What's your daily routine (if any)?

Since joining earlier this year, my daily routine has changed drastically and is serving me better than ever. What are y’all doing daily?

me:

90 min a day

5 min - Petrucci chromatic (new thanks to @joebegly)
5 min - Ben Eller 1234 “inside outside” picking (I do this to practice wrist rotation)
5 min - single position, single string bursting @tommo 's Yngwie exercise
5 min - Tommo’s full exercise
5 min - single string version of the Tommo exercise moving up/down scales
5 min - mix up the 1234 exercise (3214, 1432, etc)

then I do an hour of playing solos and songs like Tornado of Souls, Sails of Charon (ugh!) and others.

I track all this on a spreadsheet with the following data:

guitar used
pick used
tempos
pronation/supination (I’m slower supinated)
progress
what needs work

Right now I have nothing to do but play and study, currently my routine is something like this.

Drink Coffee
warm up for 5-10 minutes with some pentatonic scales or modes
stretch for 5 minutes
practice upward pick slanting for about 25 minutes through various routines
rest for 5-10 minutes, watch one of the videos here or on youtube
practice dual pick slanting for about 25 minutes through various routines
rest for 5-10 minutes, watch one of the videos here or on youtube
improvise for a couple of hours with frequent rest breaks, nothing strenuous, just working on new ideas and melodic stuff, maybe some song writing or riffing
have some lunch and more coffee
listen to music for a couple hours, get ideas, find stuff to transcribe I like, may pick the guitar up and figure out a lick or riff I like
more coffee
do a long practice sessions of 2-3 hours working on various things, varies per day I like to mix it up so I’m always doing something else, I never practice one thing for more than 10 minutes in a row. Hammers, pulls, string skipping, finger independence, double picking, triplets, quads, quintuplets, sextuplets, septuplets and eighth notes. I vary this between scales and arpeggios currently always with alternate picking. Sometimes I work on sweeping arpeggios, but I don’t really use that in my playing much so I just do it to keep the skill up.
eat dinner
I try to work on some kind of theory every day, the circle of 5ths, intervals, triads, inversions, singing and naming the notes and intervals. Usually for 30-45 minutes or so.

Most of this is wood shedding to get my level of skill back up to what it was before I stopped playing, so it’s kind of intense, but I learned how to relax and also when to take breaks and rest, which is super important.

I usually take Sundays off and don’t play at all and let my mind rest too.

My routine is rather boring, but I’ll share what I’ve been doing for a few months. It’s not always the same, but this is a basic template I currently follow:

5 min - Warmups
5 min - Sweep Picking (for fun mostly)
10 min - Attempt tremolo picking 16ths at 150bpm in bursts, with DWPS, on one string one fret
5 min - Attempt tremolo picking 16ths at 170bpm in bursts, with DWPS, on one string one fret
5 min - Tremolo picking 16ths at 90bpm, with DWPS, on one string one fret
5 min - Practice Two Way Pickslanting with a 10 note pattern (from Petrucci’s ‘Rock Discipline’)
5 min - Practice palm muting

And then I’ll noodle around for a bit depending on the day. Usually I’ll just continue attempting tremolo picking. So far no improvement, but I’ll keep at it. It took me years to be able to do UWPS tremolo picking past 130bpm, but it did happen eventually.

While I don’t keep a spreadsheet, I do jot down thoughts or observations about my playing in a text file. I also write down things that I need to remind myself to do during practice, like keeping my posture in check, for example.

The latest “Bulletproofmusician” article is a good read on practice routines and results. I recommend going back to part one as well. I put in an 1-1.5hours in mornings before work, mostly shreddy stuff. In the evening I put in an hour on piano (very novice), bass and timing work (percussion). I feel the evening stuff helps my guitar playing.

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Some more ideas to track while on a spreadsheet (i just mark them checked or not)

  • Recorded (playing piece back with a metronome or other kind of beat makes it easier to hear mistakes)
  • Doubled (I record part/lick twice and play those tracks in stereo looking for mistakes. Sometime if I practice something I would like to be able to play it again same way so I’m trying to make both tracks to be in time, no mistakes etc)
  • Standing up (just check if I could do it standing up, Makes sense when final goal is to play it live :smiley: )

Of course all things You did mention in your first post are great and I’m using some of them and might even adapt more aspects from Your spreadsheet like pronation/supination. Also I record DI signal so i can see clearly when i pick every note. If i would record amp it would be blurred so i just use DI signal with amp simulation for playback. And great playing routine by the way!

The pandemic has provided the opportunity for me to practice literally as much as I can fit into a day, but I notice I get caught up into one particular thing for an extended period of time. Ive never been taught how to form a practice routine, so ive always gone about it much like working out.

