#1
I have never really had a great deal of progress in my guitar playing, despite decent practice time, so Im thinking that it has to do with how Im practicing, specifically that I don't actually know how to practice.

Obviously practicing is slowing down whatever we are trying to do, so that you can train your body to perform the correct movements. Mostly when I practice, I work on picking economically, i.e. making sure my pick doesn't stray to far away from string after I have picked it, now, with that I sometimes (in my fretting hand) practice the 1234 and variations, chromatic exercise, sometimes without any notes, just picking hand. As far as posture goes, I'll usually be bent over my guitar watching my hands, is this an okay posture? When I see most other people they just seem to be in the same posture as playing (looking straight ahead) but just playing slower. Is there any place in practice for doing what Im doing (making sure you are picking economically by slowly picking and making sure your pick is not too far away from the strings, so slowly that whatever you are practicing is not in tempo anymore) or should you practice everything just like playing it, but slower.

Any advice on how to practice (posture, material, concepts, no-no's) I would really appreciate, because my playing hasn't seen much progress technically, and this is probably a large part of why.

I'll also try to upload some photos, so it makes it easier for you guys to diagnose my problem.

Posture when Im practicing economical picking motions

Same thing from another viewpoint

Looking at my picking hand

Demo of practice (youtube)

I just want to know, is this way of practicing going to yield any results, should I ease of this type of practice, but keep doing it, or forget about practicing this way and just play slowly.

Also, if its not asking too much, can some people who feel they have made progress upload some videos of them practicing, so that I can get a good model on how to practice.
Last edited by jesse music at Mar 31, 2011,
#2
Just play, if there is an area you feel you need to improve give it a little bit more time. Try sweeps over the whole neck, scale in a variety of positions.
My warm up consists of the 1234 style alternate picking across the whole neck and a run up the first fret and twelfth. Then onto some simple sweep patterns repeating the bottom three strings followed with a variation of the same patterns and some string skipping patterns. I end it with a nice sweep, shred, slide combo (its actually between the buried and me's alaska intro). Then i just play what i feel like.
But general playing is practice. As for posture we are all fiends for it. I sit hunched up when i practice. I would say practice standing if possible it removes the hunching and helps when it comes to live situations. As for material i got the john petrucci book when i was younger and it opened my eyes to technique and patterns to get the most out of my fingers.
#3
you could try playing in front of a mirror so you can still see your hands without having a bad posture. in terms of practicing always use a metronome or my preference a drum machine.
#4
if youre struggling with progressing then set yourself a schedule.
first think, where am i at right now. dont try to exaggerate your abilities, but dont undersell yourself either.
then think, where would i like to be at in 6 months? be reasonable.
then set yourself points over the next 6 months where you want to be progressing to. think of songs that will help you get there.
want to learn to finger pick? choose 6 songs and learn them back to front, practice them until you can play them.
always wanted to learn a song thats got a difficult rhythm? so learn some other songs that have difficult rhythm patterns as well. familiarise yourself with it.
tell yourself that you will learn whatever you set yourself by the 6 month point. and if you do, reward yourself
#5
To be honest, there isn't really a right or wrong way to practice. For me I just learn by playing more stuff. It sounds like you're trying too hard really.

Just find some songs you wanna learn, start off easy and work your way to harder stuff. Just enjoy it! If you over analyse it and focus so much on making sure you learn this and that and how to do this technique then you'll go nuts. I learnt by learning songs and that teaches you the techniques as you go. Worked for me!

If you find that you're practicing for hours and still going slowly, you may just be a slow learner - there's nothing wrong with that
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#6
First of all, you should know what you want to learn. Set up some goals, then practice towards them.

Analyze your playing. Why can't you play x solo up to tempo? Where do you fail? Isolate that phrase, find out what your doing wrong, and practice doing it the right way.

When doing the actual practicing, what works for me is slowing it down A LOT. Play it at 25% of your current maximum speed a few times and really THINK about your every movement, then run through it at your maximum speed, applying your new technique. There is no need to do this hours on end with the same phrase (5-10 minutes appears to be the most effective), rather do some different exercises that practice the same technique. What you DO need though is persistence. Practice for a couple hours 5-6 days a week for 3-4 weeks, then take some days off and analyze your progress. Keep notes or record yourself, and you should hear the difference.

