Practising (Full Version)

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flyeogh -> Practising (Mar. 26 2019 5:04:31)

Since relaunching * my flamenco guitar efforts 1st Jan I’ve only not practised for one day (I was in Asturias and thus no guitar [:o]). With guitars lurking around the house I normally do several spells a day ranging from one hour to a quick 5 mins. And I have a 90 minute lesson every 10 to 14 days more or less. I also use materials from an online course (as much Spanish folk as flamenco).

I see on the online course the guy recommends not practising 2 days every week. To be fair he makes a clear separation between practising and just playing. A practise session having clear objectives and involving a lot of slow perfect playing - and that metronome.

As all my previous efforts to learn to play (before I retired) have failed due to pressure of work and other calls on my time I’m rather reluctant to do that. However, he suggests that the 2 day break does really pay dividends.

Just wondered what sort of practise schedules others pursue and any tips to help extract the most from a session.

Does 5 10-minute sessions a day get that technique cracked rather than a one hour session?

I'd also like to know if you (mainly thinking those on the early road and not you maestros [;)], although you all started once I guess [8|]) pick and choose from many sources, or stick to a main course? Having accumulated so many books, with so many more YouTube vids, and input from my teacher, I find it hard not to wander around. On the one hand that stops me getting bored but equally can lead to me losing focus.

* For me learning to play flamenco guitar is like quitting smoking. Done it lots of times [;)]




Paul Magnussen -> RE: Practising (Mar. 26 2019 15:19:24)

“Chuse one Leffon thy felf according to thy capacitie, which giue not ouer by looking ouer others, or ftraggling from one to another, till thou have got it reafonably perfect [...]”

A Varietie of Lute Lessons, 1610

Good advice.




kitarist -> RE: Practising (Mar. 26 2019 15:46:01)

quote:

ORIGINAL: flyeogh

I see on the online course the guy recommends not practising 2 days every week. To be fair he makes a clear separation between practising and just playing. A practise session having clear objectives and involving a lot of slow perfect playing - and that metronome.

As all my previous efforts to learn to play (before I retired) have failed due to pressure of work and other calls on my time I’m rather reluctant to do that. However, he suggests that the 2 day break does really pay dividends.



I am just wondering how would he know that (the underlined). It is probably a n=1 experiment (himself), so take it into consideration accordingly. Apart from that, however:

The brain does need a break from learning consciously in order to process skills and chunk them and absorb them into the subconscious - usually a good sleep would do, and, occasionally after not playing at all for a couple of days one comes back and it feels like there is an increase in skill level - that scale run that was giving trouble now can be done flawlessly.

However, from your description the teacher is only talking about not practicing, not about not playing at all. I don't know if the same logic as what I described above can be applied to that situation, or at least in terms of getting a similar benefit.

Or, is he making a distinction between practicing a piece, where you would stop when a mistake is made and work on that spot etc,, versus playing a piece as if in front of audience, where you would just keep going and do your best but not stop - essentially practicing for performance? If so, this is more on the psychological side of training but it is certainly useful not to neglect practicing for performance.

If this is what was meant, he should have explained it. "does really pay dividends" is very vague. Are the dividends to do with technique (the way I took it at first)? Or ability to perform in public? Or ability to stay engaged and excited about flamenco and not burn out? Or something else?




Moloko -> RE: Practising (Mar. 26 2019 22:01:02)

quote:

“Chuse one Leffon thy felf according to thy capacitie, which giue not ouer by looking ouer others, or ftraggling from one to another, till thou have got it reafonably perfect [...]”


Mind to translate to actual english?




kitarist -> RE: Practising (Mar. 26 2019 22:26:58)

quote:

ORIGINAL: Moloko

quote:

“Chuse one Leffon thy felf according to thy capacitie, which giue not ouer by looking ouer others, or ftraggling from one to another, till thou have got it reafonably perfect [...]”


Mind to translate to actual english?


