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CliffMcCartney

Session 4 - Thoughts and Question

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Hello Community!

I'm really happy with the course and with Steve's instruction. After trying a few other methods (online and in-person) I believe this course will work for me. I've had to swallow a lot of pride by "starting over" and being willing to look stupid. I've followed Steve's direction and done every exercise and played every song - course book and bonus book. So far, so very good.

I've been in session 4 for about 2 weeks now. I've made pretty good progress, but I'm now stuck.

I'm playing Minuet in G with the Jam Track at the fastest speed. I have worked up to the fast version after a considerable amount of time with my metronome and on the slower jam tracks, and considerable time before that practicing smaller pieces of the song. I have yet to play through the song at the faster speed like I want to. I'm trying to record myself, and I just can't seem to get a clean playing of the song. Even when I get every note right (pretty rare) I'm not happy with the sound. I want it to be smoother. It just doesn't sound right.

BTW - I have a whole new respect for recording artists. Man, that microphone (or direct box) doesn't miss a thing - every flubbed note, every string buzz or muffle, rushing, lagging, you name it - it just sticks out like a sore thumb.

I'm pondering a question that I hope is worthy of the group. Steve says to play slowly until you get it right then speed up - sometimes very slowly. He also says to break the song / exercise / whatever into pieces, then reassemble them. All this is in keeping with the concepts in The Talent Code (thanks @DianeB) by Daniel Coyle. In the book, Coyle talks about "the sweet spot." In talking about it he says, "Deep practice is built on a paradox: struggling in certain targeted ways - operating at the edges of your ability, where you make mistakes - makes you smarter."

Here's the question - when you're struggling a bit on the faster speed, do you go back to the slower speed until you have it perfect, even if you've been there before? Or do you stay with the faster speed, break it up, practice it until you can play the pieces perfectly 100 times, then reassemble the pieces? Or do you just "power through" it until it's good? Or something else? What do y'all think is best practice?

For Minuet in G I'm going to go back to about 75bps try to record that until it sounds like I want it to, then speed it up incrementally until I get to 88bps, which is where the fast jam track is. I'll break it up again if I need to. I'll do this even if it takes another week or two.

This song is not the only thing I'm working on. I'm playing the bonus exercises in session 4, and starting to pick through Fur Elise, as well as a couple of tunes from my Beatles easy guitar book. I'm spending a lot of time on Minuet in G because I want to record it and post it. Like Steve says - the completion of session 4 is a milestone and I want to make it special. I have a pretty bad case of performance anxiety and I'm trying to overcome it by playing for people - online and in person. I don't want to post or play in front of anybody until I get the confidence that I can play it like I want it to sound.

Sorry for the long post. I appreciate your patience, and thanks!!

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@CliffMcCartney Cliff, I think a lot of us share your experience. Finding the optimum tempo for practicing a piece, or even a small section, is like hitting a moving target. Every day is a little different. We’re human, not machines.

You’re in session 4. I would not be concerned about failing to play anything perfectly until session, oh, 25. Just don’t practice mistakes. By that I mean: don’t repeat the same error sequentially. Stop and diagnose it. Likewise, don’t worry that you haven’t eradicated it either. Seek improvement, not perfection. Struggle a bit, but don’t founder.

Play for anyone you can, every chance you get. The more mistakes you make for a friendly audience, the less concerned you will become about those hiccups, and paradoxically, you will get better faster. Play on! ?

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I think that once you can play the exercise with the metronome at a slow speed the only way you will get faster (at this level) is to speed up the metronome. Playing the tune slow over and over once you know it doesn’t really help you play it faster. Like you said, break it up and practice. Spend your time on the measures that are causing the problem.

 

 

 

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Many metronome apps have a training facility whereby you can select start and finish tempos and how long it takes to ghet from the first to the second. It is good for starting off a slow tempo and steadily, gently increasing the tempo as you practice longer.

If your metronome does not do this and you would like to practice this way, tell me and I can produce some audio files to help you: you just need to choose the start and finish tempos and how long you would like to practice for.

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First, what is the fastest tempo at which you can play it without hesitation? You mention "going back to about 75bps try to record that until it sounds like I want it to, then speed it up incrementally until I get to 88bps". That's the way to go, but it tells me that you're trying to get it right at 88bpm when you haven't mastered it at 75bpm.

Let's say I can get it right at 70, then I'll try 75. If  I feel then that 75 is a bit much, I'll go back and try 73bpm. If I still can't get it, then I'll do 71, 72, 73 and 74. By then, chances are I'll be able to get it right at 75bpm.

Diane mentionned not to practice mistakes; if you notice that you make a mistake in the same spot, then practice that measure separately.

Essentially, you need to help your brain understand the piece. Plowing through it too fast will not teach you anything and can get frustrating. For me, playing it well and playing it fast are 2 separate things and I can't practice both at the same time.

