1. #1

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    We all go through this ...where you feel like nothing is progressing, frustration, disappointment, ...I've found it harder to break it the older I've gotten. Been very fortunate to study with some world class players, so maybe the bar is a bit higher after playing over fifty years. I remember Coryell telling me "when you have your breakthrough"...like it was inevitable. Well today felt like a wall came down. Playing along with standards my hands seemed to find the good notes and phrasing. However it was after several hours of straight practicing. Funny how that works. I heard an interview with Charlie Parker (it's on you tube) where he said he practiced 11 to 15 hours a day for three or four years. The problem I see is finding the inspiration to practice that hard. It seems to come and go the older I get.

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  3. #2

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    Not sure what to say other than the more time you spend playing or practicing, the more likely you are "develop" a breakthrough, and the more likely a guitar will be in your hands when it happens! To some extent, the "better"/more advanced you are, the smaller the increments of improvement you'll experience. And I might go so far as to say the more hard work and hours it'll take to improve those little increments.
    At any rate, the good news is you did just break through a wall! Bask in it and know that it will happen again if you continue to work for it!
    Great subject to post.
    Last edited by whiskey02; 06-15-2019 at 03:18 PM.
    Ignorance is agony.



  4. #3

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    As with changing strings, I am probably not one to give advice on practicing or breaking through, but over the years I have surprised myself at how I have picked up certain techniques or soloing skills without really trying. In fact, often these improvements come after I have put the guitar down for quite awhile—weeks for instance.

    I have seen this with other cognitive skills, including foreign language and writing, as well as with some physical skills like cycling, fly fishing and woodworking.

    Funny how the brain works, that it often improves itself when one is focusing the least on improving it.

    (Not to say that this is always the case or that practice is a waste of time, just that intense focus is not the only way to self-improvement and is sometimes an impediment.)
    “Without music, life would be a mistake”--Friedrich Nietzsche

    Current lineup: Gibson ES-135 ('02), Peerless Sunset, Harmony Brilliant Cutaway ('64), Godin 5th Avenue, Alvarez AC60 A/E classical, Kay K37 ('56), Fender Squier VM Jazz bass, several ukes. Amps: Fishman Artist, Fender SCXD, Pignose 7-100.

  5. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Jeff View Post

    Funny how the brain works, that it often improves itself when one is focusing the least on improving it.
    That's not even funny, it's so often the only best way. Want to get better timing? Invent better phrases. Want to collect better phrases? Test them with good timing. Want to learn some more arps? Focus on the most smooth and beautiful tone instead the notes themselves. Want to play inspired? This is never happens when forcing myself to do it.
    Seems like most of the brain's work is done on autopilot and it really likes minding its own business. Gotta learn to trust and respect that..
    Just an observation, maybe its just me

  6. #5

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    Also apropos of the above—from Fripp interview of John McLaughlin...

    McLaughlin: The most difficult thing, I think, in being a musician is to get out of the way.

    Fripp: How do you get out of the way? Do you have specific techniques or regimens that you use? Can you just get yourself out of the way without thinking about it?

    McLaughlin: If I'm thinking about it, I'm in the way. You have to forget, to forget everything. The minute we forget everything is when we're finally found.

    Fripp: How do you forget everything?

    McLaughlin: Oh, it's so hard...it's so hard because you're always looking for colors, for new scales, new chords, new ways to say what you feel. But to be able to say "I want to say what I feel" comes >from a selfish point of view. Idealistically, the music should take what it wants and so we should bear it open and allow it to be. That's difficult because it's a paradox, Robert. You have to know everything, then you have to forget it all. Learning is relatively easy. It's difficult to recommend how to get out of the way (laughs). That's what I'm learning how to do myself.

    Interview with John McLaughlin by Robert Fripp in Musician - ETWiki
    “Without music, life would be a mistake”--Friedrich Nietzsche

    Current lineup: Gibson ES-135 ('02), Peerless Sunset, Harmony Brilliant Cutaway ('64), Godin 5th Avenue, Alvarez AC60 A/E classical, Kay K37 ('56), Fender Squier VM Jazz bass, several ukes. Amps: Fishman Artist, Fender SCXD, Pignose 7-100.

  7. #6
    About Parker's 11-15 hours/day. I think during my 25 playing years, I've put more (total) hours into practicing. There is enough left for the next 25 years but.. The quality matters more than hours. Being excited will increase the efficiency so much - playing together. Being able to really really listen what is going on does the same. To concentrate 100% - easy to say, almost impossible to keep doing for such long periods. I had a thing I wanted to improve recently. Jammed for many hours and got it. The next similar thing with a fresh start, I accidentally entered into the zen mode and it took 30 minutes to get it the same place. Just decided to listen very carefully instead just banging them notes out zillion times.

  8. #7

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    Try to get involved with a different art form in parallel with your playing.

  9. #8

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    I struggle with this like most of us. Some days, i am pretty pleased with my time in the woodshed but those days are pretty rare. Most days I just work through what I am doing, knowing that practice doesnt make perfect - because for me my musical journey is always a work in progress. If I had multiple lifetimes and the guitar was the only thing i did, it still would be a work in progress. My goal is simple: I constanly want to be challenged in my efforts to improve. I know that I will never achieve the level of playing like the great ones or for that matter, a lot of the players on You Tube or this forum. I am okay with that as long as I strive to improve as much as i can. Hope this helps.

  10. #9
    Great posts. I have found that a lot of the long-way-round tangents - the seeming wastes of time - have improved my overall playing more than anything.

    Hal Galper talks about this experience in a video. He spent a ton of time on pentatonic and then had to play standards-bebop gig after all of that time away. He played fresher ideas than he ever had.

    His summary statement was: "All learning is global". I believe it.