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Old 08-15-2013, 06:31 AM   #1
Abomination94
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Stuck in a rut deeper than the Mariana Trench

Hey everyone, not sure if this is where I should post this but it's too late now.

Basically, I need to know how to practice. I've been playing for about two years and I'm really unhappy with my progress. It's getting to the point where it's starting to affect other areas of my life. I desperately want to get better at everything guitar, from playing technique to composition and improvisation but I just don't know where to start. I'm self taught and I've only had something like 3 or 4 lessons in my life. I would love a teacher but I live in a very small rural town and there aren't any so I'm stuck trying to teach myself.

There's just so much to learn I have no idea where to begin, whenever I pick up my guitar I mess around with a few scales, try to memorize notes, maybe learn a chord but I don't really feel like that's doing anything and I end up fucking around for a while, getting frustrated and giving up.

Can you guys please help me set up some sort of practice routine, help me out with what I should be working on and learning etc.


I also recently took up the drums so if anyone can help me out there as well it would be much appreciated it's not as important as YouTube has plenty of cool lessons.

Thanks.

EDIT: I don't know if this is matters, but I'm primarily a metal player so any advice that would help my metal composing, playing etc would be great.
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Last edited by Abomination94 : 08-15-2013 at 06:33 AM.
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Old 08-15-2013, 07:26 AM   #2
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Start learning your favorite songs by ear. That is always a good start. In fact, you should devote the majority of your practice time to learning songs by ear. After you have some success doing that, try your hand at composing etudes for yourself. Sing the line you want, write it down and then play it. Also, singing the notes and their note names while you practice can really help.
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Old 08-15-2013, 08:00 AM   #3
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Certainly dig deeper into music theory. Learning chords is great, but learning how to construct and use them helps even more, especially if you're looking to improve upon your writing skills.

There are plenty of good, free guitar lessons online. Seek lessons that will not only challenge you skill-wise, but also improve you musically. Two of my favorites are Guthrie Govan and Paul Gilbert.

Also, step outside of your normal comfort zone. Learn something from a different genre, and then adapt it.
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Old 08-15-2013, 08:13 AM   #4
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I second what Erc said.

Improving your ear is one of the best things, if not the best thing, you can do for your playing. REGARDLESS of genre. But it's also one of the hardest things to develop.

Start with learning songs you like by ear. You will become much better at coming up with your own stuff once you have gotten a particular sound in your head, in your case metal. Learning a lot of metal by ear will increase your ability to come up with your own metal stuff based on what you have learned.

Singing what you play is also a very good idea. Playing a chord and then trying to sing a line over it and then try to pick it out by ear is one of the best ways to develop your improvisiation skills. You will of course have to start very simple, and move on from there.

Also, don't neglect learning from other instruments. Learning a good vocal line that you like on guitar can be very benefitial. Taking drumfills and adding notes to them and playing them on guitar can be great aswell.
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Quote:
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“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


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"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
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Old 08-15-2013, 08:36 AM   #5
Abomination94
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Thanks for the replies. I'm terrible at figuring out a song by ear. I really can't do it, I'm worried that means I'll never have success with music. I'll definitely take the advice though. I'm pretty sure I can't sing either, I think ear training will be a long and tedious process for me. Any tips on how I can develop that skill or will what you guys told me be enough?

Can you also help me set up a practice routine full of exercises and things I should practice everyday?

I think what depresses me the most is that the music I love inspires me so much, I really want to be inspired by my own playing but I'm not.
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Old 08-15-2013, 09:07 AM   #6
Sickz
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A good ear isn't something that you just get, you work for it, A LOT.

I was in the same boat as you are now. I was terrible beyond belief at learning songs by ear when i started out doing so, but i kept at it, and now that is the only way i learn music (except from the occasional page of sheet music i'm asked to play). I hated being that guy who was like "Hmm... I'm sorry guys, there ain't any tabs for this song, so we have to play another one", or when learning song for myself my favorite bands and artist release a new record and be like "Man, i want to learn that song, but there ain't no tabs for it yet".

Nowadays i can learn whatever i want. It's a truly great feeling. It also led me to pick up bass and piano a few years ago, and i am now good at bass playing and proficient at piano.

As for the singing, i couldn't do that either when i started! It comes with time, if you practice.

