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  1. #1
    Hey!

    Never stumbled on this topic here or anywhere really.. Seems like this is one of those common sense issues that wouldn't need a second to waste on but if thinking back, the focus.. concentration.. , it seems to have more properties than just the % when it comes to improving something on the instrument.

    So, to kick this off, what to you do to get more focused?

    And don't hesitate to say "hell with this topic" if you think that way But explain then pls

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  3. #2

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    I found that studying the works of Gurdjieff as translated by PD Ouspensky were a great help to improving concentration and focus, in all aspects of life. On top of that, the Gurdjieff school was recommended to me by Barney Kessell, whom I consider my mentor in many ways, both in guitar study and living the musician's life. A direct result was to increase my "practical" concentration time for practice from 20 to 90 minutes over the years. I always start the day with a 90-minute warm-up practice session, then do 15-20 minute sessions throughout the day when life allows. Barney also encouraged my habit of a 20-minute nap (he called them wolf-naps) in the mid-late afternoon on the day of a gig. Refreshing and invigorating, and making those late-night gigs much more enjoyable.

  4. #3
    Thanks. I'll check him out.

    The reason for this topic come up for me - I got another long term goal and "putting hours" as usual would take another 10 years to achieve. So I started to really chill,relax and trying to really listen very very carefully instead doing that usual finger marathon. Suddenly every external sound become a distraction. Super annoying. This was completely new experience for me and figured I've never actually practiced in this 100% concentration state of mind. Felt important..

  5. #4

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    Wake up

    Coffee

    Practice


    A good strong cup of coffe gets me through the first hour and a half or so of practice. I make sure to work on my main objectives/goals during that time as to be most productive.


    So, yeah. Coffee helps.

  6. #5

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    Good topic! It's something that I wrestle with.

    I spend a lot of time in front of my computer where I have a spreadsheet that I use to track and note what I have worked on each day. I also have pdf material on the computer for stuff I am working on.

    Although I think the computer is great for many things, I find unscheduled breaks can be longer than planned, and not that restful if I do not step away from the computer. I find towards the end of the day I also like to practice with some kind of spoken dialogue or video (spoken word only) in the back ground. I am questioning that.

    I am revisiting the use of a "Focus" app, where you essentially set a timer for approximately 25 minutes, and really focus on what you are trying to do, and then take a real planned break, where I step away from the computer, walk, or stretch. I think that will be better for focus and also better for personal health.

    Danielle

  7. #6

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    Coffee?

    I find I have to careful here. I love coffee in the morning, however I find with a little too much, I can get a little shaky. I also find that playing can become more difficult. I get too much muscle tension in my hands and I find it almost feels as the muscles are fighting each other instead of staying relaxed.

  8. #7

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    Coffee is one of those things that can be good or bad, depending on the individual. Personally, I don't want to even contemplate life without coffee. I could give up almost anything else before coffee. I can feel when I have enough, and I stop drinking. This is through many decades of experience. But some people can't handle caffeine well, and can overdo it quickly. Like any other chemical compound, its effects vary among individuals, so there is no optimal dose that works for everyone. Drink a lot, a little, or none, whatever works for you, and don't fret about it.

  9. #8

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    When I was studying classical guitar with Aaron Shearer he told me that you should always take a 5 minute break after every 20 minute practice session.

    He said that there were psychology bell-curve studies that proved after 20 minutes your ability to learn and retain new information dropped to almost zero.

    So I always get up and wander around the house for 5 minutes or so after practicing for 20 minutes.

    Regards,
    Steven Herron

  10. #9

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    To add to the 20/5 thing, it’s important to take a break doing something that doesn’t engage your brain too much. Going outside, closing your eyes, having a smoke, whatever - these are fine. Checking emails, reading news, or watching TV that gets your mind going hurt your ability to easily get back into the swing of things when the break is over.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu View Post
    what to you do to get more focused?
    Nothing. If I'm interested I can stay focused for hours. If I'm not interested then I wander - in which case I go and do what I am interested in!

  12. #11

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    When I find I'm just going thru the motions (e.g. weekly jams become too routine), I recommend a few new songs that I really love that I have avoided due to their complexity (or just being too lazy), recommend these to the others, and we agree which songs to focus on.

    This gets me motivated especially since I don't wish to go to the next jam and hack at something I said we should focus on!

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Herron View Post
    When I was studying classical guitar with Aaron Shearer he told me that you should always take a 5 minute break after every 20 minute practice session.

    He said that there were psychology bell-curve studies that proved after 20 minutes your ability to learn and retain new information dropped to almost zero.

    So I always get up and wander around the house for 5 minutes or so after practicing for 20 minutes.

    Regards,
    Steven Herron
    I have read that even within those 20 minute sessions, that our brains are less attentive after just a couple of minutes. So it can be good to have multiple little subjects to cycle through, for example an awkward chord change, a large leap or stretch, a complex rhythmic figure, etc. spend no more than 2 minutes on each one before moving on to the next, so your brain is always tackling something fresh. It can be difficult to let go and move on before you feel you’ve “accomplished” the task but I think you do get more out of the time spent doing this. I have often been guilty of banging away too long on the same issue. In general I find this technique easier to apply to learning non improvised material but it has a place in jazz. An hour and 15 minutes doing this goes by SO FAST.
    Ignorance is agony.



  14. #13

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    When I was studying in the past and what I'm trying to get back to doing is this. I have several things that I work on. Ear Training, chord voicing's, single string arpeggios - then positional arpeggios with embellishing notes like b2-7-1-3-5-7-1, 1-4-b3-3-5-7-1, 2-b2-1-3-5-7-1 etc. rhythm exercises, and songs. I cycle through each one for 20 minutes each and try for 2 times each. More for some. I keep track of everything and find seeing it motivates me. I also have ADD so if I don't structure my time and use an alarm set for 20 minutes I could easily find myself picking a subject and getting lost in time with it. Now some people will say ADD = Hocus Pocus. Unlike those without it. I can take my Ritalin, drink a pot of coffee and fall a sleep like a baby. Now that I'm getting older that happens to often after lunch!

  15. #14
    Last night another cool thing happened. Practiced solo on Stella without lights on but 2 screens lightning the room (inspired by that other thread here ). Eventually the monitors switched off and kept playing in complete darkness. I just kept going but instead pushing anything with the solo, I just let the fingers play. Cant say it was better than anything before but the sensation was very different again. I was kinda divided - consciously observing but the other me (um.. responsible for the playing), I just let it do what he wanted for a while. It was not like noodling, the solo did make sense. Also, I could carefully nudge the lines off from the comfort zone and check if the "other me" could handle it. The difference with the usual was that I always got distracted (could still play though) and often stopped even caring about how it really sounds - "cuz its practice whatever". I thought I could do it for long hours like that but had to go to the bar shortly after.