Topic: Practice...really makes perfect.

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Practice makes perfect. I last Tuesday got a chance watch a world renowned Violinist perform and then hear him answer some questions by a few eager students. That's when the question popped out from some kid.

How old were you when you played the violin and how much did you practice?

The answer to the first question was: five years old :T I wish I started playing acoustic guitar that early... 

The answer to the second question I found extremely interesting. "I practiced *only three hours a day. I would not recommend practicing any more then that. Beginners should work on technique and scales and they should practice them *slowly. I would spend an hour a day on scales. If anyone told me that I should practice more then that I would say I'm taking my time because I want to learn all of that first, because If I practice quickly I will forget everything quickly but if I practice slowly I will forget everything slowly" He then went on to explain that by age ten he was practicing five hours a day.

Two days later we were given a different response from another violinist who was currently touring a playing solos for Orchestras. She first went on to explain that she first learned to play the violin through lessons at the age of ten, but that she first went to to college as an English teacher and after that changed her mind and went back to major in violin. She said, " I must be somewhat OCD because I would not practice for a certain amount of time. Instead I would have a specific goal in mind and I would stop practicing when I would get done or when I would feel too tired to play. If I did get tired of what I was practicing I would go on to something else and then I would come back later."

I found both answers very interesting. I practice my acoustic guitar very much like the second violinist. I've been playing For a little over a year and I've found that if I've got something I need to get done I'll practice until finish. This meant I had, within my first year, roughly ten practices that went past five hours, most practices that went a full hour, and when I didn't want to play, I would just play for about ten or fifteen minutes a day.

The instrument being practiced is different, but I think I'm seeing the same formula for success and that's practice!

A) How long do you practice?
B) What do you practice?

no audience required.

Re: Practice...really makes perfect.

Hey Taylor, I guess my answer to your first question would be, I try to pick up my guitar everyday. Just alitte after dinner before I retire for the night. On Sundays I dedicate most of my day to sitting on the couch and playing. The answer to your second question is, I play whatever comes to me. Sometimes I pull out my book of my favorite songs(from chordie of course) and just play those or sometimes I just play from the song index in my head. I try to always work on my finger picking but most of the times I just strum through the song trying to pick up a note here or a note there. I like to find songs that add new chords to my list. A year ago I stayed away from bar chords like the plague, now I have opened up a whole new world of songs and bar chords are no longer a problem, actualy I prefer them over open chords. I have been playing with our church band for over a year now. I think that is the best practice of all. Playing with other people and other instruments has made a huge improvement on my playing. I still feel I have a long way to go, but as long as I'm consantly improving, them I'm happy.

Re: Practice...really makes perfect.

My practice life has been slight lately.  I sometimes squeeze in a few songs per day.  When life is less hectic, I like to practice at least 1/2 hour per day and then play for however long I feel like.  In practice time, I split it half and half between something new I am working on and something that I have recently learned but have not yet incorporated to playing.  Right now my goal is to learn scales.  I will likely spend more than fifteen minutes per day on those.  Most recently I practiced bass runs using full chords, like C - C/B - Am7 - G  Or G - G/F# - E and things like that.  I don't really know the chord names of what I played.

I differentiate between practice and playing.  Sometimes, if you really study and work on particular transitions and stuff, playing a song can be practice, but practicing remains different from just playing through no matter how badly.  That's my opinion anyway. 

- Zurf

Granted B chord amnesty by King of the Mutants (Long live the king).
If it comes from the heart and you add a few beers... it'll be awesome! - Mekidsmom
When in doubt ... hats. - B.G. Dude

4 (edited by dguyton 2010-08-06 11:33:56)

Re: Practice...really makes perfect.

I generally practice for 2-1/2 to 3 hours a day; more on weekends.  What I practice changes, in that I only practice a single thing (skill, technique, riff, what have you) for about 5-10 minutes at a time, and then move on to something else.  I've been doing this for almost 3 years now.

By the way, practice most emphatically does NOT make perfect.  Perfect practice makes perfect.  The guy above who recommended practicing slowly hit the nail squarely on the head.  The goal here is to take your mind out of the equation, and we do that through muscle memory, basically teaching your fingers the skill in question.  Thing is, they don't know when something is "right" or "wrong", they can only do what they have already done (over and over and over).  If you take the time to do something slowly enough that you NEVER make a mistake, your fingers will dutifully reproduce it as you get faster.  Soon (relatively speaking), you're playing at performance speed with no mistakes, and your conscious mind is out of the loop.  When you start doing it, it's kind of spooky; sometimes it becomes a bit of a trick to keep your mind "out of the way" and just let your fingers go!

So, what I do:  1) have a list of things to practice (written or mental, just know what you're working on); 2) go so S-L-O-W-L-Y (I'm talking mind-numbingly slowly) that you make no mistakes (for guidance here, see Jamie Andreas' "The Principles of Correct Practice for Guitar"); 3) Use a metronome; 4) record yourself, so that in a few months you can listen and see how far you've come.  You only need to record yourself once a week or so, date the tapes or files, then go back and listen in three or four months.  You will be amazed.

"There's such a fine line between genius and stupidity."
                              --David St. Hubbins

5 (edited by jerome.oneil 2010-08-06 14:24:53)

Re: Practice...really makes perfect.