It is in English. Just think of phoneticism and near-homoglyphs and it starts to make sense: "Choose one lesson yourself according to your capacity, which give not over [i.e. something like 'you shouldn't abandon prematurely'] by looking over others or strAggling from one to another [lesson], until you have got it reasonably perfect".




himanshu.g -> RE: Practising (Mar. 27 2019 4:55:34)

I am a beginner myself, so take my words with a pinch of salt :)

If it helps, I started learning in my thirties and have a fairly demanding day job.

I try to carve out 1 hour everyday.

When I started learning about 4 years ago, I heard from multiple sources that RH was more important than LH because rhythm is very important and controlled by RH. So, I spent pretty much all of that one hour for 3 years just practicing arpeggios with a simple solea falseta, rasgueados on muted strings and falsetas with pulgar, a simple solea compas.

Recently, I think I have got the arpeggio , thumb and rasgueados to an "advanced beginner" level. So now I am trying to catch up on my LH. Now a days, My 1 hour practice session consists of about 30 mins of scales, slurs, barre chords .. about 10-15 mins of RH routine above (all techniques within some falseta as much possible to keep it interesting) and a typical tangos compas.
Very recently (last 2 months or so) I started to learn some "pieces" from Juan Martin and Oscar Herrero books, but this is more like side activity to save myself from getting bored and having fun.

I don't make a specific rule like 2 days practice etc ... I just practice and when I am not in mood , I give myself a break and noodle around. Also, for practicing technique I keep on changing the falseta I use to keep some variation (there are many online courses and youtube videos to help with that).

I have taken a couple of lessons with Ricardo to help learn everything.




Piwin -> RE: Practising (Mar. 27 2019 14:05:21)

I don't practice every day anymore. I burned out that way in the past so now I've scaled things back. But that's personal, not something I would necessarily recommend to anybody else.

5-10 minute session seems too short to me. Doesn't even give you the time to warm up.

As for material, I pick and choose from different sources but I do have a regular regimen of exercises. When I'm working on a piece, that piece stays front and center until I feel I've got it down. To my mind, variety of material isn't a problem really. The problem is more about advice on technique. Say, if you have one teacher telling you to place your hand this way, and another telling you to do it another way. Probably best to just stick to one thing there.




Paul Magnussen -> RE: Practising (Mar. 27 2019 15:10:47)

quote:

Choose one lesson yourself according to your capacity, which give not over [i.e. something like 'you shouldn't abandon prematurely'] by looking over others or struggling from one to another [lesson], until you have got it reasonably perfect".


Thanks, Konstantin. But there’s a typo: straggling, not struggling. [:)]




kitarist -> RE: Practising (Mar. 27 2019 15:25:45)

quote:

ORIGINAL: Paul Magnussen

quote:

Choose one lesson yourself according to your capacity, which give not over [i.e. something like 'you shouldn't abandon prematurely'] by looking over others or struggling from one to another [lesson], until you have got it reasonably perfect".


Thanks, Konstantin. But there’s a typo: straggling, not struggling. [:)]


OOPS!! My ignorance exposed [8|] The mistake was more than a typo. I didn't check to see if straggling is a proper word; it was a new word for me. [:D] Thanks Paul!




flyeogh -> RE: Practising (Mar. 27 2019 18:05:50)

Well thanks all for the thoughts. All good input I can consider.




El Burdo -> RE: Practising (Mar. 28 2019 16:04:49)

The only way to eventually 'learn' something is to be able to play it in a variety of circumstances. So, I suggest one should practise things in a variety of ways. Practise it in both por arriba, por medio (and whatever other 'keys' there are...) at different tempos and maybe with different techniques, legato and staccato etc.
Generally, in jazz you should be able to 'do everything, everywhere' which isn't all that helpful, so I narrow it down to a variety of key centres and a variety of techniques, which generally got me through.




