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Distracted practicing vs. focused practicing

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  • Yes she's a keeper for sure.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Scoredog wrote: »
    Jazzaferri wrote: »
    I have to play fingerstyle though as picking stuff drives my wife up the. all.

    Any kind of playing while watching TV would drive my wife up the wall, yours must have a high tolerance.
    Exactly. Glad I didn't have to be the first to say it.
    I did hear Richard Smith (fingerstyle guy) say he will practice a particularly difficult passage in front of the TV, something he can just repeat endlessly and build muscle memory.
    He did also say he can only do it so much before his wife objects and she's a classical cello player and often his duo partner.
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • ScoredogScoredog Santa Barbara, Ca✭✭✭✭
    The only practicing I could do while the TV was going and get something out of it was practicing vibrato with an electric git, still not in front of others.
  • bohemewarblerbohemewarbler St. Louis, MO✭✭✭✭ Jordan Wencek No.16, Altamira M01
    anthon_74 writes, "In Gonzalo's how I learned books, he mentions that you should not practice with the TV blaring, or anything otherwise distracting you, and I now realize this may have been his best piece of advice in the whole book.

    I've been guilty of all too often practicing distracted, and then wondering why I don't get any better.

    Since I turned off the TV, In the past 3 days, I've improved more than the last 3 months...."

    Yet, it almost seems everyone's post on this thread suggests practicing in front of a TV (if your wife will allow it!).

    As I noted previously on this thread, I improved considerably in my playing when I began following Joscho's Stephan’s advice, staying focused on my goal at hand while practicing and not letting my performance towards that goal falter. John Jorgenson said something similar. When he practices, he said he stays at the same level of intensity and alertness as when he's performing on stage. This, he claims, has prevented him from allowing sloppiness and unwanted habits from occurring in his playing.

    But that's not to say that allowing for distractions are always bad while trying to accomplish a goal, provided those distractions are kept as distractions and not an unconscious part of your practice. In other words, this suggests to put the guitar down while distracted. From what I've read and learned from others is that those distractions should not become a part of your practice and playing because your old habits can creep in and you are unconscious of that occurring because you're distracted. Duh!

    Perhaps noodling on the guitar could be a positive thing, provided that it is keeping your fingers limber and you are completely confident that the muscle memory you're building while distracted is working for you and not against you.

    The latest research claims hypothetically here that if you can remain focused on your playing and practice while the TV is on can benefit you because your brain is making connections to other stimuli that seems to help cement what you're attempting to learn. The brain does this while we are not aware of it. It seems somewhat counterintuitive, but this is what the latest brain research is showing. Of course, it doesn't have to be TV. It can be crickets chirping outside, children playing in the next room, practicing in another place from where you normally practice, etc. But once you're distracted while still trying to practice and play the way you want to play, then you're having a battle of focus that will inhibit your desired performance.

    Meanwhile, taking a distracting break is also good to your objective because the brain is still accomplishing things toward that end unconsciously it seems - provided that what you've put into your learning was positive towards your goal; otherwise, you are cementing bad habits that have to be unlearned.

    I like Gonzalo's advice, and it seems to be working for you. You should also check out the book, How We Learn, by Benedict Carey.
  • anthon_74anthon_74 Marin county, CA✭✭✭✭ Alta Mira M 01
    edited July 2015
    "Any kind of playing while watching TV would drive my wife up the wall, yours must have a high tolerance"

    I only do it late at night when everyone's asleep, or when nobody is around.
  • scotscot Virtuoso
    I think the real point here is that for the kinds of technical things we might look to learn from Joscho, or any teacher for that matter, a highly focused practice regimen is essential. Even though I rarely watch television (who has time?) my practice time is nearly always distracted by some external input or my own stream of consciousness. No doubt why my musical ideas are usually OK but my technique is so bad...
  • anthon_74anthon_74 Marin county, CA✭✭✭✭ Alta Mira M 01
    Here's a good example of what I mean - Sometimes when I'm watching TV, I'll practice an arpeggio etude over the changes of a song or two. I started realizing that I was still getting lost these very songs.
    Then I did the same thing, undistracted, to a playalong track, WORLD of difference.
    On the other hand, noodling and creating new lick/phrase ideas can be something one can do distracted.
  • bopsterbopster St. Louis, MOProdigy Altamira M30, Gitane DG-370, Wide Sky PL-1
    The pianist Hal Galper talked about having a conversation with someone while you play, as being a good exercise. It helps you get out of your own consciousness' way, and let your ideas come out, (as the Car Talk guys used to say "unencumbered by the thought process").
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