Work solely on basic rhythm, 1 or 2 chords, until good, then move on to tunes and other styles?

PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
in Technique Posts: 1,327

This feels like such a noob question, but then I'm a noob all over again, or so it feels. The "not" noob in me is always seeking the perfect practice structure, which is unobtainable. Always in my craw I guess.

So, feels like I've forgotten everything, though it is coming back in bits and pieces. "Last time," so much of my practice was in learning repertoire while trying to get la pompe down, in preparation for D in J. I think I had easily over 100 tunes memorized, in a pretty short amount of time. But disappointed in my sound itself and so hung up on so many things, pushing maybe in wrong ways despite Denis's and Ted's teachings, I think I loaded the plate way too much.

So, now, no expectations and no time by which "I want to be able to ____ by _____." I'm working through DC Denis and Nous'che, going over old notes, and just working basic rhythm. Only tune I've been working on is coquette. My rhythm is starting to swing, and in a light way I'm trying to capture.

Here's the query:

La Pompe; mastery

On Denis's site, his free lesson with Benji Winterstein just performing different styles, 3 tempos of pompe, Am-E7. I could do Am-E7 all day literally, to really get into singular focus on element 1, rhythm, 4 Ted "T's" (sorry, Ted, if I've remembered wrongly): tone, timing, tempo, taste. That, and Nous'che's work, just trying to take it in and ape him, over and over again. Before acquiring tunes. This, and maybe once again work on memorizing chords down cold - which is what I did originally; from Michael's book. No theory, just an understanding of chord construction, roots, inversions, some extensions. Very little understanding of why certain subs work (maybe shared tones, tri-tones, but that's about it).

La Pompe, chord acquisition, theory, repertoire.

Or, work tunes all the while, even if my playing on these tunes suck, which they do. I have to constantly put the brakes on and slow way the hell down, keep relaxing, etc., all while working on the basics above, all while learning chords as they come. Ted prescribed an excellent progression that may apply:

Here's a skeletal outline of how I suggest you should practice.

The only things you should have in front of your are: your guitar, a chart and a metronome.

Learn the tune as written with no subs, or anything.

Memorize it as quickly as possible so you don't have to focus on reading the chart, you can focus on how you're playing.

Once the tune is memorized (it MUST be memorized) you must focus on flowing through the changes seamlessly. One chord to the next smoothly, be relaxed and swing

Once you've done all that. Then and ONLY then, should you think about substitutions. (e.g., Nous'che's F#7-(b5) = A7).

Once you're at the substitutions phase, go and watch Hono and Nous'che and steal whatever moves you like.

Feels a bit embarrassing to even ask this now. But thanks for any thoughts.


pas encore, j'erre toujours.


  • jonpowljonpowl Santa Cruz, CA✭✭✭ Dupont MD-100, Cigano GJ-10
    edited May 23 Posts: 574

    Take a look at Sven Jungbeck's free lessons. He has several on playing rhythm and a few on "proper chords" for GJ classics. Here is a link for Coquette.

  • peterjapeterja ✭✭
    Posts: 16

    First be sure you have fun practicing.

    Next I'm quite sure studies has shown varied practice to give best results. There's the famous beanbag throw thing where two groups practicing.... well, throwing beanbags. I'm just citing from memory, but one group throws at a target at a fixed distance, the other group practice throwing at varied distances. The group practicing varied got significantly better at throwing, even at the distance the first group had exclusively practiced.

    No need for complicating things or to put to much on your plate, but I would definitely think it's better and more fun to practice a couple of tunes than a couple of chords. And I would settle for less than perfect before moving on. I'm quite sure Hono and Benji those guys knew a great number of tunes before they got everything dialed in.

  • bbwood_98bbwood_98 Brooklyn, NyProdigy Vladimir music! Les Effes. . Its the best!
    Posts: 431

    Interesting question -

    1. Warm up - make sure this is both physical, and mental. ( a perfect place for the following: two chords (doesn't really matter what - pick two your working on) at varying tempi's and timing (two per bar, one per bar, every three beats, in bossa, in swing, in ballad, in bolero, and so on). Start slow and focus on hearing what you want to hear; work up to speed over time
    2. timing and metronome drills - on each beat, on every other beat - both one and three and two and four, on a single beat in the measure, add up stroke on one beat, then two, then perhaps moving through the measure. Add any rhythmic fills you are working on (flam, rolls, polyrhythms accent moves). Also play the subdivision game - slow metronome, play quarters, then 8ths, then triple, then 16, then 5 sixteen, and so on - as far as you can and back) This can all be done on one chord, or two, or over a song (frankly so can section 1!).
    3. Play some songs - whatever you are learning - work 2-3 until you really, really actually have them. again- start slow, focusing on tone, voice leading within the chords, and sound, and then speed up.
    4. play along with a record (on tunes you know - see if you can control your rhythm to sound like hono, benji, ted, whomever is playing on track - from timing; coordination, voicing, all of it . . all by ear if you can!
    5. transcribe or steal from someone you love, but not on songs you know (this is where you will find cool shapes/subs/ideas and so on.
    6. find someone to play with who is a soloist (better, find 2-3 soloists, one at your level and a couple who are better!)

    a few final thoughts - 1 hour every day is better then one 7 hour session a week Just my 2 scents. just vary your tempo and what string the roots are on or what passing chords may be enough to create variation of learning and force skill development quicker. I would also add (and yeah, I break this rule all the time) . . charts are best avoided if/when possible.



  • Posts: 2,675

    Great advice already so far.

    I was never much of a planned practice structure student. I'd get overwhelmed if I put all this in front of myself. Of course I have goals but I prioritize and take one thing at the time. So when you say no expectations this time, that's good because expectations can quickly become a source of disappointment. But replace them with goals. Short, intermediate and long term. Define them clearly, at least some of them.

    A lot of my practice comes from recognizing my weaknesses.

    Really most importantly, as has been pointed out, work on things that are exciting for you.

    If it ain't fun, nothing's gonna get done.

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
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