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Mike Greenberg

 

From:
Nashville, TN
Post  Posted 6 Dec 2019 8:48 pm    
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I'm wondering if anyone has particular practice routines etc. aimed at developing more accurate and quick movement from pedal to pedal. Or perhaps any particular tricks or techniques that you've got upon. Essentially... Developing muscle memory for foot positions.

I'm particularly interested in hearing how people approach this on universals or any other copedents that (can) involve relatively large jumps between pedals.

Lastly, I should say that I started thinking more about this as I was trying to make the leap from my B pedal (for a Dom 7th chord with Es lowered) to my 5th and 6th pedals. So if you've had this particular challenge....

Curious to hear your thoughts!
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 7 Dec 2019 2:58 am    
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it's a great and valid question but it is not limited to Pedal steels, Uni's etc...

Practice routines are specific , what we practice and how we practice determines the level of success.

Knowing what we should practice and then actually doing it are primary.

If the issue is moving from one pedal to another accurately then that is the routine and we do that over and over again until it is now part of our automatic process. Everyday for specific amounts of time, repeated. How much time each day ? Thats up to the individual . If you only do it a few times a day then it may take a very long time to succeed , if you do it multiple times , maybe a few practice sessions each day, then it will happen faster, obviously .

This is called perfect practice. It doesn't really matter what the ISSUE is, how we address the issue is key.

Regarding the UNI setup, I don't have one so others would have to chime in, it is possible that a different configuration may be recommended to make the "physicals" easier. But the issue is still the same, deliberate and repeated practice. The 10,000 hour rule.

Years back when I was starting to play, I was clumsy and off pitch, a good friend told me I was, we laughed. Then he said do this... xxx.. do it for 10 min a day for 30 days...Then he said if you do, you will be the best in the area doing that, you will still suck at everything else but you will be GREAT at that one thing. Then add a 2nd movement and so on and so on...

Pedal Steels are difficult to begin with but the practice routines and how to improve are no different that any instrument or skill.

So how do I practice, what do I practice ? First I make mental notes on gigs, there are some things I just know I am not executing well. When I sit down behind the Steel at home those are the things I run thru over and over again. I don't wander playing enjoyable things until I have spent time on the things I know need work. Many times I seek redundant positions for those "phrases" that are giving me issues , next thing ya know a bright light shines and new positions arrive right in front of my eyes. I do the same for guitars and Dobro. Some days I may sit and only play a single phrase over and over for half an hour and that's it for the day.

Above you called it muscle memory and thats correct but it's also brain memory. Over and over again. Those weird pedal positions become as normal as the AB pedals on an E9th, and thats the point.

Now there is another wrench to add to this. Doug J once said to a few of us, if we are playing things that take too much energy it can and will detract from the music. Meaning what we play , how our instruments are setup, should take the least amount of energy ( movement) . We should not be fighting the music , it should flow smoothly. Are we playing an entire 3 or 4 note chord when a single note or 2 note chord might fit the music just as well in a much easier position ? Things like that. Then he added, How well do you know the fretboard ? Uh oh...Brick wall ahead !

The primary thing about these types of things is repetition. IF we do it all the time we succeed, if we only do it now and then, well what are the expectations ? What should we expect ? Good luck, just my view.
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Mike Greenberg

 

From:
Nashville, TN
Post  Posted 7 Dec 2019 7:53 pm    
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Thanks Tony!
I really appreciate your thoughtful reply, and insights. I love the story about "you'll be the best at that one thing...." idea. Great thing to remember.
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 8 Dec 2019 12:40 am    
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Mike Greenberg wrote:
Thanks Tony!
I really appreciate your thoughtful reply, and insights. I love the story about "you'll be the best at that one thing...." idea. Great thing to remember.


Very Happy

Mike it is a beautiful thing ! but we gotta remember, we actually do have to do the exercise repeated everyday ! Laughing

Years back Reece Anderson ( RIP) used to chime in on these types of questions with his view on what he termed as

PERFECT PRACTICE

Meaning, first practice what needs to get done then go have fun !

Its kinda like players who practice playing FAST , where whatever it is they are trying to play fast, they still can't play slowly !

I suspect we all have a few things we need to improve on, those are the things we should be putting at the top of the list for our practice session, if only for a few minutes each time.

Have fun !
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 8 Dec 2019 1:52 am    
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Tony Prior wrote:
I don't wander playing enjoyable things until I have spent time on the things I know need work.

My old trombone teacher said simply "Don't practice things you can play".
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 8 Dec 2019 4:01 am    
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Ian Rae wrote:
Tony Prior wrote:
I don't wander playing enjoyable things until I have spent time on the things I know need work.

My old trombone teacher said simply "Don't practice things you can play".


I guess that would be like a race car driver practicing driving at 35 mph back and fourth to the grocery store , then calling it a day ! Laughing
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 8 Dec 2019 10:44 am    
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Tony, your post is a gem. I don’t know if “perfect” practice is humanly possible, but your description of it is very close to one that I know from a book called “The Principles Of Correct Practice For Guitar”. Among the many nuggets of wisdom therein was that muscle memory does not care if you are doing something right or wrong, or if it is the most efficient use of your energy. It is vital to know the best way for you to do something before you go into your 10,000 repetitions, because if it’s not, then you have to undo your muscle memory.

And you’re right about DJ’s comment about fretboard knowledge - it is a show-stopper.
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Donny Hinson

 

From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 8 Dec 2019 11:21 am    
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One thing that helps is if your heel has a "home base" to return to. For instance, I play a Day setup using 5 pedals, and my "home base" is directly behind the P2 and P3. That way, I can hit P1 and P4 without even moving my heel. I only move my heel to hit P5, and I don't use that terribly often. But when I need to hit just P5, it's just one short "hop" to the right. My C6th necks use pedals 4 through 8, so I have a similar "home base" on that neck too.

After awhile, it becomes second nature. Your foot will eventually learn the feel and height of each pedal, along with it's location. Other than that, as Tony has said, it's just practice, practice, practice; and positioning yourself properly (read: consistently in the same place) behind the steel. After a few tens of thousands of pedal moves, you'd be surprised how easy it becomes! Winking
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 9 Dec 2019 3:20 am    
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Fred Treece wrote:
Tony, your post is a gem. I don’t know if “perfect” practice is humanly possible, but your description of it is very close to one that I know from a book called “The Principles Of Correct Practice For Guitar”. Among the many nuggets of wisdom therein was that muscle memory does not care if you are doing something right or wrong, or if it is the most efficient use of your energy. It is vital to know the best way for you to do something before you go into your 10,000 repetitions, because if it’s not, then you have to undo your muscle memory.

And you’re right about DJ’s comment about fretboard knowledge - it is a show-stopper.


Ha! Fred,just payin' it forward ! Very Happy
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 9 Dec 2019 3:21 am    
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Donny Hinson wrote:
After a few tens of thousands of pedal moves, you'd be surprised how easy it becomes! Winking


Thats gold right there ! Laughing
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Gene Tani

 

From:
The Pacific NW,
Post  Posted 9 Dec 2019 6:57 am    
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Fred Treece wrote:
Tony, your post is a gem. I don’t know if “perfect” practice is humanly possible, but your description of it is very close to one that I know from a book called “The Principles Of Correct Practice For Guitar”. .


I'll have to look that up in my libraries. There's a few other books about practicing music I like. I think all of these were also in my public library, "Inner Game of Music", Kenny Werner's "Effortless Mastery" and

https://www.amazon.com/Music-Practice-Practicing-Instrument-Professional/dp/151221583X/

https://www.amazon.com/First-Learn-Practice-Tom-Heany/dp/1457507757/
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Charley Bond


From:
Inola, OK, USA
Post  Posted 9 Dec 2019 8:20 am     a type of Machine Learning
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Maybe you could fab yourself a set of blocks, attached to a thin plate (1/4" plywood x 4 wide by length needed), that will stop your foot at the precise locations for practicing the long jumps.

Machine Learning is beginning to take on new technology, that enables us to learn more precise physical moves quicker, through repetition.

Remember the analogy of the cricket, that couldn't jump out of the box, because the lid had been there for quite some time & that's all the cricket learned.
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