As for the posture thing, if you want to be able to play without having to watch your hands every movement, then you need to practice without watching. However, it might be a good idea to watch them when you're starting to practice something new to make sure you're doing it the right way.

Also, you should almost always practice with a metronome.

Hope that helps.
#7
The most important thing I think anyone ever told me was the practice the way you'd like to play. Practicing in a posture like that is fine if that is how you want to be able to perform. However if you practice only like that and then try and play standing up or sitting in a different position, you'll realize that it's much more difficult. There are a couple threads on the forum where you can read all the pains and woe's of people trying to stand up and play for the first time.
#8
Set some goals.Organise your routine. Practice things your not good at and go and play with other musicians. My students who progress the quickest tend to be the ones that go out and play
#9
Good posture is very important long term. Sit up straight, just try to catch yourself slouching and eventually you won't think about it any more.

In terms of practice, I'd say you should try to be more broad in your approach.

You posted good practice ethics for alternate picking, but ideally your practice will contain more then just that. For example:

15 minutes stretching
15 minutes reviewing (or learning if you don't already know the) major/minor scales and modes in various keys at a moderate tempo
by this time, you are fully warmed up, and you could spend say.. 30 minutes practicing alternate picking (with your 1234's and little patterns et)
then wind down spending say, 20 minutes building M and m triads up and down the neck in various keys.. or figuring out arpeggios in different keys on different parts of the neck

Alternate picking is awesome, fun to practice, and no doubt requires daily maintenance and work to master. However, in my experience I have learned that a more well-rounded practice not only yields better results, but doesn't become stale quickly because you can mix it up however you want.
#12
Quote by jesse music
No offense taken. I thought it was picking practice, because Im practicing economicaly picking a string, making sure the pick doesn't move to far from it. What is your definition of picking practice. Again, Im not trying to be rude, only trying to learn something


Sure, i was just curious thats all.

It just seemed extremely pointless thats all, but i understand what you we're doing now and it doesn't.

I just didn't get it at 1st Lol
#14
Quote by jesse music
If you think there's a problem with what Im doing, please tell me. The reason I created this thread was to get some answers for inefective practice habits I might have. Is it worth practicing picking like that all the time, some of the time, none of the time?


Your taking your time and be economical as you can so theres no problem with that.

Once you feel confident with your pick movements 'around' the string(s).

Move on to getting the motion in your wrist.

Sure its worth practicing picking like this but Once you have the motion down and economical movements it will just be 2nd nature and you can move on to advance your technique.
Last edited by smokeysteve22 at Mar 31, 2011,
#15
When Im playing fast in real-time the pick doesn't usually stray that far from the string, but that has mainly to do with the fact that my pick is in constant motion. So in your opinion how would one move on to "advance ones technique". I assume by practicing differently?
Last edited by jesse music at Mar 31, 2011,
#16
Quote by jesse music
When Im playing fast in real-time the pick doesn't usually stray that far from the string, but that has mainly to do with the fact that my pick is in constant motion. So in your opinion how would one move on to "advance ones technique". I assume by practicing differently?


I see, I just re-read alot of your post.

Im not a 'pro' so my opinion is only exp, I initially thought you hadn't been playing that long at 1st glance of your post.

I would say mostly practicing different things anything you find hard or trouble with, some paul gilbert string skipping licks etc..

Try to keep your picking practice fresh. Sorry if i wasn't much help lol
#18
Quote by jesse music
S'fine. Thanks for the help you gave me, and actually bothering to reply.


Hahahaha. Its the length that scares people. Sorry again and Good luck!
#19
I guess i only really practiced properly when i first started having lessons,now i just play whatever comes to mind when playing,im always relaxed.
#20
Quote by in_dreams
First of all, you should know what you want to learn. Set up some goals, then practice towards them.

Analyze your playing. Why can't you play x solo up to tempo? Where do you fail? Isolate that phrase, find out what your doing wrong, and practice doing it the right way.