An example would be my legato practice lately. Ill work on one exercise for probably too long because Ive been going about it in a “reps/sets” mentality. Ill do various finger combinations at say 100bpm & then increase it to 105 & so on until I hit the proverbial wall, which will end up taking me at least an hour (I will start over the exercise at whatever bpm im doing if i make a mistake, or ill even slow it down again). When im reading on the posts above how you guys spend 5-20 mins on something & then move on makes me think im doing practice incorrectly. Any tips how I could time manage a bit better while still making progress?

I’ve done a fair amount of research on that myself as I tended to spend too long on things without seeing any progress. From what I’ve seen posted on the forums here over the years, watching other sources of information and reading about muscle memory and practice for martial arts and other instruments, it seems to be a general consensus that there is a period of time between 5 and 20 minutes where our brains learn and then our nervous system compounds this learning. I think this is what Troy means with chunking. After that time our system “gets bored” and you start to see diminishing returns. It’s an interesting subject, and deserves a lot more investigation and exploration. Part of it also avoiding injury from repetitive motion, especially if you aren’t doing something correctly, or burning in bad technique. My long time teacher says to me “Listen to your body”, which seems to be compounded here too and especially in Andy Woods interviews. As with anything else involving practice and learning, explore what works and feels good for you.

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This was a super helpful reminder about why it helps to not overdo something in practice. @GGREENE66 this article will answer your question.

I tend to think of this athletically as well - reps and stuff. Have you heard of “muscle confusion” where you do a few reps of something and then change to something slightly or very different?

this article’s concept reminds me of that — she talks about how the “play it ten times right then bump it up” doesn’t actually help us retain new abilities long term. rather, de-constructing what you’re doing can help get better results faster.

sometimes when I’m running a solo, I’ll limit myself to 3 times. Then I play something else. I still do reps, but I’ll purposely play a lick a few times and then just throw some other lick in the middle and then come back.

The word “practice” is super vague. It pays to be more specific about what you’re trying to accomplish. If there is a speed issue because your picking motion isn’t right, that’s a much more specific problem we can do something about. And it’s a very different problem, with very different solutions, than trying to memorize a new piece with technique that’s already giving you what you want as far as speed and smoothness. We may call these two things “practice” but they are not the same.

If you get this wrong, the reps / sets mentality can lead you down some unproductive roads. We had a thing with @joebegly a few days ago which was this very protracted conversation about reps and sets mentality for trying to build speed. In the end, it turned out not to matter - the lack of speed wasn’t due to lack of training. It was due to the motion being wrong, which we were able to diagnose with video. Switching to a different form produced an immediate speed bump of 20-40bpm in the picking hand. Joe can confirm if that’s still the case or if we have to go back to the drawing board on that.

But either way, try to determine what specifically you’re actually trying to accomplish. Learning a new motion or skill where you might not actually even be doing it right lives at one end of the spectrum. Learning a new piece with technique you already have lives at the other, and is mostly a memorization challenge. There are lots of other problems but those are the two classic cases we need to learn to discriminate between.

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Nowadays working on anything new or difficult to play and creating content for students.

In the beginning it was all about learning the neck and exercises from Instructional videos, which were VHS for all the kids on here.

I try to at least work on everything a bit, although focus shifts from day to day.
So that includes alternate picking, economy, sweeping, legato, hybrid, improv and learning full songs.
The ideal thing would be to just be able to combine the technique practice with improvisation, but when I improv I just fall back into my safe zone of easy 3 nps alternate patterns and Satriani style legato. So the middle ground for me is to at least exchange the metronome with a backing track and force myself to do technique xzy. It helps that I just bought half of Rick Graham’s store and some JTC stuff as that mostly includes very cool backing tracks.

Yeah, I can pick way faster using the setup/mechanic you coached me into. The 20-40bpm is no exaggeration either. Now, I cannot control this movement or get my left hand to keep up with it at its top speed of ~220bpm, but the fact that I can even move my picking hand that fast is amazing to me. I can now clearly see that doing reps/sets with the motion I did prior to this would never have led me to this speed. Doing reps/sets with the new motion in chunks, gradually chaining in more notes and stitching multiple chunks together, at speeds slightly below or near my max are going to be key for getting the control and stamina I need though. At least I think!

But to respond directly to the thread, I have no routine. I’m done with all that. Years ago I would do things like play every scale/mode in every single key, then do metronome practice, then work on site reading <insert other dogma that makes the whole thing take up 4 - 5 hours worth of time> etc.
I’m just playing for fun right now. Typically playing etudes that play ball with DSX. Long term goals are to be able to play any EJ or Synyster Gates solos that I’m in the mood for at the tempo on the record. I’ve been close to this most of my career but due to stubbornness and not knowing about escapes made the final 10% of the speed never happen. Seems totally doable now, with some practice and awareness. I’m gonna have to get real creative with the EJ stuff since DSX is more natural for me…or eventually get back to working on USX and just pick a better motion mechanic than what I was trying to shoe horn in before Troy knocked some sense into me. Wrist or forearm. Elbow is out for USX!!!

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@joebegly where can I learn more or see what what you worked on?

