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Do you ever feel you've lost focus?

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by IMadeYouReadThis, Oct 18, 2020.

  1. teletail

    teletail Tele-Afflicted

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    There are no secrets, getting better just takes disciplined hard work. I usually practice 3 hours a day. I do three one hour sessions. I spend the first 10 minutes working scales, then split the rest of the time between learning new material and more importantly, working the new material into what I'm already playing. If you just learn 15 new licks with no idea how to use them, you'll forget them. I spend time improvising, but not just playing the same licks I've been playing for 40 years. Figure out where in your solos you will put your new material.

    I also record myself several times a week. If I work up a new solo, I'll usually transcribe it and record it.

    What is NOT practice is playing something you already know just to fill time, or sitting on the couch noodling while you watch TV. Just my opinion, there's nothing wrong with doing that, but don't kid yourself that you're practicing.

    I also recommend lessons. There's nothing like lessons to keep you on track.
     
  2. davidge1

    davidge1 Friend of Leo's

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    It sounds like you're learning things, but not working towards building a musical vocabulary. Its a fact that the human brain actually seeks to forget things it doesn't use. So learning a new lick is only half of it. Once you've learned the lick, start trying to use it in with your playing. It's no different than speaking a language.

    When you're practicing, imagine a song (any song, even one you don't like will work) and start improvising over the chord progression. Add your new lick to this. Then start taking pieces of the lick and combining them with other licks you already play to make new licks. Think of the lick as a pattern of notes. How would you play the notes in a fast song? ...in a slow song? It should be an active creative process for your brain.

    When I start getting bored with my own playing, usually all it takes is for me to learn a new musical and do what I said above to get my brain going in a creative way again.
     
  3. IMadeYouReadThis

    IMadeYouReadThis Tele-Meister

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    As somebody who is additionally a horn player, this concept of a practice schedule is interesting to me. Horns, in general, are much louder than guitars and can be majorly annoying to neighbors and family, so in order to make the most of practice time I keep myself on a schedule (10 minutes long tones, 15 minutes scales, etc). For this reason, I've improved saxophone much more quickly by amount of time practicing than guitar.

    How many members here have a practice schedule for guitar? What's your process?
     
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  4. Lance Morgan

    Lance Morgan TDPRI Member

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    Billy Gibbons said play what you wanna hear. I agree. I like to listen to a lot of different stuff, and when one really seems the coolest, no matter what style or genre or difficulty, I learn it the best I can.

    Then I find similarities, analogies to other music, which bring me up a step or two.

    Have fun. That’s what it’s supposed to be.
     
  5. superjam144

    superjam144 Tele-Afflicted

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    It's funny. I have a small tv in my room. Sometimes I put the volume down low just to have something to watch while I fiddle with my guitar.

    Sounds lazy, but I think even idle times with a guitar in hand is beneficial. Ideas can suddenly spark from a scene in a movie, maybe becoming a song.

    Energy seems to be my enemy lately.. After dinner and talking with family, the energy just isn't there after a hard day's work.

    To me, guitar is about enjoyment. It was never practice to me...

    I don't play to get "good" anyway. I play to make music.

    Stressing about not being good enough isn't really relevant to me anymore.

    It's a hobby, a very therapeutic one. At least for me.

    Reminds me of the quote from Wes Montgomery when asked about his practice schedule, he said "I never practice my guitar. From time to time I just open the case & throw in a piece of raw meat. Regardless of what you play, the biggest thing is keeping the feel going."

    That being said, I have also noticed that much good can come from challenging oneself with learning new material.

    I wonder how much SRV, Clapton, Trower, and Hendrix practiced. Or did they just play A LOT. I understand that they learned a hell of a lot of material from other musicians.

    The idea of being in a decade long RUT is overwhelming, and you are not alone. Challenging yourself with new ways of playing will ultimately help you. Recording yourself will help you see how much you grew and never knew it.

    It has to be an every day or at least 3 times a week thing, I believe. Guitar is something that needs passion to grow. How many people eventually stop playing altogether?

    Keep the passion alive, be devoted to the hobby, and don't get down about your skill level.

    Something that bothers me as a fingerpicker is that I never learned alternate picking. It's something I still think about learning, as it doubles your speed. But I seem to be satisfied with picking instead. I delved into double stops recently and have gotten decent with them. Keep learning, explore musical ideas, and techniques.

