Learning efficiently?

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lurch
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Learning efficiently?

Postby lurch » Sun Sep 25, 2016 10:43 am

Hello everyone! I'm long time lurker on this board and I'd like a little advice.

I'm self-taught, not playing exactly classical, more like "fingerstyle" on classical/flamenco guitar but this is my go-to forum when I need any help.
I play for about a year now, usually video game soundtracks, movie soundtracks, few classical pieces, popular rock songs, newly starting with flamenco and so on.

Anyway, my question is – how do you learn/study effeciently? My usual sessions usually start by playing few pieces I know and am able to play decently, play them like a warmup, after that proceed to a new one I want to learn, play it very slowly, with pauses all the time, once, proceed to a next new one, play it very slowly, with pauses all the time, once again and basically doing this for the rest of the session.
However I feel that learning so many pieces parallelly isn't doing me any good and I feel like despite my overall technique improving, there's very little progress and I actually wasn't able to master any of the pieces I know.

So should I change it to just repeat one piece over and over again until I'm happy with it and after that proceed to a next one or is it okay to learn a lot of pieces at once and it will all just catch up at some point?

Thanks a lot in advance.

And sorry for my english, not my first language obviously.

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Re: Learning efficiently?

Postby GeoffB » Sun Sep 25, 2016 11:06 am

Hi Lurch, welcome to the forum. Could I ask you to introduce yourself here?

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JamesMessick
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Re: Learning efficiently?

Postby JamesMessick » Sun Sep 25, 2016 11:31 am

I think you should work on no more than a few new pieces until you master them. And watch out for the pauses because they tend to stick around. My teacher taught me to work on a measure and finish on the first note of the following measure, that way you don't teach yourself to pause at the end of a measure.
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Re: Learning efficiently?

Postby lagartija » Sun Sep 25, 2016 2:21 pm

Hello Lurch, don't worry... your English is perfectly clear. :-)

The most efficient way to learn is to have the guidance of a good teacher. It is often difficult to recognize your own weaknesses, whether they be technical or musical understanding, because when you are playing, you are too busy doing other things to notice them. Having someone observe as you play and direct you to work on the biggest weakness that stands in your way is priceless.

There are some useful books on practicing that you might want to read.
On Practicing, by Ricardo Iznaola [ISBN 978-078665873-2]
The Art and Technique of Practice, by Richard Provost [ISBN 0-9627832-0-X]

In both of these books there is a distinction made between "playing" and "practicing".
Both recommend that you practice with a particular goal in mind, not just "I'm going to work on this new piece."
They tell how to create a practice schedule, keep a practice log, set realistic goals, etc.

Working with a teacher is helpful when you have tried everything you know to solve a problem, but none of those solutions have worked. Also, a good teacher will know when a piece is way beyond your abilities , and suggest another piece or etude that will help you build the skills you need to play the piece you really liked.
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lurch
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Re: Learning efficiently?

Postby lurch » Thu Oct 06, 2016 10:28 pm

Thanks guys!

James, you're right about the pauses, I'm struggling with them all the time, guess I should work on that.

Lagartija, the point about the particular goal is excellent. I tried to implement it into my sessions last few days and it proves to be much more efficient!

I decided to try record myself playing to hear it without my tryhard brain getting distracted by plaing. I was actually quite shocked how terrible especially my rhythm is. Do you think it is a good idea to practice the rhythm by someone on YouTube - earbuds plugged in, slow down the video and try to hit all the notes precisely as the guy in the video?

Thanks again in advance!

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lagartija
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Re: Learning efficiently?

Postby lagartija » Fri Oct 07, 2016 12:37 am

The problem with rhythm for many beginners (myself included when I first started) is that we are attempting to play faster than we can play at a consistent rhythm.
First, play a piece while counting out loud. Counting out loud is very important. When you can play and count the piece, then turn a metronome on a very slow speed...maybe half the speed you think you can play it. Now you can coordinate the sound of the metronome with your count. I remember the first time I did this, I had great distortion in time; the easy parts were played faster and more fluidly than the more difficult parts. Using the metronome helped keep that count "honest". Some people can use the metronome from the start, but I found that did not work as well for me. Singing the count first and practicing that prepared me for successfully being able to play, count AND listen to the metronome. Trying to do all three from the beginning was more than I could manage; like juggling too many plates in the air at once!
You may be able to do all three from the beginning, but if not, try adding a "responsibility" one at a time and see if that helps.
The key is trying to do this in small sections at first...not with the entire piece. We often take too big a bite of the piece, rather than taking it in manageable pieces. My teachers had to keep telling me that in the beginning. It took me a few years before I could control my urge to tackle too much at once! ;-)
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lurch
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Re: Learning efficiently?

