#1
Hey guys,

I have been playing for about 9 months now. I have been taking private lessons from a great teacher who is teaching me all the theory behind everything we do. I have played the sax for 22 years so I am musically educated.

Currently my lesson progression is at music modes and memorizing the modal scales. I am starting to get frustrated beyond belief because as I am sure you guys know, playing scales over and over is unbelievably boring. What is bothering me the most is it seems my speed and accuracy just aren't improving. I am not even all that confident with my pentatonic scales which I have already spent much time on. Missing strings here and there, can't run up and down as quickly as I think I should be able to at this point.

What I want to ask you guys is what would be a good practice regiment to get into? Any tips would be greatly appreciated. I try to get in at least an hour a day on the instrument but on my days off I usually have it in my hands most of the day, even when I am just sitting around I mess around with it subconsciously.

Like I said, my teacher is great, but I would love to hear anything that could help me out here because I know you guys have all been where I am now and it's always better to get a few different peoples' opinions. Thanks guys!
#2
Speed comes with time. Really focus on accuracy. I've found that accuracy breeds speed. Even when you don't have a guitar with you practice taping your fretting fingers with rhythm on a table or your leg. Having control over you fretting hand is very important. Just as important is making sure you fretting fingers are in sync with your picking (this will obviously require a guitar).

Find a solo that is close to your ability and play through it as slow as necessary at first. Once you are able to play it at that slower tempo ( don't be afraid to slow it down as much as necessary to be accurate), start building the speed up. Challenge yourself with harder patterns but make sure you're playing with accuracy. Don't play faster than you accurately can.

It WILL come slowly but with practice it will come. Eventually you will be comfortable with playing faster. As a musician already you should know it's almost all muscle memory. Your fretting and your picking will sync up if you practice slowly and build up.

Just be patient and make sure you have good practice habits. Since you have a formal teacher that shouldn't be a problem.

Good luck.
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#3
To add some more info. When not practicing scales, I play with a few guys, but most of our songs are dry songs such as, Hemorrhage, Plush, I'm Eighteen, and Cumbersome. The only song I have a solo in is Nothing Else Matters which I can sometimes nail, but other times I am sloppy. I was elated that I was able to play it when I hit it, and was about to attack Cult of Personality but I gave up on that one pretty quick, grrrr.

I like that advice and it's appreciated Starforsaken. I also saw that idea from the beginner project about playing something slowly for a few weeks. Being that I am an old Iron Maiden junkie, I will have to wait a while for that, but maybe I can mess with some of the 80s style solos that repeat many quick riffs like Sambora's or CC's.

Yes, I remember the frustration with muscle memory on my sax, but learning something new at 12 years old was easier than at 33.
#4
keep playing, just make up your own stuff, i have been playin for only 2 months but i just pick up a guitar, create a little tune in my head, and try to play it on the guitar, much funner then usual.
#5
Quote by ominous24
Hey guys,

I have been playing for about 9 months now. I have been taking private lessons from a great teacher who is teaching me all the theory behind everything we do. I have played the sax for 22 years so I am musically educated.

Currently my lesson progression is at music modes and memorizing the modal scales. I am starting to get frustrated beyond belief because as I am sure you guys know, playing scales over and over is unbelievably boring. What is bothering me the most is it seems my speed and accuracy just aren't improving. I am not even all that confident with my pentatonic scales which I have already spent much time on. Missing strings here and there, can't run up and down as quickly as I think I should be able to at this point.

What I want to ask you guys is what would be a good practice regiment to get into? Any tips would be greatly appreciated. I try to get in at least an hour a day on the instrument but on my days off I usually have it in my hands most of the day, even when I am just sitting around I mess around with it subconsciously.

Like I said, my teacher is great, but I would love to hear anything that could help me out here because I know you guys have all been where I am now and it's always better to get a few different peoples' opinions. Thanks guys!

Honest advice?