Sounds like we have much in common. Learning Marty Friedman solos, there’s a lot of stuff I play differently than him. USX challenges me but I’ve adopted some of it in the tornado of souls solo.

( after months of struggling to really play those fast two string arpeggios evenly, I took Marty’s own advice and found a way to play that that I can do consistently well every time – now I just tap it.)

Awesome and helpful as anyways @Troy. I hear this as years of practicing non productive motion won’t magically make it productive!

So… what do you do when you practice, Troy?

Thanks for the replies, everyone!

I’m an open book, man :slight_smile: What are you referencing specifically here? Like, specific etudes I’m doing at the moment? EJ solos I’m trying to work up to speed? All the stuff I wasted years of my life on (which I don’t recommend) like all the modes in all the keys? Let me know and I’ll get some stuff together for you. Though, full disclaimer, I’d strongly caution anyone against doing things I’ve done. Before I changed careers I put my entire life into music and heavily put preference into conquering the guitar. The fact that I’m still just “pretty good” (by the standard of average guitarists) and not “great” are a strong indicator I do not have good answers :slight_smile: Even after immersing myself in CtC concepts for 6 months, once I submittied a technique critique it was pretty clear I still just had not gotten it. I truly thought I was on the right track too! What I was feeling wasn’t quite reality. As much as there are ‘naturals’ with the intuitiveness of Yngwie, I think I just may be the polar opposite on the non-intuitive side hahahahaha! But, I enjoy the process and I’ll keep playing. It’s fun.

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What I wrote must not have been very helpful if you’re still asking me about “practice”. :slight_smile:

Kidding aside, again, practice is an umbrella term that doesn’t tell us anything about what the person is actually doing.

Am I learning a new piece with some existing technique I already have? That’s mostly memorization. Conservatory-trained musicians have all sorts of great advice for this which almost always boils down to playing shorter sections of the larger piece from as many different starting points as you can and then stitching them together.

Am I trying to learn a new motion where I have no idea how to do it correctly? What step of the process am I at? Can I do it at all, or am I completely new and have no idea? The newer you are, the more you do totally random experimentation at normal motion speeds to try and “get the hang” of something. The more familiar you are, and sure that what you’re doing is correct, the less random you can be, and the wider range of motion speeds you can include (slow and fast) to try and increase accuracy across a wide range of common songs / phrases / picking and fretting patterns / etc.

Again, we need to stop asking about “practice”, and start talking more specifically about what activity we’re performing, and what step of that process we are actually at.

I think terminology we’re used to is hard to shake. I don’t advocate excess sugar, but I’ll often ask for a ‘coke’ when I just want some sweet carbonated beverage haha

We’ve heard the term thrown around so much over the years it’s hard to disassociate “Time with guitar in my hands” from the word “practice” I think. You’re right though. If we can’t agree on what words mean, conversations are difficult. I was the only one in my band who knew theory, and writing sessions were always interesting because my bandmates couldn’t understand what I meant, and the words they used to describe what they meant didn’t mean what my ‘proper’ definition of those words were haha.

I think what @jjsnibor is getting at, and I’m sure we’re all a little curious about since we look up to you and your accomplishments, is “What does Troy Grady do when he has a spare 30 - 60 minutes and he chooses to spend that time with a guitar in his hands?” Probably a different answer every time that scenario presents itself I’d imagine. Plus, you have different demands than the rest of us. If you’re about to film something, you need to be solid enough on it to demonstrate it with authority. If you have this spare 60 minutes tonight and tomorrow you’re going to film yourself showing crosspicking, my guess is some of that time goes to crosspicking.

Do you ever find yourself doing ‘maintenance’ on the various picking techniques you show? If so, would you play solos that employ that technique, or an exercise that exploits it more? Stuff like that, not to put words in @jjsnibor’s mouth or anything.

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Once you get to “maintenance” very, very little work at all is needed beyong semi-regular playing for fun. It might be interesting to ask if certain skills require more or less than upkeep than others, but I think the answer is still that very little is required overall. Way, way less than seems to be the general impression.

Look at Batio. He didn’t warm up at all when he did the live interview with us. But I was tooling around with cameras for 20 minutes or something because stuff wasn’t working. So he was chit chatting with people with the amp off and I could see his hands were moving some of the time. But he wasn’t paying any attention to that. When we were finally ready to go, the first three sweeps in the “Rain Forest” intro tune were off, everything else was fine.

So yeah, if I can reach “maintenance” mode on anything I no longer pay much attention at all to that. That is in fact the test for whether I’ve reached maintenance mode. If it’s just there all the time, then it’s probably learmed.

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I meant I’d be interested to see the before and after of the work you did with @Troy to increase your speed 20-40 bpm on that particular passage you guys were referencing.

no, you nailed it Joe. I didn’t think to use a different term other than “practice”.

so I’ll ask again with different language ---->

What do you find challenging when playing guitar right now @Troy and where are you in the process of addressing the challenge?