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Newbflat 01-17-2022 02:09 PM

Practice time management.
I’m trying to figure out what is the best practice time management. If I play for an hour or so a day actual focused practices, what exactly should I do? I have always been a very unfocused flighty practicer and of late I really have the bug to focus and flush out what I want to learn. This is mostly bluegrass/ country/ Americana/ alternative acoustic music but not really focusing on leads. I really want to flush out my rhythm playing, fills and accurate playing. Anyway…. How does one manage there time effectively. Like do you dedicate a day to working on G runs ..etc, or basic open cord scales. Or do you split your hour between working on runs and a specific song for example . Or a day for runs, a day for a song or two, a day for playing along with songs working on bringing things together, then start again. Or as a friend said… do two days in a row of each and it will sink in better.. I know everyone is different but what works best for you? And does anyone have any pointers on the web for time management information?

TBman 01-17-2022 02:41 PM

I work on tunes, generally (finger style instrumentals). Sometimes I will devote some part of my practice time doing right hand drills though. When I say I work on tunes, I don't mean I just play them a few times through. What I will do is find the sections that are giving me issues and repeat those until my dog bites me, :D Seriously though, I'll work the tune as though it's a series of exercises, breaking it into sections and not moving to the next section until what's behind me is good.

Gordon Currie 01-17-2022 03:08 PM

Because everyone learns somewhat differently, and their goals are all different, there is no ONE TRUE time management strategy.

However, there are some helpful insights gained from neuropsychology that can guide you:

- Keep practices fun and engaging. For most people, this entails always including song work in the mix.

- Our brains are more efficient tackling smaller problems for shorter times than the opposite. Working on one thing for hours can often slow down the process.

- In general, an hour a day 7 times a week beats one 8 hour session once a week.
Whether you are building muscle memory or internalizing a technique, our brains need alternating focus and rest (I call this digestion time) to do their best work.

- Connect your practice time tasks with your goals. Whenever you practice anything, consider which goal(s) it is moving you towards.
(What? You haven't set specific goals?)

- Set specific and measurable goals. If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there - and you probably won't like 'there' after awhile.

Based on your self-description of 'unfocused flighty practicer', I will offer another suggestion. Find a teacher.

A teacher can answer these types of questions far more effectively than AGF members, since they can see and hear exactly what your current skills are, what your missing skills might be, and use your particular goals to create very personalized advice.

hatamoto 01-17-2022 10:18 PM

As someone who is also unfocused I find that the best way is usually the simplest. I also overthink a lot and it sounds like you do too, (correct me if I'm wrong). I used to have so many different topics in my practice that I just end up noodling aimlessly. Five hours had gone by and I haven't accomplished anything.

I can only relate my experiences so this might not be the answer for you but I hope it helps.

My goal is to not only play popular songs and covers, but ultimately I want to sound like myself and be able to express what I'm hearing in my head and come up with my own originals.

These days I only dedicate two areas in my practice: playing songs and composing. I can gain two days of work from my old repertoire using my current one. Playing songs will help me build specific motor skills in a fun and musical way. Composing whether if it's original, arranging or interpreting a song helps me build my theory chops and expand my vocabulary.

I also get burnt out easily, so if I get to a point where I'm just forcing it, I stop. If I need to take a break for a change of pace, I will do that no matter how long and come back renewed, but when I come back, I'm 100% doing the extra mile. I guess that's why I'm like this.

I don't follow a schedule. There can be times when I'm just focusing on composing, or improvising ideas for a week or more. I just follow whatever is more interesting for me at that point in time, but my topics are very much related to each other so whatever I'm working on will have some carryover. Sometimes when I haven't picked up my guitar for a week and when I feel that I need to "practice", I just play songs and analyze what's going on. My point is that you have to determine what your goal is and find ways to work on it that are the most bang for your buck. Eliminate the useless ones that you don't need.

So far everything has been working really well.

Any other exercises will serve as extra work or they can be warmups. For example, I could do 2-5 minute warmup of scale runs and triad pairs, just so I can see their positions and link them all together for review but I don't spend hours and hours doing that because the point is to make music. There's no point for me to drill a specific 2-5-1 chordal movement in its inversions in Eb because it's so specific that I'll just play it for what it is and I'll just forget. Positions will slowly reveal themselves as I write music anyways and I'll remember them much better because I worked for it.

Lastly, take lots of videos of yourself playing or record yourself. You'll be able to see your progress to further motivate you.

Robin, Wales 01-19-2022 08:47 AM

Start with the end in mind. Simple as that really. Work out precisely what you are going to achieve (such as have 3 songs ready for the next local open mic'). Then work out what you need to do to move from where you are now towards that end goal. Then just crack on and do it!

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