Rock & Blues Piano Lessons › Forums › Learning to Rock! › practice tips
- This topic has 15 replies, 8 voices, and was last updated 8 years, 4 months ago by swingingdice.
November 18, 2013 at 12:01 am #2135rocker2Member
If you need help developing a practice routine, or would like to share your current one, look no further.
The important part in practice is to have a routine. Some people work best in the morning, others at night – it doesn’t really matter when you decide to practice so long as you keep it consistent.
The next part is to track progress. Many teachers recommend keeping a journal of what you’ve worked on and what you’ve accomplished, and it’s just as important to set goals and objectives – be it long term, or for a single session. Doing this will keep you focused on the things that matter most.
Having been to music school, I’ve formed an ear for which people are practicing and which people are playing – the guys who practice usually don’t sound so good. And that’s okay. Because the things that already sound good probably don’t need much more attention.
It can be embarrassing to struggle through practicing important skills, but it’s something that everyone has to go through in order to reach the next level. As long as you practice, you’ll get better.
I’d be curious to hear what times of days you guys practice, what things you’re currently struggling through (identifying your sticking points is a good start to resolving them), and how you’re working to solve those problems. Just remember: we’re all there with you, giving our support!
PeteRobinsonBassParticipantNovember 21, 2013 at 1:23 pm
I have always found that routine is the fundamental element to constructive practicing. Lately I have been trying to transcribe 4-8 bars every morning with my cup of coffee. I find that the coffee wakes me up and the short exercise gets my brain going!
What do you recommend for someone whose schedule limits them to commit to a block of practice time at the same time everyday?
- This reply was modified 9 years, 6 months ago by PeteRobinsonBass.
If your schedule isn’t consistent everyday, a good thing to do is to plan the week in advance, or to reserve certain things for different days. It’s like exercising: you might do your upper body on Mondays and Wednesdays, legs on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Of course, everyone’s schedules are different, and not everyone has time to practice everyday. As long as a predetermined block of time is set aside during the week to get in a good practice you can get some serious work done.
Another good thing to have is a practice log where you can list all the things you have practiced and need to practice. This is particularly useful for when you’re really pressed for time. It could even mean getting a few extra scales in during those few minutes reheating leftovers for dinner! Having a practice log saves time, because you’ll always know where you left off and what you have to do.
chuckleavellParticipantJanuary 22, 2014 at 11:05 pm
When you practice, the most important thing to remember about interpreting a song is to play it over and over again until it becomes your own. Once you have the song down, experiment with the arrangement and make it your own. Even change the key to one that suits you.
Hardtop HarryParticipantJanuary 28, 2014 at 7:50 pm
I find the most important things are repetition and limiting the number of things to practise.
If I am trying to learn 10 songs, a couple of technical exercises, a few licks, I don’t have time to really give each a thorough workout.
Bill Evans once said ‘It is better to spend 12 hours on 1 song than an hour each on 12 songs.
Repetition is the mother of learning. This is important for improvisers and non improvisers alike. I play it again and again until it is a part of me. I play it in different keys, change the timing, every trick I know. Then when I perform it I have the freedom to change it however the mood takes me.
And of course, there isn’t time for repetition if I am learning too many things.
There are time when you have to learn 25 new songs – when you join an established band – but most of the time you won’t have to.
irockuKeymasterJanuary 29, 2014 at 4:41 pm
Great point! Very few people can master all of the songs in our membership in a year. That’s more like a lifetime achievement. Picking 6 songs and making them your own would be a pretty lofty accomplishment for most of us.
irockuKeymasterApril 29, 2014 at 1:45 pm
Lot’s of people have asked “what’s the best way to learn”? Don’t stress about a right or wrong way to learn. The only right way for you is the way you enjoy the most. Here is a sampling of the different ways we’ve seen people learn. Pick whichever one works for you. Better yet, invent your own.
1. Some students only learn the groove charts. They practice the scales and chords associated with the song and then play the song however they choose by following the chord progression and working off the rhythm pattern of the groove chart. According to Chuck this is how most rock bands learn. Most are not classically trained but instead only work with chords and riffs to piece together songs. If you are classically trained you might feel guilty playing this way because you feel like you are missing something. But, heck, if it’s fun who cares.
