your thoughts on memorization

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by thunderbyrd, Jun 24, 2019.

  1. thunderbyrd

    thunderbyrd Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I have begun an improvisation learning method which begins with memorization of five patterns. I have worked on the patterns in the following ways: devoting one day to one pattern (playing all the way through the pattern ascending and descending at least 100 times throughout the day) and playing through each of the patterns one after another, then playing back through them each to the beginning. I have used a metronome sometimes, sometimes without.

    what I haven't done yet is work through each pattern from 1st position all the way up the neck and then back down, I wanted to get familiar with proper fingerings both ascending and descending. then I intend to work through all positions up and down at each fret all the way up and down the neck.

    but will this result in true mastery of the patterns? my friend who turned me on to this method is a very advanced player and he told me it took him about a year to master the patterns. actually, i'm not sure he means he took a year on the patterns only, or just the first lesson, which is learning the chords that work with the patterns.

    I would like to read anyone's ideas on how to gain the "absolute mastery" (well, honestly, is there really such a thing as absolute mastery?) of this material. will it take 10,000 hours? i'm pretty old, that's a lot of hours.

    the thing about, and why i'm asking for your thoughts and experiences, is that it is very easy to simply sit here and look at the page and mindlessly blow through the patterns. but I question it's effectiveness.
     
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  2. Digital Larry

    Digital Larry Tele-Afflicted

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    Maybe this won't help but it's just my experience. I think I learned one pattern from an Arlen Roth book years ago. I played a lot of bluegrass/Celtic fiddle tunes by rote (which reinforces certain patterns) and non-specific blues jamming (which reinforces other patterns). And while I can visualize the "CAGED" boxes, I use some of them more than others (like the ones where either the top or the bottom on the box is flat).

    What I've found works well for me these days is to pick a simple, SLOW backing track (like by using a looper) and then imagine (and/or sing or hum) the next note you want to play and then find it and play it. This way, notes start from the intention in your head rather than following a roadmap (pattern) of notes which are likely to be more or less correct. If you miss the note, then try again on the next go around. Having a looper that you can play 2 or 3 or more chords into and just let it go for a long time is really helpful.

    Another thing this helped with is anticipating notes to land on a couple of beats later (like the tonic at the beginning of a measure or set of bars) and then finding different ways to get there. Here's where your memorized patterns come into play. There are tons of ways to play 6 notes on the way to the tonic - try different combinations. This way, you combine the "automatic" notes from the pattern with the intention of landing on the tonic. Landing on the 4th or 7th, while it might be acceptable pattern wise, doesn't give you that big payoff.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2019
  3. WildcatTele

    WildcatTele Tele-Meister

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    Patterns are a start, it won't really take that long to get them down by rote if you apply yourself properly, certainly not a year...more like weeks.

    What will take longer is making music out of them. What pushed me along and when the whole thing made a lot more sense was once I got the fingering patterns down I started learning licks, solos, songs, whatever...anything that I loved and wanted to learn to play. There comes a time during this where you put the two together; your mind starts to see how the music you're learning fits into the patterns you've learned and the "ah ha" moment comes. After that it gets a lot easier to use the patterns as a roadmap to get what's in your head onto the guitar.
     
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  4. dougstrum

    dougstrum Tele-Holic

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    I find that writing out a song or writing the lyrics really locks it into my little brain!
     
  5. pedro58

    pedro58 TDPRI Member

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    This sounds like a great idea. I'm going to try it!
     
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  6. Treadplatedual

    Treadplatedual Tele-Holic

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    I have a book called "the guitar grimoire" that's been instrumental (pun intended) in learning the fretboard, scales, modes and all that.
     
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  7. Frank'n'censed

    Frank'n'censed Doctor of Teleocity

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    I forgot
     
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  8. Sounds Good

    Sounds Good Tele-Holic

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    I suppose that can help i just learnt licks i liked and played them in all different parts of the neck, seemed a lot more interesting for me. Patterns can sound to much like scales in some cases i try and avoid that if i can. One can even try using fast licks and slow them down and again experiment all over the neck with them, some sound even better slower and even add some bends and slides and thing to them to experiment.

    That 100 times a day thing i think i would dread picking up my guitar even, but we are all different if it is working so far for you dont change things as they say if it is working dont fix it.

    Also that above helps i just try and make up solos abit at a time i dont force things and ideas seem to come along and that is away of creating new riffs and licks maybe.
     
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  9. archtop_fjk

    archtop_fjk Tele-Meister

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    I agree with this approach too. Learning patterns, licks, phrases etc. provides you with the words you want to speak musically. You then need to master playing those "words" (i.e. licks, phrases) without thinking about individual notes.

    For example, imagine that you learn three licks in a given key (say A major). Let's call them 1, 2, 3. Then you play an A major backing track (no chord changes - just stay in A). Can you think "1" and have the lick's notes come right out of your fingers? Then, "1+2"? Then "1+3+2+2+1+2..." and so on? When I play over a blues chord sequence, there are some stock pentatonic licks that I normally use. I just have to think about one of these in an abstract way and I can start to play it on the spot. And I'm always thinking as I go, trying to anticipate what lick to play next. Of course this becomes more difficult at fast tempos, which is why we start slow and build the speed with a metronome. But the point is that I'm NEVER thinking about individual notes but about different licks and phrases.

