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2 ideas for technique/theory study

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Marion 21 Jan 02 - 02:50 PM
Mark Clark 21 Jan 02 - 03:19 PM
M.Ted 21 Jan 02 - 05:18 PM
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Subject: 2 ideas for technique/theory study
From: Marion
Date: 21 Jan 02 - 02:50 PM

Hello all. I wanted to share a couple of methods for studying the boring stuff that have been helpful to me in the hope that they will be helpful to others. I doubt I'm the only person to have come up with these ideas, but I don't recall anyone suggesting them to me either.

1. Key study

First, you choose a group of keys that you want to master. I chose 9 major keys from B on the sharp end to Eb on the flat end, but whatever works for you.

Second, you plan for yourself a list of tasks to practice, based on what techniques you want to study and how much time you want to spend.

Then what you do is rotate through the keys on your list so that every day you have a "key of the day", and you practice the tasks on your list in that key.

I find that this breaks up technical study into logical and manageable chunks, so that you're covering everything regularly and getting to know some keys quite well at the same time.

A task list might include things like:

- scales and some of their endless permutations: different positions, different attack techniques, full vs. pentatonic, "patterns" like broken thirds, eyes open vs. closed...

- picking out a melody by ear

- sightreading

- reviewing common chord progressions

- detailed attention to the I chord of the key: different fingerings and voicings and positions, lead positions, broken triads, double stops within the triad if you have a fiddle..

2. Flash cards

Cut twelve pieces out of a cereal box and write on them the twelve notes of the chromatic scale. These cards can be used in lots of ways to cement your memorization of theory stuff, and can be used during useless times in your life such as riding the subway or when people talk to you.

For example, if you let the cards represent note names, you can review by visualizing where those notes appear on a fretboard, or which chords include them.

Let the cards stand for chord names, and you can review what notes the chords include, or different positions to play them in, or "this chord is the IV of what key?" and so forth.

Let the cards stand for keys, and you can review what sharps or flats the key contains, or what the IV and V chords would be, or what some other common progressions would be in that key.

There are lots of other possibilities.


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Subject: RE: 2 ideas for technique/theory study
From: Mark Clark
Date: 21 Jan 02 - 03:19 PM

Wow, Marion. Great practice tips. I'm guessing that a lot of people won't apply the required focus and discipline to adopt your tips but the ones who do will be richly rewarded.

I might add that scales should be practiced in closed (no open strings) versions as well as open. And if sightreading is practiced using closed scales, transposition becomes a simple matter of moving to a different position on the neck.

Now I can't wait to see what tips other add in this same vein.

      - Mark

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Subject: RE: 2 ideas for technique/theory study
From: M.Ted
Date: 21 Jan 02 - 05:18 PM

All those practice tips add up to more than most people can handle, and they lack focus--which means that, after doing them for a long time, you won't be able to do anything any better than you could when you started(except for the excercise)--

This is what music teachers are for--good ones know which things you need to know in order to do what you want to do, and they focus on that, to the exclusion of everything else--

You should decide what kind of music that you want to play first, after that, it will be a lot easier to figure out which skills you need to develop--

If you want to learn "All kinds", think about which kind you want to learn first, and forget the rest til you've got it--

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