How do you clean up your playing?

Apologize in advance for all of these very basic questions as of late, but there are so many players here with so much wisdom it’d be foolish not to take advantage.

Anyway, how do you guys make your playing more accurate? I can play so many things, but so few of them can I play perfectly. Then when I play at practice with the band, I’m even sloppier. Then when I play live in front of a crowd, I’m even sloppier than that.

So how do I shore up these issues? Is it just repetition? Playing until I can’t play it wrong? Does it help to play it slowly as possible and then increase it via metronome?

It’s frustrating because things I have absolutely no issue with, like the chorus to “Sweet Home Alabama” will randomly give me trouble at a practice session and I’ll fumble it.

Do you sit when you practice by yourself and stand when you perform?

I had a piano teacher tell me one that if you make a mistake during solo practice, it turns into 10 mistakes during the lesson, and 100 in a public performance. I think it’s more of a folk tale than anything, but there’s some truth to the levels of increased environmental pressure that impacts your performance.

The reality is that there is no amount of ‘practicing to the metronome in the comfort of your bedroom studio’ that will ever prepare you for the adrenaline and nervous energy you experience during a show, so the only way to get good at playing live is to actually do it a lot.

That said, the mental aspects of practice are really important and a lot of this is covered in the Kageyama and Mazzoni interviews on CtC: https://troygrady.com/2016/02/05/masters-in-mechanics-the-science-of-practice/




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When you perform, what do you feel is causing these issues? Anxiety?

I feel ya…and I know EXACTLY what you’re going through. I get so upset with myself, looking forward to practice or a gig, and then I absolutely shit the bed. So frustrating!

I’ve made a BIT of progress in this area recently, and for me, it’s come from being honest with myself and drilling the passages I mess up in practice or playing live.

These are usually simple passages, but it’s almost a running joke in the band, wondering how I’m gonna screw the up!

I realized I wasn’t being diligent enough with my practice, and I wasn’t being honest with myself. At home, I’d play the passage pretty well, but I wouldn’t strive for perfection. So I decided to take those passages that were giving me trouble and force myself to play them 10 or 20 x PERFECTLY each day. If one note didn’t ring out true - try again. If the hammer on was rushed - nope, do it again. Vibrato sounded a bit off - you know what you’ve gotta do!

We had practice a couple of days ago, and I felt I played better. I still need to drill a few of these passages, but I think I’m on the right track.

As for those ‘random’ problems that crop up…I attribute those to focus. There’s a lot more going on at practice than there is at home. There’s even more going on during a gig. To overcome that, I’ll sometimes run through our setlist standing up, wandering around a bit, and try to read stuff on posters on the wall, watch TV, or stuff like that. Keep in mind, this isn’t my regular practice, but I do it to help train myself to better deal with distractions.

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lol yes. Been trying to fix that lately though.

Yep. I’m a very socially anxious person to begin with.

I love these videos, especially the ones with Dr. Noah. I’m not sure how what he’s saying translates to guitar practice, though. How do you purposely confuse yourself with upcoming guitar techniques? Using his tennis analogy, he says it was more beneficial to practice different tennis shots at random without preparing beforehand. So for example, you’d hit the backhand when necessary, forehand when necessary, etc.

How could we translate that to guitar? Just play a lick with a metronome and randomly decide to play it legato, or swept, or alternate picked, or inside picking, outside picking, and any combinations of this? Am I totally off here?

If this is the case, I don’t think the issue stems from practice / technique, nor will be it be resolved by improving the quantity / quality of those. I would say you need to desensitize yourself to performing with a group, and in public. I found that jamming with friends to songs that we like (but don’t intend to play out) or songs that we consider just all-out fun without taking ourselves seriously worked really well. Try to play some house shows where the crowd is mostly friends just messing around. Basically you need to increase your exposure level so that you don’t feel much different playing by yourself compared to a rehearsal or performance setting.

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I would also like to possess a simple answer to this :slight_smile:

Here is a mishmash of my own experience and things we have learned on the forum:

  • Record your practice, listen back critically and find what needs to be corrected, then try again. This seems more efficient than 10 repetitions where you may not be really listening to your playing.

  • if you can play a passage fast but sloppy, slow it down just a little and see if you can identify and correct problems. Don’t slow down too much because the motions may become different. Can use the recording/ listening routine also here

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Yep this is my experience also. Record and review. Apparently Yngiwe recorded himself a lot when he was learning his technique.

Also i am finding slowing down my recording really yields a lot if insights as well - not always good lol

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Well there’s a couple things to keep in mind when slowing down:

  • People will not listen to your music in slomo :slight_smile:

  • by slowing down you introduce artifacts, especially if you preserve pitch

So I personally do it only for very specific cases, e.g. checking of all notes are there in a given passage, but most of the time I just evaluate my playing from the normal speed recording. It’s often not pretty even without the slomo :smiley:

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Agree with your points tommo - the only player I have really slowed down my recordings to emulate is early Yngwie. I found that I have been really struggling to sound like him - and what I have realised is that a lot of his effect comes from extreme precision - and when I slowed down his recordings - particularly those early ones (Alcatrazz, Steeler) - is that they are basically played as well at 200bpms as if he played them at 120bpms! I don’t think I have come across another player that sounds as good as that slowed down - certainly not me!

One of the other things I have found is that for the really fast passages for my own playing - I can’t hear my own mistakes at full speed. My ear is not good enough to pick them up.

One example is on the Alcatrazz passage have been studying for months - I did a take at full Yngwie speed - synced up perfectly! Couldn’t believe it!. But something wasn’t right. When I slowed it down I picked up that I had swiped 2 notes and Yngwie didn’t.

I think some people here have a way better ear than mine for that - and if I had posted it they would have picked it up for sure. “InterestedOz - not bad but you swiped notes 15 and 31 etc.” :laughing:

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The thing I’ve learned is to be able to maintain any sort of virtuosity approaching Yngwie’s level is that it’s a full time job. Art meets athleticism, It may be possible to have a job and yet keep improving on the best version of your self with a lot of conscientious discipline. I find we do waste a lot of time on unnecessary things and then make silly excuses. I’m guilty of sucking time out of my day with reckless abandon often. I need to pull up my socks and get bloody minded about getting back on track.

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This is totally true. And this is partially why there are so many young virtuosos on Instagram. They cut their teeth during the best time possible, when all of the tutorial information you could want was free and at their fingertips. In addition to that, their brains are more plastic than ours are (I’m in my 30’s).

But the most important part of the equation is time. I remember reading about how Eddie sat in his room and played and played and played while his friends went out and played sports, or partied and met girls and so on. He stayed in and played. It takes an absolute ton of sacrifice.

It’s harder when you’ve got a full time job, a relationship, kids, etc. But I do think it’s still possible. It takes discipline like you said, but it also takes intelligent usage of the time we have available to us.

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