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Posts Tagged ‘practice’

So you’ve watched all the vids, learned all the scales by heart, and the only thing left to do is play them faster and more fluid because you feel you’re just slogging along and you feel your solos are choppy. Well, here’s the secret: PRACTICE. That’s it! No joke.

Of course, there are exercises that help with developing speed. But those are just exercises not meant to be musical though some may seem so. Yngwie Malmsteen has some excruciating exercises that he uses to develop speed. For awhile there, he was the king of speed. But more importantly, his playing was absolutely fluid. His secret? PRACTICE. :)

What brought this subject up was a discussion I was having with my son yesterday. He’s studying computer science, and I’m a software architect so it’s cool to mentor my own kin for a change. He’s currently learning design patterns, which is a particular specialty of mine, as I’ve been applying them to my own designs for years. Especially with respect to object-oriented programming, using design patterns really helps in making designs much more sensible and organized.

But one of the things I mentioned to my son yesterday was that in all my years as a software engineer and engineering manager, I’ve observed that roughly 95% of the people I’ve interviewed learned design notation like UML in school but have NEVER employed it professionally. To a person, their excuse has been that it slows them down.

What a crock of S$%T! In fact, the fastest developers I’ve ever worked with are those who work out the problem first, then code. Moreover, because they’ve worked out the problem first their code tends to be significantly less buggy than those who just pound out code. I’ve taught many of those developers I’ve worked with. At first, they flail with their designs, but after a couple of weeks they become better at it and faster. Then as they gain more experience, not only are they faster at coming up with a design, their coding, which at that point becomes a mere formality, is super-fast.

Here’s a great example. Back in 2007, I took on a team of developers to build our company’s very first single-page web application. The initial project lead had estimated that the project would take 13 months to complete. But teaching my team members proper design techniques, and having them practice it on a daily basis, we got the first usable version of the product out in less than four months! And it only took that long because we didn’t have a back-end developer until three months into the project! We started the project in October, and were completed with the front-end application before Christmas shutdown!

The point to this was that practice made the team and its individuals faster, but it also made their work style much more fluid. And the same applies to guitar. Speed and fluidity can only be achieved by committing oneself to practice. Yes, it’s a rather pedestrian and utilitarian affair, but there’s no way around it. You just gotta practice.

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JamVOX Front View

JamVOX Front View

JamVOX User Interface

JamVOX User Interface

Even though I have some patterns and scales that I practice, I usually end up jamming to jam tracks that I either write myself or download. But I also like to jam to music from popular bands. The only problem with this is that the guitar parts are already printed, and it’s tough to jam over recorded stuff.

But VOX has just come out with the JamVOX, a jam and practice tool consisting of softare and a mini practice amp to play along with any MP3. The software apparently extracts the guitar part from any MP3, and you can rip away! I don’t think this is the first of its kind, but compared to the solutions I’ve seen in the past, this looks like it is the most well-integrated software/hardware solution to date. I’m definitely going to check it out as soon as I can! Here are the features from the VOX site!

  • Revolutionary new GXT (Guitar XTracktion) function lets you cancel or extract the guitar part of an existing song.
  • 19 famous guitar amps and 54 effect units ranging from vintage to modern are provided as software.
  • Easy-to-use “drag and drop” interface enables guitarists to create their “dream guitar rig” without any advanced knowledge of amps or effects. Sound famous fast!
  • A music player feature with convenient functions for jam sessions or practice.
  • Import music files to jam along with from your favorite CDs, music library or MP3 player.
  • A dedicated USB monitor speaker is included, and there’s no need for complex wiring or specialized knowledge of computer music.
  • Two guitar play-along CDs containing 28 famous rock classics.

Check out a few videos:

After watching the videos, I’m REALLY stoked about JamVOX!!! And at $249.00, it’s a great deal!!! Can’t wait to give it a whirl!

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