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Sjonesmusic
06-22-2004, 12:13 PM
I've often read in this forum, that many of you are away from your instruments for long periods and have no way of practicing.....so I thought I'd share some of my ideas and approaches on how to practice without your instrument in hand......

There is a story about the world renowned pianist Artur Rubenstein who once had to learn an entire piano concerto while on a train to the very recital in which it was to be performed......

He hadn't had the sufficient time to rehearse it before hand and had to rely on his mind's eye to "practice it"...

Needless to say, the recital was a success and this approach became a part of his regular technique...

Pagannini was said to have also used this mental practice technique.....a man who was curious about how Pagannini practiced, arranged to have a hotel room next to the virtuoso's to catch a glimpse......the man heard nothing, and found out that Pagannini did not always practice with the violin in his hands....

Using the power of "mind over fingers" is not just a mental approach reserved for special people.....heck, I use it all the time, and you can't get any more normal than me.....

Often times I don't have time to physically learn tunes for some of the gigs I do, and often just listen to the C.D.s or tapes on the way to the gig, memorizing the songs and solos, parts, or whatever....only to play them live only an hour later.....

Anyway.....any guitar player, any musician, can use this method......

Though the mind's ability is almost limitless, there are some things that will short out the process, you should be aware of....

Much of our blocks, mentally, come from impurities in our bodies that inhibit our nervous systems.....stress can reduce our capacity as well; attitude can affect greatly our mind's ability to control our body......taking the attitude and believing the lies that we are untalented or limited will build walls between our minds and hands.....

.....but EVERYONE can use this technique to some degree....

Visualizing the fretboard is something that has helped me considerably.....I'm often asked how I memorized my modes, and then how I manage to get in and out of them as fluidly as people seem to think.....and my answer is simply: "the fretboard lights up for me, and I can see every note choice visually..."

So visualization can be a great, a powerful tool for us......

Our conscious mind thinks, and give commands...

Our subconscious mind attempt the commands....

It is our subconscious that performs breathing, digestion, etc....

But, we can train it to perform, with precision, musical commands as well....

Repetition of input will cause the inner process to become more forward, and take on an immediacy, and second nature akin to breathing, and blinking of eyes......

Negatively, you can keep telling yourself you are going to screw up that one solo in the 3rd song, and it will most often bear out as such.....

Positively, a piece practiced many times; a mode practiced many times; chord fingerings; etc......will tend to burn into your brain's deepest regions and and thusly, give you more muscle memory control, and deliver accurate results....

Hearing things from within; seeing music visually; sensing your playing BEFORE it happens all require one common thing: FOCUS without FEAR....

Focusing without fear takes a calm approach.....

It takes an acceptance of the moment, and letting go of the past and future results.........

And it takes the ability to just let the music happen, and not try and "control" it......

Hearing music from within takes the discipline of ear training and creating a foundation of sounds and their relationships......once internalized, you can almost learn a tune from memory.....

I've played countless gigs where a tune is called that I've never played before, and I've had to play it on the spot from having only the memory (sometimes quite distant) to work from....

Seeing music visually, can be seeing the fretboard, see unrelated non-muscial shapes and colors that your mind associates with certain sounds.....it can be seeing the relationships of distance from chord to chord, interval to interval......and it can be quite helpful......it can be seeing the notation in your head and visualizing the fingerings......all come with time spent on creating those associations....

Sensing your playing BEFORE you play it, is a kind of sixth sense, and a kind of confidence.....you can sense the tension rising in your body as a difficult passage come along and diffuse it.....you can improvise your solo mentally ahead of time while the pianist is soloing over his chorus of the jazz standard....the key to sensing ahead, is relaxation and listening carefully....

A clever player will always seek the techniques of practice that yield the highest quality result, with the least effort......visualization is such a technique.......though it does require laying some ground work and some mental concentration, it can require less physical energy, in the long run....

All that is necessary is for you to have a clear concept of the musical result you want to achieve, then your fingers will be guided naturally towards the realization of the goal....provided that your conscious mind gets out of the way, and doesn't try too hard to control the process......some details of playing require special attention, repetition and careful analysis and will resist this technique, but much of the kind of physical contact with the instrument can be reduced by doing more with your mind than you have been accustomed to doing.....the idea is to allow the music to become a part of your inner mind and let it flow from within, rather than having to squeeze it out with force...

Anyway, some thoughts I had today.....I thought I'd share them......

Peace,

Scott

Morbid
06-22-2004, 12:59 PM
Very well written, and very intresting thoughts! You should become an official IBM article writer. :cool:

phantom
06-22-2004, 01:20 PM
great scott..

just want to add this link to a book that is covering those essentiel issues:

The inner game of music (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0385231261/qid=1087906491/sr=8-1/ref=pd_ka_1/104-1451228-8158369?v=glance&s=books&n=507846)

everybody should read that. especially in "stuck-situations" ;) .

sven

progg
06-22-2004, 01:28 PM
Funny I was just finishing reading Vai's Martian Love Secrets (or whatever it was called) on his site. So this was quite interesting to read. And yes, I suggest others to read Vai's thoughts about mental training aswell - http://www.vai.com Nice and interesting reading Scott. Thanks for that, I need this right now!

rmuscat
06-22-2004, 03:14 PM
that was great i think that's very useful ...

i have to make a comment up for discussion ... i might obviously be wrong ... shoot it down if you think it is so....


you have to know your instrument mentally do you? ... you have to know what the intervals are and how they sound in relation to a root note?

am I wrong?

if I am right then not everyone has this practice tool available immediately. until he has reached a level of musical maturiy over the instrument

excuse me for my ignorance but i'm no expert, just a permanently frustrated musician ... i just want to learn more :)

Koala
06-22-2004, 03:15 PM
Great interesting post Scott, glad to see youre realling becoming a valuable active member of the community. its great ho have talented people like you around.

