Unavoidable Programming During Practice

Discussion of history's greatest guitar player.

Unavoidable Programming During Practice

Postby DagerRande » Fri Oct 30, 2015 8:48 am

For those who practice regularly, I just wanted to share something with you that stared me right in the face this morning as I decided to play “The Claw”, which I learned many years ago. Unfortunately I learned it using very inefficient technique. I’ve continued to improve this as I've learned new songs over the years by identifying what was wrong and focusing on those specifics in my practice. What was amazing to me is that I was playing "The Claw" my old way because that’s how my brain was programmed and how my nervous system processed it during the learning process. Because of this, I’m having to “unlearn and relearn” this and many others in order to play them with the same level of expertise that I use in playing songs that I’ve learned in more recent years.

The moral of this story is that however good or bad your technique is when you learn a song, that’s how
you’ll retain it and perform it even if you’ve improved your technique later!
Rande Dager

We are all capable of doing more than we think we can!
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Re: Unavoidable Programming During Practice

Postby charlie mccabe » Fri Oct 30, 2015 9:52 pm

HI RANDE ....... YOU HAVE A GREAT WAY OF EXPLANING THINGS........... I SEE ALOT OF WHAT YOU SAID IN MYSELF ........ALTHOUGH I CANT PLAY AT THE LEVEL YOU CAN......... SOMETIMES I WISHED I WOULD HAVE SPENT MORE TIME LEARNING SOME OF THE TUNES.....ITS REALLY HARD FOR ME TO RELEARN SOMETHING AND USE CORRECT FINGERINGS ........AND ITS PROBLY WHY WHEN I PLAY THE CLAW IT JUST DOESNT SOUND QUIET AS GOOD AS IT SHOULD......AND IF I MAKE A MISTAKE IT WILL BE IN THE SAME DAMM PLACE IT WAS 10 YEARS AGO.......BY THE WAY .......HURRY UP AND DO ANOTHER TUNE WITH A VIDIO ......I NEED SOMETHING TO WORK ON....SOME OF THAT CHESTER JERRY RANDE JAZZ....LOVE THAT STUFF.........LATER CHARLIE.......
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Re: Unavoidable Programming During Practice

Postby DagerRande » Fri Oct 30, 2015 10:41 pm

Hey Charlie! Good to hear from you again! I appreciate your kind words. Yes, I'm embarrassed not to have already added any more videos to my YouTube channel. That was set up on Jan. 2! I just need to be able to do them myself without depending on anyone else. That one was done by a 16 yr. old kid. Lately, I've been working on Jerry's "Swarmin'" which requires backup to sound complete but it's good practice and there's no way I could have played it back when I first learned "The Claw". Have a great weekend!
Rande Dager

We are all capable of doing more than we think we can!
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Re: Unavoidable Programming During Practice

Postby John Knowles » Fri Oct 30, 2015 11:46 pm

Rande, I love your observation and your explanation… with specific examples. I've noticed this effect in my own learning and revisiting pieces. As much as it can be frustrating, it is also a clear indicator that you've made a lot of progress over the years. I'll add one observation of my own.

It can be a rewarding challenge to lift an old tune up to your current level. The challenge is that the old technique has a pretty solid grip on your performance. The reward is that you end up with the deep satisfaction of hearing an old friend sound better than ever.

When I begin to play an old tune again, I slow it way down so that my reflexes/habits don't kick in as much. I usually find that the problems are located in specific spots. For example in The Claw, that basic roll in the verse might be solid but some parts in the bridge might be a little rough. I isolate the rough spots and keep them slow as I repair and polish. I keep in mind that I'm a better player now than I was then and… I'm a better learner. Then I work on putting the new versions in context… still slow. When I can play the whole thing slow, I'm ready to bring the tempo up.

The work can be frustrating for sure but I've learned that any real progress is accompanied by frustration. When I get frustrated, I know I'm getting close. I've learned to love the work on it's own terms. As I kid, I learned that fishing is mostly sitting in the boat. Occasionally, you snag a big one… if you're in the boat.

It's approaching 35 years since I first took a serious crack at learning some of Jerry's tunes. Since then I've done a pretty solid re-learn of several of them and I have others, including The Claw, on my to-do list. Wish me luck.

John
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Re: Unavoidable Programming During Practice

Postby DagerRande » Sat Oct 31, 2015 7:36 am

John, I consider you to be "the ultimate" when it comes to the analysis of the intricacies of the process of learning a finger-style (I always want to write "fingerstyle" as one word) guitar piece. Notice that I'm not limiting my comments merely to Chet's or Jerry's music. I know that your body of work, including your own compositions and arrangements, extends way beyond either of these. However, the mechanics and the thought processes definitely apply to all of these areas.

