Do You Practice Much?

I practice playing drums daily, mainly on timing and on subtle (soft and delicate) playing. Somehow I have very little difficulty playing complex parts so I don’t really practice that. As for techniques, my kit is electronic so there isn’t much to practice in that respect.
For Keys I’m in the same boat as you though, I don’t play anything other than what I want to record. After 6 years of taking lessons I had enough of practising, it wasn’t as much fun as writing and recording stuff.

But then again I’m only 20 years old so who knows what the future brings. :wink:

I practice piano about 2 hours a day, on average (except weekends)


Not practised properly in years until last Christmas. Had to do a mad show, written by Neil Hannon, playing half a dozen instruments and everything else you do in big shows. Got the habit back now. Gigs have started coming in and I’m on the piano a lot more.

From my best, I find I go rusty quickly so I need to keep on it for the sake of live stuff. since ive been involved with Cubase i play guitar less than i ever have before. Its a constant battle between the 2 priorities. But while the suns so nice right now, im usually out somewhere with my old acoustic a bit more in the day time. Cubase i do by night.


Unconscious competence and Balanced Standards
Steve - you’ve already paid your dues, and it shows in your playing and also in the way you RAPIDLY developed good quality vocal output. All those 11 hours-a-day stints. They show. And they shorten the time it’d take you to achieve quality at other aspects of music you turn your hand to. Those years of woodshedding were putting Millennia of time into your future bank. That’s how come that song you posted sounded like it did.

Now you require far less time. and are organized enough to rapidly aciever goals you set yourself - so much so that I bet it does not feel like practice, and, indeed, as you say … it is NOT ‘practice’.

I don’t think your claim is outrageous. I’d go as far as to say that too much or too little Just Ain’t Right.

Inventory of my Practice-Load, Aims and Methods.

Me - From age 8, 5 hrs per day was minimum requirement for ‘boot camp’,13 to 25, then 8 per day, to get deep into piano and guitar with singing. Cos of being an actorrrr lovie, and trainer/teacher, then I was practising and amassing ‘client-hours’ and also, Spoken Word became part of my schedule. It became more like plate spinning, and my goal became to synthesize instrumentation, singing and spoken word products. Also to as Leverage to my practice. My work with viola and percussion this last two years has been an exercise to find out how well one can streamline practice methods. The test was to jump into a new instrument.

I’m averaging 2 hours of specifically instrumental practice, one hour of spoken word, and 1/2 hour of sung per day.

Tech Practice and Raw Practice - Overview
If you read my account of Dalcroze Eurhythmics and my Love For Karin Greenhead, in Alexis’ thread, it’ll give you an idea of how, for me, there are loads of cross-overs, since the ‘key’ is in the connection between Feelings and natural Physical coordination. For me, Technique-practise is to remove NON-necessary feelings/sensations from coordinated movement, and Raw practice is to 'Fly/Pluunge/Dive/Buck and Grind for a while, and keep in my mind the question “To what extent it my technique able to Carry my feelings?” I wanna ride the Horse to Hell and back … Can the horse stand it? Does the horse falter? Does it refuse at a fence?

That gives info as to what elements of my technique [physical and mental] I need to concentrate on. having worked on those, THEN … Black Box Flight Recorder gets re-set, ready for my next Hell For Leather RAW practice.

Tech-practice sessions are pretty conventional … just get an improv going … and when I hit an idea during which I feck up and I crash and burn … swing the airplane for another try at the runway … it’s like a holding pattern UNTIL I get good enough for ‘OK, I can Move On Now’. I’ll then improvise a bit further until I fall over again, then it’s back to teh holding pattern, and attempts to land it safely on the runway.