    Oh, and I didn't say anything about left and right hand technique, but it goes without saying that learning a lick requires that you are comfortable with both the required right hand picking motion and the left hand fingering. THIS is why we spend hours slavishly going over scales...:rolleyes:
     
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  10. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    If the patterns sound musical and would work for you in the music you play then maybe they're worth the effort.

    If they don't, then it's not worth it. When I was a teenager I learned most of the scales and modes,
    but now I wish I had spent more time on arpeggios. I've been playing catch up on arpeggios ever since.

    Still, a lot of my fretboard fluency comes from those years of woodshedding up and down the neck on various
    scales and modes. Applying the knowledge ASAP, such as playing against backing tracks makes tremendous sense to me.
    It's like learning a foreign language-- yes, you need to practice conjugating verbs and memorizing words, but you also
    need to practice the things you have just learned by applying them in actual conversation.
     
  11. archtop_fjk

    archtop_fjk Tele-Meister

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    Speaking of backing tracks - I forgot to mention that I recently acquired a Digitech Trio pedal (not the plus - just the regular model). This pedal is EXCELLENT for practicing improvisation as you can record any backing chord sequence you want and have an appropriate bass/drum backing track instantly. Then you can practice improvising over the chord sequence to you heart's content. The tempo knob allows you increase the tempo gradually if you want to get faster with your licks and phrasing. There's a lot more you can do with it, of course, but just having something like this to enhance my practice time has made it a very worthwhile purchase for me!

    [​IMG]
     
  12. FenderGuy53

    FenderGuy53 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I think Digital Larry is on to something here, which is why I recently purchased a looper/drummer combo.

    Learning the scales can be fun; it's all in the approach.

    My first step was learning the fingerings for each of the 5 minor pentatonic scale positions, then practicing those 5 positions in each key, moving up the fretboard.

    By learning the minor pentatonic scale, you're also de facto learning the corresponding major pentatonic scale, which is simply 3 frets lower.

    Now, find slower, instrumental grooves in specific minor keys and practice simple lead riffs using those scale positions.

    Next, get a pedal with looper and drums ( I recently purchased the micro-sized NU>X JTC Drum & Loop pedal), lay down simple 3-chord progressions, in different keys, and practice your phrasing over those loops.

    The goal is to mingle enough root notes in a given key to make your riff musical.
     
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  13. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I run my favorite pattern up and down the neck daily and then again with some experimental inserts of a different pattern or key, just to see what happens. Sometimes (probably not enough) in alternate tuning too. As I recall, learning a pattern up and down the neck was important for me to "see" the entire neck in my mind. IOW, a very important and easy exercise to master. It really is just a few minutes a day to eventually getting it, so just do it.
     
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  14. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    Ear training is also important. You should be singing the patterns in your mind as you play them. Hear the notes before they come out from your hands.

    Related-- listen to a lick, anytime, anywhere, and copy it. This is a great thing to do while watching TV. Sit there with your guitar unplugged and anytime
    you here music, such as on a TV commercial, see if you can quickly cop it.

    Getting your ears, hands, and eyes all working together is what it's all about-- hitting multiple parts of your brain.

    Add sight reading music to the mix and
    now you are taking it to another level. It's really good to have things memorized, but also good to be able to read things when that's needed. Not just TAB,
    which are great, but classical notation, too...Reading can go overboard, though. I know classically trained musicians who can only play when they have a piece
    of music in front of them. That's too far at the other extreme.
     
  15. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    it's hard for me to memorize anything I'm not required to use

    at home playing does not involve the do or die pressure of live performance, so it's easy to forget what you learn

    playing regularly at, say, an open jazz jam provides the necessary terror: either you have the changes memorized, or you sit down

    it's that pressure that burns stuff into memory for me
     
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  16. ASATKat

    ASATKat Tele-Afflicted

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    Everything you said sounds good, but you left out the #1 "job" as a guitar musician,, you never mentioned the song, the melody, the music, the reason for playing in the first place.

    Sure the exercise goes from the 1st pos to the 12th pos, but how do you deal with the content? Do you just run scales and arps up and down in 8ths or you play melodies from the scale up and down? Noodle soloing from lo to hi is a great exercise. Practice scales and arps for 2 minutes, and then for 10 minutes don't stop soloing up and down, part way up, big leap down,,, while maintaining the continuity of the 8th note soloing or improv.

    And I can hear when the playing is disjunct, or not connected and lost in the haze of it all, and that's when I lose interest as a listener.

    In a nutshell, stop playing scales, start playing musical melodies with the scales.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2019
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  17. Harry Styron

    Harry Styron Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    If I'm trying to learn something like a chord melody or someone else's solo, learning it with a metronome seems to burn it in faster. I don't know why, but my guess is that if each note is tied to a specific beat, and would be wrong otherwise, I'm more likely to be practicing to reinforce the intended way, rather than the repeating imprecise ways of playing.

    Playing with the metronome also requires me to start slowly, which makes the exercise extremely deliberate.
     
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  18. Piggy Stu

    Piggy Stu Friend of Leo's

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    I was waiting to like the post where someone said they never got beyond E A and B, but I never found it and am going to slip out the door quietly
     
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  19. kbold

    kbold Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    Well, that sounds boring. My head aches just thinking about it.
    Perhaps after doing one pattern 100 times, try applying it , melodically (i.e. not running up and down the scale), to an actual song. That might actually be fun.

    You can practice scales for 1000 hours, but when someone asks you to play a song, ..................
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
  20. thunderbyrd

    thunderbyrd Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    thanks to all.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2019
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