What i am trying to tell you is, don't get put down by the things you can't do, if you could do them you wouldn't have this problem. Were you put down when you couldn't play guitar at all? Like "Damn i am terrible at playing guitar, i really can't do it, i will never be able to play guitar", YOU ARE NOW. Time + proper practice is the key to anything.

You will be able to be inspired by your own playing, but it won't happen over night. It won't happen over a couple of weeks, it won't happen over a couple of months. You have to stop thinking about time. I never sit and think "Geez, i should be so much better for someone who has been playing for 4 years", i practice, learn songs, develop stuff i am bad at, and i enjoy it. Try looking at the bright side of everything. YAY you found out you got a terrible ear, now you have something to practice!

I really hope that helps you in any way. If you'd like to ask any further questions, just send me a PM.

Good luck
Cheers
Sickz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."

Last edited by Sickz : 08-15-2013 at 09:08 AM.
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Old 08-15-2013, 09:29 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abomination94
Thanks for the replies. I'm terrible at figuring out a song by ear. I really can't do it, I'm worried that means I'll never have success with music. I'll definitely take the advice though. I'm pretty sure I can't sing either, I think ear training will be a long and tedious process for me. Any tips on how I can develop that skill or will what you guys told me be enough?

Can you also help me set up a practice routine full of exercises and things I should practice everyday?

I think what depresses me the most is that the music I love inspires me so much, I really want to be inspired by my own playing but I'm not.

keep it short. what i do is i warm up by doing 4 notes per string chromatic stuff scales. just starting at the 1st fret and then up to the 15th and back down again. then i move on to the diatonic shapes. i go up and down the shape twice and move them up and down 4 evenly spaced positions on the neck. i do that with all the diatonic shapes and then the pentatonic shapes. then after that i go to the 5th fret and do some pentatonic and diatonic sequences, again doing them twice up and down, and twice down and up. then once i'm done, i just play.

i try to get at least an hour of just playing, but sometimes i'll do 5 or none. sometimes taking breaks can make you love guitar again and just hit the reset button to give the drive back. anyway, that routine can take anywhere from an hour or 45 mins or so depending on how rusty i am. the focus is accuracy though, not speed. the reason i like to have free play practice is because you simply CANNOT practice everything every day. exercises and scales are just tools for making music. so you have to spend time actually making music with them. honestly i used to never practice scales like i do now. i just played and i improved just fine. i think it makes things more fun and creative and you don't really think about ruts so much.

just take things slow, work on accuracy and control and staying loose. take it from someone who is off from tendonitis and has to re learn how to play. i\ve always tried to stay loose, but now i have to REALLY stay loose and be VERY accurate. you can tweek the routine however you like, it's just an example of keeping it simple. you could add some arpeggios if you want, i don't do them much so i don't practice them.

honestly though, "just playing" is probably the best practice, as long as you continue to focus on getting better. like i said, you're putting things in a musical context instead of a task that needs to be completed. try to get some ear training in there. just put on your favorite songs, start off simple and work up to more complex. start by trying to find the root notes. i'll try to find bass note and then the chord the song resolves to, which is the key. it's usually the first and/or last chord in a progression. not always, but a lot of the time in simple and popular music so start there. then try the others. if you know your intervals and scales and how to harmonize them, this part is easier. but you can do it without knowing those things well too. the more you do it, the more you'll be able to hear typical chord progressions and see them on the neck.

that's all i did for a long time, put on songs or the radio, figure out the key and the progression, make up my own lead parts and solos. don't just play the song exactly, try to play something that compliments the parts you hear. don't be afraid to try new things. another good thing is WATCHING people play. go to youtube or whatever and watch people play as much as you can. find online lessons, read guitar magazines, books, whatever. as long as you love guitar and love music, you will progress. you have to be able to see your faults too and work on improving them.

