#1
Well... How do you?

I've been getting more and more into scales and theory in general for over quite some time now, and now I'm really thinking about how to approach stuff in a different way, getting to know a lot more than I did before. But still I am somewhat confused in all of this theory and how to learn it properly, and making it fit into music.

One thing which I have done according to the scales is that I've learned some of the notes and where the roots are. From there on I have memorized the formulas from different scales and basically just played the intervals from the minor and major scale starting out from one of the desired keys.

How do you improvise, play, or practice? Do you have any specials runs which you use a lot, or any patterns you know sound good with certain notes?

Modes?


Yours,
Suttam
#2
Hi Suttam,

first of all I would divide your practice into sessions. Everything depends on how much time you have daily for guitar practice.

Personally, I have 5 hours daily (6x50mins of practice). I have 2 sessions when I practice pure technique, 2 sessions with theory, scales, chords, sight reading, fretboard memorization etc and 2 sessions when I integrate all the areas - for example improvising, phrasing - things where I can develop both technique and theory at the same time.

It is very good that you learn modes and scales from intervallic side, not just by memorizing a bunch of patterns. Of course, I suggest you learn these also but it is not enough.

I suggest also you play modes on a single string ascending while saying out loud the note names - you learn modes + you learn the fretboard. Then you can play modes on just 2 strings up the neck. After that on 3 strings, 4 strings and finally on 6 strings.

While you learn 3 note-per-string patterns, make sure you play them starting both with high and low strings.

Then you can play some scale patterns, starting from the most common ones (like 123 234, 1234 2345, 1324 etc) and you can come up with your own.

These are some general ideas. It is a very broad topic to discuss. If you have any further questions, feel free to ask.
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Neal Wakefield
#3
Well, for one, I stopped thinking of it as "practice" a long time ago I tend to follow the Paul Gilbert philosophy in that I'll make a point of it to learn something new every day. Whether it's a scale or a chord or a lick or an arpeggio or whatever, they all add up pretty fast. I also study jazz theory and world music, plus I spend several hours a day with a guitar in my hands.

As far as improvising, I do have my own little trick bag of signature licks that's grown more and more the more I've developed as a guitarist and as a musician. Lately, I've also been trying to focus less on what exactly I'm playing and more on how I'm playing it in an attempt to make my playing more emotional.
#4
Lol Neal. 5 hours a day? I personally think that's a bit of overkill. The only time when that could occur for me is at a cover gig - playing randomly for an hour a day, then a 4 hour set at night. But otherwise there's other things like a job, uni/school, rest from said activity. On average I'd play a randomly for an hour a day, do 30 mins technical exercises plus 1-2 hours band practice or a gig. If you averaged out the week it would probably end at about 2 hours/day.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#5
Quote by AlanHB
Lol Neal. 5 hours a day? I personally think that's a bit of overkill. The only time when that could occur for me is at a cover gig - playing randomly for an hour a day, then a 4 hour set at night. But otherwise there's other things like a job, uni/school, rest from said activity. On average I'd play a randomly for an hour a day, do 30 mins technical exercises plus 1-2 hours band practice or a gig. If you averaged out the week it would probably end at about 2 hours/day.


I arranged my day to be able to spend this amount of time practicing. But most importantly - practice is the most effective if you are able to keep it fun and interesting and stay focused at the same time. If it becomes a chore, your progress is very unsignificiant.
Keeping positive attitude about practice I think it is possible to pley even 8-10 hours (keeping your motivation high by doing some inspiring non-musical activities in breaks etc.). But I have to admit that 8-10 hours is a bit much By the way, Steve Vai claims to spend 8 hours daily with guitar.
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Neal Wakefield
#6
Quote by Neal_Wakefield
By the way, Steve Vai claims to spend 8 hours daily with guitar.

