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Building Muscle Memory: Practice 6 Hours a Day???

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Dethlateer, Jan 10, 2017.

  1. Dethlateer


    Jan 10, 2017
    Watched a video of a very tehnically able guitarist (Lucas Mann in his "Shards of Scorched Flesh" playthrough/lesson) and he sprinkles practicing advice in there.

    There's a part where he says when you're trying to develop a technique or perfect a new riff etc. to start slow with a metronome (he reccommends 60 BPM although what he practices in that split-second example might as well be 120 BPM gallops but I digress) and practice NOTHING but that thing constantly for 6 hours a day (with 5-15 minute breaks) for 2 days and up the BPM by 10 every couple days and so on. He says this is one of the most effective ways to build muscle memory.

    Firstly... 6 hours a day? Is that really an acceptable practice schedule? I mean I practiced the same thing today for an hour upping the BPM by 10 about every 10 minutes and my hands ached afterwards. 6 hours seems like utter overkill. Am i mistaken?

    Secondly, such a long time at the same BPM? I've heard varying opinions such as "play it x times through at this bpm and if you play it perfectly then you can speed it up, if you can't then stay at this bpm" and the method I mentioned using with just raising the BPM at intervals I felt comfortable with. Is he right and I should stick to the same BPM for 12 hours worth of practice or can I get away with either of the other methods?

    Also, side question; he mentions it being important when practicing to use the absolute least amount of physical effort possible when picking and fretting. I play finger style bass. Would this approach work well with finger style or should I just pluck with a normal effort? Is he wrong and you should typically practice with a normal or even emphasized effort? Thanks
  2. There are 3 stages to learning motor skills. Cognitive, Associative, and Automatic. There is no such thing as "muscle memory".

    That said, from what I have been told by performance coaches in my golf teaching certification seminars, and the like....
    it takes around 500 CORRECT repetitions daily, for 21 days to get into automatic stage of a new motor skill.
    How do we apply that knowledge to our music practice? We practice things over and over, making sure we are 100% correct slow before fast.
    Then, through thousands of correct repetitions, we can finally perform the skill at a peak performance level.
    Once that is achieved, you have to maintain it, by using it regularly enough to perform to that level consistently.
    In other words.... woodshed your arse off for however long it takes. Everyone will be different for how long it takes them to get to that stage.
  3. Jloch86


    Aug 1, 2016
    New Jersey
    I wouldn't play the same thing six hours straight if there was a gun to my head.
  4. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    There's no way that I could just repeat something over and over for anything more than a few minutes without having something else to focus on. Sure, start repeating a new skill a few minutes at a time to get it in your brain and play it correctly. After that I start in on metronome games at as slow a tempo as I need:

    All +'s
    All 2nd 16ths
    All 4th 16ths
    Every 3rd 8th note
    Every 3rd 16th note

    Now I'm repeating without losing focus. If I can play it with this "rhythmic distraction" then know that I can truly play it.

    I agree that one should use the least amount of effort possible.
  5. There's a reason you applied this term to this guitarist. You are receiving advice from those who all in all, will probably be less technically able. They say up front that they will not put in a certain level of effort... You decide for yourself whether it's worth it and also, how dedicated you need to be to achieve whatever your goal is.
  6. So how many hours per day is that? Just guessing, I'd say about, hmmm, 6?:thumbsup:
    Charlzm likes this.
  7. Dethlateer


    Jan 10, 2017
    Not sure I get what you mean here. What if the passage I'm practicing doesn't have any 16ths, for example? Or are you making a riff into its own sort of exercise by altering it? Also what do you mean by +'s?
  8. Dethlateer


    Jan 10, 2017
    I still feel like 500 rotations of something wouldn't amount to 6 hours unless its a long passage or you're practicing very slow or both.
  9. Dethlateer


    Jan 10, 2017
    So I suppose then its not necessarily important how long you practice, just that you're practicing consistently (daily for a certain amount of time devoted to that one thing you're trying to master)? I.e. I could practice for 2 hours a day and reach the same goal the other guy reached by practicing 6 hours a day, he'd just reach that goal a bit faster in most cases?
    DrummerwStrings likes this.
  10. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Every person learns differently.
    There is no amount of time.
    Practice the thing until you can do it right every time on a gig.
  11. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    6 hours. Really? Sounds like a trip to OCDland. No Thanks.

    Get it right at and slow speed and move on. Set the metronome slow enough you can get it right. For me, the metronome is as much to keep me from rushing and speeding up than anything else. And, get it right more times than you get it wrong, don't just work a riff 47 times and then quit when you get it right once.

    Learn to pay attention to your body and mind. No matter how many times you go through an exercise, you'll reach a point where additional time on that task it wasted. A little bit every day is better than a lot once in a while. Be as patient with yourself as you would be a loved one you were teaching.
  12. Yes, consistency is a key element. The number of repetitions is a key element. The number of hours you spend is not a key element.

    Having said that, if you consistently complete the established number of repetitions to MASTER (meaning not "Just be OK" at) a task, the time can easily run into a high number of hours per day.
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  13. Pat Martino said he would practice 18 hours a day or until he passed out, whichever came first.