you haven't been playing too long yet so don't worry too much. it seems like a lot now but it will get easier. it's always going to be work though. you're always learning new things, or at least you SHOULD be. as for drums, same sort of thing. warm up with some standard exercises, then start playing beats, different times, different patterns, work on fills, drum solos. i play drums too and piano and bass. guitar is the one i have the most structured practice with. the others are mostly just improv or learning songs or just figuring out standard things on each instrument. it's easier too when you already know one instrument well to learn others. the music is in YOU, not the instrument. one tip with drumming i find is you really have to feel it in your body. it should almost feel like dancing i think. also i found that drumming with midi drums on the computer keyboard actually helped my rhythm. and by that i mean playing them live like real drums, not making loops. i don't know exactly why, but for some reason it really helped me understand the relationship between the hi hat, snare and kick a lot more and how to "feel" it so i can drum in time on the keyboard. i don't know if it will help, but it helped me. i hope SOME of this helps lol.
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Old 08-15-2013, 09:45 AM   #8
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Thanks man I'll work that stuff into my practice schedule I'm going to devise tomorrow. I'm going to go all out and make it at least an hour or solid practice and learning, not counting jamming and writing. I'm the laziest person ever so keeping up this routine will also be a great exercise in will power. Do you think it's fair to say that while you might get good at your instrument with something like half hour day practices, you get great by doing like 5 hours a day? I really want to master my instrument, I just need to get off my ass and do it.

I know what you mean about feeling a beat, drumming comes pretty naturally to me. I love it.
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Old 08-15-2013, 10:16 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abomination94
Do you think it's fair to say that while you might get good at your instrument with something like half hour day practices, you get great by doing like 5 hours a day? .


No. More time =/= better results. It's better to do a short, focused practice session then doing a long one. Cause there are very few people who can actually focus for 5 hours.

I often practice around 2-3 hours a day, never more. And i also have short breaks in there.

But it is also a matter of HOW you practice. You can practice for months but if you practice poorly the result will be poorly aswell.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
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Old 08-15-2013, 10:18 AM   #10
Abomination94
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What do you mean by how you practice?
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Old 08-15-2013, 11:24 AM   #11
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For example:

Poorly: I am going to practice downpicking master of puppets at the highest tempo possible, even if i tense up a alot which may lead to me hurting myself and it doesn't sound very clean. I don't care how i sit or what i do with my body, main point is i get it down, sloppy. Also, warming up is for wimps. Speed is everything.

Better: I am going to practice downpicking master of puppets at the highest tempo where i can play relaxed, accurately and cleanly. Making sure that i don't grip my pick harder than i need to and not making bigger movements with my right hand then i need to. Also making sure that my left hand wrist is as straight as possible and that i only apply enough pressure to the string to make them sound, not more. Also sitting in a good posture. I'll also make sure i have warmed up and stretched beforehand. Speed is a byproduct of accuracy.

If you don't practice what you want to learn in a good way you won't improve and pick up bad habits. That's why the saying "practice makes perfect" is wrong, "Perfect practice makes perfect" is better.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
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Old 08-15-2013, 12:39 PM   #12
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Ah, I see. I always practice standing up, is it possible to have bad posture this way? Sometimes I think I'm a bit slumped over my guitar. Also, do you have any tips for 1) not tensing my right arm when playing faster? 2) keeping my pinky involved, when it's not being used it sticks out away from the fret board and that makes my playing messy when I have to use it.
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Old 08-15-2013, 01:41 PM   #13
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I would recommend you check out the youtube videos of a guy on here called "Freepower", he has spot on videos regarding most technical approaches.

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...2If4cYysvhq6ELL

I recommend you check out the videos on Correct practice, posture, stretches, finger independence.

If you want your posture and such evaluated i think it's a good idea to post a video clip of yourself playing something your comfortable with in the guitar techniques forum here. Making sure that we can see both your hands properly and such. It's the best way to do it if you want us to help you examine your playing technique.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote:
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"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
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Old 08-15-2013, 03:01 PM   #14
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I was in your exact situation a few months back and got some legit advice from the members here as always. Here are some links to the things that has helped me most (all are free).

ear training http://www.miles.be/
theory (this was my biggest help) http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/sear...usade&w=columns
and this http://www.guitar-and-bass-software.com/eng/ it's been very useful. It's honestly a bit confusing at first so here's what your best bets are to start off (if you decide to download):

The 'Tools" column will help you with basics.
Click on Metronome for the obvious, Click Jam Band to have a simple chord progression as a backing track (the drum pattern is 100% customizable, th bass has a few different patterns, but the guitar is best used turned down to vaguely catch the chord as it's usually musically unappealing to me). I haven't used the Key Finder or Chord Finder yet since I like finding it out myself :P: but I'm sure they're helpful.

The "Exercise" column is a great way to test yourself. I only use two of them but YMMV.
Click Exercise 2 under Fretboard to find a nice way to learn/practice/test yourself on the knowledge of the fretboard as it gives you the sound and position of a note on a string and a collection of notes from C to C at the bottom for you to press the correct note.
The Intervals exercise under Ear training is also useful and a good way to start off as it allows you the option to choose which intervals to play when testing you. (I suggest simply starting off with m2 and M2 then working your way up one by one).

