Practice Time Balance/Focus

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Thu Jul 26, 2012 3:24 pm
by uderoche (deleted)

Over the years of hanging with Pebber, probably, in my estimation, one of the, if not THE biggest question time and again is always, #1 WHAT SHOULD I PRACTICE and #2 HOW LONG SHOULD I PRACTICE WHATEVER IT IS THAT I AM SUPPOSED TO BE PRACTICING.

Time and time again this gets asked. Over and over again. The quick answer is this: Practice using Pebber's module practice sheet.

Then the question becomes WHAT DO I FOCUS ON or WHERE TO SPEND THE MOST TIME.

First let me say that if you are having a serious problem with something the best thing you can do is MAKE A VIDEO! And post it! Or, email it to me uderoche@gmail.com or Pebber. Often, it is very difficult to guess at what your specific problem is. Someone sent me a video the other day. I watched. He had a timing issue. So, the cure is drill timing exercises to the metronome.

Here is a typical day for me. Today I got in 4 hours of practice. The first hour I picked on single strings. I took a break. I did some isometric stretching, I drank some coffee, I smoked a cigarette. Hour 2 I worked my left hand with trills in various combinations. I took a break. More stretching, more coffee, smoked another cigarette. Hour 3 I worked on some country chickin pickin because I am not very good at that. I also worked on some fingerpicking by learning "Dust In The Wind" by Kansas. Fun. Took a break. Coffee, cigarettes. Hour 4 I worked on some Yngwie style pedal point licks and sweeping. I also worked on some slap guitar stuff.

Tomorrow may be different. I generally always start off with an hour of single string picking and an hour of trilling. The rest of the time may be different. Also, if I have a problem area, I will put extreme focus there. For example, my left hand. For 1 year solid I did almost nothing but left hand things working on trying to perfect the classical form. I did not work on picking much. I DID work on it some but it was not my main focus.

Some days, I would do nothing but left hand things for 8 hours. I believe Frakh actually holds the record for doing nothing but trills for 12 hours straight. That's what it takes. Usually, I have some things I like to play that are a problem. Some problem phrases. Maybe it's an Eric Johnson lick. Maybe it's a tapping thing. I will play those every day for at least 10 minutes straight with absolutely no interruptions and then move on to the next problem phrase for 10 minutes.

Practicing can be different every day. Or, it can be the same. But don't get caught in a rut. I have problems with ruts myself. Pebber would tell me to quit playing the same Paul Gilbert lick over and over every day for hours. But I wanted to play it faster and faster and faster! At some point, you have to move on to something else. You can always come back.

Where to put focus? That may be different for everyone. I was determined to straighten my left hand so I spent many hours a day working on it. And I continue to do that. But, now, my left hand is ok so I put more focus on other things.

I would guess that 99% of the people on this forum, if you desire virtuoso level technique should be doing this every day
1. Working on the left hand. Trills, ladders, spiders. Classical form!
2. Picking. Buy Pebber's picking DVD and also watch the Daily Practice Method video on youtube and follow along
3. Timing! With the metronome (also covered on the DVD)
4. Learn the scales from the pdf files. Memorize them using Pebber's methods outlined in the videos.
5. Have fun. Learn some licks, songs, improvise over backing tracks, create, write songs etc etc etc

You have to do all these every day. EVERY DAY. If not, you are getting nowhere. How much time you can spend on this is up to you and your current lifestyle. Do you have time to do trills for an hour? You need to make the time. Can you do picking drills for 1 hour? 2 hours? You need to make the time if you want to get very good. Are you learning the scales?

I hope this helps answer questions about what to practice and what to focus on. It's not just 1 thing. It's many things. However, do not get overwhelmed. Determine what your area of focus will be and drill it until you can't take it anymore. Once you get to that point, keep doing it. Then maybe move on to something else. You have to focus on a few things for a long time. Isolate your problem areas and spend the majority of your time there. I don't think some guys know what their problem areas are. So, they are guessing at what to work on. Maybe this? Maybe that? If you don't know what to work on, see above. If you work on all this every day and are having problems, make a video.

Pebber has told me "YOU SUCK! You gonna quit? Go ahead quit." And I would go back to the woodshed for more practicing. Pebber tells LOTS of people that!!!!!! Cuz he wants people to get better. But, that's if you want the virtuoso technique. Even if you DO NOT want virtuoso technique, but you DO want to get better at the guitar, same applies. The virtuoso technique just requires much more time to be put in. But, the methods of practicing guitar are the same for everyone.

Hope this helps

Cheers and happy practicing!