maybe when he was at berklee transposing zappa

5 hours isn't much, but i'd argue very heavily against learning scale/mode runs as in your first post. it's easier to "feel accomplished" but it's a lot less useful compared to actually learning the notes of a given key and not treating it like an exercise in technique. i know because i spent 2 years running up and down scales and buying into that modes crap, but a month into a theory class and i made more progress than the entire time i wasted my time on pure technique and improper theory
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Last edited by Hail at Jan 2, 2012,
#7
Say you work for 9 hours. Then you practice for 10 hours. That leaves 5 hours to sleep. It must be a practice routine for the unemlpoyed
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#8
I've stopped making excercises and focusing on technique. The best way to practise is to ... play. I improvise and compose a lot. A great excercise is to take a sheet ( i prefer classical stuff) of the piece you want to learn and arrange it for a guitar. Singing along is also great, cause you are learning intervals. Also, making transcriptions is the best excercise.

My advice is to stop overwhelming yourself with excercises that don't really make you a better player. It's not the point to play every excercise on earth, but train the aspects that you can't do. Set a goal for next few days (training your pinky, for example - on last resort by papa roach) and acquire that skill. When you have it - go for the next You'll se the progress.
#9
Quote by AlanHB
Say you work for 9 hours. Then you practice for 10 hours. That leaves 5 hours to sleep. It must be a practice routine for the unemlpoyed


or people majoring in music in college...or people doing music for a living.

they do exist, you know. it's a big risk and takes a lot of work, but you don't have to be in metallica to make a good living as a performer/session musician if you really want it and pull the right strings.

hell, i had a band director that worked during the day and practiced various instruments between classes and during off periods, then spent 3-4 nights a week playing symphony gigs. he had stability and teaching benefits, and still made some serious bank with a wife who did the same thing.
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Quote by UseYourThumb
You win. I'm done here.
#11
Quote by Hail
maybe when he was at berklee transposing zappa

5 hours isn't much, but i'd argue very heavily against learning scale/mode runs as in your first post. it's easier to "feel accomplished" but it's a lot less useful compared to actually learning the notes of a given key and not treating it like an exercise in technique.


Well, of course you can do it from both sides - I personally do it this way. Plus playing such runs while focusing on the notes of a certain scale gives you memorization and you train technique at the same time.

I'm not convincing anyone to learning just a bunch of scale patterns, Suttam said in his first post that he approached scales from intervallic side which is very good.
__
Neal Wakefield
#12
Quote by Hail
or people majoring in music in college...or people doing music for a living.

they do exist, you know. it's a big risk and takes a lot of work, but you don't have to be in metallica to make a good living as a performer/session musician if you really want it and pull the right strings.

hell, i had a band director that worked during the day and practiced various instruments between classes and during off periods, then spent 3-4 nights a week playing symphony gigs. he had stability and teaching benefits, and still made some serious bank with a wife who did the same thing.


People do still have to sleep dude. I don't personally regard working as practice, even if your work is playing music.

As for making cash from music, I didn't mention anything along those lines, but I wouldn't be incorrect in saying that unless you're a teacher, it's extremely hard to make a decent amount of money from music. This is due to the extreme competition in the area coupled with the relatively low demand for the skills of a musician. Same goes for all arts. There are some who do well, but I'd regard them as the exception to the rule, rather than the rule itself.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#13
Quote by AlanHB
Lol Neal. 5 hours a day?.


five hours is nowhere near overkill.

TS. lately I've been practicing this way (as a jazz player):

pick a tune and play it for at least half an hour. play the melody for one chorus, then with long tones (or a bow in my case) spend a chorus just playing the root movement, then I spend a few choruses with long tones exploring underlying chromatic movement between the changes, then I play 1-3-5-7 arpeggios over each chord, then 3-5-7-9. then play the melody but only every 8 bars. next chorus play the melody for four bars and then solo every other four. then I solo for a few choruses. then I spend a few choruses walking bass lines. then I play the melody out.

not necessarily in that order.

Neal has good things to say. scales are good practice for muscle memory and dexterity. run them up and down in thirds, fourths, fifths, sixths, sevenths, ninths and tenths.

another thing people neglect is practicing piano and ear training in general. tons of good ear training sites or apps. note location over a chord is the most important I think. but intervals is also incredibly important so you can hear how you get to and from those target note locations.
#DTWD
Last edited by primusfan at Jan 3, 2012,
#14
I've got a feeling I'm the only one working a full time job on this board

Consider my day:

Wake up at 8.

