#1
I'm trying to come up with an efficient practice routine and a studying schedule, and recently I realized that what I've come up with so far has way too much technique and way too little actual musical practice, so I'm looking at ways to blend the two together. I don't really have endless amounts of time, so 6 hour daily practice routines are out of the question for now. I'm still taking music very seriously, and I'm looking at starting a serious musical project in a few years when I get my life stabilized.

I'm starting a full time job in a month or so, so I'll probably have a few hours to practice a day. I'd like to keep the routine at 2-3 hours for a start. I'll probably try to keep at least 3-4 full practice sessions a week. I'm thinking of splitting the routine into two main parts: ear practice and application, and composition and improvisation. Basically, I'd like to learn and analyze songs by ear, and I could use guitar solos that I'll learn as means of technical practice. Then, I'd like to write short, simple rhythm compositions, and improvise on top of them.

The reason I'm writing this here at musician talk is that when it comes to studying composition, I don't really know where to start. I'm not a beginner by any stretch, I consider myself at least an intermediate guitarist, but I'd like to actually study actual composition. I just feel that maybe analyzing other songs and coming up with my own really isn't enough, as I'd really like to call myself a composer. I know the basic stuff, how to build intervals, then scales, chords and chord progressions, and I understand the difference between different keys and modes very well. Still, I feel like that I should have a much deeper understanding if I really want to become a composer. I'm just not really sure what exactly I should add to my practice routine to get closer to my goal.

TL;DR - My planned practice routine revolves around ear training, analysis, improvisation and simple composition, however I'm not sure if that's enough to actually improve as a composer and if it isn't, how could I achieve it? Sorry for a wall of text, and thanks for all the help in advance.
#2
My planned practice routine revolves around ear training, analysis, improvisation and simple composition, however I'm not sure if that's enough to actually improve as a composer and if it isn't, how could I achieve it? Sorry for a wall of text, and thanks for all the help in advance.


To be honest, one of the only things you left out of that equation is the composing. It makes the difference between 'knowing' something and actually having that knowledge internalized to the point where you don't need to make any conscious effort to utilize it.

In regards to ear training, I find it both easy and incredibly useful to just take a position of the major scale, play through it 3rds, 5ths, etc, and alter one note at a time on repetition. Assign an emotion, a colour, an image, to the sound of that scale, and just think about what you did to the note(s) you altered, not necessarily what their relationship was to the root note.

Afterwards go back and analyze the formula, and see what mode or scale you were playing, and I think it will be easier now that you've internalized the 'feel' of those notes in that order. It makes it a lot easier to visualize counterpoint and different chord voicings, because you're not thinking in technical terms, you're visualizing it and reacting.
Last edited by Iommianity at Nov 12, 2014,
#3
But the whole idea of that practice routine was not to simply know something, it was to analyze and understand music. If I wanted to practice pure theory and knowledge, I would rather just read books, but ear training and analysis will help me understand what is really happening in a musical piece, at least that is what I thought.

I do agree that internalizing the knowledge is the key here, and to become a better guitarist I should be able to almost subconsciously apply different ideas and emotions to my compositions. What I would like to understand better is the big picture, how different instruments and harmonies work together and how a complete musical piece flows. I thought about selecting a song, and figuring out how all the instrument parts are played and how they fit together, and later analyzing how different parts of the song work together. I think that that's a good start, at least.
#4
I think you'd be better off with a teacher for something like this. To build you efficient musical lessons you could go through once a week. If I was going to answer this for you, I'd have to build it specifically for you. I'd have to learn about you, see what level you are at, what music you like and aim to create and stuff like that. I'd have to watch you play as well.

You're right that just learning theory is not that useful in and of itself, and is boring. You need to learn it from the point of view of your instrument, and how it sounds. Learning in musical context is what you want, and it's a lot more fun also.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Nov 12, 2014,
#5
I was afraid that someone would say that I need a teacher I studied in a musical academy, and I even passed a few degrees in music theory. Then I quit, because I hated it. The way they taught made it feel like I was taking steps backwards. I think that a personal teacher would work better, but to be completely honest I don't want to do that either. I've had a guitar teacher for a few years, but I haven't had one in a year or so. I know that for someone who comes asking for advice on a forum, this might sound a bit pretentious, but I feel that I'm a good enough guitarist to know what is best for me, and a teacher is not what I want right now. If I can't become the kind of a musician I want to be on my own, I'm not sure if I even want to do it to be honest.

