#1
How do you measure your technical progression?

By being able to play a harder song you weren't before?

Playing exercises at an increased BPM?

I've thought of how I could measure my progress in the most simple way possible, and I've written the BPMs I play songs or exercises and noticing the numbers going up. This way I know I'm on the "right track".

How do you guys do it?
#3
There is what you know, what you know you don't know, and what you don't know that you don't know.

My goal of guitar is always simply to be able to play whatever I can imagine. This is an impossible goal because the guitar does have physical limitations. But When I come across things I know I want to do, I measure technical skill that way, by how well I can accomplish that. There are a number of things I don't know I can't do yet though.

I could compare myself to others, but everyone has a different style, and I don't find that fully productive. I prefer to just measure myself compared to my old self. How fast I can go, how many techniques I can perform, and how well I can do those things.

Clean and clear is important. I won't consider that I can really do something unless it's clean and clear.
#6
Measuring technical progression never interested me. I do however measure musical progression. Like recording my improvisations over tunes over time, and then coming back to old tunes and improvising over them and measuring to the last recording i did over that tune, so i know that my musical intuition and improvisation is improving. You can do something as simple as use Youtube as a practice diary (set the videos to private if you want) and you can see where you were (technically or musically) at the time of recording vs now.
#7
Quote by cerealk
How do you measure your technical progression?

By being able to play a harder song you weren't before?

Playing exercises at an increased BPM?

I've thought of how I could measure my progress in the most simple way possible, and I've written the BPMs I play songs or exercises and noticing the numbers going up. This way I know I'm on the "right track".

How do you guys do it?

I'll throw it back to you - if you were a painter, how do you think you would you measure your technical progression?

Would you count up how many colours you knew?
Track how accurately you could paint a straight line or a curve?
Measure how quickly you could paint something?

Or would you simply see how good a picture you could paint?

Likewise if you were a chef, how many ingredients you know, how many core techniques and how quick you are - those things are utterly meaningless if, when it comes to actually producing a meal it tastes like crap.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say. Likewise the proof of the musician is in the playing and performance, not the practicing. Also "harder" is a relative term, you either know something or you don't. And even if you think you can play something, chances are you could be playing it better.
#8
I understand where you're coming from, but I seem to notice my progress best when I forget to stress about my playing. That happens usually when I have a good streak of songs in progress.
Of course since I record a lot I notice improvements in precision and fluidity compared to my older recordings. Also tracking guitars get's faster all the time-
I guess I would advice to record a lot. That way you can concretely analyze and compare your playing.
#9
As everyone else has said, mechanical technique is a developed skill, but it's not developed musicality. If you're going through a technique phase, then bpm + accuracy + sound are important, and recording yourself will let you track that, as Sickz says. I went through this for a few months many years ago, but the most satisying for me was not when I achieved crazy speeds, but when, after hand injury, I was forced to slow down, and then forced to deal with the fact that my musicality had a lot missing, so I worked hard on that, listening and trying to understand what the great players were doing (especially phrasing and note choices), and adapting that. To this day, I still do that.

cheers, Jerry
#10
I sometimes listen to my old recordings and find out that they sound terrible. (I mean, there's nothing wrong with the ideas but the way they are played - some of it just sounds horrible.)

BPM doesn't tell anything but your maximum speed. It doesn't tell how good you sound. So IMO that's not a good measurement. You don't need to be able to play super fast to have a good technique. Pay more attention to your sound. If your playing doesn't sound good, it doesn't matter how fast you can play.

The best thing is not to focus too much on your progress. Progress happens all the time. But yeah, I think the best way is to listen to your old recordings and how bad you were back when you recorded them.
#11
It's always interesting to see how people look at this, specially from an objective position. I consider 3 main things when I think about "playing guitar": technique, music and composition. I think you can either be a guitar player, a guitarist or a musician.

With this I mean, play for fun, dominate the instrument and at last, the previous plus a very solid base of music theory, respectively.

All three are measurable from an objective position, with comparison with previous recordings for example. But it's hard when you talk about something that can and is looked at as art.

This is me trying to look objectively, taking the emotion out of something that can be taken as abstract (from an artistic point of view), and trying to take measures from it. Noticing progress really keeps me motivated. It's more of a "what keeps you going" than anything else.
#12
For me, I'm always trying new things when I practice.

I measure progression by being able to use these new "things" in an effortless way when I play live.
#13
Quote by steven seagull
I'll throw it back to you - if you were a painter, how do you think you would you measure your technical progression?

Would you count up how many colours you knew?
Track how accurately you could paint a straight line or a curve?
Measure how quickly you could paint something?

Or would you simply see how good a picture you could paint?

Likewise if you were a chef, how many ingredients you know, how many core techniques and how quick you are - those things are utterly meaningless if, when it comes to actually producing a meal it tastes like crap.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say. Likewise the proof of the musician is in the playing and performance, not the practicing. Also "harder" is a relative term, you either know something or you don't. And even if you think you can play something, chances are you could be playing it better.


I know what you mean, but guitar is a little bit different from those things. It is a difficult physical skill. A pencil or paintbrush is a relatively easy tool to wield. Tracing is pretty easy, not matter how complex the painting might be. The difficulty in painting, is all what to paint, pretty much.

In guitar, you have that difficulty as well, the music you make. This is the art of it, the design. But for guitar the tool is much more difficult to use. Mastering the tool does not guarantee beautiful music, and beautiful music doesn't require mastery of the tool, but the tool is very physically difficult to use, and there are many stages of potential you need to work hard to unlock.

