1. Win a Broadcaster or one of 3 Teles! The annual Supporting Member Giveaway is on. To enter Click Here. To see all the prizes and full details Click Here. To view the thread about the giveaway Click Here.

Deliberate Practice

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Stanford Guitar, Jan 27, 2021.

  1. Stanford Guitar

    Stanford Guitar Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,182
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2020
    Location:
    USA
    When I was playing pool in college, I took a road trip with a pretty well known road player at the time. I was hitting balls by myself on a table and he walked over and asked me what I was doing. I said, 'practicing.' He said, 'you're destroying your game!' He explained to me: you should never, ever hit balls or play just for fun. The only time you ever even pick up a pool cue, is when you're gambling (called being in action). Being in action focuses the mind, requires complete attention, and is an entirely different level of discipline than 'practicing' when there is nothing to lose. This playing for fun practice only causes a lack of attention and bad habits. I took his advice, and my game improved dramatically in one summer, even though I was playing far less pool in terms of hours. And my enjoyment of the game increased.

    The same is true of music, I always try to play with a clear objective, something to lose, with complete focus, never just noodling. It's far more rewarding.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2021
  2. Chicken Curry

    Chicken Curry Tele-Meister

    Age:
    39
    Posts:
    133
    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2020
    Location:
    Australia
    So what do you recommend? Is having an objective simply enough?

    Yesterday I wanted to record my own 12 bar quick blues (backing) track, that was my objective. Seems simple enough but I'm still a noob and I wanted it to be clean and precise. I never got it to be perfect, felt like I wasted practice time. Maybe what I learned is how hard it is to be precise. Even the simplest thing can be challenging if you want to do it right.
     
    Charlie Bernstein likes this.
  3. Chicken Curry

    Chicken Curry Tele-Meister

    Age:
    39
    Posts:
    133
    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2020
    Location:
    Australia
    Good point btw, this thread deserves more replies. Buddy Rich had a similar philosophy about playing live.
     
  4. kbold

    kbold Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,971
    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2015
    Location:
    Australia
    Good point you make. The argument is that fun practice is better than no practice.
    Also, I often play for fun, rather than it having an end goal.

    I find I'm very focused when I'm recording myself.
    On playback I can hear how good I am; and how bad. :eek::eek: So in this case, I agree that it is more productive.
     
  5. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    7,651
    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2012
    Location:
    London, UK
    The analogy doesn't really work. You have to learn how to play guitar before you can be good enough to be "in action". And that means practice.

    And if I only ever played when something was at stake I would hardly ever play.

    And playing for fun is . . . Well, it's the whole point.

    But it's an interesting idea
     
  6. Stanford Guitar

    Stanford Guitar Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,182
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2020
    Location:
    USA
    The point is constant deliberate play. All beginners are very deliberate and focused, learning chords, scales etc. Then once they hit the intermediate stage, they fall into the comfortable rut of mindless mediocre play. This is true of music, business, sports, and life in general. The point is, don't fall into this rut, have something at stake every time you touch the guitar.
     
  7. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    7,651
    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2012
    Location:
    London, UK
    I get what you're saying. But it would kind of take the fun out of it for me. So I'm going to have to fail your test.

    I'm also a lousy pool player. Can barely hold a stick.
     
  8. Stanford Guitar

    Stanford Guitar Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,182
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2020
    Location:
    USA
    Well, I suck at Snooker! But I sure like watching Ronnie O'Sullivan run 147's.
     
    hemingway likes this.
  9. drewg

    drewg Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    152
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2020
    Location:
    Oregon, USA
    I like your story and it's an interesting concept, but I'd like o hear what some examples are of your "clear objectives" are/were, especially when you were in the improving stage.

    How I play guitar, I wouldn't call either 'clear objective' or 'noodling', it's something else. I write songs and play them for my own sanity's sake. So often I'm trying to transfer the sound of the song in my head to the guitar (mostly chords), and also filling out the lyrics. So maybe that's a "clear objective" but it's not too repetitive or disciplined.

    Other times I'm just playing songs – mostly my own, sometimes others' – just to get some of the tension out of me, to relax me. Focused on the feeling, maybe, but not on my playing technique. But I wouldn't call it noodling, either.

    (Occasionally, I'll do a little 'noodling', too, messing around with sounds.)

    I'm definitely not a great player and know to get better I need to be more disciplined with techniques. But what techniques? I don't aim to be EVH– I'd be happy if I could play like John Prine.

    Talking myself through this. Maybe I've answered my own question...
     
  10. WingedWords

    WingedWords Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    70
    Posts:
    2,040
    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2015
    Location:
    UK Europe.
    Time and a place for most approaches I'd say. Certainly for me.
     
    Frodebro and teletail like this.
  11. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,519
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2013
    Location:
    meridianam altum centralis
    I agree with the OP, however, you can raise your practice expectations to the same performance level. Another nationally known musician says you don't play in public, till you can nail a tune/lick/passage in 20 flawless performances at the house. And then, you don't truly own it, till you've played it 100 times. So I tried that, and shockingly, I found it difficult. What I was doing, was practicing till I got it right - one time. And then I mentally checked off success, but I didn't really get it right. I got it right one out of five or six times. He said you have to get it right 20 out of 20 times before you go live. That changed my thinking, criteria, and expectations. It also focused my practice time, to not waste time gratuitously noodling stuff I didn't need to practice, and focused the importance and intensity of practicing near equal with performing. Brilliant bit of advice.
     
