhythm standpoint, I'll take an idea like voice leading and try to find different ways to incorporate that into rhythm guitar passages, or work with a drum try and work on hitting the beat different ways - that sort of thing. 
  • bourbonsamuraibourbonsamurai Posts: 1,645
    edited March 2016
    the only thing that keeps me improving at this point is playing with other live humans.  even plus one jam tracks are useless to me, now.  aside from the circle of fifths, i'm pretty ignorant of harmonic theory, but, as far as new territory goes, i'm really into Ted Greene's Chord Chemistry.  i thumb through it, and try to learn the various grips and listen to the voice leading in the chord extensions.  you don't need a degree from Berklee to use your ears with this material, either.  what is stimulating is when, having some familiarity with a particular rhythm section i may be playing with, i intuitively hear how they're going to handle a change live, and can anticipate it.  my technique a far as alternate picking and most "dino" traits, sucks now, but i still play at home with a metronome.  even when i "noodle" in my kitchen, it's on the counter, clicking away.  my wife hates it.  lol
    Post edited by bourbonsamurai on
  • mr_crowleymr_crowley Posts: 6,662
    Usually I have to have something to work for, like a goal.

    Before taking on bigger recording sessions or so I practice a lot, more or less like an athelete would do before a big championship to get in shape (sucked that the last we didn't finish up the last Gasoline Stars EP 'cause I think my playing would have been awesome, I had really been woodshedding).

    When I joined The Gloria Story I also practiced their songs a lot, I felt as the "new" guy I couldn't afford to screw up and it obviously paid off as I am still in the band ;)

    Also I sometimes hear something that I just feel I need to be able to play and figure out then I do that.

    All of the above are practicing for a reason. I find it kind of hard to just practice for the sake of practicing.

    At home when just being me and my guitar I really like to play around with a looper, just laying down some cool riff or something and then solo over that. That is great fun for me!
    Maybe that ain't practice in the classical sense but I feel that do pay off very well. I think 30 minutes of that makes much more of a musical difference than 30 minutes of hard metronome workout.
    And music is what we're in for in the first place.. Right?

    I have in the past practiced for the sake of being faster and smoother and still does when the mood strikes me, you know just playing stuff to a metronome and trying to be really precise but it's getting less and less and has for several years. I have come to terms that I will never be a Paul Gilbert kind of guy and compared to other areas of my playing I am pretty happy with my alternate picking and overall ability to rip through some cool sounding runs :)
  • Dinosaur David BDinosaur David B Posts: 18,377
    edited November 2018
    Joebuddha said:
     Hey guys, 
      I have been adding a lot of new material to my teaching curriculum lately, as well as trying to refine my own teaching abilities. One of the things that I have been working on is teaching people how to efficiently practice. As well as trying to provide inspiration for them to practice. 
     So my question is, what inspires you too practice?  And I don't mean sitting down and jamming out your favorite pet licks over backing tracks, that's jamming. I mean practice, turn off the background noises, and learn new stuff, better develop your old skills?
    As you mention, there are different kinds of practice. There is learning songs, there is jamming, technical drilling, practical application. 

    Honestly, if we're talking about pure, grunt-work, trying-to-improve-technique practice, what inspires me most is PROGRESS.  If I feel I'm making progress and am seeing the results --like daily BPM increases, I'm pretty jacked to keep going and practicing regularly.  Conversely, if I see no progress, it's equally defeating.  One of the reasons I didn't practice more for many years was that I hit walls and did NOT progress.  Fortunately, I've finally gotten past those walls, figured out what I should be working on to achieve what I want to achieve; and how to work on those things.  I've made a LOT of progress since the original date of this topic. 

    Joebuddha said:

     Also how do you work best?
    What is your process like?
    Using the Tascam, I used to have a list of practice items in a paper notebook, and I would log the day/time I practiced each thing, the BPM speed I reached, and that worked fine but it was kind of clunky.  