JasonM -> RE: Practising (Mar. 29 2019 13:59:26)

I’ve been playing flamenco on and off for about 19 years now, but I’ve only done diligent practice for maybe 5 of those years. And it shows (to my disadvantage). I spent a lot of of time learning new falsetas or pieces and obsessing over my tone instead of working on refining and pushing my limits with a metronome. I just moved on to a new falseta when I got bored and now I can’t remember most of them anymore. So kids, don’t do what daddy did. Stay in school unless you have a lot of self discipline.




johnnefastis -> RE: Practising (Mar. 29 2019 23:40:58)

quote:

I just moved on to a new falseta when I got bored and now I can’t remember most of them anymore.


Ha ha totally agree.... I have so many books and dvds and yet how many falsettas can I really really play. Just hammer the basics and remember you only really need good compas a couple of falsettas and and you can really join in with stuff.

Have you got videos on here? I am sure that is worth a thousand words.




flyeogh -> RE: Practising (Mar. 30 2019 8:04:22)

quote:

instead of working on refining and pushing my limits with a metronome.


Problem I have with serious practise is the family complaining. I have a four bedroom house but wherever I play they seem to hear it. If I play a bit of Alegrías, then Solea, then beat the cr*p out of my guitar with Tangos and Sevillanas (imagining I’m playing in a bar surrounded by flamenco ladies and an appreciative audience [:D] – as unlikely as that is), they seem to like it. If I play a chord progression 50 times with metronome they complain.

Or maybe that’s just my excuse
[8|]




Ruphus -> RE: Practising (Mar. 30 2019 11:40:27)

Two possible clues:

# There could be something to the time-off rule, in regard of intensive daily measures of exercise.
When I was in full time MAs, execution after breaks like holydays used to be improved.

# Regarding highest efficiency / greatest progress:
Tackling personal weak points by practicing the according techniques in a very attentive, slow and accurate way, to then take a nap or go to sleep right afterwards works wonders.

Making sure that grey cells have just been loaded with accurate coordination, before entering sleep makes for most effective imprint.
Check it out.




JasonM -> RE: Practising (Mar. 30 2019 14:55:59)

quote:

Problem I have with serious practise is the family complaining. I have a four bedroom house but wherever I play they seem to hear it. If I play a bit of Alegrías, then Solea, then beat the cr*p out of my guitar with Tangos and Sevillanas (imagining I’m playing in a bar surrounded by flamenco ladies and an appreciative audience – as unlikely as that is), they seem to like it. If I play a chord progression 50 times with metronome they complain.

Or maybe that’s just my excuse


I get that too. I would piss off my wife playing the same phrase a hundred times for 2 weeks while she was trying to relax. But now I’m no longer married and I’m free to drive my dog crazy instead [:D]




Ruphus -> RE: Practising (Mar. 30 2019 15:46:39)

quote:

ORIGINAL: JasonM

I get that too. I would piss off my wife playing the same phrase a hundred times for 2 weeks while she was trying to relax. But now I’m no longer married and I’m free to drive my dog crazy instead


Well, love ...
Early eighties, she had spontaneously moved to my very small bachelor place. I had so to say stolen her as wife of a Sicilian guy (with her so anxious that he may stub me). Got us a larger place a while later, though nothing could keep us from enjoying time in the small one.

From time to time me would halt monotonous finger exercises and ask her whether it was really not annoying to her, and she would swear that it was not disturbing at all.

Maybe it´s a litmus test for whether one´s girl friend is truly loving.

Of my affairs none ever disliked my guitar sound, whether as just dull exercise or playing.
The one and only that reacted averse was a platonic friend, while visiting me over the weekend.
Me was playing some etudes, when she snapped: "Please STOP that!"

Don´t know whether it had to do with her former boy friend having been a terrific rock guitarist, or what.
(He on the other hand, hearing me later on, quite liked it and admired the finger style.)




Piwin -> RE: Practising (Mar. 30 2019 18:39:08)

Pick up the violin for a month or two. They'll be grateful when you go back to playing chord progressions on the guitar.




Brendan -> RE: Practising (Mar. 30 2019 23:29:19)

You could try the sponge, but this is not foolproof. I was once told off for playing too loudly with a sponge in, by a man trying to run an accordion class in a nearby tent.




