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Efficient Practice Hacks – Creating Feedback Loops

Efficient Practice Hacks – Creating Feedback Loops

feedback loops

I recently wrote on Feedback Loops, and I got a few questions on it. So I wanted to go a bit deeper on the topic, particularly, by giving you examples of “how not to” and rather “how to”. It helps to have examples  – whether it is to improve yourself or others! Make sure to download the info graphic if you don’t already have it.

Creating Feedback Loops

In my never ending hunt for effectivity when practicing, I talk about harnessing the power of feedback loops. Whether the source of feedback is you, friends, teachers, methods or tools, feedback works best when it is encouraging and positive, so:

  • choose your own thoughts wisely,
  • pick encouraging team mates and teachers who understand the importance of this,
  • be specific
  • remember that immediate feedback (right after the practice or performance) has the best effect.
  • Feedback increases awareness and creates an opportunity to improve.

Always follow these rules of giving feedback effectively (whether to self or others):

Stay on the behavioral level: Comment on the behavior level (doing), not the personal/identity level (you are).

Be as specific as possible with suggestion on how to improve

Focus on the present, not past or future


  • Not: Your timing still s#x.
    • But rather: You tended to be a bit ahead of the beat in the chorus. Lean back a hair. Alternatively, set the tempo a few clicks faster and see how that feels.
  • Not: You solo like a bass player. Root, root, root! I guess you can’t break from old habits, can you?
    • But rather: Experiment with using chord tones other than the root on the downbeat. The third or seventh for example are safe choices. Here is a way to practice this…
  • Not: Okay, this is Jazz! Are you a rocker or something? You phrase this like it’s hard rock. This is supposed to swing, man! They say: “It ain’t mean a thing…” for a reason!
    • But rather: You played the eighth notes of this swing a bit on the straight side. You could take a listen at the drummer/do this exercise to feel the triplety subdivision a bit more natural. Here are some exercises to open up your swing feel a bit.
  • Not: Are you tone-deaf or something? This is not the right scale for this chord!
    • But rather: A few times you played a major third over the minor chord. Let’s isolate this sound and compare it with other, possibly better note choices and examine which pentatonic shapes/tonal material work best with which chords and why.

Sources of feedback loops are

  • self (self monitoring, awareness, deep listening and watching, using tools)
  • others (teachers, band mates)
  • tools (metronome, mirror, back ground tracks, the PORA technique etc).

Some of my favorite feedback tools:

  • a mirror to see yourself
  • a recording device to hear yourself
  • a metronome to check on timing
  • a tuner or drone note for fretless and combined ear training and fretboard training

I maintain: it is not in the quantity of practice, it is in the quality!

If you are looking to get the biggest bang for your practice time buck, check out this linked article and infographic, because here is exactly how. If you implement just one of these tips, you will see big and fast pay-off!

Read the article on notreble here and download the handy info guide I made by clicking the thumbnail below.

Enjoy and give feedback on this article in the comments, please!


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