Hi. How much practice time should be spent learning songs vs doing scales and exercises and things like that? What is the most effective way to build speed on the mandolin. I seem to have one speed and that’s slow and steady, lol.
If I am not mistaken, I believe BanjoBen covered this in a previous lesson - by way of a regimen he recommends for constructing practice sessions. Frankly, I could do with revisiting that one myself - for consistency.
Of late, I have been warming up with 2-octave scales, Sadly, this takes me awhile because of that tricky B-Major one with all that pinky use…
Next, I try to play something new (or a song I’m working on), try to play something older (that I know) and also try to play from memory for reinforcement for tunes I like and I always think it is important to KNOW the songs - just in case you are out somewhere and don’t have your book handy. Then again, would you be out with your MANDOLIN and not have your book handy? hehehe
Still, I think it is good to push myself to know them. Sometimes, I find I thought I had it “memorized” - only to find that a measure or two may not be exactly correct - which is another good reason to make passes back over material you’ve previously learned.
Every once in awhile, I may get adventurous to try to experiment with a different way to play a passage or a bar (something like improvising but with thought rather than complete “at the moment” spontaneity.
This is where I like the hymn lesson Ben did, to discuss the approach for learning a song, but I digress…
@Annie_Simms - I found it - as a forum entry… rather than another lesson (sorry)…
From Ben - responding to a forum member’s similar questions:
Should I exclusively pursue this ability before attempting to learn anything else?
Nope, that’s not what I meant by that. Please continue playing and exploring other things. That statement is more of a quality control statement, meant more to guard against playing things too fast for “practice” and not paying attention to what you’re doing. @fiddle_wood is hitting at the same idea with “attentive repetition.”
Should I mix my practice time between scales and other techniques? How would you structure a practice routine?
Yes, I would mix. Scales serve many purposes, perhaps the most important right now being the coordination and dexterity it develops with the two hands. I advise you to practice what you’re gonna play. Let me give you a sample one hour practice time…just a sample:
10 minutes: Warm up by playing scales and working on the stress-free single-string exercises in my vid with JP.
10 minutes: Work on a specific problem area identified at end of practice session from last time (see below)
10 minutes: Play through your favorite tunes and licks as fast and fun as you can/want.
10 minutes: Play rhythm with a song on your computer. Do you know all the chords? If not, spend needed time to find them.
10 minutes: Learn a new song from my lessons. If you know the melody of one, play along with a slow jamtrack and try to improvise.
10 minutes: Reflect on what happened over the last hour. Spend a few minutes trying to quickly improve or nail down something that you messed up. Take the most glaring problem area and commit to working on it the next practice session.
I appreciate your help. Thank you very much.