See Day One first.

Yesterday was day two, the middle ten hours of Steve Vai's 30-hour workout. The overall structure was identical, but with a different subset of material within each hour.

Have another breakdown.

Hour 1: Finger Exercises

Yesterday I got through angular exercises, which I thought were useless, legato trills, and sweep picking. I think trills are a practical use of non-musical exercises. The exercise involves trilling between all six combinations of two fingers for a minute at a time. You won't be learning any scales or musical ideas, but this is the only way you can isolate the technique.

In sweep picking, for example, Vai might try to exhaust all possibilities of fingers on strings and practice every single one. But you already have a formidable array of real arpeggios you can use and learn while you're practicing the technique.

As far as I'm concerned, unless a non-musical exercise is the only way you can isolate a technique, it's worthless. There's no reason to avoid learning a musical idea if it can be done at the same time.

Hour 2: Scales

I worked on penta-chronic (what!) scales all over the fretboard. I set the metronome at 60bpm, started at the third fret, played through all five positions at two notes per beat. Then I slowly climbed in tempo, moving up a fret after each cycle of positions. I went to three notes per beat, back to two, up to four, back down to two, up to five, etc.

Hour 3: Chords

After working on memorization on day one, the second section was strumming patterns. It's not necessarily about learning new strumming patterns, more about the performance of chords, switching quickly and cleanly, hitting every note as intended.

I ran a few ii-V-I-VI progressions slowly enough to get it just right.

Hour 4: Ear Training

This is cool. I came up with an idea for recognizing random intervals. When I test myself on this, I usually hear a root note in my head in addition to the interval that's played. When I hear a major third by itself, I don't always hear it as the 1 and 3 of a major chord. Sometimes I hear it as the b3 and 5 of a minor chord. Both intervals are a major third, but when I hear it as b3 and 5, I get this minor tonality in my head and mistake the interval for a minor third.

So I made a list of all the possible intervals between any two notes of the major scale. Now when I hear a major third, I know it can only involve a few specific scale degrees: 1-3, 4-6, 5-7.

In yesterday's ear training, I used this list with every new interval and tried to hear it in every context before moving on, singing notes aloud when necessary. The next step is to expand the list to include the entire chromatic scale. Now I can memorize not only the sound of the interval, but what it sounds like in every possible context.

Hour 5: Reading

I opened my 1001 Jazz Licks book to a random page and learned ten licks. (I don't just flip it open. I use a random number generator, of course.) Once I could play through all ten licks, I picked one at random (again, with the generator) and worked it out at faster tempos, different keys, different phrasing, etc.

Hour 6: Writing

I opened a jazz fake book, looked for a tune I recognized, settled on "St. Thomas." Started composing a solo, made it halfway through a chorus. I'll continue today.

Hour 7: Theory

Spent more time on Wikipedia learning about counterpoint and the augmented sixth chord.

Hours 8-10: Jamming

I spent the first hour on SRV because I didn't get a chance yesterday. Still getting used to the reduced string gauge, gotta get those bent notes intonated just right.

For the last two hours, I just sat in the dark in my living room running blues licks, trying to employ the vibrato, slides, and bend/slides I worked on yesterday. It's really amazing what you can come up with if you focus with no distractions. I found at least five new ways to combine a bend and a slide into a single fluid move. I'm not very good at them yet, but when I nail them, they sound great in a blues context.

The best part is that I'm not picking these up from anyone else, so it won't sound like I'm copying another style. It all comes from focusing on a single aspect of your playing. If you think you've learned all possible methods, you've really only learned all the conventional methods. If you keep chipping away, you're bound to discover something you've never been taught, possibly something that's never been done. Before you know it, you may even have an original style.

I hope that's how it works anyway. I'm sure investing a lot of hours in it.