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What is your practice regimen?

I'm pretty good at coming up with a practice regimen and then basically ignoring it because I get distracted and noodle. However, with the addition of a couple of ideas and things I've been reading, I've generally been sticking with a (sorta) daily schedule. The noodling eventually finds its way into each session, but I try to get some work done. I have anywhere from an hour to two hours during the week and double that on weekends (if I am not obligated to do something and if I get up before everyone.)

It looks kind of like this:
Warm-up - this varies by week. The key is not tempo, but accuracy and feel. Relaxation. I'll try to get some rhythm in here.
Old solo - one that I've previously learned and that I attempt to get up to tempo. Two days a week, I'll try to really push the speed. I'll try to get some rhythm work in here.
Licks - I'm either playing an etude (like Anthony suggests in his book) based on licks I may have learned from various solos in something I've pre-constructed or I break down the old solo ^ and try to play as many licks as possible in all keys.
New Solo - work on something I've chosen to learn by rote. I work on this until I can do it without a playalong (with just a metronome) and then try to work on speed. I've ignored much of the rhythm kick stuff that may go on in a song until I've been trying to work on that as well.
New song - learn the head as well as I possibly can, learn changes, try to compose an etude for the above.
Free play - non thinking get my fingers moving noodling.

Saturday or Sunday is basically my reset day, where I attempt to set the agenda for the coming week.

Timing for each of these is kind of tough. I try to keep the bulk of the practice between the middle three things in a session. So if I have an hour, about I spend about five to ten warming up, forty to forty five minutes on the middle bit, and end off with some playalongs. If I'm sitting on the couch after dinner, I'll noodle through stuff.

Curious as to what others are doing who have limited time to practice.


  • On guotar I have given up trying to structure my practice sessions. I too get distracted. I work on the parts of songs where I have had some progression not go completely fluidly. One thing that I really make an effort to do is practice really slowly focussing on smooth relaxed hands.

    On Sax I spend time on the altissimo long tones, tech exercises and scales, sight reading, learning new phrases and improvising to a backing track.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • altonalton Keene, NH✭✭ 2000 Dell'Arte Long Scale Anouman, Gadjo Modele Francais, Gitane DG-330 John Jorgensen Tuxedo
    Posts: 109
    I'm pretty good at coming up with a practice regimen and then basically ignoring it because I get distracted and noodle.

    Yeah that just about sums up my practice regimen lol.

  • Charles MeadowsCharles Meadows WV✭✭✭ ALD Original, Dupont MD50
    Posts: 432
    Right now mostly triplet stuff based on Christiaan's exercises about an hour a day with the metronome. man has that helped!
  • anthon_74anthon_74 Marin county, CA✭✭✭✭ Alta Mira M 01
    Posts: 561
    Ooh, one of my favorite topics !!

    I find I can only do regimens when I have lots of time to practice, which sadly is not nearly as often as I would like.
    Instead, I have various different practice elements (like I mention in my book's practice plan) that I work on depending on my mood. I usually pick up the guitar at least once a day and start playing until my mood picks one of these elements.

    Lately I tend to start with stringing licks together in phrase etudes, which then that leads me to a lick or phrase I want to be able to play better, which leads me to practice different phrase ideas I'm trying to eventually get into my playing. Sometimes this leads me to stuff like the harmonic minor scale, or getting faster at enclosure stuff, or even the whole tone scale...

    As far as prearranged solos, my new thing is listening to someone's solo, and picking out the stuff I LIKE, and focusing only on learning that. Otherwise, it's just too time consuming considering all the other projects I have going at the same time.

    Also, time and time again I'm reminded that, no matter how far along I am, focusing a LOT of effort on ONE song pays far more dividends than spreading the focus to 5 or 6 songs. Every time I go back to this, I end up making new leaps in my playing.

    I could go on and on, in fact, I posed this same question some time ago and got few, if any responses. Thanks Jim for posting it again !


  • Andrew UlleAndrew Ulle Cleveland, OH✭✭✭ Antoine DiMauro modele Django
    Posts: 509
    I pick up my guitar off its stand, run through the latest chord progression I've been working on for about 4 minutes, then my wife says it's time to get my daughter to soccer. Or pick up the other one from soccer. Or start the grill...sigh...
  • MattHenryMattHenry Washington, DC✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 128
    That regimen looks great, Jim. I never take the time to compose a solo etude but my accordionist does that and over time it's led to amazing results. Thanks for sharing.

    One thing I use that folks might dig (only Android and not iOS) is an app called HabitBull:

    It pesters you if you want it to and it lets you tick a box on a little widget to say you did something each day and then it helps you get a streak going. I find habit tracking really helpful: if I'm just thinking about doing something more in general I'm likely to make excuses on any given day, but if I've been doing something for 30 minutes a day every day for two months I'll be damned if I'm going to break that streak today.
    Andrew Ulle
  • anthon_74anthon_74 Marin county, CA✭✭✭✭ Alta Mira M 01
    Posts: 561
    On the benefits of creating your own solo etudes - First - they get you more familiar with the changes of the song in question. Second - they give you some go to licks and phrases to fall back on during difficult passages. Third - I actually find that if I do this enough, I can spontaneously create ideas while jamming, using the etude as a template.

  • Start by composing just one chorus of etude over changes you have a little difficulty with. I won't say it's led to amazing results for me, but it's a neat way to force me to use phrases I've glommed from transcribing. Can I shoehorn a Stochelo dominant lick from Them There Eyes into Dinette? I can try.
  • criminelcriminel buenos aires✭✭✭
    Posts: 71
    Pizza at noon. Burgers at night.
    Playin' once in awhile.
  • woodamandwoodamand Portland, OR✭✭✭ 2015 JWC Favino replica
    Posts: 226
    Funny I have been trying to come up with a routine myself, since my band is not playing much now. My class has given me so much new stuff my head is spinning at the end every time. The main thing for me is slowing down. Wish me luck with that!
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