It’s been a while since my last log. The main reason is I kinda took a little break from regular practice to focus on other things. Even now I’ve not quite resumed my daily exercises. I was going to do that on Monday but busy evenings led to having to postpone it. I will go back to it next week, hopefully.
So meanwhile I’ve been mostly noodling over backing tracks as this is something I really enjoy doing and allows me to check where I’m at. And tonight I was finally able to record one of those sessions (not on video sorry). So have a listen below and please if you have any feedback let me know.
(If you’re having problems with the embedded movie, just visit this link to play it)
I’m starting to feel a little overwhelmed by the things I want to learn and the way I organise my practice. I’m now on week 17 of the Guitar Aerobics “programme” and a few things are starting to emerge as a result. Only there’s so much of it I’m not sure where to begin.
I guess the main thing is really identifying what I’m not terribly fond of, and it’s normally the arpeggios and sweep picking exercises. For the former, I think the main reason is just being tired of always playing along a Am C G Em chord progression, all the time. It just gets old. I get the point of the exercises and they’re very good warming up exercises (the last couple of weeks were anyway). But it’s previously been a pain to practice (literally), mostly because of awkward barred chords digging in my nerves. The sweep picking, I’ve ranted about it before. It’s my weakest point, I never manage to really practice it right and again, maybe it’s how it’s presented in the programme, but all you get to do is sequences devided in chunks of 7 weeks, where you do a chord progression in triads, first down, then up, then down adding either an octave or a 7th depending on the type of chord progression, then up again, then same again except you use legato and finally you put it all together in an impossible sequence of sextuplets. I’m not Rusty Cooley, this isn’t the sort of thing I want to play. So I do as much as I feel like doing, for the sake of doing it and then move on.
Not terribly inspired to write much about anything going on just now. This week has been taken by so many other worries that I’ve been struggling to catch up with my daily routine. Thankfully most exercises were either easy or not terribly inspiring which meant I didn’t really need to spend an awful lot of time on them.
Still, I’m still liking the hybrid picking exercises and this week we introduced what I can only call a “metal run” on the legato exercise. While you think it might be easy to play sequences of the same triplet over and over again, once you start gaining speed what you have to really work on is the hand to hand coordination and that can really go out of the window even if the picking is just fine. The exercise was supposed to stop at 120bpm but as with previous exercises, that’s where I started, only I could only take it as far as 144bpm before I lost the plot.
Over the last couple of weeks, there’s been interesting boogie patterns to work on in the rhythm section. I certainly wouldn’t have known to change the rhythm to a “triplet feel” if it wasn’t for guitar pro. Certainly some interesting stretches and patterns to find there.
Finally I’ve been playing a bit of Gary Moore again recently, I wonder why…
I’m now on week 15 of the Guitar Aerobics program. I’ve not really reported much on it lately because it’s mostly been same old, same old so nothing inspiring to share. Having said that there was an interesting bit of acoustic playing at the end of week 13 that still gets my fingers tangled up but sounds pretty cool, something to get back to when I have spare time (which in guitar time means “not terribly often”).
Of the new things I now try to incorporate in my playing, unison bends is probably the most prominent one. I’m still waiting for this shift in my head of seeing all those things I can play instead of the regular pattern I always seem to fall into. Today I did exercise 100, which means I theoretically know 100 licks I should be able to play. Since the majority are blues / rock types, there’s plenty of experiments to try. Sadly it’s a bit like spending hours learning Japanese and having conversations with your anime collection, the progress is still very slow. Still tonight was rather fun, as the 100th lick was the first country music lick and it also introduced hybrid picking which I’ve never tried before and though it takes a bit of getting used to, it’s actually really fun to use.
I’ve also had more time to try and strengthen my knowledge of Mighty Turtle Head and although the fastest I’ve been playing some bits is still just at 90% speed, it’s getting there. Last lesson I’d had so little practice I could barely remember what I was supposed to play. Speaking of lesson, we started looking at sus 4 and sus 2 chords which are really quite nice chords and got me thinking into trying to compose again, but there’s just one problem.
… then it probably is. Let me explain.
Last week, I’ve been both tired and ill (still am, at its worst, hopefully) and so skipped both Thursday and Friday sessions, which tend to be the two techniques I less enjoy practicing, that is arpeggios (I normally don’t mind but lately it’s been nerve biting barred chords on the lower neck) and of course sweep picking. Since today’s exercise on alternate picking is relatively easy, I thought I’d catch up on those two and make up for lost time.
The arpeggio exercise went reasonably well (though I now know why, see later), but I was surprised at just how easily I went all the way to 112bpm playing 16th notes in sweep picking. A feeling of pride and achievement was filling me up when I suddenly realised something was in fact really quite wrong. Last week, I’d been practicing bits of the solo of Satch’s Mighty Turtle Head and in order to cope with the speeds involved and to get the patterns under my fingers, I’d slowed down the loop to 45% of the normal speed. Unfortunately, Guitar Pro kept that setting (despite a crash earlier) and so I was proudly playing sweeped triads at 45% of 112bpm… oh dear.
So if you think what you’re playing is too slow, then it probably is, in particular if you really were struggling the week before just as you did in previous weeks. These things do get better eventually but this is a slow and hardly noticeable process unless you take regular snapshots of your upper limits at regular intervals in your practice. As it stands I could really only play that exercise at 76bpm by really putting some serious attention to it, and even then it was quickly quite messy.