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 What do you play before you get serious" about your practice 
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Post What do you play before you get serious" about your practice
Well,of course, it's always serious, the Stick is serious stuff... But I am curious what y'all do for warmups before you get down to studying your new piece of music, or composing your new bit, or your newest arrangement or whatever...

I made a video of some stuff I do to warm up, the daily chores... (Yes, it's primitive, but it's liquid I change it around as I get familiar with a motif, plus I hammer through all 12 keys)

So the first video is just a kind of run through of some of the accompaniment styles I am working on coupled with a recurring sequence played on the right hand. When I say the notes are "the same" I mean that the sequence idea is the same, diatonic to the key. Anyways, these videos were made for a couple of local friends who are into tapping also. Of course, I do try to use a a lot of different melodic and accompaniment ideas besides what's presented here,

The second video is a quick demo of some of the changes I might make in the first 'advancement" of the warm-up stage.

Tuned to mirrored 4ths, I'm just doing my thing. I take all of the things I find interesting and kind of try to assimilate them in my own way to my own ends. Not a performance video, just a video I thought I'd share with y'all. Not a performance video, just some ideas...

Anyways, I look forward to hearing about some of you guys' ideas on warmups and stuff...




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Sat Jul 08, 2017 8:59 pm
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Post Re: What do you play before you get serious" about your prac
And what the hell, some noodling around as I kind of tried to make something up this evening on the fly...


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Sat Jul 08, 2017 9:26 pm
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Post Re: What do you play before you get serious" about your prac
And of course in those colder parts of the world where you HAVE to warm up...

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Sun Jul 09, 2017 3:55 pm
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Post Re: What do you play before you get serious" about your prac
Hmmmm. Interesting I always start serious and get more creative as I go. So arpeggios simple chords triads simple to advanced non thirds based. I then work on songs and finally put it all together in free play....: but that is hour 3


Sun Jul 09, 2017 5:57 pm
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Post Re: What do you play before you get serious" about your prac
It seems when I pick up the Stick it shouts composition, so usually as soon as I find all the notes I'm hearing and rhythm I turn on the ZOOM H2 and get it in my "notebook". That's to say what I hear I can't play. THEN comes the warm-ups, chordal stretches, etc. So, yeah, I pick up the Stick and play whatever comes into my head.

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Sun Jul 09, 2017 7:00 pm
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Post Re: What do you play before you get serious" about your prac
Took a little bit of time but I listened to all 3 videos: thank god for internet on the phone and long drives. Cool ideias you've got there, I should be able to steal you some of those! Answering the question: I am like a child with a new toy - I always start with the last song I felt in love with and am arranging/learning to play. :) Hasn't been always like that, in the beginning I used Greg and Steve's books, they both have incredible important things, then moved on to some piano exercises, later on, some specific things I found out suited my hands best. I always thought of it as a way to make the instrument feel comfortable in my hands. Now that it does (if there's an instrument that I struggle with these days, is the bass) I leave the scales and stuff towards the end of the day, when my conscious mind is tired and I just want the hands to work.
Bottom line, I just start with the new stuff.


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Sun Jul 09, 2017 7:08 pm
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Post Re: What do you play before you get serious" about your prac
Interesting ideas, guys. Thanks for sharing, it's inspiring to read about people's approaches.

For me it depends on what I am focused on, really. Last week was mostly just getting familiar with some scalar stuff in a certain position/key this week will be more repertoire based. It's all good, I always spend some time playing along with itunes at the end of the practice too! A big part of the warm-ups aspect of my practice session is killing as many birds with one stone as humanly possible. Y'know, leveraging as much as I can from previous practice as I can.

Starting this week, I am into memorizing my 1st Bach Invention, as I have mostly just been doing read-throughs and getting acquainted with fingerings I like, harmonic and melodic analysis, as well as the simultaneous nature of the piece.

So every day for the next 2 weeks, I will hammer a different two-measure "chunk" of the piece, mordents and all. Basically I'll memorize it, hammer it with a metronome, and basically "brute force" the bit until it's burned into my DNA. 30 minutes a day will be devoted to just that, and then another 30 min to reading through the entire piece a few times, and then some other fun stuff...

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Mon Jul 10, 2017 6:49 pm
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Post Re: What do you play before you get serious" about your prac
Practice, how to, what to, when to....it has always fascinated me, so great article Scott !