Paul Magnussen -> RE: Practising (Mar. 31 2019 16:05:03)

quote:

But now I’m no longer married and I’m free to drive my dog crazy instead


Our cat can put up with the guitar; when my wife plays reels on the fiddle, however, she evacuates to the garden immediately.




Ricardo -> RE: Practising (Mar. 31 2019 18:09:16)

quote:

Does 5 10-minute sessions a day get that technique cracked rather than a one hour session?


Huh? For me it was 7-8 hours a day as a kid. For PDL it was 11 hours...that’s why he was better than me. After I could play fast, maybe 4 hours a day minimum. Now I am old and I play too many rumba gigs, so it is starting to show I don’t practice at home much at all. I know what it would take.....4 hours everyday, no less.




flyeogh -> RE: Practising (Mar. 31 2019 18:55:54)

Man give us mere mortals a break[;)] In another life maybe, but I have too many responsibilities and a Spanish family - wife and others from Sevilla who do not like flamenco [:@]

Sadly for us everyday people we have to set reasonable goals and extract from the little time we can give as much pleasure from our hobbies as we can.

Of course one of the pleasures is getting good advice from gurus like yourself (crawl, creep, grovel) who have put the hours in on our behalf [:D][:D]


I can relate to the Rumba thing. In my IT life we worked overseas on massive interesting projects from time to time. But then we would get one after another, "can you implement and test our finance system? We're in north London". We wanted to say RTFM but we needed the money [:D]




flyeogh -> RE: Practising (Apr. 10 2019 18:51:26)

Today finished my first 100 days of seriously learning to play flamenco guitar (missed one day when I went to Asturias). Some bits have improved a lot (rasqueo and chord progression), some bits a little (stretchy chords and large position changes) and some bits not at all (barre chords in position 2+).

However, one thing that I need to progress to keep advancing is the speed/accuracy of my arpeggios. In order to plan my attack, I’d appreciate any thoughts on:

Looking at all types, up/down, single/double. Do you practise them all, say on the same day? Or is it easier to focus on one at a time?
To get more speed do you practise with free strokes (as on the 4th string that seems necessary and keeping them all the same stroke type might help)? Or do you use rest strokes for 5th and 6th?
Also, to get more speed. do you plant all three treble playing fingers in advance?

I’m getting mixed feedback on these so thought I’d ask the wealth of experience here. Cheers [:D]




JasonM -> RE: Practising (Apr. 10 2019 19:16:07)

Congratulations on 100 days of sticking with it.

Best way to practice arpeggios is to learn Trafalgar by Gerardo Nunez!

One tip that’s easy for beginners to overlook is to always try and anchor the thumb. For example, If you play a PIMA arpeggio it’s obvious to rest the thumb on the string below while IMA executes. But if you have PIMAMI then it’s tempting to let the thumb go free. Really you should try and re anchor it on the 6th string while executing the rest of the arpeggio. This way you have more control and speed.




Shroomy726 -> RE: Practising (Apr. 10 2019 22:14:41)

Long hours of practice is not only for maestros but for anyone who wants to reach a decent level of proficiency. For flamenco guitar and the complexities it involves in terms of technique, I would venture to say that 4 hrs/day is a minimum to get good and to have decent progress when just starting out.

When I was younger and I had the time, I would easily spend full summers playing 7-8 hrs/day. This is where I reached most of my technical proficiency. Sitting down with a metronome and playing along with exercises or slowed down pieces. Slowly increasing tempo and focusing heavily on technique.

As the years progressed, that free time dissipated. Once I was done with college, I had very little time to spend outside of working hours on practicing. So my practice sessions went from almost every day to just 2 to 3 days/week and in sessions that lasted only a couple of hours. This was just to maintain the same proficiency level that I had reached and to not let it slip. Due to my limited time and energy to practice, as well as a recognition that I had drilled some techniques enough, I decided to stop doing so many exercises and focus on playing pieces and/or perfecting the techniques during those pieces. This is when I was the happiest in terms of my playing because I was "over the hump".