I'll just stick to the routine that I have now, and see if I get any new ideas from the advice from you all. I'll just try to make as much progress as I can with the resources I have now Thanks for the insight, though. It's good advice, but I'd rather be my own teacher for now.
#6
Focus on your weaknesses. Pick one. Work at it. Adjust your routine to accommodate what you are trying to do. Once its not a weakness anymore, pick a new weakness. Start again.
#7
Quote by guitar/bass95
I was afraid that someone would say that I need a teacher I studied in a musical academy, and I even passed a few degrees in music theory. Then I quit, because I hated it. The way they taught made it feel like I was taking steps backwards. I think that a personal teacher would work better, but to be completely honest I don't want to do that either. I've had a guitar teacher for a few years, but I haven't had one in a year or so. I know that for someone who comes asking for advice on a forum, this might sound a bit pretentious, but I feel that I'm a good enough guitarist to know what is best for me, and a teacher is not what I want right now. If I can't become the kind of a musician I want to be on my own, I'm not sure if I even want to do it to be honest.

I'll just stick to the routine that I have now, and see if I get any new ideas from the advice from you all. I'll just try to make as much progress as I can with the resources I have now Thanks for the insight, though. It's good advice, but I'd rather be my own teacher for now.


It always depends on the teacher. I am a very good guitarist, and the better I become the more I realize how I could have taught myself better. You don't know what you don't know. That said, it might be tough to find a teacher that would suit you.

But I think that in order to get a good answer to this question you posted, you would need personal attention from someone that knows what they are talking about, and that knows you. You need personal attention for something like that.

But if you have an idea of what you think is best for you, then go and do that.

If you are asking me to build you a musical practice routine, then you are asking me to be your teacher. I can't give you a good answer to this without being your teacher is what I'm saying. And I don't think you can get a good answer without that sort of personal attention. Not that all other answers would be bad, but they wouldn't be as good or as efficient as they could be. I could easily just tell you to do any random old thing, and it won't hurt you. But you want to maximize the benefit per second of practice. I think that requires personal attention.

Like i said, I am very good at guitar. I taught myself the whole way, if I could have my now self teach my old self I would definitely be down with that.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Nov 12, 2014,
#8
Quote by 91RG350
Focus on your weaknesses. Pick one. Work at it. Adjust your routine to accommodate what you are trying to do. Once its not a weakness anymore, pick a new weakness. Start again.


Thanks, that's an interesting approach. I could apply this to my songwriting and work on areas that I don't really understand yet.

I know that just on my own I might not become a master classical composer or anything, but I'll just try to do my best. All tips and ideas on different approaches are much appreciated.

Quote by fingrpikingood
It always depends on the teacher. I am a very good guitarist, and the better I become the more I realize how I could have taught myself better. You don't know what you don't know. That said, it might be tough to find a teacher that would suit you.

But I think that in order to get a good answer to this question you posted, you would need personal attention from someone that knows what they are talking about, and that knows you. You need personal attention for something like that.

But if you have an idea of what you think is best for you, then go and do that.

If you are asking me to build you a musical practice routine, then you are asking me to be your teacher. I can't give you a good answer to this without being your teacher is what I'm saying. And I don't think you can get a good answer without that sort of personal attention. Not that all other answers would be bad, but they wouldn't be as good or as efficient as they could be. I could easily just tell you to do any random old thing, and it won't hurt you. But you want to maximize the benefit per second of practice. I think that requires personal attention.


I don't expect anyone to build myself a full routine, I'd just like to hear some ideas on how to build a better one myself And yeah, I don't know what I don't know, that's true.