As a trombone player I used to get bogged down in 'warm ups', it would be lip flexibilities, slurring exercises, scales, range exercises etc etc and then boom, 2 hours in I would 'start' practicing. Usually 30 minutes after that concentration levels went out the window, stamina too and the concerto I had to practice before my lesson tomorrow wasn't ready, or the orchestral excerpts needed for class that afternoon weren't learnt. I got great at the peripheral stuff but the main focus of practicing ended up on the bench.

When I started Stick I started in the same way..... finger exercises, scales, chord shapes, then an hour in 'proper' practice started on pieces and the things I WANTED to work on. In the end, again, concentration and stamina, out the window.
On reflection I almost felt I had to go through an established warm up routine before I was allowed to practice properly. This is what I have changed. Now I try to make sure EVERYTHING I practice goes towards improvement, not routine to warm up and then work. i say the same to my students too.

A few months ago I discovered Mike Johnston on youtube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5li8JPkQU0
.....and his 4 Stage Practice Method, which gives you a disciplined focus on your practice that has helped me no end. The link to Stage 1 is above but to summarize the 4 stages break down into 4x 10/15 minute stages and practice should be for an hour, with ALL 4 stages covered. If you have 2 hours to play with go through the stages twice, don't spend longer on any of them:

Stage 1: Non-Creative - What technical thing can I do already that I want to get better? (this is where the scales, patterns, shapes, independence stuff would come in). 15 mins.
Stage 2: Creative - Using a predetermined set of rules or guidelines that you create for yourself, set up a practice where you are being creative, perhaps in a rhythmical way or improvisational way, or even compositional way. (the video and his example sparked plenty of Stick and Trombone inspirations for what to do, and explains it much better than I do here)
Stage 3: Main Focus - What can I not do yet? A piece? A rudiment, and chord sequence? Do that here.
Stage 4: Musical Application - Something that takes you out of your comfort zone: A play-a-long with a track in a different style of music that you don't usually play, or deliberately apply a new technique to a piece. Again the videos explain and inspire better than I, here.

Of course if you have a major gig with serious repertoire to get into your head then this method probably isn't the best approach to prepare for that but for everyday, standard, trying-to-get-better practice with nothing major on the horizon to prepare for, this is amazing.

This approach has made me more economical with my practice time (good job, considering 2 kids and a teaching gig tend to prevent more than an hour per day practice anyway) and I have improved in less time as I am no longer spending an hour playing scale exercises pointlessly trying to get the bpm to 130 from 118!

As an example (if people haven't already given up reading this mega-post by now), the other day my practice session was:
Stage 1: Non- creative (15 mins): Playing without looking, feeling for the notes: I found a Rudiment pattern between fingers in the two hands and went around the circle of 5ths whilst not looking at the Stick at all.

Stage 2: Creative (15 mins): RH improvisation over a fixed walking bass (minor blues) , playing 2 choruses and moving to next key in the Circle of 5ths

Stage 3: Main Focus (15 mins) Practiced "Watermelon Man"

Stage 4: Musical Application (15 mins) Put on some a random Scottish Folk song (voice and lute) and tried to play along. By the end I had pretty much transcribed it and my 'wee lassie' Scottish wife and I will be giving the tune a go at some point in the near future.

The key is discipline to the stages and not to dwell on one area. It keeps concentration switched on and minds fresh. Also, one thing I have found. If I suck at one area of practice. In 15 mins it's over and I move on to something else, I might not suck at that! Good for a positive approach.

I don't disagree with the approach of play it over and over and over and over and over ....until you can play it, but I don't necessarily agree with repeating it over and over and not moving on until you can do it.

Im done, sorry, for the waffle. Great thread Scott.

P


Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:41 am
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Post Re: What do you play before you get serious" about your prac
Focused practice, leveraging previous experience in the most learning conducive way possible, I love reading about this sort of thing, great posts, guys. An awesome book y'all should check out; "The Talent Code"

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Tue Jul 11, 2017 5:10 pm
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Post Re: What do you play before you get serious" about your prac
YES! 'Talent Code' - Daniel Coyle. A brilliant book. Along with 'Outliers' by Malcolm Gladwell. Great stuff for reflecting on your practice.


Wed Jul 12, 2017 2:40 pm
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