Practice or learning songs and solos? What is more important?

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by crcic, Sep 25, 2019.

  1. T Prior

    T Prior Poster Extraordinaire

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    while I certainly agree that playing, learning, comping licks and phrases from records is fun and very important, (its how most if not all of us started) but at some point down the road, the THEORY as to why those licks work is equally or maybe even more important than the licks themselves. The fretboard is laid out , like a piano, theoretical, don't ignore it and assume it's not important. Even though we are playing stuff from muscle memory, we are playing from positions of theory, even though we may not recognize it.

    I'm not saying become a theory hound, but do spend some time understanding why it works.

    We all know E, A and B go together, C,F and G go together, A,D and E go together...etc..so we are playing from theory, regardless. So as we are playing solos' from a record up and down the fretboard, why not go the next step and connect the dots ? As soon as we say..oh it's in " A " we are playing from theory , as little as it may be.

    We all don't need to be George Benson but it sure would be a lifelong benefit if we were to understand why solos' work and how they cross into redundant chord positions up and down the fretboard.

    Above I mentioned 3 Chord forms, as a lifelong player and teacher, I can tell you this, knowing one or two scale forms for each of those 3 basic chord shapes will elevate you into another dimension, playing wise. 5 min a day for 2 or 3 months and that will stay with you for your entire life.

    EX: When we watch a YouTube video of our favorite player playing a solo we want to learn, the very first thing we learn when we see the video, without playing a single note, is what chord shape ( fretboard position ) they START the solo from. Its the reference. While we may say "oh he starts here at the 9th fret) , thats not what THEY are saying. They ( mostly ) will say I am starting from this chord shape position because....

    5 min a day is all, its called perfect practice. Then go spend the next 2 hours playing whatever it is we do !

    When we cut down a tree, we grab a Chain Saw. If we just start cutting without rhyme or reason, we more often than not get in trouble , we may get lucky and the tree falls where we want it but thats by shear luck. SHEAR LUCK. BUT, if we just take a brief moment, look at the tree, understand it's tilt or angle, then cut a small wedge, more often than not we can direct the tree to fall where we intend it to go. Not much luck involved.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2019
  2. crcic

    crcic TDPRI Member

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    So, I finally find a teacher. 60 years old flamenco/classical guitarist/teacher. I know the guy for almost 20 years but I did not have any idea that he is guitarist. Back in the 1998 we used to work together for a year or two. So, after only 1 class I realized that theory is pretty important (at least for a beginner) Immediately once we sit he asked me, play what you know to play. So I started with 3 notes per string from C improvisation. Ok, now stop. Do you know what you just play? I said 3 notes per string starting from C. No he said, that is major C scale or DO note. After that he explained all the C major scales, all the positions, how and where to find, use them etc.... So, the next class is next Saturday and until than I need to learn everything about C major. Actually theory (all the talking) took only 5-10 minutes after that we played some practical stuff, proper finger positioning, proper strumming, counting etc.... All in all after 1 hour spent with him I realized that I do not know anything about guitar and that those 5-10 minutes of theory opened a whole new world for me, things that I actually know but I was not aware that I know them.... And believe me, now my will to play is even bigger.
     
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  3. dsouza

    dsouza TDPRI Member

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    A Guitarist is only as good as the songs he plays.
     
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  4. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    Theory and practice are the means to an end. For me the end was going out and playing songs for other people.
     
  5. crcic

    crcic TDPRI Member

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    I have one technical question. How do you play three notes per string? Which fingers do you use? Let's say that we play A, B and C# on the same string, I use the index finger for A, ring finger for B and pinky finger for C#. but, many tutorials suggest to use index finger for A, middle finger for B and pinky finger for C#, and many guitarists play it that way, except Paul Gilbert, he play like I do, but he has gigantic fingers. :) . Or at the end of the day it is not important, it is just how you get used to.
     
  6. Stringbanger

    Stringbanger Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Songs, Songs, Songs, Songs, Songs, Songs, Songs. There, I sang the refrain of what most people here are trying to tell you.

    Forget about solos, licks, riffs, theory, blah, blah, blah! Get yourself an acoustic guitar, so you can play anytime, anywhere, anyhow.

    Forget about learning 3-6 songs. That’s sissy stuff. You need to woodshed, and learn 40 songs! It will take time, and it won’t be easy, but the payback will be in dividends! Then learn another 40 songs, and keep the chords and lyrics written down in a three-ringed notebook, so you can take that with you wherever you go. Don’t learn half-songs. Learn to play the song until it is committed to heart. If you don’t sing well, sing anyway. My voice sucked when I first started. Your voice, and confidence in your voice will improve the more you practice.

    Now, your biggest hurdle: Not having friends. Just by learning 80 songs will boost your confidence so much, that you will burst out of your bubble, and want to play with other people. Playing/jamming with other people made me advance quicker than I ever imagined. If you don’t pursue this critical aspect, you will be a hobbyist at best. And, if you’re cool with that, I understand.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2019
  7. Luthi3rz

    Luthi3rz Tele-Meister

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    yes you should change a few things.



    1. Use You Tube.
    2. Picking Technique.
    3. Practice what you are terrible at.

    Your picking Hand drives your fret board hand. So you should be working on that just as much as you do on your finger board technique.

    Every great guitar player I have ever seen or played in a band with has/had great Picking Technique and was /is miles better than everyone else at it.
    Work on your Picking.
     
  8. JayFreddy

    JayFreddy Poster Extraordinaire

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    I disagree with the premise.

    Music is not a dichotomy of "practice vs songs."

    I follow what you mean, as did most everyone else, but that's like asking, "What's more important, exercise or football?"

    What about tennis? Or yoga? Or ball room dancing? Or mountain climbing?

    There are many different ways to climb a mountain... But even if you use the same path everytime, every time you climb that mountain, it's going to be different.

    I'll echo the thoughts of others...

    It's important to think about what you're doing, but the "doing" part is the part that we hear.

    Ultimately it's a doing thing, not a thinking thing.
     
  9. wulfenganck

    wulfenganck Tele-Holic

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    First of all, welcome to the wonderful world of guitarplaying!
    Try to do both - I sincerely regret not having spent enough time on theory and reading notes.
    I can read notes in F-clef, as I play bass in an orchestra and now I wish I could read (and write) notes better.
    So, yes, it's important to have a substantial knowledge in theory.
    But it all doesn't mean a thing, if you're not playing for your entertainment, be it for yourself or - preferably - with others.
    Therefore you should definitely try to learn songs AND accompying others!
    If it works better for you with a more strict time-schedule, well then go for it! It wouldn't be the best for me as it would become more of a boring task, but hey, each to his own!
     
  10. Plumber

    Plumber Tele-Holic

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    I practice playing and theory as it massively cuts down on the time it takes to learn songs

    I only learn songs I'm going to play in bands

    When I 've finished playing them in whatever band I can forget them as its easy to look at my notes and recall what was going on
     
  11. ASATKat

    ASATKat Friend of Leo's

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    learning time is over,,,
     
  12. T Prior

    T Prior Poster Extraordinaire

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    well if you are only playing songs, you are indeed playing to "theory" and various fretboard positions as well as perhaps various chord structures.

    But if you don't recognize it , thats a different discussion .

    As soon as you play E, A and B , well guess what.

    Nevermind asking what KEY the song is in, too much theory for me ! :)


    Or we can just be guitar players that only know how to play the 50 songs we learned , note for note, the same way each time, song #51 is out of the question !

    At some point, and it may take years, at some point we will come full circle and want to connect the dots. At that point you will HEAR the chord chart and in many cases learn the songs without even touching your guitar !
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
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