Sjonesmusic
06-22-2004, 05:01 PM
great scott..

just want to add this link to a book that is covering those essentiel issues:

The inner game of music (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0385231261/qid=1087906491/sr=8-1/ref=pd_ka_1/104-1451228-8158369?v=glance&s=books&n=507846)

everybody should read that. especially in "stuck-situations" ;) .

sven

Agreed!

This book is a fantastic book that REALLY helped me when I read it years ago....

GuitarLausing
06-22-2004, 08:47 PM
It's like that! For starters: Practise the stuff you want until you know WHAT TO DO in your sleep, but you can't do it yet, no matter how HARD you try.. Now, the secret is to NOT TRY. Set your mind loose, emancipate yourself from practised patterns, close your eyes, put your fingers on the fretboard, and play whatever you want. Now go back to the thing you were trying before. And play it without concentrating, let your fingers flow.

Anyone get the idea. You DON'T have to learn to do it WITH THE FINGERS, you just have to deeply memorize HOW TO do it. Once you get that thing down, the rest is easy.

I know this might seem un-understandable, but english is my second language. Feel free to ask.. This method works for me everytime.

GuitarLausing
06-22-2004, 08:48 PM
So, practising without an instrument is basically just figuring out EXACTLY what you are gonna do once you get your instrument... Or am I getting something wrong?

EricV
06-22-2004, 09:26 PM
In my teens, I used to do factory jobs throughout the summer break ( in order to earn money to buy new gear etc. ). I had to start working at 7 AM, and I was done about 3 PM.

Every morning before I left, I read a chapter ( or just one or a few stanzas ) from some book or article about music theory, or I memorized a scale formula, or something from an interview with a player I liked ( something about theory ).
Then, while I was working, doing pretty repetitive things which didnīt require too much attention ( so basically, I didnīt need to focus a whole lot and therefore had plenty of time to think ), I thought about what I had read.
If it i.e. was some scale, I used to visualize and immediately memorize patterns and / or sequences for it. If it was a cool chord or chord progression, I analyzed it and tried to come up with several different ways how to voice that / those chord(s).
When I got home, I quickly ate something and then I immediately picked up the guitar. I knew what to do, I just had to get my fingers to do it. It was very cool, and I didnīt feel as if the work was really taking away a lot of my practice time.

BTW, something whioch is not really related comes to mind... I recently heard about some experiment some people had done... there was an article that said that if you do finger exercises right before you go to sleep, it will have more of an effect than if you practice them sometime during the day.
Someone did an experiment where they had some kids do basic finger exercises. Half of those kids did them sometime during the day and did other things afterwards, the other half went right to sleep after those exercises.
Apparently, the ones who went right to sleep were able to increase speed and synchronisation quite a bit faster than the others.
I donīt have the details here, cuz I donīt have a copy of that article, but it sounded credible.
Just came to mind, sorry if that was too off-topic
Eric

NP: Bruce Springsteen - The Ghost Of Tom Joad

DanF
06-23-2004, 01:59 AM
Ah the downside of working in the medical field. My job requires 100% of my attention :(

I'd be interested in seeing that article though EricV even if you can just come up with the name of the study or who published it I could track it down.

-Dan

PS Oh yeah, good post Mr. Jones (Do you play "Have you met Miss. Jones?"?)

Skeletor
06-23-2004, 04:18 AM
I always bring my acoustic with me unless I know where ever I'm going there will be a guitar to borrow...

forgottenking2
06-28-2004, 04:02 PM
In the book I'm working on now (Hearing and Writting Music) that approach is mentioned, as one of the results of working on your Ear. I still don't have the power of mind to literally work on a piece away from my instrument, but there's tons of things I can do without my guitar, Theory work, scale formulas, song analysis, note choice over certain changes, rhythmic workouts, sight reading (My ear is not good enough for sight singing yet) etc. That way whenever I am with my instrument I can focus on either songwritting, theory application, improvisation or technique, while I take care of the "other stuff" when I am driving, showering, doing dishes, cooking, pumping gas, working out... you get the idea.

sugarbee
06-28-2004, 04:11 PM
when I am away from a piano (which has been a lot the last couple years:()
I still feel a need to practice finger positions or just "play" on a table top or anything within reach. It usually starts subconsciously, but it's like an itch that needs to be scratched. It does however help with stretches. And keeps me a bit in shape, but mainly, it's just playing when I can't. The music just stays in my head.;)