#1
What if someone just played an absurd amount of hours a day. Say 10 + for the sake of argument. But they never did any focused practice and instead just wrote and learned songs below, at and exceeding their current ability. 

Would they progress? How quickly, compared to someone who, say, put in 2 hours of focused practice per day?


Just a theoretical question, I'm not talking about myself lol. 
#2
Learning songs has always been the best way to make progress; everything you need to learn and know is in the songs you want to be able to play.
Quote by reverb66
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#3
RyanMW2010 Songs ultimately is what it's all about.  However, if you can learn about the tools of music (primarily rhythm, melody, harmony), and how scales and chords fit into the latter two, that will give you a lot more options.  The only "problem" with just songs is at some point you're bound to start wondering why this chord follows that, or why this melody note sounds good, or not realise how the rhythm is impacting everything.

Personally, I think the best bet is a mix ... frocused practice, be that on technique or learning asspects of the above, and listening to tunes, working them out, try and get into hown the music tools have been used in the tunes.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Oct 23, 2017,
#4
Quote by RyanMW2010
What if someone just played an absurd amount of hours a day. Say 10 + for the sake of argument. But they never did any focused practice and instead just wrote and learned songs below, at and exceeding their current ability. 

Would they progress? How quickly, compared to someone who, say, put in 2 hours of focused practice per day?


Just a theoretical question, I'm not talking about myself lol. 


They would be a much better player - no comparison.
#5
Depends. Do they write and learn songs without focusing? If you mean that, no 10 hours of unfocused practice achieve much less than an hour of focused practice.

If you mean they are focused but only in writing and playing songs, and their goal is to write and play songs, sure they will eventually master that. Though if they learnt other necessary things they would master it sooner.
#6
Well you can't improve if you only do things within your current abilities. I'd argue you can't really play a song without practicing it in some manner.

To answer your question in a strict sense, no, you can't improve reliably that way because playing anything requires practice first. If you're slowing things down and working them out carefully, that's focused practice, whether it's a song or a technical exercise.

The question being posed here makes me think that there's a misunderstanding of what it means to play and practice. It can be a very blurry line when you're working on repertoire, and especially if you're practicing something where the challenge is not technical. How you achieve focus and progress depends heavily on just which skills you're trying to advance.
#7
I've done nothing but learn songs and I play them rather well. 

Things I don't know,
   Scales
   Notes on the guitar
   Chords and/or their names

One day in 1995 I heard the song "The Unforgiven" by Metallica on MTV (Back when they were about music and played it). My Step father had his old 1960's Guild in a corner in the living room. I picked it up because I like the chorus in the song. I sat for a hour or so and learned how to play it through ear and memory. I didn't have CD's, Cassettes or anything by Metallica at the time. So that means I had to sit and watch waiting for a few hours to go by so they would play the song again. 

By the end of the day I was playing it and then I earned myself a butt whooping for touching his guitar. That was the last time for three years that I touched a guitar until my Aunt bought me one for my birthday.

The long and short of it is, I've always played by ear and tabs and I can play better than two of my friends who took formal lessons and practiced for 10 years in between my hiatus through my 20's. I started playing again just over a year ago and I'm teaching them how to play certain songs. 

Sometimes it's not about practicing and things like that. Some people also just have more talent than others. I'm not saying I'm great or anything past good, but sometimes time spent practicing doesn't matter. 

My one friend practiced for over a week to play the note line in "For whom the bell tolls" between two strings.....8-9-7-7-9-7-8-9-7-7-9 ( anyone who knows that part would know the tabs I'm trying to replicate between G and B string) and I practiced for about 3 hours and I could play it at full speed along with the song while a little over a week later and hours of practice he couldn't keep up.

In other cases the one kid who struggles and practices the most is the one who plays it perfect. Natural talent plays into it a lot.
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Last edited by Phantumgrey at Sep 11, 2017,
#8
Quote by cdgraves
Well you can't improve if you only do things within your current abilities. I'd argue you can't really play a song without practicing it in some manner.

To answer your question in a strict sense, no, you can't improve reliably that way because playing anything requires practice first. If you're slowing things down and working them out carefully, that's focused practice, whether it's a song or a technical exercise.

The question being posed here makes me think that there's a misunderstanding of what it means to play and practice. It can be a very blurry line when you're working on repertoire, and especially if you're practicing something where the challenge is not technical. How you achieve focus and progress depends heavily on just which skills you're trying to advance.


Well... it depends on whether it actually is "within your current abilities". Certainly most songs I "can play", I'm not sure I can play 100% (and I'd imagine the same is true for others). Playing them more will make you better... and you also have to play a bit not to go backwards, too, if you haven't played a song for a while you likely won't be as good as you were.

