#1
Ok, I wont get into details, but these are my goals really-

1) learn to play by ear
2) learn a bit about theory(ted greene books), and apply it
3) not have my playing get any worse in the meantime


So I have about 2-3 hours worth of free time a day, and more on weekends, that I can/will be playing my guitar, albeit sort of split up, and I want to fit these things into it->

1) ear training(functional ear trainer - for tonic stuff, trainear.com - for descending intervals, and musictheory.net - for ear/chord training)

2) fussing with hotel california fingerstyle, and some other songs ive already learned so i dont get super rusty while im learning these other things.

3) tabbing some stuff out, easy melodies and things

4) work on one, or both of ted greenes books - modern chord progressions / chord chemistry.

5) run through major/minor/pentatonic/blues scales now and then so i dont forget the patterns.


I know this all seems like i have it in order, but im not an organized person, and ill find myself wasting all my time working on learning to play a song, or spend 2 hours trying to tab out some easy melody that was played on a flute to begin with. What I want is for a 3rd party or whatever - someone who isnt me, to help me balance this all out with my goals in mind. Ive heard over and over that ear training is about a little practice a day over long periods of time, and im willing to do that, but how much time needs to be dedicated to it, and how much to learning other things - cause I dont think its appropriate to spend all my time using ear training programs even if goal #1) is the most important to me right now.


any advice would be appreciated, thanks

-mark
#2
well it's good that you know what you want to accomplish, that's really half the battle. you're right ear training doesn't have to be a huge amount of time, cause whenever you are around music you can work on ear training, it doesn't have to be strictly ear training exercises. what i would do is use a practice log, some people hate them but some people get a lot out of them. maybe do scales and stuff for 10-15 mins, then move along to a song you wanna work on and if you need to tab it out then try to do just part of it, and continue to build how much you can actually hear. take note of everything you do so that next time you can see if you can do it better, or quicker in some cases. it really comes down to you feeling like you've accomplished something at the end, because there's always going to be another day to cover something if you feel like you didn't, that's what the log is great for.

FWIW I use a log from time to time, my practicing sessions have done SO many makeovers over the years, right now I'm nearing the end of the semester so I am doing a lot of work preparing my pieces for juries, but i still look at some books. do a lot of reading if you can, get yourself a Real Book and read a new tune each day, great way to work on chords too. it's really whatever you can make out of the plethora of material available for us.

good luck and have fun
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#3
Gerraguitar is right on the money with the log suggestion. Keeping a practice schedule/journal is key. Writing down your goals each day is essential for making progress. So more on goals... You want to set 3 types of goals. Long term (the ones you've listed, essentially. You want these to take 4-6 months), short term weekly goals, these are the confidence boosters. You mentioned you wanted to improve your fingerstyle playing so one weekly goal for this could be to learn a song in that style or a certain arpeggio. Finally, you want to have daily goals. These are your exercises and progress trackers. Keep very close tabs on your practicing, especially if your an ADD-kind of player like I am. it's the ultimate way to make fast progress and not get distracted. Write down your goals and progress everyday. Keep your goals specific, adding in number variables like tempo and accomplish-by dates if possible. Keep yourself accountable.

Now onto your daily practice schedule... You want to be able to learn by ear and tab stuff out? The first step in doing this is learning the fretboard. if you haven't done this already you can learn it in just a week or two if you devote 15-20 min a day of your practice time to it. Create patterns at the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th and 12th frets. The notes always appear in this order: GBEADG no matter which fret your choosing. Sometimes it may start on a different note, obviously. For example the 5th fret on the E string is an A. So you would then find the D note on the A string and the whole pattern would be ADGBEA. Get it? Practice this saying the names of the notes as you play them, mix up the order, do whatever you gotta do to drill that into your head.

So a schedule I'd recommend to you assuming you have three hours to work with would be...



    You need to remember that yes, you want to always make progress, but you also are doing this ultimately because you enjoy doing it and it's fun. So keep it that way. Always make sure you're having fun with it, cuz otherwise you could get discouraged. If you ever feel like you don't want to practice because "it's a lot of work" that's bad.. If this happens, take out 1 or 2 'work' related things like theory and increase your jam time. It's all about having a good time.

    Hope this has helped.
    Dev