    But you have to know, there is a concrete reason that there are only a handful of artists who exist on a totally different and sublime musical level and several hundred thousand (plus) that exist in the good or pretty good level.

    It simply depends on your personal goals. I don't see level of effort as a right or wrong/good or bad thing. Nor is it a one size fits all thing...
    lancimouspitt likes this.
  14. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    If you can sing it, you can play it
  15. For my practice, I like to use Guitar Pro. I'll start at a BPM I can play the riff perfectly, and set it to jump at 2% intervals or so in a range. If it's a really hard riff, I'll set it at a range of 50%-60%. Once at 60%, I'll play it a bit. If it's perfect, then I'll go for 55-70 or something like that. If I reach a range I can't currently play it at, say 85%, for this example, then I'll set the repeater for a range of 75%-82%, increasing at 1% each time it's played. If I'm finding I really just can't get a riff nailed for that day, I'll move on to the next section and shoot to get it up to where I failed the last riff at. Once I've done that, I'll play one section into the next, at say 65%-75% and work on getting both sections and the transition comfortable.

    For the next day, I'll try start it at 75% and aim to hit 85% for the individual sections. After that, I'll slowly try and push it up.

    Once I have it down at 100%, I'll usually practice it at 90%-100%, increasing in 2% intervals. That way, even though I 'think' I'm hitting it at 100% bpm, it allows me to really nail the riff at a comfortable tempo and ensure that I'm playing it the same at 90% as I do at 100%.

    How long does this practice take? It all depends on the riff. I don't think "6 hours at one bpm, then increase" is appropriate. In many ways, it's like training at the gym. If I am finding a riff/technique/section is easier, I don't need to spend so much time at a lower bpm, and I can move on to areas that need more work.
  16. I think it was Gorn,who in another post opined that there was a point of "diminishing" returns.

    I subscribe to that idea in the context that you can reach a point in over-practising where your mind simply becomes bored and tired and doesn't even focus on the matter at hand any more.

    Muscle memory doesn't take as long to acquire as most people think it does.

    The important thing is that what you're learning registers in your memory.

    Muscle memory is actually brain memory. Muscles don't remember anything.

    If you don't play bass for a year, then you become "rusty". If muscles remembered things , you wouldn't be "rusty".
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
  17. Dethlateer


    Jan 10, 2017
    Well for example I've played bass for a few years now and was in a band right from the start when I picked it up. Playing sort of melodic death metal. The guys I'm playing with had been doing it for years and were much better than me, all these crazy riffs on guitar that really helped me progress from where I was. Since then I've written my own songs and whatnot.

    Lately I've come to realize that not all of my notes sound consistent (my plucking "attack," I typically try to get the fretboard bounce that Alex Webster does, but I don't like putting that much effort into my right hand because I tire quickly. As a result the faster things I do, whether it be gallops or relatively simple but quick note changes, often have a note or two that sound "flubbed." Not "wrong" or missed usually, just that when you're playing gallops or straight 16ths on an open E string for example there isn't as much note definition or consistency because the string is vibrating all over the place and I'm hitting it AS its vibrating. Maybe i just need to lower my action, but I digress. Sorry). I noticed that even playing straight 8th notes with two fingers on an open E, not all of my notes will have the same attack or tone or even volume. Its not as severe as it seems and part of me wants to attribute it to bass strings simply being big and wobbly and less controllable than if I was playing with a pick, but nonetheless it sort of irritated me that I can play all this cool metal riffage yet if I listen to myself w/ headphones I sound relatively inconsistent and sloppy.

    So I resolved to just set a metronome at like 80 BPM and practice my 3 finger technique (I struggle with this the most, going for longer than short bursts gives me the consistency issue I mentioned beforen and faster speeds I simply fall behind or can't even tell where I'm at and start faking it) slowly; 3-2-1-3 2-1-3-2 1-3-2-1 over and over. Did this for about an hour upping the BPM by 10 every 10 minutes, trying my best to get a consistent sound, but even at the slower speeds there were slight variations in tone and attack (lessened with the lighter attack I was using, but it was still slightly there, evident if you listen), so I'm sort of at a loss. I don't like this inconsistency but I don't want to play with a pick (partly because I lose versatility and partly because I simply can't; I've tried. It doesn't feel natural, bridge is further away than a guitar's so my hand feels in an awkward position). I'm afraid I might just have to live with these inconsistencies. And I mean I've watched that Flea lesson, watched videos with Alex Webster and Billy Sheehan, and they all sort of have the same thing going on if I really listen for it so... maybe its not so bad? Maybe its just the nature of playing fingerstyle? Idunno. Sorry for the rant.
  18. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    Subdivisions. 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and. 1 e and a 2 e and a 3 e and a 4 e and a. That's if it's not triplets.

    The line doesn't need to have 16ths in it. You can always subdivide in your head. The great drummer Bernard Purdie says that he always hears 16ths in his head when playing.
    Gospel Bass Player likes this.
  19. Deleted. There's just no point...
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
    Kubicki Fan and Dethlateer like this.
  20. bearhart74

    bearhart74 Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2009
    Yea its a ridiculous argument
    Kubicki Fan likes this.

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