But I agree about the semantics thing regarding what's actually playing versus what's actually practising, that's a very good point. I barely "practise" at all, compared to what I'd imagine most people here would call "focussed practice". I think I'm an alright player, though- I think I can play stuff and make it sound pretty good and musical. That's not always true of people who go in for the focussed practice thing.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

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#9
I like to practice until I discover something new (takes about an hour).
On stage I discover something new every few minutes, for 3-4 hours.
Quote by reverb66
I'm pretty sure the Bible requires that you play through a tube amp in Texas.
#10
The most important thing is to be learning new songs that you can't immediately play well, as this means by the time you're able to play the song, you've learnt new techniques and strengthened your muscle memory. You can get by by doing this by all means, just so long as you feel like some of your songs are challenging you as to allow you to actually improve.

I actually write music all the time that's too difficult for me to play as I use guitar pro, but this just means I need to practice and learn them and I'll be able to play them eventually.
#11
Certainly some people make great progress just through playing - probably Hendrix being a good example. But why would anyone want to wilfully avoid learning theory (=how music works) and/or learning and using great licks and/or correcting technique issues with exercises designed for specific purposes? Personally, it is exercises that have made the biggest difference to me in terms of technique and timing, to name two areas ... and I don't think these improvements would have taken place just playing songs... at least nothing like as quickly.
#13
I think something that everyone should keep in mind is that progress is not inevitable in all areas. There are lots and lots of people out there that have played guitar for many years and who are not very good... they have poor technique, limited musical vocabulary, poor timing, limited ways of varying what they do, weak vibrato...

There are many problems in guitar playing that really do not fix themselves over time; they need addressing specifically and directly and take focus and perseverance to correct. This is probably as true for guitar playing as it is for playing tennis, painting and dancing... we're all very capable of doing these things fairly badly for the rest of our lives.
#14
for years i didnt ever focus on speed, still dont really, and after 20 +years i still cant play truly fast , so regardless of all the hours i put in speed didnt just happen.
 but not playing fast, pick evey note stuff made me develop vibrato, legato hammer on and pull offs and then sort of naturally be came my style. 

so in other words... every time i hear Petrucci, i regret not focusing on speed 20 years ago. Every time i hear Gilmour, I dont give a shit.
#15
You end up as Zakk Wylde.                                                              You know it.                                                       newfie screech fo' life
#16
RyanMW2010 I think it prety much depends on what you intend to accomplish. To be a polished performer, you need abilities beyond what you intend to show your audience. If you're trying to exceed your level of proficiency, the crowd is liable to call you on it.

Now, if you only play songs on your own, you develop a recognizable style, which can put your writing in a rut of sameness. The one thing I have found most salient about the Beatles, their hits never sounded the same, ever.

Developing a personal style is inhibiting to the extent that, say, what you really do most, is play Eagles and Jackson Browne songs. Next thing you know, you might want to cover Sly & the Family Stone. You're stuck in country rhythm paradigms, and funk is a completely different language.

So, some of what you do must in in consideration of where you expect to go. Want to join a cover bank? Then you have to play and practice what the audience wants to hear, your opinion sort of no longer matters.
#17
nuh huh, to say that just improvising everything will get you where u want to be is to discredit all past knowledge. People are famous because they have found tequniques that work and to not encorporate these into your playng is foolhardy. Even playing basic chords is someone elses work so you literally cannot avoid it. Its best to hone your tecniques and work from the root up
#18
^ Agreed, but if he's learning other people's songs, he'll come across those techniques.
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#19
I think using repertoire alone to develop technique tends towards recreation rather than improvement. Repertoire and focus on skills go hand in hand, typically. And ideally the repertoire is organized in such a manner as to introduce concepts in a sensible way. Without that kind of organized process, improvement is going to be pretty slow. 
#20
playing just song will improve you musicality but you will have lots of problem with technics, playing only technique you will become a machine but you will not be a musician, playing tons of licks will expand your guitar vocabulary but doesn't mean that you will be able to improvise, then what about ear training and harmony and music reading? 

If i had to suggest an 8 hours study i'd say this.

2 hours of technique 
2 hours playing your repertoire
2 hours studying new repertoire
1 hour of harmony
1 hour of ear training 

It's very hard to study 8 hours for your mind and even for your body, when i was in school it was frequent to have spine pain or little finger injury like an open fingertip  (that happened to me just the week before my diploma recital), and always on the edge of tendinitis. 

Not sure i remember this exactly... A wise buddhist saying goes something like this. how do you want your bread? with a little bit of everything.
#21
If you spend 10+ hours a day just learning songs, you'll be just that - a person who knows how to play those songs and that's it. But you will have difficulty creating your own music and improvise to those songs say if you play them in a cover band and you want to extend the solo for a bit longer. Your technique will be bad and overall you won't be a high grade player.
Focused practice will always outweight mindless noodling.
We all should learn songs because any musician need a repertoire be it his own music or cover songs. But you need to analyze the songs through the prism of theory and technique that you study