Raw Practice 1: Generate - I simply do an impromptu concert to my ‘inner audience’ [Cf my accounts in my “Rock Ain’t Dead” thread in the old forum. If I have got my field recorder turned on, so much the better. Seems to average about 40 minutes improv, and there, the ONLY rule is that is should look like I Planned and Rehearsed it to be precisely that way. My ideal outcome is that ONLY I will know that I was doing it from a standing start of pure ignorance. The only PRIME ‘Governer’ is my feelings. The only Crucial questions is ‘Can the Dilithium Crystals take it, cap’n’. I’m basically collecting together a cocktail of feelings and organizing them as they come to me, ‘With Intent’ to present them musically/dramatically. I track here I have been, notice where I am, and extrapolate possible ‘stations and stops’ I may arrive at in the future. I then calculate from the growing ‘experience base’ of this ‘piece’ the stations and stops which will retain the maximum Choice for emotional ‘mini rants’ in the performance. When I have arrived at and moved beyond enough ‘stations of stops’, I can look at the past in THOSE terms … ie Stations rather than just ‘raw content’. At the moment I can do that, the ‘shape’ of the final ending begins to emerge - hazy at first. The ONE ‘restraining’ rule is: “ANY ideas/predictions which COMPROMISE or make more difficult the DIRECT SPLURT of RAW MOTION/FEELING/SEX/ENERGY … are to be subordinated to those ideas which let feelings flow like … like butter off a hot knife”

Now I think that’s what Steve is emphasising … I’m checking with you there, 'bro … that SOME musicians or practice/playing methods are constantly subordinating passion to over-complex containers. Matter Of Degree, though … NOT an ‘Absolute’ …
Like, I’d say Hendrix retained his cred … because he’d developed his technique so that it Carried Jimi’s feelings, rather than either Crumpling beneath them, or Crushing them.

Anyway … that Raw Practise will take me between 40 and 50 minutes … ALL of it is ‘product’.
Next step Raw Practice 2: Debrief. “Analyse” is a funny ol’ word. You can analyze from Intellect to Gut. You can also analyse the ‘other’ way round … from Gut to Intellect.

Listening through … Enhance listening skills, and ‘in and out of tune’ and ‘in and out of time’ become easier to spot - in fact it becomes an instant ‘gut’ pain. Wrong time and wrong tune is simply painful. For me, ‘training’ has been to experience more pain, more often, and thereby have more to correct. What starts off as intellect Becomes ‘gut’. Like driving - initially, all this accelerator/break/clutch stuff is a plate-spinning pain. After a while, negotiating a roundabout at rush hour becomes a tigers-on-Vaseline dance on tarmac.

Then there’s that other direction of analysis … from Gut to Intellect. Listening through … those YAAAAAAAAY I AM TEH BEST MUSISHUN IN TEH UNYVERSE BOWWWW DOWWWWWWN moments, and those OHBUGGGGGGERRRRRR I IS TEh SUXX0RZ SELL MY GEAR AND BECOME A LANDSCAPE GARDENER moments. What the feck is going on in each of those kinds of moments?
WHAT are the components of that gut response? Like … Tease apart what makes a moment work or not work. We KNOW it in our improvisation when our Great Riff Idea KILLED the entire groove we were working on. We Know when our tentative anxious-piss-dribbles-down-our-leg-Riff Idea TRANSFORMS and makes miraculous some groove we’ve had some experience of for years. Like your Muse has given a sigh you’ve NEVER heard before, and you KNOW you just GOT to remember Precisely HOW you nibbled her nipple, and which nipple it was- and what you’d nibbled just before and after.

That part of Raw practice typically takes me three periods of about an hour. By that time, the strong points and weak points of that 50 minute ‘concert’ have been addressed, and at least ONE step in the directions of either positively reinforcing what works, of resourcing what did not, has been taken. Technique Practice is a main resource here.

Develop Unconscious competence: Cycle steps at different chunk-sizes.
Testing time is when I do my next ‘Raw Practice’ … along with my filed recorder.

The above can be done with micro-segments. One Rawk Scream, or one Whammy Break can be addressed with this flip flop between Tech and raw practice. The benefit of doing it ‘Formally’ with bigger chunks, is that it gives the process an opportunity to integrate into the Unconscious, so it is ‘there when needed’ rather than making a diary appointment.

STEVE … his years of hours-a-day has given him this unconscious competence. Hence his natural achievement of his chosen goals in which simplicity, precision and feel balance each other, and his hard-won ability to maintain it with minimal expenditure of time.

All the best

I have a knack for guitar, bass and drums and have played all three roles in bands/deps over the years. I also have a knack for “balance” and learning by ear. I programmed midi files for a well-known midi-file company and when the boss discovered I couldn’t read music he asked “how the hell are you doing this work as an illiterate musician?” Then he told me he’d have to sack me if anyone else on the team found out about it.