    Guitar is not easy, but it is worth it. Take care.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2020
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  6. Flip G

    Flip G Tele-Meister

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    That book is my guitar bible! I keep it on the shelf beside me!

    denyer.jpg
     
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  7. superjam144

    superjam144 Tele-Afflicted

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  8. matrix

    matrix Tele-Meister

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    Rut busting:
    - If my practice has been structured and technique oriented, switch to jam tracks and getting feel oriented.
    - If I have been noodling a lot, set myself a technique challenge and work on it every day
    - Follow a good lesson plan for a while - 10-30 minutes a day on something progressive, not just random youtube videos (I rely on truefire for this)
    - Read (or re-read) Effortless Mastery
    - If I have been practicing a lot, take a couple of days or a week off (work travel used to build that into my month, not so much any more)
    - switch instruments for a week. A week on piano does wonderful things for my guitar (vice-versa not so true)

    And if I am feeling really down on myself and my playing (happens), try to step back. I am not a pro, and I am not in competition with anyone - I do this for love of the art. Try to appreciate the gift that is being able to play at all, and appreciate whatever sound YOU can make. A beginner who is totally focused on how amazing an open E minor chord can sound when slowly strummed is in a better place than someone who is angry and frustrated with where he is at today. Simple played well is better than complex played poorly.
     
  9. Mr. Lumbergh

    Mr. Lumbergh Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'm in a similar situation. I just can't seem to focus on practice, after 30 min. or so I'm just not able to keep going mentally except for a few times. I can't wait to play with others again, this isolating will hopefully end soon.
     
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  10. superjam144

    superjam144 Tele-Afflicted

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    This might sound corny to some. But something a guitar luthier said to me when I was younger really stuck with me.

    He said "everyone plays differently". Meaning that we are all unique and noone plays like the next person. You are unique and your playing is special. Remember that, don't try to sound like everyone else. It is your unique approach to guitar which will stand out.
     
  11. TwangBrain

    TwangBrain Tele-Meister

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    Every time I troll the internet, it's because I've lost focus.
     
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  12. IMadeYouReadThis

    IMadeYouReadThis Tele-Meister

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    That kid slowly strumming through E minor like he's Clint Eastwood was definitely me. :)
     
  13. rand z

    rand z Friend of Leo's

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    For me, life is like Jazz.

    If I have to think about it too much, it just doesn't seem to happen.

    So, (with almost everything and certainly the guitar) I go with the flow and hope for the best.

    It makes it more interesting for me.
     
  14. thebowl

    thebowl Tele-Meister

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    Losing focus is less of a problem the older I get. I think it helps me to consciously change things up every few days or so. Including at least 5 or six guitars. And key signatures. And picks. Chord structure which often involves some Ted Greene stuff. Melodic stuff, major keys and mInor keys. Bottleneck (I have spent a lot of time with Please be With Me this week). Learning specific tunes and tabbing them out for my notebook. If it starts to feel stale, do something different.
     
  15. Telenator

    Telenator Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    Time for a change. That's all.

    Forget what you know and listen through new ears.
     
  16. DrKewel

    DrKewel TDPRI Member

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  17. DrKewel

    DrKewel TDPRI Member

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    Go see your favorite artist play live, preferably at a small venue. If that doesn't stoke your fire.....
     
  18. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    What is this “focus” of which you speak?
     
  19. trxx

    trxx Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm finding myself spending most of my playing time improvising chord progressions, embellishments, and connecting lines and licks (more or less, whole pieces of music). I don't think of it as noodling, because I'm not passively just hunting and pecking for any riffs and licks. I'm playing things that I want to hear according to how I feel, trying to ride a line between sounding on and reaching for something more interesting without it falling apart. And in doing this I'm playing better than I ever have and enjoying playing alot more than I ever have. But anymore I play in spurts of an hour or so to try and keep it fresh. On better days the spurts might go from morning until late night. If I start to feel like I'm banging my head against a wall to play something interesting, I put down my guitar and do something else such as going down a music listening rabbit hole, or reading here and other forums. Some days that does happen, but I look at it as being just a thing that happens, like a downpour day when I would rather be outside but instead have to find something to do inside. If I'm not feeling what I'm playing, I'm just not, and I'll try again later or tomorrow after something I listen to, read, or watch makes me feel inspired to play.
     
  20. Mjea80

    Mjea80 Tele-Meister

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    For the record playing at the music store.. and Im sure others can vouch for this is never been my highest point of playing. You’re not warmed up, you’re focused on the tone of the new guitar, you’re wondering if anybody in there will think you’re any good etc etc..

    Had a real good player once tell me to merely practice one aspect or another on the guitar for the first 20 minutes of any playing session. Then after that, just have fun with it. I did this and it surely paid off. I would encourage you to do the same.
     
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