2. Some students religiously learn all the groove charts, exercises, improvs, and lessons for a complete level( or a least a half dozen of the lessons) before moving on to the next level. The advantage to this approach is you are building a very strong foundation to grow from; the disadvantage is that it requires discipline and time. This is how most sessions guys probably learned to play.
3. Some students only learn to play the song ( ie the Lesson). They start at one level and gradually work their way up the levels. We have yet to find a student make it to a level 7 this way but a ton of students have worked their way up to level 5. FYI- level 5 is the level that most amateur musicians play when they perform with a band so there is nothing wrong with stopping at level 5. Some supplement the level 5s with the exercises and improvs of the level 6 and 7s.
4. Some students only learn the improvs. Lots of people just want to learn licks so they pickup the improvs and learn them in every key. They can then apply them to any song they want.
Bottom line is you should step back and experiment with how you learn best and what enjoy the most.
swingingdiceParticipantDecember 29, 2014 at 4:12 pm
I play piano and sing in a band,this is my job.How many times a day should I practice?How many times a day the professionals practice?Thank you
collindParticipantDecember 30, 2014 at 12:32 pm
On any level, whether or professional or beginner, the amount of practice time will always vary. So in a way this question has no right or wrong answer to it. My best recommendation would be to focus in on the aspects of your performance that you feel least comfortable with, and then practice that content. From there, you’ll be able to judge just how much time is needed per day. Your progress will always correspond directly with the amount of time you invest in practicing, so set your goals and schedule your practice time accordingly.
CaryParticipantDecember 30, 2014 at 12:45 pm
If you practice with your fingers, no amount of practice will ever be enough. If you practice with your mind, a few hours a day should be sufficient. When I’m preparing a repertoire, though, it seems to average out to 4 hrs a day.
Hard to give a prescription. The question is not how many times a day to practice, but how much time to dedicate to practice and what to practice. First, set some goals. Do you want to better your technique? Are their spots in a song that could use some work? What current skills does this work require (i.e. what are your musical needs), and what are your other musical aspirations? (In my case, I mostly play in a lot of rock/pop bands, but often like to practice jazz on my own time.)
Nobody has ever suggested to me a good practice routine, and I think it’s because everyone’s so different, and that practice routines change all the time because they need to be constantly adjusted based on where you are on your musical journey. Set routines, like scales then chords then rhythm etc, make practice boring, and it shouldn’t be. Practice should be purposeful – “what am I trying to accomplish?”
If it were up to me, I’d be on the piano all day, playing along with records. I’d recommend keeping a notebook of the things you feel you need to practice and review it before every session.
chuckleavellParticipantDecember 31, 2014 at 10:42 am
When I know I have some kind of gig coming up….a tour with the Stones, recording dates, gigs of my own….I start practicing about 2-3 weeks out. I’m usually up early and get to the piano around 6am. I do some stretches and exercises (like Hannon)….then just play some songs that I feel like playing or that I think I can find ways to improve. And I always try to do some improvisation in the mix…just blank the mind and let my hands take over. It’s sometimes tough when I’d rather be doing other things….working on the land, taking care of errands, whatever…but I think playing music is like being an athlete…when it’s time to gear up for the big event, big game…you’d better put in the time it takes to prepare!
swingingdiceParticipantJanuary 19, 2015 at 3:50 pm
Thank you very very very much for your advices !Your work is incredible.And sorry for my english,I’m french.
Okay but is it bad to practice too much? Something like 6 or 8 hours a day.I think it’s impossible to be efficient during 8 hours of work.
CaryParticipantJanuary 20, 2015 at 1:31 pm
I have had productive 6-8 hour days, but that is only possible, I think, if one takes breaks and clears the mind.
I would take a lunch and dinner break, and also some 15 minute “time-out” breaks to do something mindless like play pinball. Bonne chance!
swingingdiceParticipantJanuary 21, 2015 at 4:37 pm
Thank you very much Cary!
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