OktoberStorm wrote:Hi. I'm having a hard time finding material on practice and how we learn that goes in depth. Is it optimal to change out etudes and exercises every three months for something new, should one practice the same plan every day or have a three or four day rotation, physiologically speaking is it wise to practice five days and not at all for two days etc. Questions like that.
I know there's a lot of opinions and personal experiences, but in this post I'm only looking for existing studies and literature. I'll post this same question to you guys when, or if, I've found something interesting.
John Harnum, a jazz trumpeter and guitarist, asked some of the same questions, spent about five years looking for answers, and put what he found in a book called "The Practice of Practice". He interviewed fellow musicians and scoured published studies about how musicians practice and learn--what works and what doesn't, and why. I found it fascinating, informative and inspiring. He talked to a broad spectrum of musicians: conservatory teachers, "outsider" street musicians, jazz and rock pros, singer-songwriters, traditional practitioners, etc.
For those who just want the gist, he distilled the practical wisdom in a shorter book called "Practice Like This".
Also, probably more prescriptive than what you're looking for, but specific to classical guitar: Ricardo Iznaola has written books about practice regimen and hygiene, including a specific and progressive technical study schedule called "Kitharologus". There's also Christopher Berg, for more focus on physiology and movement, and, while I haven't looked at it, Andrew Glise's "Classical Guitar Pedagogy" is well-regarded.
Hope that gets you started. Good luck, and keep us posted on your progress.
EDIT: I should mention that Harnum's book is extensively referenced, including links to web resources and a very long bibliography. Ricardo Iznaola's "On Practicing: A manual for students of guitar performance" is a very slim booklet that lays out the principles of good practice, and ends with a suggested reading list from which those principles were derived. "On Practicing" was reviewed recently on this forum.
To address one of your questions specifically, Iznaola recommends that, rather than trying to make a daily routine, practice should be structured around a six-day week, with the seventh day off; a plan not inconsistent with Harnum's findings. Harnum also found that practicing for more than four hours continuously has little benefit, with the point of diminishing returns beginning around the two-hour mark, generally. He reports that many full-time musicians seem to practice twice a day, with the break being significantly long and frequently including a nap, and he cites clinical studies that support the effectiveness of these habits.