Eat breakfast, drive to work to start at 9 (sometimes earlier).

Finish work at 5.

Get home at 5.30.

If I were to practice for 5 hours, that would mean I stop at 10.30. At which point perhaps I make dinner? Haha.

It would also cancel out any band practices, or gigs I have on. Not my style. I do imagine though if I didn't have that pesky 9-5 thing I'd be all good to practice 5 hours a day if I so wished.

But I'm still under the impression that if I did practice 5 hours a day, it would be little improvement over 1-2 hours, as long as it's done efficiently.

Instead my average day usually goes like so.

Get home at 5.30.

Eat.

Band practice from 6.30 - 8/8.30.

Eat.

Speed drills 9-930. Metronome + Speed Mechanics exercises.

Rest.

Sleep at 10.30.

Works for me! I'm in something like 7 bands....most weeknights are band practice night.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#15
Quote by AlanHB
I've got a feeling I'm the only one working a full time job on this board

Consider my day:

Wake up at 8.

Eat breakfast, drive to work to start at 9 (sometimes earlier).

Finish work at 5.

Get home at 5.30.

If I were to practice for 5 hours, that would mean I stop at 10.30. At which point perhaps I make dinner? Haha.

It would also cancel out any band practices, or gigs I have on. Not my style. I do imagine though if I didn't have that pesky 9-5 thing I'd be all good to practice 5 hours a day if I so wished.

But I'm still under the impression that if I did practice 5 hours a day, it would be little improvement over 1-2 hours, as long as it's done efficiently.

Instead my average day usually goes like so.

Get home at 5.30.

Eat.

Band practice from 6.30 - 8/8.30.

Eat.

Speed drills 9-930. Metronome + Speed Mechanics exercises.

Rest.

Sleep at 10.30.

Works for me! I'm in something like 7 bands....most weeknights are band practice night.


high school students are at school from about 730 to 300. uni students are taking 15-19 hours a semester, working part time and practicing. just because people aren't working full time with benefits doesn't mean their schedules are any less hectic than yours.

if it works for you, it's fine. but think of it this way: conventional wisdom states in order to become fluent in anything you have to have 10,000 hours of practice. if you can stand to wait 10,000 days for that, that's fine. but if you want to
be a professional (not semipro or hobbyist) musician you're going to need to take a much bigger chunk out of that per day if you want to get out into the workforce soon.

anyone who practices 10 hours a day might not have a full time job. but I guarantee they have absolutely no problem paying the bills.
#DTWD
#16
You can guaruntee it?

If you want to make serious cash from music as whatever, that 5 hours would be much better spent on marketing yourself/band than practicing. I know many awesome musicians who struggle paying the bills.

I'm not trying to put a dampener on those here studying music, it's just my personal experience so far.

Anyways how much are users in this thread making from their music right now? We could have a survey of sorts with what you get paid for, how many hours paid work you do for music stuff (teaching or gigs) and how many hours you practice outside of those commitments. We can stop the hypotheticals and cut to the facts.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#18
I don't know why you're getting all defensive. I'm not slamming you because you took a different road. I'll (God-willing) be working a full-time job (with commuting) come summer. If your brief practice time is enough for what you want to do, that's fine. I'm glad it works for you. But for someone who wants to be in the upper echelon it's very little conparatively. There is no right or wrong length of practice time, it just depends on what you want to do with music. It's not like we're saying it makes you shitty.

I make enough money to pay my bills freelancing the musical theater circuit, weddings, events, restaurants, cover bar gigs and touring groups. I don't have an exact figure or anything though. I don't have students anymore but am going to try to pick some up now thy schools slowed down considerably so there's that too.

As far as how much I practice? It's not a set amount. Depends on the day and if I've got a gig or work later. I just practice for however long I can. When I first started bass in college I would stay overnight in the building sleeping in my gig bag though. Practicing for hours upon hours.

