Tips and Advices. Part 3 - Practice

I saw a Steve Vai lecture/workshop, which had been taped at Musician's Institute years ago. He was saying something along the lines of, you've got to practice 12 hours a day.

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What sort of practice routine is best? I saw a Steve Vai lecture/workshop, which had been taped at Musician's Institute years ago. He was saying something along the lines of, you've got to practice 12 hours a day; you should practice this thing for "x" amount of time; then practice that thing for "y" amount; then practice that other thing for "z" amount; guitar has got to be the only thing that matters, etc... What!? Did I miss something? Is this boot camp? I mean, dare I say it? Guitar playing can be... fun? If I had had that kind of iron-clad attitude as my model to look forward to when I getting into it, I just might have set my guitar aside. Now don't get me wrong, I like Steve Vai. He's certainly a great player. And he has many great insights and ideas. But you are not he. What works for him, may or may not work for you, and vice versa. On this, I'm sure he and I would agree. And there's another important fact to work into the equation here: What and how one practices will change over time, as one's playing level changes. So what I, or Steve Vai, or anyone else may practice now may not be what you should be practicing now. So what sort of practice routine is best for you? The one that suits your particular goals, your particular interests, your particular temperament, and your current playing level. This, of course, is a little more complicated than can be answered in a simple, blanket formula. One size doesn't fit all. However, I can give you some basic guidelines and tell you what I have done. Then, you can piece together your own, tailor-made practice routine. Here are the essential guidelines: Keep some variety in your practice, in order to avoid getting into a rut and getting burned out. No matter how cool something is, we all have a burn-out threshold. Along these lines, you also want to keep a balance between playing music and practicing skill-intensive exercises. (See 2. Balance vs burnout above. ) Perhaps the best piece of advice, though, is simply to note what works for you and stick with it. Then add new approaches as you come across them, keeping what you like and discarding what you don't like. A personal practice routine is something that evolves over time. For some specific practice methods and approaches see the next section, 4. My practice 'routine'... as well as How should I use your method book/CDs in my practice? Bottom Line: Yeah, it's good to take advice from people who have already been to the places you want to go. That's valuable. But at the same time realize that you are different, and ultimately your destination will be slightly different than anyone else's. So only you can say exactly what and how you should practice. At some point you need to start trusting your own instincts. Generally, I can say that you should have some variety in your practice and enough balance in it. And I can tell you what I've done. You can take my ideas, try them, and keep or reject them: whatever suits you. Over time you will evolve your own practice routine, by keeping the approaches that you like and discarding those you don't.

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    XL9
    12hrs a day??? Must be nice to be steve vai. I struggle to find 3hrs a day. But hey. 3's better then none.
    faesaia
    your advices are near perfect. thanks dude. but i'm dying for not having a guitar. that's my long time problem, how could i practice without the instrument. dammit. but thanks again. your articles are very helpful.
    1LostGuitarist
    The man that hides in the corner will never see life the way the other man sees it. We all see things differently. Just imagine that you and I are positioned differently and are both staring at something. One of us has got to see something the other doesn't and vice versa. Thank you for your article. I feel very honored to be able to read your articles.
    liquidknowledg4
    simonzwaan wrote: 12 hours ? some people among us do have a life
    finally someone said it. 12 hours? when is there time to actually do anything like school hang out with friends... o wait he probaby didnt have any.
    Spacetoad
    Maybe Vai did mean to practice a full half day, but to me it meant that as long as you're awake, you should always be being inspired and motivated by everyday things. And since the suggested amount of sleep the average person should get is 8 hours a day, maybe you should be "practicing" for 16.
    jctace
    Steve Vai was answering the eternal question. "How can I become an elite guitarist?" Practice, practice, practice. He wasn't telling you how to be a good or even great guitarist. He was doing all of us a favor and letting us know that if we want the dream of becoming a master guitarist (not a rock star, you don't need talent these days to do that ex)kurt cobain); the guitar has to be your life; plain and simple. You must become a guitarist. Nothing more, nothing less. That must be what you do at all times. This is not a joke. He became the master that he was because that is how often he practiced. John Lennon was quoted as saying, "when we were growing up we didn't hang out like all the other kids our age. While they were out in the streets having fun we were playing music for almost (get this) 12 hours a day, and we knew we were going to be the geatest rock band ever." Joe Walsh began playing the guitar while at K.S.U. (he had a background in other intsruments). He dropped out because in his own words, "I practiced incestantly". Even though the guy had knowldege of theory before hand you can not take away the fact that guy picked up a guitar in '65 and by '69 he was the lead guitarist for the James Gang. He didn't accomplish that feat that by going to class, or holding a job, or doing anything aside from playing the guitar (except for maybe a few beers and doobies while playing), but that is it. Jimi Hendrix and Dime-bag Darrell both reportedly slpet with their guitar at times. The fact is you can beome a great player using various practice methods, but to be the best of the best it takes hours upon hours of "effortful study". I reccomend for all of you to read this article. http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=... articleID=00010347-101C-1 4C1-8F9E83414B7F4945
    ZaM ZaM RoCkeRz
    Well, it is up to indviduals on how they're gonna practice their guitar... Some will go for intensive, while some go for the laid-back sessions... As for me, I do both... I play Rock and Metal genres, but it gets tiring to play te same tones, distortion and chords... So, I play The Wonders music (which is super-cool and YOU must try to play the songs)... To the author, thanks for the article.. I didn't know playing guitar could have a schedule... \m/ RoCk On \m/
    simonzwaan
    Oswald wrote: He seems to be fukked in the head that Steve Vai!!!!
    hes not fukked in the head his playing made him so rich he could buy your head and fukk it
    aidandude
    i think it depends on where youre at. im 13 and when i started(at age 7) i didn't practice guitar at all! then it grew on me, i learned more, and i now i play for sometimes 4-5 hours a day ( up to 10 hrs. on weekends) i think the more you play the more you will want to play so just give it time.
    DRoboWHOids06
    nope some people only live to do wjat they do best and for most its playing the guitar...they have no reason to work.(i agree ibanez kicks ass)
    ibanezrocks
    i work for a living.i'm a data entry processor which means i type almost everyday for 8-10hours a day. i only get to practice about 1 hour a day. how some people gets to practice 6,7,10,12 hours a day do you work.
    Jaknife
    this is awesome. the articles are good, and this one of the only comments sections not filled by mindlessness and cursing. its magic. and are you totally serious? 12hrs a day? thats a freakin lot.
    IgnoreThis
    Steve Vai became a shredding virtuoso shredder by practicing 12 hrs a day, so you dont really have to practice for a whole half a day.
    ultimeo
    whoa 12 hours... thats crazy 0000409D... u just inspired me lol... i thought i was losing my mind and giving up guitar... your advice has been an affirmation for me, although i need to improve somethings during practice.. thx
    Vheox
    Here's what I go by to practice: I play whenever I feel like playing, which is maybe 4 hours day, give or take a few depending on the day.
    difitzio
    I thought I was getting obsessed by practicing for 3 and that was only playing songs mostly great lesson of course what works for steve wont work for everyone he practices for 12 hours cos thats all he wants to do, but most people want to eat and sleep also!!
    0000409D
    well if 30 mins is good for you..then go! like you said,you only use guitar as additional voicing...
    0000409D
    yup that was what i heard from him..either i dont practice 12 hrs a day..i practice 7-10 hrs. a day..just follow his advice though..im following it now..