We all probably know that when you first start it is pretty easy to "preserve" techniques you learn on guitar, maybe with as little as 15 minutes or so practice a day, but as we get more advanced it seems like you have to devote more and more time each day to just sustain your techniques that you learned. For some of us it may be easier than others.

We all hate spending a ton of time getting a song or technique down only to lose it, but what happens when the time require to maintain a technique becomes so great that it starts interfering with other aspects of your playing such as songwriting/ear training/improvisation etc?

I am struggling with this issue. some of the songs I play in my band and I techniques I learned (downpicking endurance for example) I have to spend at least an hour a day (for all techniques not just one) to maintain, otherwise I start losing it. It is frustrating on a few levels because I do not have 3 + hours day to practice (full time + raising kid) and I devote less time to songwriting and other aspects.

Is there any way to get around this? Example - I spent weeks and weeks finally getting "lay your ghosts to rest" by between the buried and me somewhat down to full tempo, and started neglecting it a little, came back a week later and I had to spend another hour or so a day just on this song for 3-4 days to get it back up again! I don't have time for that! but hate losing a great accomplishment like learning a complex song from my fingers like that
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Last edited by psychosylocibin at Jan 29, 2014,
I don't have a good answer for you, because you mentioned that the stuff that is taking so much time to maintain is stuff you play with your band.

I've been in a similar situation where I was working very hard on something (months), and was scared to spend too much time working on something else for fear of losing the progress I was making. It resulted in a lot of stagnation. What I realize now, but didn't then, is that I was already playing that material to the best of my ability at that time. More practicing wasn't necessarily going to make me better at it. I needed new material to challenge my technique in different ways and bring my overall skill up.

It's funny how connected seemingly very different techniques are. A few years ago, I was hellbent on being able to play Symphony X's Sea of Lies. That's a hard song and I worked on it for months just to get it within 15-20 bpm of song tempo. After that, I just hit a wall. No matter how much I practiced it, I just couldn't get it much closer. Eventually, I gave it a break, and decided that I wanted to give Racer X's Technical Difficulties a shot. Yeah, I'm a glutton for punishment - from the frying pan and into the fire. Anyway, these are really different songs. Other than all the crazy tapping stuff, most of Sea of Lies' lead lines are all picked. The solo of Technical Difficulties has a great deal of legato. What was interesting is that despite how different the techniques involved are in the two songs, working on Technical Difficulties made me a lot better at playing Sea of Lies when I went back to it.

In the end, playing the difficult stuff is down to co-ordination and control. Anything you play that is challenging is going to improve those aspects, and help out all the other stuff you play. If you're not actively playing some of your material with your band, I wouldn't be afraid to moth ball it for a while if it's a time sink. As long as you keep working on some new stuff, and there's stuff that challenges you, then that older material will be better when you come back to it (after shaking off the rust, of course).
I think technique maintenance is pretty normal when you get to a certain level of playing. I do 45-90 minutes of technique-related stuff most days. Classical musicians spend hours a day on technique as students; the very old Booker T (of the MGs) says to play scales every day.

The people who maintain their technique without a regular workout are probably performing a lot, or using a narrower range of techniques.

If you're feeling stuck with your technical development, I'd suggest doing a thorough audit of your technique. Find the THE note or passage in a piece of music that consistently gives you trouble, and dig in to see what your fingers are doing wrong. If there is a fundamental technical flaw, "slowing it down" isn't going to change anything.

You may just be at a point where you have to develop better technique to continue improving, which is a good thing.
Last edited by cdgraves at Jan 30, 2014,
Quote by cdgraves
If you're feeling stuck with your technical development, I'd suggest doing a thorough audit of your technique.

I was about to say the same thing. Could your technique be a little more efficient/economical? When you see a world class guitarist/violinist/pianist, they can play lightening fast but with an apparently effortless technique. This is all about being super efficient with movements and, in my experience, nobody can achieve this without careful training/retraining - pain in the butt though may seem. I wrote about some of this here: http://stuartbahn.com/nothing_natural_about_guitar_playing/