References are useful but I only use the scale reference to help me write solos and it also helps me improvise, again, YMMV here.

Tablature is one of the best features here.
You can write out your own tabs and have them playback (speed can be adjusted to set u correct rhythm). The only problem here is it doesn't playback any accents you put in (palm mute, harmonics, etc) but that's a moot point since all you need is the tab itself. Be sure to click all of the icons to see what they do before writing.

I also just realized I spent 20 minutes typing up an introduction to a program that you might never download haha. If nothing else, check out Crusade Columns as it's a great free way to throw yourself into some basic stuff good luck
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Old 08-15-2013, 03:48 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abomination94
Thanks for the replies. I'm terrible at figuring out a song by ear. I really can't do it, I'm worried that means I'll never have success with music. I'll definitely take the advice though. I'm pretty sure I can't sing either, I think ear training will be a long and tedious process for me. Any tips on how I can develop that skill or will what you guys told me be enough?

Can you also help me set up a practice routine full of exercises and things I should practice everyday?

I think what depresses me the most is that the music I love inspires me so much, I really want to be inspired by my own playing but I'm not.


When I started to learn by ear, my teacher had me learn the ABC song. I would suggest practicing children songs. Another thing you might want to practice is the 1234 exercise. That helps a lot and also try doing variations like 1324 or something. Also learn the pentatonic scales. Once you know the pentatonics, search for backing tracks on youtube and try jamming with them.
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Old 08-15-2013, 04:09 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjog210
When I started to learn by ear, my teacher had me learn the ABC song. I would suggest practicing children songs. Another thing you might want to practice is the 1234 exercise. That helps a lot and also try doing variations like 1324 or something. Also learn the pentatonic scales. Once you know the pentatonics, search for backing tracks on youtube and try jamming with them.


Learning children songs as starters for ear training is a good idea.

I don't agree with the chromatic exercise and pentatonic jamming tho.

Doing variations of 1234 might be good when you are just starting out to help out your finger independence, but after that their pretty much useless. You will rarely come across runs that involves one finger per fret when you learn songs. I think it's a much better idea to learn songs and when you find something that gives you trouble use that as an exercise. 'Cause then you are practicing something musical as well as something your bad at.

As for the pentatonic thing. It's a good idea to learn and know what a pentatonic major and minor scale is but if you are going to practice improvising i'd rather recommend you forget about it and use your ears. I think it should be the goal of everyone who want to improvise well not to be locked up in certain scales or patterns, but rather try to play by ear. It will serve you better in the long run. I've had improvisations with guys who are stuck in patterns and they always have to know they key of the song before playing.

Shorty, it's better to be able to play what you want to hear regardless of key instead of relying on knowing the key to improvise.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote:
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"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
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Old 08-15-2013, 05:27 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by sjones
Also, step outside of your normal comfort zone. Learn something from a different genre, and then adapt it.

I can't second this enough.

One thing that's very helpful to all players is practicing with a metronome. I've decided to specifically start practice sessions where my whole goal is practicing with a metronome. It's not that my sense of rhythm is bad. (It's rather average really.) It's that I feel like I could improve it.

Try learning some of your favorite songs. You could either do them by ear. Or, alternatively, look up the tabs and then practice with a metronome. Whether you choose to do the latter or the former, make sure you compare your playing to the actual song. Your goal is to capture the emotion of the song, not just know what notes to play, after all.
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Old 08-16-2013, 05:49 AM   #18
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If you're stuck in a rut it's normally good to try some theory to help you change your playing habits. This is why I wrote this eBook.

Check it out ****Link removed AlanHB**** Don't advertise
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Old 08-16-2013, 06:44 AM   #19
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^^^^
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Old 08-22-2013, 06:46 PM   #20
Abomination94
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Ok here is a daily practice schedule I've made"

Warm-ups and Scale Exercise w/ metronome: 10 minutes
Learn a new chord and try incorporate it into my playing
Work through my Guitar Books: 30 mintues
Work on learning a song by ear: 30 minutes

then it's free time where I can just jam or work on original material. All together it's about an hour and a half daily practice plus messing around time at the end.

What do you think?
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Rotting earth
Fire streaks the skies
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Putrid stench
The Light chokes and dies
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