I would say the analogy would work better if colors required great skill to mix. If they were a physically difficult task that required lots of training and practice. Some colors more difficult than others. Let's say blue was incredibly difficult to make. Now, a painting can be beautiful with any set of colors. Blue might not be more beautiful than red, a novice color. You could of course make beautiful paintings with any color. But I personally, want to be able to use any color. If I feel what I'd love for there to be in my painting is some blue, I don't want to have to settle for something else. I want to think blue, and use blue. Express honestly. And yes, when you see paintings with blue in them, you know the painter is skilled at mixing color. You know a lot of effort went into the skill, a person laboured for the skill, and there is, to me, a degree of special worth in that alone. That doesn't make everything with blue in it automatically good, it doesn't mean things without blue are necessarily worse. But blue is a cool color as well, and if you want a beautiful painting that happens to have blue in it, you will need to find a painter that paints beautifully and has also put the time and effort in that is required to use blue. It's an extra color on your palette, that's all. It's not better or worse paintings.

So for me, sure, I measure physical progress and push it. This is not a measure of the quality of the music I make though, just my physical ability. My physical ability is a component of the whole.

Take sports. A franchise best player is not the best because they can run fastest, or kick hardest, or whatever. It is more than that. It is the decisions they make, how they see the game and stuff like that. Everybody trains to be fast and physically able, and all the guys on a team are strong and physically able. So are a lot of guys that never make the team. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't go to the gym and keep track of how many reps you can do, or how much weight you can lift, or whatever it is, because being able to run faster, or kick harder, or throw farther, or whatever, will be a helpful tool you can use. But sure, the application of your tools is what makes or breaks the end product. Just because you can run fast, that doesn't mean you run fast all the time. It's potential to run fast, how you apply the tools you have, and what tools are available combine to make the end product.

So, for me, pushing my physical ability in guitar is important, and recognizing what I can and can't do is important to me, because it helps me know what to work on.

I don't worry so much about the quality of the music. I mean it's the most important thing to me, but I aim for honest expression. It's like, I could practice spelling or grammar, but not what I will say. Whatever I say, I say I think it and say it, it's not really something I can practice. The pool of knowledge, that what I say draws from, can be improved though.

But on guitar some words are real easy to say and some are tough. If I want to say some run of 16ths and I can't do it right, it's not clean, the timing isn't right, then I can't honestly express myself. So I have to practice that, until I can do it. That way, when I wish to express a phrase that requires that skill, I can.

I find that the practice of music is more like, work so that your ideas may be realized, than it is learning to craft ideas, if you know what I mean.

So, I workout hard at the guitar gym, so that I am more free when I play. If that means hours of practice for months so that I can play a quick run of 1 bar here or there, then so be it. What I do with it will be decided in the moment. I just need to make sure my body won't let my mind down.

So, noticing progress in skill is not noticing you are a better guitarist necessarily. It is what it is. It is more skilled at using the tool. But skill at wielding a tool and being a great artist is different. I've mastered using a pencil. I am not a great pencil artist.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Nov 10, 2014,
#14
Technique is only a part of the whole. The sum of all the parts can make you a musician or a guitarist. Improvement is important either to express yourself or to accomplish something, to progress or to keep you motivated.

Obviously you shouldn't only focus on one side of the spectrum during a long time if your goal is being a musician, but to be one you need overall proficiency. In technique, music theory and composition.

The term proficient obviously depends on your goals, shredding requires different things than, for example, blues guitar. We all have our own goals and to excel at them we need different skill sets and this doesn't make one thing superior to the other.

Music can be seen as art, but technique and improvement is part of what will make you a better artist. I'm talking from the perspective of "being better than you were yesterday" not "being better than some other guy" avoiding the egotistical side of things.
Last edited by cerealk at Nov 10, 2014,
#15
Quote by cerealk
Technique is only a part of the whole. The sum of all the parts can make you a musician or a guitarist. Improvement is important either to express yourself or to accomplish something, to progress or to keep you motivated.

Obviously you shouldn't only focus on one side of the spectrum during a long time if your goal is being a musician, but to be one you need overall proficiency. In technique, music theory and composition.

The term proficient obviously depends on your goals, shredding requires different things than, for example, blues guitar. We all have our own goals and to excel at them we need different skill sets and this doesn't make one thing superior to the other.

Music can be seen as art, but technique and improvement is part of what will make you a better artist. I'm talking from the perspective of "being better than you were yesterday" not "being better than some other guy" avoiding the egotistical side of things.


Right. Better as you perceive better to be. Not better than others, or in some absolute sense, but more powerful at making the art that you want to make. More powerful than before. The art is how you apply the power, not the power itself. You need to work for these powers, some powers might be useful to the art you want to make, and others not. But I think there is always room to improve, and always stuff to work on. Sometimes finding what, is the hard part.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Nov 10, 2014,
#16
Measuring progress is pretty much different for everybody. First define what you want to improve. Then, get a standard of the goal in question, such as a piece of music that represents that goal. The just work on reproducing that standard piece of music. When you get to the point that you can play it smoothly and near effortlessly, then you are grasping the technical ideals. This can be anything from speed, to expressiveness to complexity(harmony or rhythm). Breaking down the technical details of the work will help you to understand what goes into the task that you are seeking to master. It is quite easy to measure your goals this way. Just practicing things without measuring the progress against a standard will not produce the results needed, generally.
#17
I have a practice log with my long /mid /short term goals. You have to know what you're doing for each practice session if not, you might be wasting a lot of you time.
writing BPMs is only good for technical stuff. you have to find a way to measure your progress with improvising, phrasing, writing and so on... best way to do this is to record yourself at least once per month. listen back and make notes. I read once that all Yngwie would do was just practice and record every day and just listen and write down what wasn't sound good to him and than improve on that and so on.