    I have recently revamped my process using technology to centralize EVERYTHING on my laptop.
    • I now have a Google doc that lists the things I want to practice -- this basically replaces what I did in my notebook. But it also has the advantage of letting me add links to various resources -- for example, backing tracks in YouTube that each lick or exercises will work well over. Links to scale diagrams or videos. I can also add my own notes about things I need to remember about each item. Picking patterns for example.
    • I have iRig and Amplitude loaded on the laptop so I plug the guitar into the laptop and get a practice tone.
    • I also now have GuitarPro on the laptop, so I can bring up the TAB of the things I'm working on. This way I can hear each passage played correctly, and play along with it at any tempo I need.  This addition has frankly been HUGE, and has allowed me to progress much faster than with just a metronome.
    My process is usually dividing my practice session into two halves. The first half is doing the drills with GuitarPro. The second half is practical application -- playing those drills over backing tracks. You might think of this as "jamming," but it's very purposeful jamming -- applying the specific things I was working on in isolation.  Because working things with a metronome is very different from playing them in-context against backing tracks of varying tempos. 

    Joebuddha said:
    Does anyone here work on improving their knowledge of harmony? 
    Not as much as I should, but I'm slowing adding some theory to the fingerboard. Paying more attention to intervals and trying to understand what things work over what kinds of chord intervals. I've always done this intuitively by ear, and trial and error.  Now I'm trying to make it more concrete so there's less in-flight guesswork. I'll admit, I don't work on this stuff as much as I work on technique. 

    Joebuddha said:
     This is really important to me because right now I have a great group of students and I want them to continue to improve but also I want to be able to help other people really get better at playing guitar.
     So many of my students and people I speak too seem so frustrated and overwhelmed by the theoretical complexities of music, as well as the physical demands of the instrument. Even with all of the resources available to them through the internet. I think with so many amazing players right at your fingertips it may just intimidate many people. 
     Looking forward to the responses.

    Whether it was when I first started, or even now, I've always been kind of pig-headed about learning theory.  I wanted to learn what I wanted to learn. My first instructor used that knowledge to his advantage by purposely NOT bogging me down with any more theory than I needed to achieve the goal directly in front of me.  Now, you can say he did me a disservice, but you could also contend that he read the situation, and knew forcing that on me early on might kill my enthusiasm and willingness to practice.  And today, I'm honestly still kind of that way. I want the good stuff. Lets face it, you don't need a shitload of theory to play the guitar. Even as a Dino.  You need to know the neck, and some very basic theory.  Now, a lot of years later, I find myself wanting to understand the theory a bit more.  But it's not a TON more. I don't need theory at the Satch/Vai level. The players I've liked most over the years don't have that level of theory understanding themselves. They know enough to get by. 

    And yes. There IS too much information on the internet. Figuring out how much of it is valid/helpful could easily overwhelm beginners and seeing guys who are masterful makes it look even more daunting. In general, more recent generations are not known for the kind of dedication it takes to become really good.  And as we ALL know, EVERYONE sucks for the first 6 months, just struggling with the physicality of the instrument.  It's why Amy can't play guitar. She is flat-out unwilling to suck for the first 6 months.