Sod playing scales and start practicing something more useful. Practicing straight scales is incredibly limited in terms of what it actually achieves - it pretty much only teaches you how to play scales. They make a good picking exercise in terms of getting your hands working together but ther's no point chasing speed with them as it serves no practical purpose. Play them as slowly as you need to to hit every note accurately and simply use them as a picking exercise or warmup.

Likewise modes are an odd thing to be doing so early on - there is little point spending too much effort learning the fretboard patterns for modes as they're exactly the same as the major scale. If you've got 22 years sax experience then you'll have no trouble getting to grips with the core concepts of modes, namely how their pattern of intervals differs from the major scale and how they tend to rely on a fixed tonal centre. I doubt you even need a teacher for that. Also don't be fooled into thinking you HAVE to learn modes to learn guitar, you don't...they're far from essential.

If you overly practice scales then the accuracy, and by association speed, of your playing in general will NOT improve much - you just get good at playing scales. You'll get better at playing by practicing things that have practical benefit, they could be exercises constructed from scales, useful licks or simply songs.
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#6
Just sit down, get an idea of a tune or some riff, and just do what you can to play it. Getting frusterated is very normal, and it made me stop learning theory completely. I don't exactly reccomend it, but I'm much happier with my playing now (at least on an emotional level).
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#7
Thanks guys.

Steven, I think the direction my teacher is trying to take me is to be able to play my own style and be original. He has often asked me if I really wanted to play things as the original artist has and if I always play things the same way it gets boring.

I think I might get Guitar Pro 5 today and pick some very challenging songs and slow them down to the speed I can get them without errors. With my musical background, I tend to do alot better when I can see the sheet music above the tabs. Is Guitar Pro 5 a good tool to have?
#8
Guitar Pro 5 is definitely a very useful tool. Like you said, you can slow songs down to a manageable speed, and it's also great in that it allows you to play over backing tracks by muting the lead guitar. It actually makes learning new songs less frustrating, and since you already have 22 years of sax under your belt, you don't really need to worry about neglecting your ear by learning songs in this way.

Take it easy on practising the scales. There comes a time when you just feel dulled with he repetiveness of the pattern. In some cases, you can develop a mental block and your speed and accuracy can actually suffer as a result. I'm not saying ignore scales completely, just don't overdo it, which is something a lot of people tend to do. Make sure there is plenty of variation in your guitar playing. Learn a handful of blues licks and try to incorporate them into your impov. Make liberal use of sliding, slurs, double-stop bends, etc. and become a more complete player. After all this, you can always tackle speed if you still want to. Do a quick search and there are many resources for this.
#9
Quote by ominous24
Thanks guys.

Steven, I think the direction my teacher is trying to take me is to be able to play my own style and be original. He has often asked me if I really wanted to play things as the original artist has and if I always play things the same way it gets boring.

I think I might get Guitar Pro 5 today and pick some very challenging songs and slow them down to the speed I can get them without errors. With my musical background, I tend to do alot better when I can see the sheet music above the tabs. Is Guitar Pro 5 a good tool to have?


You should always learn songs "as is" before playing them differently IMO...having a good understanding of the original means you know what you can and can't change to put your own spin on things and still have it recognisable as the same song.

As far as what you practice and play it's all about balance - focussing too much on exercises and scales is missing the point, nobody picks up a guitar to play scales. Likewise if you neglect theory and technique drills and just learn a load of tabs you're little more than an artist who paints by numbers.
Actually called Mark!

Quote by TNfootballfan62
People with a duck for their avatar always give good advice.

...it's a seagull

Quote by Dave_Mc
i wanna see a clip of a recto buying some groceries.


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#10
improvise when you play scales, get some drum machine software and improvise, thats what makes it fun for me
#11
Just picked up Guitar Pro and am now kicking myself for not getting this sooner. Tempo changes and measure repeats along with backing tracks make it worth the $50 alone.