"Practice makes perfect". Yes I know, I thought so too, I desperately poured all my emotion into practicing nonstop, but all it brought was frustration.

I've come across something from experience.

I was practicing a riff for hours. I just couldn't do it. I slept, when I woke up, and a few minutes later, I could do it so easily.

I was practicing another riff for 3 months or so. I filled my routine with that riff everyday. You can imagine how boring it was. My speed wouldn't change. I took a break from it, after my frustration got the best of me, when I went back there was a significant improvement already.

So my question is,

How do you know when it's time to take a break?

How do you know if what's wrong is maybe practicing too much?
move on then go back to it. repeat repeat and repeat. its the way our brains work dude.
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I know I should have better discipline with practicing but my half assed approach seems to work for me. The other day I started learning a new weird neo classical kind of riff, i was kind of getting it, and then just went to bed. Went to band practice the next day played it perfect right away. Whatever works for you really
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usually when i am having trouble i stop, take a lunch or drink break, find someone to hang with for a few hours and come back for round two. that is mainly how i approach writing music as well as taking on a song to cover, when it comes to techniques i usually play it until i make it through the exercise then after that once i make a mistake i quit for the day.
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my theory is that its sleep that helps. Sometimes i practice something for hours straight one day without ever being able to play it full speed and then the next day i can play it just fine. Like all of a sudden, it just... makes sense.
That's motor skills in motion. Truth is, at even medium speeds you can't totally control what you're doing or what you're hitting, by practicing something hard and then sleeping on it, your brain will have enough time to pre-process your motion, allowing you to do it on "auto" much more easily. That's a sort of a "let it flow through you" method, where you first give your fingers an adequate task of a pattern, but your brain isn't as fast as your fingers is, so it takes some time to memorize that pattern.

Since the idea of practicing anything in a physical motion is to make it seemingly effortless, and that's exactly what happens, if you played for 2-3 years, when you pick up a guitar and start playing you won't over-analyze or think about how you're picking, you'll be just doing it on automatic-mode by default, compared to a beginner. Your body is just repeating a motion that you physically and mentally memorized.
Last edited by Aralingh at Apr 10, 2012,
practice does not make perfect.

perfect practice makes perfect.

in that sense, there is no such thing as overpracticing.
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Don't practice one thing too much. The progress will be faster if you keep changing what you do. Pick a few riffs to practice and change after a few minutes. And do bursts of speed once in a while with the riff.
I've never practiced... with a schedule at least.

I've always just played a ton and eventually i see myself getting better

If i couldn't play something i wouldn't bother forcing myself to practice and eventually, by playing other stuff, i would slowly but surely get good enough to eventually play it without practicing it specifically.
Quote by AeolianWolf
practice does not make perfect.

perfect practice makes perfect.

in that sense, there is no such thing as overpracticing.

I second this.

I have done extremely long practice sessions with sloppy and unorganized practice, and had similar experience to yours. It took a really long time to get a grip of things.

Then i practiced for a long time with perfect practice and everything went 1000x times faster.

Now i don't know how you practice, so it might not be that. But i mention it cause it was that way for me.
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well I read an article few days ago and it said that "Slow is Fast" do not struggle in getting the riffs perfectly because that is learning the riff in a hard way.You must dissect each passage and learn it inside and out. Play it slowly, focusing on technique and playing it correctly. Once you have mastered it at a slow speed is when you should increase your speed. =)