I've been thinking. I normally practice 8-10 hours per day. But couldn't I do more? If I only need 7 hours to sleep and a couple more to eat and bathe, I could easily reach 15 hours of plunking.
I was ready to try it out and write this post about it when I had another thought. If I'm only trying this once for now, why not go all the way? I pulled all-nighters every week for a few semesters in college. And now I have a far nobler cause than distributed computing text searches. If I could once go without sleep for 60 hours on account of a high school class I hated, surely I can spend 24 on something I love.
So here I go. I'm attempting 24 hours of not quite nonstop guitar practice. I intend to take 5-10 minutes every hour to grab a bite and update this post with a few words on my progress. I have a complete schedule worked out, but I'll allow deviation. Just no slacking off. There's no showering in the schedule, so I'll smell like ass when it's over. But what kind of marathon would it be if I didn't?
3:00pm: Woke up. Got out of bed. Time to get started. Yes, I know what time it is. My sleep schedule got screwed up, so what better time to make this attempt?
4:00pm: I spent the first hour warming up on scales, 3 notes per string, economy picking, various tempos. I like to do it over a ii-V-I groove to improve my sense of where the good notes are for each chord.
5:00pm: Worked on Dream Theater's "Overture 1928", one of my LAMA audition pieces. Need to record it and two others by the end of this month, so they'll each receive a good chunk of time today. I use Amazing Slow Downer to independently adjust the speed and pitch of any song I want to learn. I just played through the whole song over and over, starting at 50% time stretch, decreasing by 5% intervals each time.
6:00pm: Did the same thing with Charlie Parker's "Billie's Bounce". It's a shorter song, and it's not as hard to play it at full speed, so I went from 30% stretch to 0%, back to 30% by 5% intervals. I had some time left, so I worked on comping over it. Jazz blues in F, pretty easy.
7:00pm: My schedule said spend an hour on SRV's "Texas Flood". My strat that's set up for blues playing has heavy strings, so I thought I should wait until later for that. I still need my fingertips for 20 more hours. So I just improvised over 12/8 blues in G.
8:00pm: Oops. I went overboard with my 10-minute break. I made a meal and ate it, took up the whole hour. Maybe I'll make it up at the end if I'm up to it.
9:00pm: Worked on an alternate picking lick from "Overture 1928" for an hour. Not quite done with it, so it's gonna push into the next hour.
10:00pm: Finished up that lick, then worked on sight reading. I can tell I've lost my touch, as I've let this slide over the past couple weeks. It usually doesn't take long to regain this skill, so maybe I'll make room for another hour of it later.
11:00pm: Opened up my 1001 Jazz Licks book to a random page and played out of it for half an hour. Then I picked one lick and spent the rest of the hour learning it in different positions and keys.
12:00am: Once in a while I consult this list of jazz standards for ideas on what to learn. I'd like to spend more time on this every day once I'm done with the audition recordings in a few weeks. I chose "I Can't Get Started". I hadn't heard of it before. I'm sure I've heard it played, but I don't recognize it. I found it in my PDF Real Book, learned the chords and melody. I listened to a few versions on Rhapsody by Chet Baker, Jim Hall, Charlie Parker.
1:00am: I was getting that dull ache of overuse in my left hand during the previous hour, so I took it easy for this one. I put 20 more recordings of "I Can't Get Started" on shuffle in Rhapsody while spending some quality time on my interval trainer, stretching my hand, and spinning that PowerBall. I think I discovered a brilliant plan for learning intervals. No time to elaborate now, but I will soon in another post.
1:45am: Something in the apartment unit next to mine is periodically emitting a faint tone a few cents sharper than a D and it's really annoying.
2:00am: My hand felt much better after the PowerBall, so I did some arpeggios. I like to do maj7, 7, m7, and m7b5 in 5 different positions, roughly corresponding to CAGED positions. I kept it slow to save my hand, focusing on timing and cleanliness.
3:00am: Worked on the monster lick in "Billie's Bounce". I think I have it at full speed now, about as well as it can be played on a guitar. I guess I owe myself that expensive meal. It'll probably be a burrito.
4:00am: Ran "Billie's Bounce" over and over again, various tempos. A few were really slow to work on timing and intonation on the bends. It's a good tune. Doesn't get old.
5:00am: There's a formidable economy picking lick in "Overture 1928" that's been giving me trouble for months. I've been spending a few hours on it every day. Today's no exception. It's giving my left hand a rest too, as the picking is the hard part. I'm watching Mr. Smith Goes to Washington while I work.
6:00am: Still at it. I say, this movie must have half the cast from It's a Wonderful Life. George, Uncle Billy, Mr. Gower, Ma Bailey. I suppose it's the other way around, as this was made 7 years earlier.
7:00am: Weird. Jimmy Stewart just did a 24-hour filibuster. I had no idea before choosing the movie, but how appropriate. Hot dog, it's light outside. Need more coffee. I got this sort of hummingbird thing going with my picking hand now. Maybe my brain's slowing down and everything seems faster, but I don't recall ever picking this fast. It's not clean yet, but something's there alright.
8:00am: Ate more food while pursuing my new magic technique with the interval trainer. Quite exciting, and it's sure to be a fascinating post when I get the chance.
9:00am: Another hour of "Overture 1928" with particular focus on that lick I was just practicing. This was definitely the best I've played it in context. It's almost recognizable at full speed too.
10:00am: Practiced triad inversions on my keyboard. That's a thing at which I should stop sucking.
11:00am: Worked on my bend/slide move with various fingers, strings, positions, and bending directions. The simple explanation is to bend up a half step, slide up or down a fret while holding the bend, then release. I've found tons of related applications, but this one seems to encompass the others.
12:00pm: More "Texas Flood". I have all the hard parts stored in presets on Amazing Slow Downer, so I went back and forth through those at slow/moderate tempos. Ripped up my fingers a bit.
1:00pm: Learned another standard, "My Funny Valentine". Same deal as "I Can't Get Started" above. Seems so long ago. . . . Almost done.
2:00pm: Brushed up on my chords. I use an easy system for comping on jazz tunes, but I haven't put it to much use lately. I just cycled through a number of keys and found fingerings for maj9, m9, 13, 7alt, and m7b5 chords. One more hour.
3:00pm: In the spirit of winding down, I spent my last hour on a position grabbing exercise. It's not what you think; this is guitar. I open up a fake book or anything with chords and practice finding the nearest position for each of the roots as they pass in time. It's quite easy on the hands. The purpose is to get a better sense in my head of what available notes are already under my fingers for a given chord, as opposed to moving my hand to the most familiar position.
4:00pm: To atone for missing that hour for food earlier, 8pm . . . wow, I guess that's yesterday now, I decided to throw in an extra hour. That way the title tells the truth. I just jammed over a blues progression, attempted to make the most god-awful noises possible, venting really. And that's that.
In conclusion, I'll call it a success. I was doubtful of my ability to avoid the soft bed right next to my plunkin' seat, but I managed with 4 cups of coffee. Funny, I wish had more time. There's so much more I want to practice. I guess I was limited by overuse prevention. I might start breaking some of my daily routines into 30-minute chunks instead of hours. Then I could practice a wider variety every day. My priority for now is still those LAMA audition pieces though. I think I made significant progress on all three. It will be nice to get them out of the way.
Alright, I'm gonna screw around and go to sleep now. I cannot brain; I have the dumb. I feel tired. Something smells. Maybe I'll shower first.