Because of this, I especially appreciate your compliments and support of my thoughts on this as it relates to your own experience. I also appreciate your own extra addition to what I was saying. Your "fishing" analogy and your statement

"The reward is that you end up with the deep satisfaction of hearing an old friend sound better than ever"

were very creative from the perspective of this teacher who values effective communication. I can definitely relate to the frustration level reached during both the "polishing" and the "revisiting" processes. I'm sure this is the cause of so many giving up due to lack of the required patience. I too slow things down and focus on the parts that need the most attention before I try to put it all together as "one unit". One thing that keeps me going is realizing and acknowledging small amounts of progress. My daily goal in learning a new song or polishing one that I already play is never to master it. That may never come, at least to my satisfaction, but if I can play it a little better than I did in my last practice session then I've had a good day! This is all part of "falling in love with the process".

Thanks again, John!
Rande Dager

We are all capable of doing more than we think we can!
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Re: Unavoidable Programming During Practice

Postby Norm » Sat Oct 31, 2015 8:43 am

This is one of the advantages of taking lessons if you can find a teacher that plays a style you like. They help you get good habits right from the start. I know the self-taughts are rightfully proud of having gotten where they are but a good teacher can save you a tremendous amount of time.

I think we've all had to do the 'unlearn' routine and it always has an awkward period until it sets in.

Another example is taking the time to learn how to read notes a little bit.

If you want to learn a new song and give it your own arrangement it helps a lot if you can find a simple sheet music version so you can get the melody right. Being able to read music a little bit helps tremendously here.

If you don't play the melody correctly people do hear it.
Almost all instrumentals start out with the melody near perfect on the first turn and after that, anything goes...
...that's how it looks to me...The opinion expressed above is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of this station. Your mileage may vary...

Audio samples: http://www.youtube.com/user/acountrygent/videos
That should do it.
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Re: Unavoidable Programming During Practice

Postby DagerRande » Sat Oct 31, 2015 4:00 pm

Norm, I knew I could count on your philosophical advice! Another "wise philosopher" that I miss is Mike Joyce. I devoured every word he wrote! Don't worry Norm, I do the same with you :-)

Regarding having a "good teacher", in 1984 I had already been playing for 30 years but wasn't happy with my progress and technique. I was living in Sacramento, CA at the time and went to a local music store and told them my situation. They introduced me to a guy who was finishing up his master's degree in "Guitar Performance". He sat down with me and had me play a few things for him while he analyzed what I was doing. He said I was already tackling songs at a level that he didn't feel he could enhance. He had very few criticisms but one of them was that he asked me if I had ever used a metronome? I told him that I had not. He also looked at my nails and gave me some filing pointers. I immediately went out and bought a metronome and started using it faithfully. It has helped me tremendously in learning the faster songs and keeping them clean. We even performed together soon afterward at one of his coffee-house gigs. We eventually went our separate ways until 13 years later in 1997 when I saw a full page ad of the most recent Winfield winner. Yes, the person who inspired me to began using a metronome had won Winfield that year. His name was Todd Hallawell. I've always been able to figure out the notes that I'm hearing, but I'll always be grateful to Todd for his help in putting me on the right track in the areas where I needed the most help.
Rande Dager

We are all capable of doing more than we think we can!
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Re: Unavoidable Programming During Practice

Postby Norm » Sat Oct 31, 2015 11:02 pm

one of my best investments was band in a box
I would "fire" all the musicians except for the bass player and, boy howdy, that kept me on the rails. It's just like a metronome but a little more personable than just tick tick tick

But band in a box or a metronome, either one, will stifle your tendency to rush

Reminded me of a bluegrass singer I backed up once. He was rightfully proud of his steadiness and he told me
"If we get out of rhythm it ain't me."

Things like that make you pay attention
...that's how it looks to me...The opinion expressed above is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of this station. Your mileage may vary...

Audio samples: http://www.youtube.com/user/acountrygent/videos
That should do it.
Norm
 
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Re: Unavoidable Programming During Practice

Postby DagerRande » Sun Nov 01, 2015 8:20 am

Hi Norm, I agree with you regarding "Band-in-a-Box" being a much better and more sophisticated alternative to a metronome. I own the most recent version of "The Everything Pack" for BIAB 2015. There is a LOT to making
use of its full potential, which I don't............lol. I was just talking about the metronome in terms of practicing
to a constant and steady tempo. The ways for that to be accomplished can vary greatly!
Rande Dager

We are all capable of doing more than we think we can!
DagerRande
 
Posts: 510
Joined: Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:53 pm
Location: Battle Creek, MI

Re: Unavoidable Programming During Practice

Postby Norm » Sun Nov 01, 2015 8:41 am

I agree with your basic statement in that metronome work is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
Most people think they keep good time, particularly when playing by themselves, but it is critical that a good sense of time is in hand when playing with others

We've all experienced what happens when someone rushes or just doesn't have good rhythm.

Working with a metronome forces you to get it right. It also is invaluable when you're trying to work up a fast lick. Start it slow and in tempo and advance the speed of the metronome as you get the lick.

Back in my music store days I think I remember one guy who wanted his money back because his metronome didn't keep correct time. Couldn't possibly be Him, now, could it...?

Riiiiigggghhhht.... :roll:
...that's how it looks to me...The opinion expressed above is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of this station. Your mileage may vary...

Audio samples: http://www.youtube.com/user/acountrygent/videos
That should do it.
Norm
 
Posts: 1310
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2011 12:36 pm
Location: redwood city ca

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