Last edited Thu Jul 26, 2012 3:57 pm | Scroll up


RE: Practice Time Balance/Focus

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Thu Jul 26, 2012 6:17 pm
by student • 146 Posts

Thank you for the thorough post!! I like the part on practicing problem areas. That is what I find so great about Pebber's technique, by going through the exercises you will find your problems. He leaves no stone unturned for sure

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RE: Practice Time Balance/Focus

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Fri Jul 27, 2012 1:59 am
by pebberbrown • 926 Posts

You guys are too kind with all the comments! You have to practice the same things every day over and over to get good at them. Thats the problem with 99% of all the people out there - they THINK they are practicing but they are just noodling and riffing and wanking. So many people wander around from one thing to the next and dont focus on much. I myself was motivated to do serious practicing when I was 17 as a student at the Berklee College of Music. I riffed around and noodled around all over the map before that. Its when I got to see and hear many many guys first hand in those practice rooms hour after hour that you begin to re-assess what kind of lame undisciplined fool you are yourself. Nothing like being around some total ass kicking serious motherfuckers every day to make you either quit and go home or have that "life moment" revelation and realize you want to join them or even yet - be BETTER than them. Thats what I did. There were guys that would hit the practice rooms after classes were over at 2 o clock and the would only stop practicing to hit the dinner cafeteria at 6pm for about a half hour then dump their dishes in the bus trays and head on back to the practice rooms until about 1 or 2 in the morning. After being around and watching guys practice like this- you start to blink pretty hard and start asking yourself - "jesus christ wtf am I doing????!!!!" Thats when you start to feel the motivation. Many of the ideas I got for my system had their originiations from just conversing with other hard core musicians at Berklee when I was there. After that when I went to Dick Grove, it was more of t he same but even more "On your own" intensity (the only TRUE WAY) because Grove was a commuter school and didnt have dorms and practice rooms - and Dick used to even say to us all the time "Its you against you man - thats the only real competition." However I needed the Berklee experience when I was 17 to get into the serious vibe that I was looking for. At the Grove school you never got to really SEE anyone practice they all did it at home and drove into school. You just got to hear them in real time when they were in the Jazz ensembles, combos and big bands and you got your ass kicked and vaporized!
True motivation must be the old "You vs. You" mentality and the corollary is if your are sucking you can also only place the blame on YOU!

I also got a lot of motivation from reading about Indian music and the disciplines of Indian musicians. Lots of books like "Music" by Hazrat Inyat Khan and also books like "Chasin the Trane" a bio of John Colttrane. The Indian musicians have been my source of conceptual ideas on practicing for the past 35 years now. They dont wander around and vary too much in their regimens. Those guys are the best.

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RE: Practice Time Balance/Focus

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Fri Jul 27, 2012 4:38 am
by jvieira72 • 21 Posts

It's very cool that you were able to get that motivation and achieve that kind of focus at such a young age. I'll be 40 in a few days and I still struggle with focus. I know some of it is might be because I was apart of the first generation to grow up on video games, but I don't wanna cop out like that. I've always had a hard time staying focused over long periods. It takes a very disciplined and motivated person to do what you and your students are doing and especially for so long. For me and I'm guessing many others out there. This whole thing is about consistently winning the mental battle. Since I started following your videos and practice guides my technique has improved immensely. I'm easily at the highest level I've ever been at and can play things I've never been able to play before. The difficulty I'm still having though is to have the mental toughness to make myself learn theory properly and to learn complete songs. Those two things always seem to beat me. So that's where I'm going to push my focus towards now. I read this forum everyday for motivation and to soak up a little bit of all the big brains that are running around in here. You and your students have a great understanding of musical knowledge and incredible generosity to share it and help people with their problems.

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RE: Practice Time Balance/Focus

in PB Guitarstudio FORUMS Sun Jul 29, 2012 12:27 pm
by John567 • 156 Posts

I have to admit that since February of this year (that's when I ordered the DVD) I have improved immensely. What I was doing, practice wise, was pretty close in philosophy with how Pebber has outlined in his modules. I had a practice routine that ran 4 hours and I had a checklist (sorta like the modules) that I would use to help me focus. I don't want to brag, but I can focus like a son of a bitch when I have to. Especially, when it comes to music. If I could quit my job.....

However, I was missing something. No matter how my I would change my approach I just didn't know how to improv my technique (speed). Even when I changed my routine, when I got the DVD, I wasn't sure if it would work. But, it has. Slowly yet surely I've seen steady progress. I've already exceeding my previous BPM comfort zones and see that it will take a bit of time but I have way more confidence in the material since coming across Pebber's videos on Youtube.

If you asked me to explain it, I don't think I could. If I had to, the only thing I could think of stating about it is that its intense. I mean really fucking intense. Looking back I thought what I was doing was intense but it was nowhere near. Think about it: picking on one string for an hour like underoche just mentioned.

I ultimately think what Pebber stated here and in another post is very insightful: want to get better? hang around guys who are better than you. There is one more thing I remember Pebber stating in one of his videos or maybe it was posted here in the forum somewhere: If your guitar teacher hasn't improved your technique he's an idiot.

I've been around a bunch of idiots for my entire life.

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