corbind wrote:I have to laugh at so many things I thought of as reality, when I first started playing, and was not. I was angry at my guitar teacher in that he could not tell me what he was doing. I mean, isn't that an expectation for a newbie? I thought so.
But, after a few years of playing, I found out that was not the case. Players play and VERY often don't know what they are doing. Why? Instinct. And hours behind the instrument.
That nails it for me.
I once read an article in which some top flight pro pianists were asked how they went about learning pieces for recitals - which of course can be very long. Some spoke of practising each hand separately for hours, some spoke of learning all the hardest parts first before they attempted to put the piece together, and I think one even said that they started learning from the end first. But one guy said that he flatly refused to try and analyse what he did, because the whole process was some sort of wonderful mystery to him, and he had no intention of trying to put it under the microscope in case it the magic vanished if he looked too hard at it.
I'm with him.
I have an engineering background so I'm used to valuing precision, planning and predictability, yet with music I absolutely love that when I play I don't know what's coming next, or how I do it. When I started out, my left hand was so stiff and unresponsive that I spent months and months just getting any kind of control over where my fingers landed for the chords (I guess years really). During that time I just let my right hand do whatever it wanted - I just couldn't concentrate on both things at once. So my right hand just plucked and picked and strummed in what seemed like a random way, and I was always going to work on it....maybe next year....
But along the way something intriguing happened. My right hand got fed up with waiting its turn and developed its own style.
So my left hand has apparently been trained a fair bit by eye (I did a lot of staring at the left hand as I worked on positioning), and my right hand entirely by ear. If I'm finger picking I genuinely don't know which number string I'm hitting and why. It's just whichever one the thumb or finger(s) liked the sound of. If you asked me to tab out something I just played I couldn't do it, even if you offered me good money.
I've never had a practice schedule - ever. I've written a few out, but never done them. I really enjoy reading theory, note names, composition of scales, etc - but I don't think that way when I actually play. Then it's just about finding the next noise and have my finger just 'know' from experience where to find it, or be willing to try a new experiment.... The interesting thing to me is HOW you get that experience. All my 'practice' is just noodling and experimenting. I wander about all over the place, yet I still listen with care, and I find out what need to know.... at least that's what I like to believe. Perhaps I'm deluding myself?
This is my list of vital ingredients:Timing.
If you don't have both control and flair in your timing you've got nothing. You need good timing to play with others and to create any kind of musical impression effectively.Instinct.
As Corbind said you have to get your playing to the level where it's happening instinctively. You can't keep thinking "play a B then an F#... put my ring finger on the fourth fret of the third string..." it's got to become completely instinctive and automatic.Touch.
Good playing is more than just hitting the right notes in the correct order. There must be subtlety and variation in the dynamics. Developing good 'touch' (which I'd put down as a blend of placement, balance, and degrees of force) is a major goal for me.Style.
Last, but not least, I want my playing to have some style. Not just a personal style that sounds like me, rather than a copy of someone else's playing, but also that hard to define quality that sets apart the merely technically proficient from the expressive and artistic.
So that's my goal. Timing, Instinct, Touch and Style. It's nice to be able to put some balls into your playing, but don't ignore the T.I.T.S. The Yin and yang of music I guess.