If you're playing original music, of course you're not going to make hardly anything. But playing theater gigs and events/weddings? If you can't get by on that plus lessons and bar gigs, you probably have a gambling problem. The only problem is when gig season slows down. I'm not going to lie and say I live comfortably. I have to be really frugal and do sometimes struggle. But I'm also 22 and would rather take my lumps now and really progress on my instrument rather than just practice an hour a day and be alright. Gotta take as much of that 10,000 hours out as I can now so when responsibilities like marriage and kids do come down the line I can have a job, practice enough to maintain and still have time for more important things.

Before those commitments come though? Even after school when I do have a 25-40 hour gig a week during the day, I know where I'll be from 6-10 every night. There is no band practice. You just practice and show up to the gig.

Marketing only goes so far. Most restaurants that don't have music don't have it for a reason. They're cheap. The best thing is to just get to know the guys in the scene. Eventually you just get the call to come in and sub. From there your clout grows. I dunno. There's not much marketing to be done other than meeting other musicians.

EDIT: And yeah, that people who practice that much will be fine financially is not exactly a guarantee. It's more a long term security that if they put enough effort in, they will eventually be the first-call guy. My teachers that way and makes an assload just from playing gigs because he eats, sleeps and
breathes his instrument. You get out why you put in basically. That comes with sacrifices though.

I don't practice nearly as much as him and consequently am not nearly as good. Scott LaFaro would practice bass for 8 hours a day and in the course of two years revolutionized jazz bass. I know a church pianist/organist who sight reads two hours every day. He makes in three masses on a Sunday what my friend's dad does in a week. Freaks are freaks because of their discipline and hard work.

You may have to work at Chili's for 10 years while perfecting your craft, but it can be done. You can go market yourself any time. You can only practice for entire days during a very small window of your life. Would rather knock that out now while I'm young, have few responsibilities and can get by on very little.
#DTWD
Last edited by primusfan at Jan 4, 2012,
#19
Thanks for your well put answer. I'm satisfied.

I wasn't going on the defensive - I was just "testing the waters" as such. We get many users on here saying "it's all for the music man, don't worry about the cash" and meanwhile they're still living with their parents with no financial commitments to speak of. It's good to know that you're speaking from experience.

I'm still not personally ready to accept that the "best person" (person who practices the most in this case) gets the job though. That's a bit idealistic to me. But it's a great idea hey?
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#20
you are correct actually. the best guy in town might be the third or fourth on the call list because he might be unreliable, show up late or just generally not be easy to work with. playing is just half the battle. that's how it is here anyway.

either way, cheers.

EDIT: also want to be the first to say I do not live up to the goals I talked about in anyway. I fall short of practice goals a lot. don't mean to come off like I'm hot shit. I'm just at the point where I know what I need to do, I just don't put in the full effort. lest anyone think I was judging from a high horse.
#DTWD
Last edited by primusfan at Jan 4, 2012,
#21
It's the same as any field really in that respect, it's not the best man gets the prize - people will always hire someone they know over an email that is in the inbox. Experience is always regarded higher than passion etc.

As for my personal goals, I've pretty much got them. I never wanted to work as a musician. It's more my escape from work, and I can't take it so seriously that I'd fully commit myself to it.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#22
I sit down really early, with my metronome. I used to hate it, but now I want it 24/7. depending on the scale, lick or section is how i set it(one thing that I always do is chromatics). That's for precision. For feel, I'll put some Sabbath for new riffs, some Paul Gilbert for ideas in Arpeggios, for leads basically anything(but I love to solo over Heaven & Hell by Sabbath). for melodies most of the time a lil Satch or Vai will do.

Say
30min warming up
1-2 hours with the metronome
4 hours with cds
1&1/2 in practice of new things
1 hour or more for classical guitar
Since I sometimes don't have time, I wake up earlh and do the metronome & warm up. And when I get back I warm up and do the other things. After that I maybe keep playing, drink freaking beer or search for new stuff.
Last edited by poisonousmetal at Jan 5, 2012,