    A lot depends on what a person is trying to achieve on the instrument. You can get someone playing basic folk guitar pretty quickly. That could be enough for someone who wants to be a singer/songwriter.  Being a good lead guitarist takes more dedication and years. What do young people aspire to be on guitar these days anyway? I haven't a clue. Unless they're exposed to rock, jazz, classical, or country music through their parents, the music I hear in Ubers these days is made with computers. Not instruments.  
    Post edited by Dinosaur David B on
    I threw me guitar out. Why bother? Why bother? Use it as a coffee table. Because I can't play it like that. 
    -- David St. Hubbins.
  • inmyhandsinmyhands Posts: 11,704
           Scoring a new song I've written and working out the parts which lead me to working hard on techniques I haven't used in awhile or often enough to meet the songs requirements. Since I tend to play all the parts during both creating and recording a new piece the practice time takes forever compared to the actual song writing.
           Writing a new song when I'm truly inspired, (not just writing something to someones request / order), usually takes under two hours for the melody, lyrics and basic backing chords. Over the course of a few days I work out all the other parts on paper. It then takes me anywhere from a few days to a few months to develop the chops needed on whatever instrument to make a good recording of the piece.
           Actually I've one song that took me about 6 months to feel confident about recording, (a jazzy lead guitar part that was like a continuous run up, down and across the fingerboard with a lot of string skipping and dumb ideas / goals that needed to be fulfilled and my chops were near their all time best by the time I was ready for the studio.  
           The dumbest thing I ever did was write a tune that led to a ridiculous amount of practice time because the song, (in the style of The Moody Blues), required an Oboe to play the lead instrumental part. I loved the sound of recorded Oboe solos and this song mandated the instrument's use. My own honesty required that it be the actual instrument rather than something from a keyboard or whatever. I rented one from St. Ann Music, took it home and began a "what the fuck" introduction to the instrument. I thought it would be like a weird clarinet. I was sooooo wrong. It has two reeds that face each other. I kept wondering who designed this stupid instrument. It took me one full year of practice before I was ready to record the song. It turned out great but I swore off Oboes forever.
           Years later I wrote a song score requiring a Cor Anglais, (English Horn). When I found out the Cor Anglais was like a deep Oboe on steroids I threw the song away. It was an excellent piece and yet I tossed it. To anyone here that can play a Cor Anglais or Oboe I bow to you. Nothing I've ever attempted to learn on an acoustic or electric guitar has been even remotely as difficult to master.
           I know I've veered away from the "guitar" part of this thread but I felt these examples would show how much my songwriting plays a part in the amount I practice. If it's needed for the tune and I can't get past it I'll practice it until I can either play the part required or go to my grave.
  • Dinosaur David BDinosaur David B Posts: 18,377
    edited November 2018
    Dude. I know you're not a big fan of modern technology, but my Mom has a Baldwin organ in her living room dating that was doing passible Oboe and English Horn tones from the pre-synth era in 1973.  These days, you could get way more convincing sounds out of any MIDI keyboard. All you have to do is dial that sound up and press the keys. Is it as good as having a great player doing it for real? No. But it'd be better than you trying to learn those instruments on-the-fly. 
    I admire your dedication. I, myself took on some simple mandolin and lap steel for recordings, but those were at least stringed instruments, semi-related to what I already play.  I would no sooner take on woodwinds or brass than I would take on drums or didgeridoo.
    Post edited by Dinosaur David B on
    I threw me guitar out. Why bother? Why bother? Use it as a coffee table. Because I can't play it like that. 
    -- David St. Hubbins.
  • inmyhandsinmyhands Posts: 11,704
    Dave,
            You're probably much smarter than me. Most folks are.
            When I write something based on instrumental sounds / voices that I just can't get out of my head I figure if I'm going to use them I need to be able to play the part, (not master the instrument). That damn Oboe was lucky to be in one piece by the time I turned it back in to St. Ann Musical.
            I write music and it leads me, #1, to the guitar,(electric or acoustic). Easily my favorite songwriting instrument. I then proceed to Keyboard's, Drums if available or drum machine if not, and a search for whatever else I need.
            Does this keep me from ever mastering an instrument? ..... Yes.
            Does this give me a sense of, (I wrote it. I delivered it. I'm proud of it!), Yes.
            I'll never be a number one guitarist or #1 any instrumentalist. My focus is packaging songs I find in my head and delivering / sharing them with the rest of the world.
  • JoebuddhaJoebuddha Posts: 2,148
     My own practice has changed dramatically in the recent past. 
    I used to run scales with a metronome all day long and work on sweeping arpeggios and all of that stuff just to improve my overall playing ability. These days when I practice that type if stuff it is all within the context of a song. 
    Right now I have been working really hard to get Far Beyond The Sun down note for note which has been super challenging but also a hell of a lot of fun.
    I recently got this great app called Amazing Slow Downer and I use it daily. 
    It allows you to pull songs right off of Spotify and slow them down and loop them just like the Tascam except that you can get it much slower. 
     I am now teaching more than full-time, I literally teach 7 days a week right now so I am constantly learning songs for my students that for instance this week run the gamut from Bob Dylan to Wes Montgomery to Snarky Puppy. 
     I have to say that I wish I had gone with this song based approach earlier as I feel like it is having a major positive impact on my improv and overall playing. 
  • i don't even really practice anymore at all.  i just pick up my guitar and play songs.  sometimes i dick around with Chord Chemistry.  but not so as anybody would notice if they heard me.  lol
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