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Jamming Is Not Practicing

December 15, 2013

bagDude: “I practice [instrument] all the time!”

Me: “Cool, what’s your routine?”

Dude: “I just, you know, put in my iPod and jam out.”

[sound of vinyl record violently scratching and stopping]

Hold the phone there broski! There is difference between serious practice and “jamming.” In fact, I would go as far to say that the two are completely different things, yet so many musicians use the terms interchangeably.

Work, Work, Work

If you know anything about me, I am a firm believer in the power of hard work. However, jamming to your favorite songs as your only form of practice is not a good work ethic and it will most likely NOT give you the results you want.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not impossible to learn something from jamming. I’ve learned lot of things from jamming, and listening can give you inspiration.

BUT,

if it’s your only form of practice it’s pretty lame. It’s not going to help you improve anything fundamental.

Do Real Practice

Jamming is fun and it certainly has its time and place, but if you are looking for good ways to substantially improve your playing, you need to practice for real.

Sit down, turn the iPod off, and learn something that is both completely new and hard. Why must it be new and hard ? Because if you can already do it, you’re not improving.

Now, we’re just getting started. Next week we’ll get a little more specific as we look at several ways to practice smarter.  But now, take a break from jamming and work on that new technique or boring rudiment you’ve been putting off.

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