Fast forward to now, I have a family and a very demanding job so practice is no longer a thing. I am lucky if I pick up the guitar once a week for 30 minutes. My abilities have decreased enormously and a lot of the hard work from when I was younger has been lost.

During my initial time is when I saw the most and best progress. Hours and hours of good practice is what is needed to reach maestro levels and I saw that type of progress during the 7-8 hrs/day period. During the second period, I found the particular pieces I was practicing started to really sound good and that felt very good. Nowadays, I still can play a lot of these pieces but not even close to the same degree as when I was practicing heavily. Only when I start drilling heavy practice (hours and hours, day after day) do I start getting that progress back.

Just practicing 1 hour a day won't get you very far in my opinion. Unfortunately, flamenco guitar is difficult in terms of technique and requires heavy upkeep. Don't play for 3 months and you will notice a massive difference in skill level.




flyeogh -> RE: Practising (Apr. 11 2019 2:32:56)

quote:

Really you should try and re anchor it on the 6th string while executing the rest of the arpeggio. This way you have more control and speed.



Jason as you say not as easy as it sounds. I find that it's not so easy to get the anchor without losing the timing of the fingers. But I'll try and work on that. Thanks.




flyeogh -> RE: Practising (Apr. 11 2019 3:06:39)

quote:

Just practicing 1 hour a day won't get you very far in my opinion. Unfortunately, flamenco guitar is difficult in terms of technique and requires heavy upkeep. Don't play for 3 months and you will notice a massive difference in skill level.


Shroomy I'm going in the reverse direction to you so now retired have all the time you had when starting out.

One thing that is pleasing is that I rapidly recovered all the things I had managed during my various "start-stop" attempts I'd had in my working life - so not all lost. Of course I'd only got so far so we are talking about basic skills and a little Solea, tangos, Farruca and Sevillanas.

Now I have all day if I wish, I have 3 great guitars, all the strings I want, and my prof in Jerez I can visit virtually at a drop of a hat. Last week I had problems with a Fandangos de Huelva exercise so gave him a buzz. Within 24 hours we were sorting it face to face [:D].

Good kit and a prof on tap doesn't make you a maestro (well beyond my ambition) of course , but it sure removes doubts and keeps you focussed on your own short-comings [&:]

One thing I will be doing in my second 100 days is separating warm up, practising and playing. In the first phaze it was too easy to do an exercise at slow speed, then ramp up the metronome and give it a blast, rather han focussing on drilling the technique for sufficient time.


Shroomy hopefully when your retirement comes, in the distant future [;)], you'll get to recover those skills.

But we are where we are and at the moment I need to keep progressing those arps.

ps: Looking back I could have put in more time with Flamenco and reached a higher standard, but I wouldn't swap my years of windsurfing and then diving for that. And I would never have reached maestro level I think. My interest is pure enjoyment [8D]




kitarist -> RE: Practising (Apr. 11 2019 6:00:12)

quote:

ORIGINAL: flyeogh

However, one thing that I need to progress to keep advancing is the speed/accuracy of my arpeggios. In order to plan my attack, I’d appreciate any thoughts on:

Looking at all types, up/down, single/double. Do you practise them all, say on the same day? Or is it easier to focus on one at a time?
To get more speed do you practise with free strokes (as on the 4th string that seems necessary and keeping them all the same stroke type might help)? Or do you use rest strokes for 5th and 6th?
Also, to get more speed. do you plant all three treble playing fingers in advance?



I don't know what some of this means. What is single double - is it a reference to single double speed, or to ascending (or descending) vs. ascending+descending? And what arpeggios do you practice on strings 5 and 6?

It might be clearer if you label arpeggios by the way you use your right hand for the pattern. Are the bass string arpeggios some combination with p?

