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How I practice......


onewilyfool

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Here's how I've been practicing. I would like to hear others list their hints and good ideas, it may help us all.

 

1. Practice in the dark, OR with eyes closed. I do this to basically force myself to play without looking at the fretboard. It was hard at first, but I find it a great help, now.

2. Practice acoustically, BUT with the amp on and plugged in. I do this for two reasons, amped up, I hear EVERY "mistake" I make, which gets me to play cleaner than if I'm just on the sofa playing acoustically. Also, it gets me ready for open mics, where I can't hear the acoustic side of the guitar because of the PA system. I usally set the amp volume juuuuust so I can't hear the acoustic playing, or about equal. Great practice technique for me.

3. It takes me about 30 reps of a song, when I'm learning it new, to get the words, chords and embellishments down. If I don't play that song for a few weeks, I start forgetting stuff, and have to start over. Each night, before going to bed, I play about 10 of the 30 or so songs I have by heart. I don't do this mechanically just to do it. I try to do it with feeling, and am always looking for new bass runs or melody embellishments in my guitar playing, AND learning to vocalize with more feeling. Each time, I "get to know" the song a little better. I do this while my wife is watching the TIVO of "Bold and Beautiful", so I'm not disturbing anyone....lol.

4. I'm not a great lead player, however, I like to put on CD's next to my bed and "jam" with the songs, especially blues CD's. I'm not a "musicologist" and don't know the fretboard very well, however, I can play by ear, and usually within about 30 seconds, I can figure out the chords and find the notes for leads just by listening. When I go to jams, I can usually play lead infills along with most songs by ear, and sounds pretty good. Fun too.....

5. I switch my guitars often. I have a few guitars, and they all have different voices. Some guitars are Great for the blues, others are great for Beatles. By switching them, and playing different songs on them, I'm getting the "ear" for their voice and what they are good for. Plus, shifting from electric to acoustic, and wide necks to narrow necks, etc. gives me great dexterity on a variety of guitars. Makes it very easy for me to jump from guitar to guitar.

 

Hope this helps, looking forward to your suggestions....Wily

 

"He played like he was in jail - behind a few bars, and he couldn't find the key!"

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I like to practice through an amp (guitar and vocals) too. It helps me balance the two and hone the sound, especially the vocals.

 

Amen Danner, nothing like going to your first open mic, having NEVER played amped before.........lol........a good sound check at those open mics is worth it's weight in gold too.....

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I always have a big problem when I practice. I'll start out playing the new songs that the band I'm in plays. I'll start with the runs, lead parts, vocals, etc., but I always end up spending most of my time jammin' on some Neil Young. Old Man, Needle and the Damage Done, Pocahontas, Look Out For My Love, Campaigner, Powderfinger. Next thing ya know, an hour or two is gone and there goes practice! What do ya do?!!!!

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Larry, great songs to play. Reminds me I haven't played Powder Finger for a while, it is on my list for today.

 

I have been playing more electric than acoustic lately. I am taking lessons trying to learn the things I skipped when I started playing in the sixties. My instructor is pushing me to play solos instead of just chords. He says that someone like myself that has played for so long, he feels he can help me best by teaching me lead and solos.

 

I play what he gives me to work on each week and continue to play things I have learned to play in my 57 years. I was playing guitar when many people wrote three chord rock and roll.

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I don't as much practice as noodle around. Practice would require more discipline than I can summon up.

 

I like to play along with TV commercial jingles - I can still do a mean "You Deserve a Break Today"

 

With the exception of the lap steel (the only electric I have been playing for quite awhile now) I rarely plug the the DeArmond 210s on my guitars in when I am by my lonesome. Only plug in when there are others around or before a gig.

 

Cannot say why but I always seem to start off with the same two tunes - Bessie Smith's "Electric Chair Blues" and Chuck Berry's "The Promised Land."

I then tend to launch into the only instrumental piece I play - the old John Mayall chestnut "Hartley Quits"

 

I tend to work on two new tunes at a time - one easy and one not so easy.

Lately it has been Blind Blake's "Chump Man Blues" (easy) and Blind Boy Fuller's "Truckin' My Blues Away" (with a dose of Hot Tuna thrown in - a tougher one to get down).

 

I cannot write music to save my life but love and am good at working out arrangements. But it seems lots of what I do is without thinking and I tend to forget much of it by the next day. I keep thinking I need to buy some kind of recorder but it is one of those things I always seem to put off till tomorrow.

 

With the exception of my old National Duolian, I do not use certain guitars for certain songs but tend to go in spurts sticking with one guitar or the other for days on end.