I never practice. I’ll rehearse for a gig.

I can remember sitting down to learn a few iconic guitar solos for the cover bands but apart from that - zilch. I have a 15-year-old son who appears to have the same aptitudes. I’m trying to tell him that natural aptitude is a millstone and if he wants to be successful he MUST practice, listen and learn. He doesn’t listen to me any more than I listened to my own father (a non-musician) when he told me the same thing.

Well, I’m just telling the world that I’m a lazy b*stard and I could have achieved so much more if I’d not had the arrogance, or reluctance to learn/practice etc., born of a natural talent. The world is full of naturally talented BUMS. The secret of success is persistence, followed bt practice, practice, practice! I know that now, I wish I’d known that 40 years ago.

I’ve had some beer after a hard day slaving over a hot Cubase, I hope I don’t regret this post in the morning!

I used to practice a lot. 6 to 8 hours a day… much to the dismay of my roomates. At one point doing the Hanon scales, I ended up getting severe tendonitis in my right hand. It turned out to be a blessing disguised as a curse, because I then developed my left hand much better, playing patterns on the keys like the right hand would normally do. So now I can play two off-time patterns at the same time. :laughing:

But now I don’t have much time to practice. I was so technical, that it sounded choppy, after I let it just happen a few years ago, everything fell into place and recordings just sounded “right”… if you know what I mean. Now I’m on music 2 to 4 hours a day, and actual playing is usually about 1/2 that. But there is no organization to it. I learn parts if I need to. But I am exclusively keys. I have rarely even played another instrument.

Remember, “practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes permanent.

John Cage once said, “Playing an instrument is fine, but it`s gotta be in the way of the truly great!”

I guess there are millions of virtuosic instrumentalists out there but most of what I get to hear is lightyears away from being “truly great”, though rather conventional, utmost boring, making useless efforts to copy well-worn musical styles.

Yours “truly”


It comes and goes in spurts for me.

Usually, I’ll practice if I’m in a band since I need to learn my parts and, let’s face it, one never hears every nuance of your part the first 10 times around. This is especially true on keys since there are always bells and whistles that aren’t typically associated with keyboard players but absolutely could and should be triggered as a sample. The coordination alone for stuff like this can get terribly complex. See Rush as my gold standard for this bit.

On the guitar, I’ll practice if I’m readying to do some recording. But occasionally I’ll get a bug and will practice abstract runs up and down the neck just to practice techniques. By “abstract” I mean that there is no tonal relation between the notes but instead I’m working on patterns, i.e. play 3-4-6 from the low E to the top E string using one pick + hammer ons (and then back down again). Or alternate 3-4-6 with 3-5-6 to help avoid getting my fingers tied up when doing faster runs.

This lasts for about a week. :laughing: Then it’s back to being lazy again.

That IS interesting. Regardless of one’s training or countless hours of practice, there’s a certain something that only a select few possess that takes them over the top, from boring repetitive virtuosity into something new and transcendant. But I’d still submit that they have a foundation built on, yes, countless hours of practice.

With the triumphal procession of digital recording/the use of sequencers the process of music making has changed enormously over the last 3 decades. Recently a guy said to me while an Eric Clapton song was playing on the radio, “Oh, I love that! Great Music! It`s all handmade!”

That sounds funny to a guy like me who is drawing notes on a screen into a music-software while my buddy Mr. Groove Agent is giving me an idea where the musics heading to. Well, lets face it, I couldn`t keep a rhythm for longer than 30 seconds without a mistake. So what?

Making good choices in combining interesting sounds/loops/patterns/samples/ using effects in a surprising way/organizing the audio-material in a way that tickles my auditory nerves…(call it “composing”, if you like) and creating an exciting output is a way for “non-musicians” like me to achieve respectable results.

Countless hours of practice? In the sense of using the recording studio as a compositional tool, yes - regarding the virtuoso playing of an instrument, no!

All I have to do is put on a Nick Drake or Robert Johnson album to know I’m not quite the player I set out to be yet. And this is what keeps me going. For me, being a guitar player, well its a lifestyle choice. Not something i do or don’t do. Its the only thing in life that makes sense to me. And practise, or really just playing for a good part of every day, Its kinda just what I’m always gonna do. I like it like that.

When it comes to composing, a truer statement could not be made about me.