I tend to practice arpeggios along a couple of lines :
- patterns that occur frequently in flamenco, like amip or pima or pimami; Giuliani Op.48 no.5 pimami study is a favourite benchmark;
- patterns with m and a preferentially in order to improve finger dexterity and equalize skill, like Pujol's El Abejorro but played with pmam instead of the original pimi pattern;
- patterns which "expand" my brain, to improve finger control and independence, like the pipipmiamaimpipi pattern from Villa-Lobos Etude 1.

For each of these, you can vary dynamics, tempo, bring out voices, accent different notes - for fun as to not get bored, but also this teaches you control and independence so it is beneficial technique-wise as well.

Cycling through this, rather than doing all of that every time, is almost unavoidable - especially since arpeggios are just one part of technique, and you would also need study and practice time for pieces. Well unless you have 14 hours a day and can sustain it, then you can probably do all each day.

The more recent method books I've seen on classical guitar technique (same as flamenco on arpeggio, and overall a subset of flamenco technique so it applies here) seem to arrange technique practice as cycling through different elements with a goal of covering the entire scope you wanted maybe within a week's worth of practice sessions.

EDIT: To answer your planting question - I don't do block planting (planting ami all at once) and only do sequential planting; well, unless I am starting the exercise or piece in which case all fingers might be on the strings. I don't really see the benefit of block planting (aka full planting) for anyone who is not a beginner in guitar technique. I think it messes up the natural movement of fingers so in fact it makes reaching higher speeds more difficult compared to sequential planting. Sequential planting is also what you need for tremolo (flamenco or classical) - there you don't even have a choice.




Piwin -> RE: Practising (Apr. 11 2019 6:40:34)

-I go through a range or arpeggio patterns but it'd be very difficult to do all of them in the same day. I usually warm up to a simple solea compas and run through the following: pima, piam, pmia, pmai, paim and pami. But that's not really to work on speed or accuracy, it's just to warm up. I try to work on stuff that are related. So, for instance, If I'm working on pimami, I start with one of the Granados exercices (pretty long exercices) and slowly work my way up with the metronome. When I reach the point where I can't keep up anymore, maybe I'll slow down the metronome and do some pama or pmam since it's often a and m that are holding me back. Or I'll do short "bursts" (just one cycle, starting in different places, so maybe pimamip then pause, or amipima then pause, whatever works), then I'll go back to the Granados exercice and usually I can now up the metronome a little bit.

- I use rest strokes as much as possible with the thumb. At some point I start doing free strokes on the 4th string like you said (if the arp starts with i)

- I don't tend to plant.




flyeogh -> RE: Practising (Apr. 11 2019 10:33:19)

kitarist first thanks for the pieces you suggested. I think I can incorporate Giuliani Op.48 no.5 into my practise. The other two I'm sad to say would stretch ([;)]) my chord progression ability.

quote:

What is single double


For me 'Single' relates to one direction (ami). 'Double' doubles back on itself (imami). In Spain we say "arpeggio doble" for the latter. We say "arpeggio simple" and not arpeggio solo" for the former (but that just might be my guys in Jerez and Huelva). Maybe it gets translated differently to English?

We refer to falling and rising arpeggios to give direction. Anything beyond that gets described by more than one or two adjectives. Or more often just played and you're expected to observe
[:D]

quote:

And what arpeggios do you practice on strings 5 and 6?


My reference to strings 4, 5 and 6 was where typically one is referring to bass notes by the thumb (e.g. pami). Arpeggios with bass note melody. I appreciate that arpeggios for other instruments are different but for flamenco guitar instruction that is how I have seen it presented. Obviously there will be very advanced variations. But open to suggestions.

quote:

arrange technique practice as cycling through different elements with a goal of covering the entire scope you wanted maybe within a week's worth of practice sessions.
For me setting goals with time limits is vital. My prof doesn't get it. He says "what's the hurry?" But after a lifetime in IT of always having a plan, targets, and delivery dates I just can't live without them [:D]

But thanks for your detailed reply. Even what is not for me now is stored away for later [:)]




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