 

 

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All great advice above! 

What works for me when I get 'stuck' on a song or an exercise, is to slow it down - way, way, way, down. 

Then It seems I find the places that are an issue. It may be a measure here, or a measure there, that are just stressing my brain and fingers just enough to affect the performance. 

If I find any spots like that I isolate them and practice them very slowly, concentrating on the actual mechanics of my fingers and the pick getting where they need to go.  

Once I have ruled out trouble spots, gradually increasing the speed of the metronome seems to do the trick. Once I get to a speed where I'm starting to make mistakes or it doesn't feel fluid, I go back to the last one that was great. I never leave it at the mistake. I go back and play a few bpm slower and play it well to solidify that in my brain and muscle memory. 

Adding in recording is a whole different challenge! Seems like as soon as the 'record' button is hit things go crazy! But it does let you really hear where some of the challenging spots are, things you really don't hear when you are playing! Its really good to get used to this early on! :) 

Session 4 is a challenging session, so take your time! You are doing very well at only a few weeks in and already up to the faster jam-along tracks! :) 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Thank you everyone! I appreciate you taking the time to help me. 

All your advice is great, and it points out what is most likely my biggest problem - my own impatience.

I'll work on that too.

Maybe I need a metronome for my expectations :)

BTW - the bonus exercises for session 4 are pretty tough. Right now I'm playing them so slow they don't even qualify as music.

Edited by CliffMcCartney

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Great advice from all as usual.. so only thing to add for me .. is ….Welcome glad you are here!  By the way.. just for me , I have stopped and started this course over the years several times due to life , work and moving.. so "Its All Good"   You are doing fine. 

 

Whenever I play .. it makes me smile and grandkids love it!

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7 hours ago, K9kaos said:

All great advice above! 

What works for me when I get 'stuck' on a song or an exercise, is to slow it down - way, way, way, down. 

Then It seems I find the places that are an issue. It may be a measure here, or a measure there, that are just stressing my brain and fingers just enough to affect the performance. 

If I find any spots like that I isolate them and practice them very slowly, concentrating on the actual mechanics of my fingers and the pick getting where they need to go.  

Once I have ruled out trouble spots, gradually increasing the speed of the metronome seems to do the trick. Once I get to a speed where I'm starting to make mistakes or it doesn't feel fluid, I go back to the last one that was great. I never leave it at the mistake. I go back and play a few bpm slower and play it well to solidify that in my brain and muscle memory. 

Adding in recording is a whole different challenge! Seems like as soon as the 'record' button is hit things go crazy! But it does let you really hear where some of the challenging spots are, things you really don't hear when you are playing! Its really good to get used to this early on! :) 

Session 4 is a challenging session, so take your time! You are doing very well at only a few weeks in and already up to the faster jam-along tracks! :) 

 

 

This is how to practice. Is there a consistent place in the song where you encounter problems, or do you run into problems at different places when playing the songs through repeatedly? Isolate a problem. Switch between 2 or 3 chords to iron out any inconsistencies. Then add in a few beats before the problem area as well as a few beats after the problem area and play through this slightly longer snippet. Then start a couple measures ahead of the problem area, play through the problem area, and continue to play a couple measures after the problem area. Once you can play through those measures, try expanding to a larger section of the song. Do that a few times before running through the entire piece. 

And like Barbara mentioned, Session 4 is a biggie! In the past, Steve has mentioned maybe he should have broken it down into 2 different sessions. It's definitely one of the major sessions in LMG. 

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On 3/3/2019 at 1:13 PM, CliffMcCartney said:

Hello Community!

I'm really happy with the course and with Steve's instruction. After trying a few other methods (online and in-person) I believe this course will work for me. I've had to swallow a lot of pride by "starting over" and being willing to look stupid. I've followed Steve's direction and done every exercise and played every song - course book and bonus book. So far, so very good.

 

Cliff, first off, and most importantly, you did not look stupid.  Or if you did!,  we all have?

And secondly, SLOW IT DOWN!  I don't care what the issue, what the error, what the problem, what is frustrating you.  97.3% of issues can be solved by slowing it down.  As Barb ( @K9kaos) said,  " way, way, way, down".  I wish I would have learned this a lot earlier in my L&MG studies.  I slowed it down, but not enough.  I still get impatient and don't slow it down enough.  Just the other day I was working a blues lick that had a pull-off on the 5th string and it took a while to register to slow the #$%^ thing down!

Lastly, a couple above mentioned Session 4 is a "biggie".  It will take a while.  It took all of us longer than we anticipated.  If you haven't glanced at it or started it, the real "meat" for this session is in the bonus materials.  So be prepared to be here a while. 

And please keep us posted on your progress.

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