Postby lurch » Fri Oct 07, 2016 10:06 am

Thank you, will try that.

What do you think about the practicing by a YouTube video? There's a handy slow down feature.

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lagartija
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Re: Learning efficiently?

Postby lagartija » Fri Oct 07, 2016 12:06 pm

How do you know that they are playing the piece correctly? There are many bad examples that can be found on YouTube . I think that practicing with the metronome is better, then recording yourself if you are not working with a teacher so you can evaluate how well you are doing.
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Re: Learning efficiently?

Postby Adam » Fri Oct 07, 2016 5:15 pm

Playing pieces you like is important, but you should also consider adding a method or two.

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Re: Learning efficiently?

Postby Linda » Fri Oct 07, 2016 10:38 pm

All great points from Lagartija. I highly recommend the guidance of a good teacher, so that they can show you how to do things. You will progress much quicker I think. I can remember having such a hard time just figuring out where to place my fingers on the fretboard for a certain piece of music I was trying to learn. My teacher made that process so much simpler.

The best of luck, and just keep at it.

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Re: Learning efficiently?

Postby mcmurray » Fri Oct 07, 2016 11:11 pm

Engage your ears at all times, with the goal of developing an ear to fretboard link. Look into ear training using solfege and have a think about how this can be related to the guitar.

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Re: Learning efficiently?

Postby Linda » Fri Oct 07, 2016 11:55 pm

mcmurray wrote:Engage your ears at all times, with the goal of developing an ear to fretboard link. Look into ear training using solfege and have a think about how this can be related to the guitar.

Yes, that is another excellent point.

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lurch
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Re: Learning efficiently?

Postby lurch » Mon Oct 10, 2016 12:31 pm

lagartija wrote:How do you know that they are playing the piece correctly? There are many bad examples that can be found on YouTube . I think that practicing with the metronome is better, then recording yourself if you are not working with a teacher so you can evaluate how well you are doing.

I'm pretty sure the guy plays is correctly. He's a classical guitar teacher. You can look him up, his name is Jonas Lefvert, he's great.

Anyway, I tried a combination of metronome and playing simultaneously with GuitarPro app or YouTube and I feel that my rhythm perception and ability to play improved tremendously. I pretty much managed to eliminate those annoying pauses during the more difficult parts.

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Re: Learning efficiently?

Postby markodarko » Mon Oct 10, 2016 12:52 pm

This all depends on what your goal is. Do you just want to play the odd theme tune etc or would you like to one day tackle more demanding pieces? If the latter then it will take you far, far longer to learn those pieces if you don't first build up your technique through exercises etc. before tackling them.

Think of it like building a house without foundations. At first everything will be ok. You may even be able to build up to the first floor, but if the foundations aren't solid then eventually it'll all come crashing down. You could also get injured in the process.
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Re: Learning efficiently?

Postby 2handband » Sun Nov 27, 2016 9:46 pm

I didn't read all the responses, but I'll throw in my two cents. There are three things that keep aspiring guitar players from achieving the skill level they want: not enough time practicing, not practicing the right things, and not practicing the right way. The latter of the three is by far the biggest problem, and the one teachers don't talk about nearly enough.

So a few tips for correct practice:

1) Don't play note number two till note number one sounds perfect... every time. Don't play note number three until you can play both notes one and two one after the other flawlessly... every time. Master each challenge before moving onto the next.

2) If you are making mistakes you are playing too fast... period. End of sentence. Think about it: if you make mistakes when you practice you are practicing mistakes. I hope I don't have to explain why this is a bad idea.

3) Isolate problems. If you have one transition that is holding you back, plowing through the stuff you can already play well to get to it is a colossal waste of practice time. Isolate the one problem area and beat it to death.

4) As a corollary to #3, there is a difference between playing and practicing. Don't waste practice time on stuff you already play well.

5) Use a metronome. It keeps you honest and improves your sense of time.

The above might seem tedious but it gets results. You'll get more out of spending two hours nailing down one little challenge than spending that same time divided into five or six parts. Do it this way and you'll progress ten ties faster than you did before... this is not an exaggeration. Eventually you get into a sort of zenlike state where the repetition is fun. Might sound weird, but you're talking to a guy that in his early days spent three hours a day for over two weeks playing the first four notes of a guitar solo over and over until he got them up to speed...


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