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Distracted practicing vs. focused practicing

anthon_74anthon_74 Marin county, CA✭✭✭✭ Alta Mira M 01
edited July 2015 in Gypsy Jazz 101 Posts: 560
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....

So turn off the idiot box and turn on your playalong tracks.

Cheers !

Anthony
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Comments

  • Interestingly, Victor Wooten recommends some of this "distracted practice". I do both. Focussed for learning new things and distracted for discovering new things.....just a thought...

    ..I watch tv with my wife, mostly to keep her company, I use that time to noodle quietly...letting my fingers wander and when I hear something I like, I will tune out the TV ......repeat it a bunch to set it wherever it goes and move on.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • bohemewarblerbohemewarbler St. Louis, MO✭✭✭✭ Jordan Wencek No.16, Altamira M01
    Posts: 203
    I had a chat with Joscho Stephan at the Midwest GJ Fest last year. He told me that when he practices, he stays alert and focused on what it is he is trying to accomplish and sticks with it throughout his practice routine. If you are fatigued or distracted, you are more likely to allow bad habits or plain sloppiness to slip into your playing, and it becomes a part of your playing. So if you are trying to keep that rake in your 1 and 3, or the right chop on the 2 and 4, don't let that falter. Stay alert and focused on what you want to accomplish so that it becomes a part of your playing naturally to the point that if you were to become distracted, you would still be playing the way you are supposed to play.

    However, I recently finished a book titled, How We Learn, by Benedict Carey. The latest science shows that we can improve our performances by learning in different environments, something similar to what Jazzaferri describes. Always being in a quiet room while learning, for example, is not optimal. Apparently, if there are other things going on in the brain sensorily - different stimuli - the brain has more sensorial imagery to connect with what it is you are doing and therefore more staying power. So mixing up the time of day, the place you practice, and the amounts of stimuli in the environment can actually improve performance. But I don't think you want to be distracted. The author also shows that if you're stuck and not improving on your goal, give your brain a rest. It actually starts working things out on its own. The brain needs time to sort the new stuff in context.

    But that's not to say that something new and exciting could arise out of one's distraction. I think a lot of creativity can come from that. Still, I did find that when I started following Joscho's advice, I began accomplishing what I was seeking to accomplish quicker and with more sustainability.
  • manushemanushe South Louisiana✭✭✭ Lulo's Gitane
    Posts: 28
    TV and artists dont really mix in my experience. I do, however, recognize that performers have to adapt to distraction. Maybe the TV can help a performer block out unwanted stimuli by ignoring it while playing...I duno. Where is a live musical act going to have to compete with a television for attention? This thread is f'd up
  • Well, maybe it's an individual thing, but when a 5 time Grammy winner, however many bassist of the year winner, who runs a music school based on spiritual and inner development tells me it works for him, I had to try it.

    Sometimes I need to be hyper focussed on what I want to learn, say a particularly devilish rhythmic sequence (The leader and arranger for Soul Source, our 16 piece R&B band is particularly adept at complex synchopated 16 th note runs at 140-160 songs) no distractions, unless one can call a metronome a distractions.

    But after about 30-45 minutes of that sort of concentration I have to do something completely different. Sitting, being semi sociable with TV quietly in background d seems to work for me and for Vic.
    Buco
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • jonpowljonpowl Santa Cruz, CA✭✭✭ Dupont MD-100, Cigano GJ-10
    Posts: 525
    I did a workshop with Hot Club SF's "Pazzo" Paul Mehling and I was amazed when he said (as I understood him) that he likes to practice in front of the TV with the sound turned down and the subtitles on. Perhaps he was joking, but I don't think so. Of course, he is one of my favorite guitarists and the workshop was very informative.
    Jazzaferri
  • anthon_74anthon_74 Marin county, CA✭✭✭✭ Alta Mira M 01
    Posts: 560
    I agree Jazzaferri. I think both have their place, BUT you need balance. I, unfortunately, got into the habit of always practicing with some level of distraction, and never without. As a result, I found myself getting lost during jams in songs I know really well.
    I guess it's really about balance. Too much of anything will stop working.
    Jazzaferri
  • anthon_74anthon_74 Marin county, CA✭✭✭✭ Alta Mira M 01
    Posts: 560
    Ha ! Paul Mehling told me the SAME thing, so I think he was serious. But I don't have the sound down, maybe that's the problem.

    Jazzaferri
  • I have an embarrassing secret to confess to

    Sometimes I noodle fills and harmony lines to the TV music....or sometimes play something that comes to mind while watching and there is no music. I have to play fingerstyle though as picking stuff drives my wife up the wall.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • anthon_74anthon_74 Marin county, CA✭✭✭✭ Alta Mira M 01
    Posts: 560
    you mean all musicians don't do that ?
    Jazzaferri
  • ScoredogScoredog Santa Barbara, Ca✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 568
    Jazzaferri wrote: »
    I have an embarrassing secret to confess to

    Sometimes I noodle fills and harmony lines to the TV music....or sometimes play something that comes to mind while watching and there is no music. I have to play fingerstyle though as picking stuff drives my wife up the wall.

    Any kind of playing while watching TV would drive my wife up the wall, yours must have a high tolerance.
    Jazzaferrinomadgtr
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