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OWF - great thread idea - a +1 for you. [thumbup]

 

1. Practicing in the dark - something I don't do. Practically everyone has to look at some point(s) while playing.

 

2. Practicing acoustically, but plugged in - I play amped or mic'ed, but I only practice that way for polishing.

 

3. Reps, or more to the point, keeping your repertoire polished - I've got a fairly large repertoire, so I've got a repertoire list on which I keep track of what I've played through on a monthly basis. When it's getting near the end of the month, I start playing through all those unchecked numbers in order to get at least one play through a month on everything. Of course, that repertoire list changes - sometimes songs go off and sometimes songs go on. On a side note, I keep a playing time log for my guitars and use it the same way. I want play time on each one every month. If I find I'm consistantly lagging on one, I start evaluating a possible sale. With my collection, they get played or they're gone.

 

4. Playing with a recording - IMO a great way to practice for straight up playing or improvising and I also like logging playing time this way.

 

5. Switching guitars - I also have collected a few guitars and I like the physical vareity. Having plenty of experience with variety makes it very easy to pick up any guitar and play it well enough to really see what it's got to give.

 

Seems we're fairly close on our practice methods. Another thing I do is arranging. Sometimes the tempo, key, chord voicings or embellishments don't suite me so when first adding a song to my repertoire, I might spend a up to a few hours, maybe spread over a few days, coming up with an arrangement that's better for me.

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Seems we're fairly close on our practice methods. Another thing I do is arranging. Sometimes the tempo, key, chord voicings or embellishments don't suite me so when first adding a song to my repertoire, I might spend a up to a few hours, maybe spread over a few days, coming up with an arrangement that's better for me.

 

Big Kahune.....great idea....I also like to "arrange" my own versions of songs. A lot of songs, like the Beatles, are out of my range, so I have to transpose AND I like to mix up the standard three chord songs with more chordal embellishments, and bass runs and melody lines....thanks for mentioning this!"

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I feel like my practice techniques are really not what they could be as I am 100% self taught.. Which is a nice way of saying I have no idea what I'm doing, still that idea of playing in the dark seems like it would be helpful.

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I am first and foremost a big advocate of taking video yourself and watching your performance. Amazing what you see and hear when you watch yourself the next day. Not only will you hear mistakes, but many times they are caused by a bad physical habit. Clenched and tight jaw when singing or maybe a nervous reflex of your picking or fretting hand. (Maybe pulling your hand away from the fingerboard after a riff then being out of position for the next note)....you can see these types of things so clearly after the fact.

 

I think one of the hardest things is to hear my singing. It is so hard to try and sing in a room that sucks the sound out of the air and into the carpets and drapes. I am still starting at learning to sing so I just have to hear myself or my pitch goes off and stays off.

 

Practising using a mic and PA or combo amp is a lot of help to hear yourself and also amplifies your mistakes to help in correcting them. This does have a few downsides...obviously expense for the equipment and effort to get the thing working well. The other is that amps and PA can color the tone and sound of your voice and instrument. A little extra gain and reverb can actually make you sound better, but maybe not an accurate representation of your performance and sound. I also hear a very slight delay from the time the sound leaves me to when I hear it.

 

For the absolute best and most honest way of hearing yourself..... go sit in a tile bathroom. Get rid of the hanging towels and floor mats so it is as reflective as possible. The sound bounces right back at you and really gives you this sense of immediacy and aliveness that is thrilling. If I sing in my bathroom, my singing is always my best. If you haven't tried it .....I really recommend grabbing your guitar and sitting on the toilet and playing a few of your favorite songs....

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Spmetimes I work on pieces, or songs. These days I mostly only have time to play a little bit but soon!

I will be retired and there will be daily practice (if I can figure out what that requires)

 

 

OH, here's another. Learn songs completly by heart. When I started, I knew the beginnings to 50 songs but not one song completely. I "forced" myself to learn the songs completely, and it is a GREAT practice tool....

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Just one more piece of advice that my friend uses when he goes to open mics and coffee house gigs.........He practices in front of a mirror, watches himself play......now I haven't done this, but he swears by it. I think a lot of pros do this, as part of their "entertainment" factor, but I'm just a picker and grinner, just the music, but he swears by it...so I put it on here....have fun!!

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OH, here's another. Learn songs completly by heart. When I started, I knew the beginnings to 50 songs but not one song completely. I "forced" myself to learn the songs completely, and it is a GREAT practice tool....

 

Half a song is no song - like a magic trick with no conclusion. So 50 half ones isn't even 25 - it's wind through a hoop. You're on the right track.

I sometimes play in front of a smaller mirror, not to look at myself, but to finger-check from another angle.

Q. : When you practice in the dark, could you as well just close your eyes ?

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Now that I think of it, Node did record some songs I played, and we were SOBER!!!???? Watching those videos was a great practice tool, and MAKING them, too. Making videos, shows you without a doubt, if you are in your head or in your heart. Good practice for open mics too.....

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