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a study part 2

For the last 4 ½ years I interviewed a little over 22,000 players. Some were successful full-time musicians, some were just weekend warriors, hobbyists, students or wannabe's. I left out the gifted only because they weren't part of the norm who has to work as hard at their craft. Some of the answers didn't surprise me much but there were a few that I didn't expect. I didn't just concentrate on guitar players as there were other instruments involved. The style they played didn't matter as I seemed to get most of them anywhere from classical to rock to country to jazz.

So what's my point? In my years as a successful musician I've seen plenty of animosity between us and the wannabe's. Both want recognition and respect for their work. Unfortunately, oftentimes the wannabe gets more of it than the musician who spent years paying his dues studying and practicing the art while the wannabe cuts corners by using samples (other musicians hard work), cut and paste method versus actually playing the parts. The musician feels that since you have not paid your dues, nor do you have the musicianship it takes, you don't deserve their respect or the recognition. The wannabe's say that they do deserve it and so it goes on and on.

I wanted to take several groups of musicians and wannabe's and find out exactly what the differences were regarding paying their dues to get ahead. Here are my findings.

The first question was; 
Do You Practice and for how long?

90% of the full-time musicians and pros said that they practice daily on the average of  3 hours.
2% said sometimes only when new material comes up for a gig then they will rehearse it for 4-6 hrs daily until perfected..
3% said don't need to.
5% said yes but only about an hour or so at the most.

78% of music students, beginners, intermediate and advanced say they practice anywhere from ½ hr to 2 hrs daily.
8% of those same students said that they practice over 2 hrs a day.
14% don't bother at all.

92% of those with a little or no professional training on their instrument never practice.
5% say they dabble on it but really don't sit down and seriously practice their craft.
3% told me that they don't need to because they are good enough.

The 2nd question was;

Do you like to practice why or why not?

99% of the full-time musicians and pros said that they like to practice because it's an essential part of their lives and they love to see progress in their technique and creativity. One feeds the other. It's a little difficult to play a creative solo without the technique (chops). Without the technique you can't play creatively. In other words you begin playing stock phrases and licks which in most cases are much easier.

1% neither likes it or dislikes it but understands the importance of it.

78% of music students like to practice simply because they can see improvement.
12% of music students hate to practice because it's boring and they don't see any change or improvement.

97% of non professionally/formally trained players, hate to practice for various reasons (see below).

20%=too lazy
15%=no time
03%=don't need to
14%=can't focus

03% of the non professionally trained players will make some sort of attempt to practice but get discouraged within a few minutes and quit.

I notice that those who have had some sort of training on their instrument has learned through the years the art of practicing. This entails knowing what and how to practice while the non trained players never learned that aspect.

To those that enjoyed practicing, I asked them What do you practice?

There were a variety of answers anywhere from building tone quality, scales, finger exercises, improvisation and lastly songs. 

Problems with speed? Can't quite play fast enough due to lack of technique? Stop by my page called Speed Page, I might be able to help.

Check out my music on my Jazzmeup page.

Comments Welcome!
© Markku Vuollet

a study part 1

When I was a little kid starting off learning to play the accordion, yes that was my very first musical instrument, I hated to practice. I wanted to play the guitar but my parents insisted that I learn to play the accordion. I can still remember the times where my dad sat next to me every day making sure that I practiced for a half an hour every day. Today I'm grateful for his patience even tho my heart wasn't into playing the accordion. I didn't know at the time that learning to play the thing would open several new doors for me later in life. Becoming a professional jazz keyboardist, piano and organ, and a music educator didn't even cross my mind.

It really wasn't until I decided to teach myself how to play the guitar that I began to enjoy practicing. It was something that I chose to learn and it wasn't forced on me. Practicing and learning to play the guitar was challenging for me and I forced myself to learn. I had some learning disabilities and focusing was not one of my strong points. Teaching myself allowed me to learn at my own pace and because it was something I was passionate about, spending countless hours practicing didn't bother me. Moving forward and actually learning something new every day became exciting and fun. On the accordion I liked playing stuff I already knew and hated learning new stuff but with the guitar it was totally the opposite. The more I learned, the better I felt and wanted more. Focusing became a stronger point in my life when it came to music but still lacked it in other areas. Practicing 4 hours a day at the time didn't seem long for me, it went by very quickly.

Learning the guitar also helped me focus much better on the keys and due to it made me want to practice keyboards more than ever. Because of it, I became a professional and a music educator. There has always been animosity between some musicians and artists. I wanted to find out why so I decided to do a 4½ year study on it. I began looking into practicing habits of all players. I wanted to compare the non formal educated players which I'll call wannabe's to those who were formally taught, which I will call musicians. Just because I call the formally educated players musicians doesn't necessarily in real life mean that all musicians are formally educated and vice a verse. I'm simply using the terms as a comparison for my study.

I talked to players at all levels and ages playing various instruments not just guitar. It didn't surprise me regarding the outcome altho there were a few unexpected answers. I've compiled most of the answers and grouped them but there are still a few more I have to complete. Next time I will give you the answers I received.

Problems with speed? Can't quite play fast enough due to lack of technique? Stop by my page called Speed Page, I might be able to help.

Check out my music on my Jazzmeup page.

Comments Welcome!
© Markku Vuollet