When doing the actual practicing, what works for me is slowing it down A LOT. Play it at 25% of your current maximum speed a few times and really THINK about your every movement, then run through it at your maximum speed, applying your new technique. There is no need to do this hours on end with the same phrase (5-10 minutes appears to be the most effective), rather do some different exercises that practice the same technique. What you DO need though is persistence. Practice for a couple hours 5-6 days a week for 3-4 weeks, then take some days off and analyze your progress. Keep notes or record yourself, and you should hear the difference.

As for the posture thing, if you want to be able to play without having to watch your hands every movement, then you need to practice without watching. However, it might be a good idea to watch them when you're starting to practice something new to make sure you're doing it the right way.

Also, you should almost always practice with a metronome.

Hope that helps.


Sound advice dude...
Make sure that your practice routine is varied. Keep it interesting and fun for yourself. Don't agonize over things and take regular breaks. (this is important-prevents injury, burnout and allows mind and and muscle memory time to take it all in!)
Have clearly defined objectives for your session and don't get distracted! (still my biggest problem whilst practicing!)
Persevere and you will get the results! Good luck
#21
Since learning songs and solos is a good way to improve, I'll add to on some other replies - If you want to learn a particular lick, riff, song or solo then play it slowly with a metronome (or Guitar Pro) at a very slow speed - 25% of the actual speed is generally good, which works well for me playing thrash metal (generally between 140 and 200bpm 16ths) solos.

Think about your picking motion when first learning the solo - Should you use outside, inside, economic or what picking in this situation to be the most efficient? Once you decide which type(s) of picking to use, practice the solo and slowly bump up the tempo. I find it really helps to start at 25% speed every practice session and then increase the tempo slowly until my max, and then try to play past that and then I can see if I've gotten any more economical and accurate (which in turn yields speed).

I'd recommend only practicing a specific lick or riff for about 10 to 20 minutes a day - Overdoing practice on one thing tends to yield worse results than good, concentrated but relatively short practice on that thing every day.

In my opinion, you should warm up for the first 20 to 30 minutes (doing a few stretches never hurts either) and then get into your "proper practice". If you want to learn any songs or solos, follow the above advice and spend a good 15 minutes or so on each part you want to learn. Personally I'll learn two solos at once, and concentrate on one part of them for 15 minutes each, meaning I get some variety mixed in with good practice. I'd also recommend doing some technical exercises, particularly what you want to improve - E.G. If you want to improve legato, practice legato exercises and songs with legato in them.
#22
Thanks for the replies guys (and gals?), although I find them helpfull, I don't need as much advice on what to practice and duration, but things like proper posture, how slow you should go practicing, wheather it should always be in tempo, or if its okay to do some practice without the constraints of tempo, how much of this is okay. Is it okay to be practicing like I am in the photos/videos attatched, if so, should I be practicing like this for all my time, or do some practicing that's more akin to playing slowly
#23
Set up a plan, think about what you need to learn, put them into a plan and then stick with the plan. Also, When you set up your plans you should have a goal for each practices, otherwise you will be likely to sitting there and mind absent. Try to focus on 1 song each month. I use to have three months practicing schedule when I started.
#24
Check my post - I commented on tempo and practice time.

I'm not sure about your video but I wouldn't recommend sitting like that - Justinguitar.com has some good tutorials on posture, as well as Freepower's videos in the stickied topic in this forum.
#25
Thanks for the Justin Sandercoe recommendation. I checked out this video he adressed the exact thing I was doing. 3:20, when he's talking about crane-ing. When is exactally what Im doing in the original photos/video.

What I think I'll do is re-adjust my posture (I've been hunched over the guitar with my spine bent, but Im just going to look down at my hands rather than actually bending my spine) in all practicing, keep some of the slow economy of motion picking practice in there, because the two parts to being able to play faster are basically relaxation and economy of motion, but I think my problem has been forsakign relaxation for economy of motion. So I will keep that type of practicing in, but make it only part of my practice, not the whole part like I've been doing.

Thanks for the help
Last edited by jesse music at Apr 2, 2011,