I agree with both musicians.   And I use both when I teach.   Beginners should focus on technique and scales.  Building dexterity and strength has to be done, and scales (and chord transitions) are an excellent way to do it.   And you should always have a goal when you practice.  That goal might be "Run scales until my hands cramp" or it might be "Nail down this Andres Segovia bit perfectly."

Someday we'll win this thing...


Re: Practice...really makes perfect.

Sage advice from both violinists.  Just goes to show you, we are all different and digest things differently.  The main theme here is to practice.  All of you have great ideas on what a good practice should be, but in the end, it just boils down to practicing often, every day if possible.  I practice 4-5 times a day usually for 20-30 minutes each time.  The secret really is to practice daily.

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I have finally found happiness in my life.  Guitars, singing, beer and camping.  And they all intertwine wonderfully.

Re: Practice...really makes perfect.

During my first month, I was more like the first.  I would set aside a certain amount of time and a set list of things to practice and for how long to practice each of them.  That was my "intro to guitar".  Now, I'm more like the second.  I know that going back to the way I started would get me a lot further, and more perfected (can you say buzzing strings?), yet the structure of it isn't what my mind needs.  My mind needs to just be immersed into feeling and accomplishing... it might be getting that one chord change down in a particular song... or trying the song in 5 different strumming patterns and 3 different picking patterns until I "feel" the one I like best.  It could be most anything, but whatever it is that day that "speaks" to me is like therapy.  Immersing myself in it and losing myself in it is what the guitar is about (for me).  Music has always been like therapy even before I ever picked up a guitar.  It's never been about becoming a great player or singer, it's always been about doing what makes me feel good.  YES I think I'm getting HOARDS better each month by doing it the way I am, BUT I think I would be 10 times better if I did it the other way!  I don't care, I'm in it for the feeling and the love of how it makes me feel.  I will say, when I sit down to "play the guitar" I don't ever just play the guitar.  I am always working on something.  The only time I ever just play, is if I am going to record... or if someone is there specifically to listen to me (open mic, playing in the park, playing at a campfire).  At home, it's always practice!

Art and beauty are in the eyes of the beholder.
What constitutes excellent music is in the ears of the listener.

Re: Practice...really makes perfect.

TheOnlyTaylor wrote:

A) How long do you practice?
B) What do you practice?

A) I practice an hour at lunch, and 15 minutes twice a workday. I don't get to play at home much due to living in an apartment.
B) Usually I practice playing along to backing tracks when practicing my lead licks. But I also like to learn new songs every now and then. Like, this week I have been practicing "Sleep now in the fire" by Rage against the machine.

I mainly focus on practicing Blues and funk licks since that is mostly what I play. Every now and then I find some good theory to put into my practice routine.

for instance...

   2 Strings + 2 Frets For Octaves          2 Strings + 3 Frets For Octaves   

                          "Stacking Octaves"                                  

  Unison Notes "5 Fret Rule" (G to B Strings, 4 Frets!)                       

   "B-C Connections"                                                          


   Octaves Within C A G E D Forms                                             

     C Notes Outline The C A G E D  Forms Of The C Chord__________________


"Talent instantly recognizes genius,
but mediocrity knows nothing more than itself."

-Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle

Re: Practice...really makes perfect.

I tend to switch off each day. One day I'll play lots of songs from my songbook, starting with the ones I know best and ending with the ones I have recently added. Then the next day I will practice the new songs I'm learning, or some blues scales. The next day is back to my songbook. I think I do this for a couple reasons.
1) I need to keep it fresh so I don't get stuck in a "I have to practice this stuff again" rut.
2) I hit the songbook to make me feel like I actually know what I'm doing.

I try at least once a week to play thru my entire songbook. Which at this point is only 19 songs. I try to spend 1 hour, 5 days a week practicing. Sometimes I only get 1/2 hour in or only 4 days. But I will never miss more than 3 days of playing/practicing. That is a rule I stick by no matter what.

Keep Rockin!!!!!!!!!!!

Re: Practice...really makes perfect.

I kinow I practicing wrong but for the most part I have burned songs to cd's and printed out the songs. I'll plug in the cd, place the sheet music on my music stand and play one song after another. I cna play for hours and all I have to do is just turn pages.


Re: Practice...really makes perfect.

Practice, practice When I was playing in a band we had some poplar tunes that we were just so tired of playing. One night on a gig we were doing "Come To My Window" and we got to the bridge and the whole band stopped and looked at each other. I was listening to you, I was listening to you. LOL

Re: Practice...really makes perfect.

Itzhak Perlman was the name of the first violinist. He is considered to be the best.
The second was Jennifer Koh.

In any case I didn't understand what practicing slowly meant until I tried going through a couple of pages with a metronome(I set it at about a beat per second). I was surprised to find that I got in three practices at that pace each one lasting about three hours... It was awesome.

no audience required.

Re: Practice...really makes perfect.

I hit some songs out from my song list which is numbering 54 at the moment, this is done on a regular basis, at least 4 times a week. The list I have compiled so far is public now.

Re: Practice...really makes perfect.

Needless to sy we went through the Set List and dropped the 10 tunes that we were so tired of playing. Today I don't remember the cords to any of them, such is the human brain!!

Re: Practice...really makes perfect.

Everyone has tunes that they are sick of playing. Just remember a new audience may be hearing you play it for the first time.
Stars with well known hits may feel that way but they are truly glad thier fans really want to hear those the most.
I purge songs that I hate and the crowd could care less about.

We pronounce it "Guf Coast".
Ya'll wanna go down to the Guf?