    DekeDog, PhredE and teletail like this.
  12. Grandy

    Grandy Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    526
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2010
    Location:
    Finland
    Pool or any sport and music are very different things. You are not trying to express emotions, feelings or any of that sort of thing through pool, are you? The best pool player would be a robot who can exeute shots exactly the same way every time.

    If you only play for money that might help you to control all the emotions that can mess up your game. Performing under pressure and without any are two different things as anyone who remembers what their first gig felt like.

    Playing music like a robot on the other hand is not something I would recommend. That's why a good drummer beats a drum machine every time.
     
  13. String Tree

    String Tree Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    16,117
    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2010
    Location:
    Up North
    Deliberate Practice- Contradiction of Terms.

    Time to Rawk!
     
    MilwMark, Toto'sDad and StevesBoogie like this.
  14. telemaster03

    telemaster03 Tele-Meister

    Age:
    58
    Posts:
    292
    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2008
    Location:
    Wichita, KS
    I'm learning this is true, at least for me. Early last year a friend was at a gig taking pictures and in many of them I noticed my pinky sticking straight out from the fretboard. I analyzed my playing and discovered that my technique is hugely inefficient, there is entirely too much movement in my fretting hand, what some call "finger fly". I believe it's what has kept me from playing tricky passages cleanly with any kind of speed. Since that time I've sought out deliberate and specific things I could do to improve that area of my playing. Progress is slow but I see improvement. I have taken the same approach in a couple other areas as well. There are also times during practice that I have to be intentional about learning parts and there is also time for just playing.

    I believe that lack of discipline is what caused this, thinking I was practicing when I was simply noodling and playing for my own enjoyment and not paying attention to technique or any kind of practice structure. I wish I would have realized this years ago.
     
  15. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,576
    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2018
    Location:
    WV
    I don't necessarily disagree. But I argue that both 'deliberate' and 'practice' are subjective terms. I can noodle deliberately, if only to relax, or perhaps to get back into playing after a hiatus. And what about trying out a guitar? Can that ruin your game, if it doesn't fit into your practice routine?

    If noodling becomes something mindless, then I agree it can be counterproductive. OTOH, the intent or focus of noodling doesn't have to be toward increasing competitiveness. It can be purely for personal growth or pleasure.

    And what exactly is noodling? Atonal and random picked or strummed notes? Is it scale runs? Trying out licks? Loosening up old fingers? Big umbrella term, in my mind.

    My take? Putting extremely tight boundaries on practice routines can be demotivating for me. And not playing is certainly not going to help me up my game, as it were.
     
  16. teletail

    teletail Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    71
    Posts:
    1,822
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2019
    Location:
    West By God Virginia
    I agree with the deliberate practice idea. If you sit down with no goals and no plan, you’re wasting your time. But NEVER playing for fun? That’s a big cup of Nope.

    To me, it’s about being honest with yourself. Don’t try to fool yourself that you’re practicing when you’re sitting in front of the TV mindlessly wiggling your fingers.

    If you want to improve then practice. If you don’t care, then do whatever you want.

    For me the fun is after you’ve put in the hard work and you get up on stage and turn heads. Now that’s fun!
     
  17. Pualee

    Pualee Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    799
    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2014
    Location:
    Virginia
    Sometimes just having the guitar in your hand helps provide repetitions that later lead to improvements.

    However, I do agree that there is a need for focus. I improved dramatically when I was focused on playing publicly. From one month to the next I was adding skills and techniques. I was better every time I went out. Then I stopped playing publicly, and I have not improved in years. A few things have become rusty.

    During the time I was 'focused', I still picked up the guitar for fun. However, that never interrupted the 'focused' practice that was necessary each day. It was in addition to the focused time.
     
    SRHmusic likes this.
  18. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,956
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2019
    Location:
    Between the Raindrops
    I'm in the "agree" camp: mindless noodling (on a pool table or on guitar) may have some benefits, but in my experience it is wasted repetition of non-challenging techniques and it reinforces bad habits.

    Noodling is fun beccause it's easy. Meaningful practice is work.
     
  19. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    26,221
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2012
    Location:
    Montana
    An interesting attempt for an analogy, but I don't think it holds up well. You can play a game of pool after perhaps an hour of instruction ... guitar, not at all. Also, pool is a game of competition where there is a clear winner in a relatively short time. Playing guitar is about creating an art.
     
    Marc Morfei, teletail and drewg like this.
  20. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,519
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2013
    Location:
    meridianam altum centralis
    I think it does. There are music competitions with discrete judging, and winners. In the pub, there's the inside circle, and there's the outside circle. Even without scoring judging, you know who the best players are, because they kill the most difficult stuff, that others can't. Just like pool. Touchy feely emotion in music is more about singing, swooning, Kenny G...<g>
     
    PhredE likes this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.