I know that I'm never going to get the most efficient answers. But as you said, nothing hurts. I appreciate every bit of advice, and I appreciate your point of view in all this. But you don't have to take it too seriously To me, music will always be a "serious hobby". If I'm not as good of a composer as I'd like to be in 30 years, at least I had fun trying.

Quote by fingrpikingood


Like i said, I am very good at guitar. I taught myself the whole way, if I could have my now self teach my old self I would definitely be down with that.


Sure, if I could correct all the stupid shit I did in my first year of playing, I would. But I kind of did, anyway, I'm a lot better guitarist now, of course. And I'm a fast learner, and I learn best on my own. I can't tell if it's actually the best approach, but it has worked so far
Last edited by guitar/bass95 at Nov 12, 2014,
#10
Quote by MapOfYourHead
What do you mean by composer and composition? What sort of music?


I'd like to be able to compose full, working pieces of music that I enjoy myself. I play and listen to a lot of different stuff, but I think I'm looking at a bit experimental rock and the like for the most part.
#11
Quote by guitar/bass95


I don't expect anyone to build myself a full routine, I'd just like to hear some ideas on how to build a better one myself And yeah, I don't know what I don't know, that's true.

I know that I'm never going to get the most efficient answers. But as you said, nothing hurts. I appreciate every bit of advice, and I appreciate your point of view in all this. But you don't have to take it too seriously To me, music will always be a "serious hobby". If I'm not as good of a composer as I'd like to be in 30 years, at least I had fun trying.


Sure, if I could correct all the stupid shit I did in my first year of playing, I would. But I kind of did, anyway, I'm a lot better guitarist now, of course. And I'm a fast learner, and I learn best on my own. I can't tell if it's actually the best approach, but it has worked so far


Nothing hurts, but learning a craft is like finding your way to a destination. Going down the wrong path doesn't hurt you, but that was time you could have spent going the right way.

But everyone must find their own path, have their own goals and stuff like that.

I will say this though, if what you want to do is compose, then you need to compose a lot. But there are also many other things that can help as well, tools you can pickup on the way.
#12
Quote by fingrpikingood
Nothing hurts, but learning a craft is like finding your way to a destination. Going down the wrong path doesn't hurt you, but that was time you could have spent going the right way.

But everyone must find their own path, have their own goals and stuff like that.

I will say this though, if what you want to do is compose, then you need to compose a lot. But there are also many other things that can help as well, tools you can pickup on the way.


Thank you for all of your help i'll keep all of this in mind, and I'll try to find out what would be the best road for me to take. I haven't erased the teacher completely for the equation, but for now I'm not interested in getting one. I'll probably do some self analysis, and try to figure out what exactly I need to do.
#13
Quote by guitar/bass95
I'd like to be able to compose full, working pieces of music that I enjoy myself. I play and listen to a lot of different stuff, but I think I'm looking at a bit experimental rock and the like for the most part.


I only brought that up because, to some people, compose and composer would mean more of a classical direction, with it's more formal structure and "rules" included . As you're most interested in rock etc. the best thing you can do is write songs. Every. Day. Songwriting is an experience game, and your first songs aren't going to be anything amazing, but eventually you'll get to where you need to go.

Write songs in the same style as others, copy and analyse song structures, copy progressions etc etc

The more you write the more you'll "get it"
#14
Practice makes perfect, right? I do need to start composing more, that's for sure. I have a lot of bits and pieces that I like, and some more complete songs that I am almost proud of, but I have a lot of trouble completing those compositions.

And it's a good thing to make sure of, even though I'd love to learn some classical composition someday, that isn't really the first thing on my mind.
#15
Practice makes you better. Don't get hung up on one song or one riff, it's perfectly fine to leave it, move on and come back to it later if you figure out what to do with it. Ideally you should try and write new things as often as possible, don't just tweak the same thing over and over again until you get it right - you will stagnate and never progress
#17
Improvisation is a part of my regular practice session, and it's loads of fun.

And I should probably forget about some of my old ideas, but there are some songs I've written that I want to complete someday. For now, I could look into writing new material every day, it might get my creative juices flowing.
#18
Droppin dat hammer.

Good advice so far barring that.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp