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One of the challenges I have with memorizing licks, scales, etc., is that it usually takes me a few attempts before I get them right. Playing a lick, scale, arpeggio, pattern, whatever, repeatedly doesn't help because after a few repetitions I nail them. Similarly, playing a lick through the circle of fifths, descending half- or whole-steps doesn't really help because then I've got the pattern in my head. This includes things I've worked on for years. Of course, this is a big problem in a performance setting. Any tips? It doesn't sound very efficient to play a lick once and come back to it 5 minutes later.
 

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One of the challenges I have with memorizing licks, scales, etc., is that it usually takes me a few attempts before I get them right. Playing a lick, scale, arpeggio, pattern, whatever, repeatedly doesn't help because after a few repetitions I nail them. Similarly, playing a lick through the circle of fifths, descending half- or whole-steps doesn't really help because then I've got the pattern in my head.
First to answer your question in the thread title, the reason for practice is the simple fact that most things you need to practice take a certain amount of repetition; you're practicing them because you won't get it right the first time.

But most of what you stated in the post makes no sense to me. Possibly I'm misinterpreting, but a lot of what you are saying is contradictory. First you state that it takes a few attempts to get something right and that after a few repetitions you nail it, and then you say that 'doesn't really help.' I don't get what you mean. It must help to do the repetitions because after doing them, you nail it. And if you've "got the pattern in your head" after playing it through the cycle, etc, then it must have helped. Where's the problem?

As to the performance setting, obviously you don't want to repeat the same licks ad infinitum (if that's what you're saying). The reason for practicing a lick or phrase and playing it through the cycle, etc, is to gain flexibility and the ability to alter that lick and improvise something fresh and new when on the bandstand. Which is not to say you'll never use the exact phrase or lick that you practiced.

Anyway, I'm thoroughly confused by what you wrote. Maybe it would help to restate your question(s)?
 

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Repetition is the mother of all skill!

I think I understand what you're saying - You could spend a few hours going over your licks, then you reach a point where you nail it! However the following day, or the following week you feel like your at ground zero. The only way to fix this is more repetition. Instead of working on it for a day and forgetting about it once you've nailed it, re-visit it daily! Spent 15-20 minutes a day over the course of a month and you will be singing a different tune. Also change your mindset, think deeper! If your playing the same licks daily for a month (Yes it seems boring) but the fact of the matter is that your working your fingers, using your brain, using your embouchure during that time and will develop all sorts of skills. After a month you'll also anchor in some wonderful muscle memory. I don't have nearly the experience as most members here, from what I've learned over the last 6 months (Practicing 20-40 hours a week) this would be my advise to you.

Also, if you re-visit your lick and you can't play it, what does that teach / tell you? You have not yet mastered it, so practice it again, and again, and again. One day you'll wake up and you will be able to bust out that lick without even thinking about it.
Don't beat yourself up if you start a practice session and you can't play what you could the previous week, treat it as an opportunity to once again practice what your struggling with until you nail it again. Over the long haul I promise you'll nail it AND you'll have greatly improved.

The greats did this, I'm sure of it - During there practice, if they stumble through an Idea, they will hammer it out relentlessly until it's engrained in there brain. The follow day if they find themselves struggling they'll hammer it out again, and again, and again.

I can' tell you how many days I've lost myself in spending an hour + just going over an F# scale, then breaking it down to working through the palm keys at say 130bpm 16th notes. Only to realize a week later I'm still struggling at it! so I hammer it out again, and again.
In the moment I would get extremely agitated, thinking to myself wow... I just wasted an hour on this scale, I ran out of time and never got to practicing the other things I wanted to work on "Soloing, Patterns, etc" On the flip side however I mastered that damn scale and it doesn't haunt me any more. My palm keys are so much smoother! and that translated into all major, Minor, Dominant, Diminished scales - I can use my palm keys more when I solo with confidence!

Don't sweat it. Your body is telling you what you need to practice / work on every time you pick up your horn. Just flow with it, over the months and years you will transform yourself!

This is a marathon, not a race. You have to commit to always improving and have fun with it! set your ego aside.

It's funny actually... Prior to picking my horn backup I was a bodybuilder, I spent 4 years working out 2 hours a day, 5-6 days a week non stop. I ate the same meals EVERYDAY! In order to be a successful bodybuilder, you need discipline, consistency, focus. I'm so grateful for that experience, it's allowed me to carry things over into my practice routine which has ultimately allowed me to progress at lightning speeds:)

I played my horn from age 11 - 19. 12 years off, and I've only been back at it for 6 months. 6 months ago I felt like a newbie, I lost everything I once had... Today I would say I'm a stronger player than I ever was when I was 19 (Tone wise not so much, that needs more time to nurture) Technically speaking I've mastered my scales, articulation, I'm the best I've ever been at altissimo, overtones, I can follow chord changes, I'm now working on rhythm. Everything is stronger than it was when I played for 8 straight years! I equate that to relentless, mind numbing practice. I never once practiced back then like I did today - I constantly played what I enjoyed, rarely did I step outside of my comfort zone. Today I'm always outside of my comfort zone, I'll play things I'm good at from time to time, the rest of the time I'm working on things I can't yet play. Truthfully I now feel like I've hit a brick wall (I spend more time in my comfort zone than I do outside of it recently) I'll be getting some private lessons soon to flip my world upside down and figure out what I should be practicing to push myself past this wall.

Bottom line however - Just play, enjoy what you play, have fun with it! Don't be self judging or critical - Your mind can ruin this.... Look at Tiger Woods, once upon a time he was the best golfer on the planet, yet some days he played like an infant. If he wasn't having fun, if he was to self critical he couldn't let his talents flow naturally and he played a ****** game. Use that knowledge!
Whenever you find yourself unable to play something smoothly, don't judge it and run away from it, hammer it again and again until you get it! If you can't play it the next day, hammer it out again, and again, and again (Make sure you have fun doing this) Understand that over the course of a year you'll be able to look back and say Wow! I'm so thankful I put all of this time into this, I've now mastered it and I can focus on other areas of the horn.

I hope this helps:)

Keep it up buddy!
 

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Repetition is the mother of all skill!

I think I understand what you're saying - You could spend a few hours going over your licks, then you reach a point where you nail it! However the following day, or the following week you feel like your at ground zero.
In the words of my teacher, red price, "don't practise until you get it right... practise until you don't get it wrong."
 

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My teacher in college basically told us if we're making mistakes when learning a new piece then you're practicing it too fast. He believed that when learning a piece you should play it 100% accurate the first time. In order to accomplish this, you gotta slow down that metronome and take it slower. So slow that you possibly can't mess it up. Then bump it up a couple notches after you can get those parts semi-memorized. Take about 3 months working a piece like this everyday and you'll find it hard to make mistakes.
 

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I think I understand what you're saying - You could spend a few hours going over your licks, then you reach a point where you nail it! However the following day, or the following week you feel like your at ground zero.
Ah ha, is this what Donald was saying?! Thanks for clearing that up. You're a much better interpreter than I. But this makes sense and everything you say in your post is right on the money, Pleiadian...

Donald, I'd add that what you're experiencing (assuming Pleiad got it right) is very common. Universal, in fact. You might think you have something down after one or two practice sessions, but more often than not it takes far more 'time in the saddle' to really nail it down. As Pete quoted, to reach the point where you simply can't get it wrong. I can think of countless times on a gig where I decided to play one of my favorite ii-V licks and then when I went for it, I completely botched it! Back to the woodshed... I know I really have it when on the next gig I play something that I have practiced many times, but now it simply comes out without me thinking about it. IOW, without planning to play it.

But yeah, this is why you have to keep revisiting and practicing certain things over a long period of time. That includes tunes of course (and everything else).
 

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S L O W.

Painfully S L O W.

A metronome won't help because they aren't S L O W enough.

Play note 1. Play 1 and 2. Play 1, 2 and 3. Then add note 4. Do this in bite size pieces (i.e., phrases) until you have them down and then link them together (one at a time).

It may seem like this takes way too long, but play it fast (and wrong) 10 times in a row. Then try to unlearn what you have just done. On your 50th try you may see that the slow way was faster and more solid.

Mark

I often wish that I took my own advice.
 

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Mark Fleming;3880022 I often wish that I took my own advice.[/QUOTE said:
+1 Me too. Wish i could always be doing what i should be doing. Like having patience and getting it down slooooow first.
 

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In the words of my teacher, red price, "don't practise until you get it right... practise until you don't get it wrong."
I say that exact quote in my video at 1:05! I heard it from Denis DiBlasio - funny how these things spread around, and we don't really know the source!
 

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I won't hold it against you that you have a degree. I"m sure it didn't help you in the least to be great teacher . (tounge in cheek )
 

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My teacher pointed out that if you practice in a hurried, careless, or distracted way, you're actually practicing mistakes -- and learning them! Whatever you do, make it right, and make it sound good. Even if that means slowing down to a crawl, or breaking down a difficult passage to its smallest component elements (one interval, one articulation, one dynamic shift, etc)
 

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My teacher in college basically told us if we're making mistakes when learning a new piece then you're practicing it too fast. He believed that when learning a piece you should play it 100% accurate the first time. In order to accomplish this, you gotta slow down that metronome and take it slower. So slow that you possibly can't mess it up. Then bump it up a couple notches after you can get those parts semi-memorized. Take about 3 months working a piece like this everyday and you'll find it hard to make mistakes.
+1
 

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When I was playing a lot of classical music on flute and also was in a big band on bari i used the the same mental technique.
On difficult passages I would isolate them and play slowly until perfected.
Then I would {still do] "sew" them into the longer phrase by overlapping so there wouldn't be a stumbling break.
 
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