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Sage Wisdom

"Good improvisation communicates harmonic progression melodically. Effective melodies manipulate harmonic content through the use of guide tones and preparatory gravity notes, masterfully woven in systematic tension, release, and transparent harmonic definition."

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January 31, 2006 | Practice Regime; A Balanced Diet

Mind, Body, Spirit

If you want to grow in musical "wholeness" in your mandolinning, you'll need a practice regimen that tackles and balances all three aspects of playing.

Mind: theory, chord & note relationships
Body: stretching, facilty, tone
Spirit: literature, aesthetic, improvisation

If you are fortunate enough to be able to practice in intervals of 60 minutes, a good approach would be to sandwich your session with 20 minutes of warm-up (scales, arpeggios, chopbusters), and 20 minutes of new literature (classical, fiddle-tunes, jazz standards). Of course, the time allocation doesn't have to be these exact proportions, but if you are sure to cover a minimum amount of your mandolin "workout" with these basic elements over a longer period of time (weeks, months), this balance will make you a far better musician. Don't ignore scales, but don't make that the majority of your practicing. Don't just run down fiddle-tunes, you really need the thorough conditioning and fretboard familiarity of a good regimen of scales and arpeggios can give you.

If 20 or 30 minutes is all the time you can afford yourself, the principle of balance remains. You might want to break this up over a few days, but you still should be able to look back over the course of a week and see all there areas covered.

The "in-between" time is about finesse, mastering old material through repetition and careful polish and scrutinty. Make your music something someone else will want to listen too!

Your practice time is not unlike the physical conditioning of a professional athlete. It's all about muscles, albeit smaller, but the idea of proper warm-up and stretching applies. It's even better when you can incorporate both physical & mental at the same time, for example, running arpeggios in chord progressions (see FFcP patterns), thinking the chords while conditioning the fingers.

Make the best of your practice and be whole...

Posted by Ted at January 31, 2006 7:29 AM

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