August 8, 2020 – Live Lesson Topic: Practicing vs. Noodling

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    Live Stream: Saturday, August 8th at 12:00pm EST (check your local time zone)


    Hey guys, we are back with Live Lesson EP021! This month’s topic is: Practicing vs. Noodling.

    In this session, we’ll explore the difference between practicing with intent vs. playing things that you’ve already mastered. Oftentimes, the latter gets a bad rap, but as you’ll find out, having a balance between the two helps you become a better player.

    This month’s topic should stir up some great questions! So please post all you have below and I hope you guys join us for the live stream. 🙂



    Q: What happens in a live lesson, how long is it, and when does it occur?

    A: Live lessons are usually 30-45 minutes in length, but can extend until all questions are answered. The first 20 minutes will comprise of the lesson, while the next 10-25 minutes will be a Q&A session for premium members.

    Live lessons take place every second Saturday of the month at 12:00pm EST (check your local time zone).

    Q: Can I submit questions beforehand?

    A: Absolutely! Basic and premium members are welcome to post questions that are related to the topic in THIS thread.

    Q: Who can watch the live stream, how do I watch it, and how do I chat with Matt and other members?

    A: Premium members will be able to tune in and watch the livestream. Premium members will also be able to chat live with Matt during the broadcast.

    To watch the live stream, simply navigate to the Live Lessons Page. You will see a YouTube video embedded on the page (if you don’t see it, double check that you are logged in).

    If you do not wish to participate in the live chat, you can stay on the page and watch the embedded video. If you do wish to participate in the live chat, you will need to sign up for a YouTube account (100% FREE).

    To participate in the live chat, click on the embedded YouTube video’s title. This will open up a new tab and take you directly to the video on YouTube’s website. The live chat box can be found to the right of the video (on desktop). For mobile and tablet, the live chat is embedded inside the video and can be turned on or off.

    For further clarification, here is a video showing how to do the above (for desktop).

    Q: I can’t make the broadcast. When will live streams be released publicly?

    A: The live lesson will be released for everyone to view on Monday following the broadcast (third Monday of the month). If you cannot make the broadcast, no worries; you’ll still be able to watch the lesson. Don’t forget that you can submit questions for Matt to answer beforehand (see the above FAQ).


    Is this the right place to request a future live-lesson topic?

    I recently watched Jamming with a Band, several weeks after it was broadcast. Very useful! And leads into my request . . . how to be a good rhythm section for singers. Maybe that seems easy, compared to playing complex solo arrangements. But I think doing it well is a real art.

    Obviously some of the same tips apply, such as learning the chord progression and figuring out the most efficient fingerings. But then how do you decide the best strumming pattern? What works best for different musical genres? And maybe how to change it up during the song to be more interesting? How to make up a solo for an instrumental chorus? What happens if your strumming is syncopated in a different way from the vocal line?

    It’s a real-life situation for me. Due to Covid-19, my choir is singing outdoors, distanced, and because of those limitations we’re sticking to fairly simple rock and pop and folk standards. For example, I’m working on Hotel California (in Em). I would love it if Matt could dig into this!


    Andy, check out module 2 (rhythm) and 3 (lead) in our Theory and Jamming Course. It covers a lot of the concepts you are asking about 🙂


    I have two questions:

    There are so many techniques but just so much time. (Which is obviously an excuse because there is enough time but not enough focus and patience).

    1. A few days ago I was wondering if I could practice eg barré chords and the triplet strum at the same time. Would that be counterproductive? Would I have to be fairly good at one skill before I mix it up with another?

    The thought was to put as much technique in the little time I have at the moment.

    2. Would you solely work on one technique until you feel comfortable with it / “master” it or rather: how long would you work on one technique before you start on another.




    I have just signed up with rockclass101 barely one month ago, so within that context, here are my 2 questions

    relating to practicing
    Question: are there “techniques” for practicing? For example, I continue to struggle with Rainbow Connection bar 28 and a few other places where you have to transition from one chord to another. Are there ways to practice chord transitions other than repetition? 

    relation to noodling 
    Question: How do I transition myself to be able to noodling? 🙂 I can only play with a music sheet in front of me. Are there ways to transition or train myself to gradually become a noodlinger? 



    This was a very useful lesson. I encourage people to watch it. It will give me more structure to my practice routine and reassures me I’m on the right track. Thanks Matt.


    “The thing about noodeling is it shouldnt feel productive”

    Love that quote from the lesson!
    It helped me a lot to calm down a bit since my recent research for “mastering” practice put me under a lot of pressure to do it the right way.

    Take back the fun!

    Thanks rock class for all I was able to learn through you. It has already brought me lots of fun.


    Wonderful lesson and thanks for answering my questions.

    My biggest takeaway is that practice to build skills and play to make these skills your own. 

    I also learned that it is OKAY not to remember all the songs I have ever learned. Instead, focus on the skills acquired when learning each song. I was already thinking that I have forgotten about the July song. I am sure the skills I learned helped me build my skill toolkit, granted I may not feel like so at the moment. With time, I am sure all those hard work will pay off.

    One more thing, learning and playing music should be fun! Stop judging and start enjoying 🙂

    Thanks for an insightful lesson.


    A bit delayed, but – how much of noodling would you consider improvisation vs playing what you know?


    @shann0potato – I think it depends on the context. Are you noodling with or without intent. For example, “with intent” could be jamming to a blues backing track to help come up with licks or phrasing ideas. “Without intent” would be playing the same song(s) everyday for months without learning anything new. The latter still develops technique/playing skills, but intent will get you farther in the long run.


    Thank you, Andrew! That’s a really good clarification. My brain automatically grouped “noodling” with “improvisation” – in which case I (thought) I never do much noodling. But I will play songs or phrases that I already know ad nauseam. So even though I enjoy practicing (with intent), it’s good to know I’m not completely out of balance! I’m still working on bridging the gap between a memorized set of fingerpicking patterns/chords and being able to freestyle those fluidly (for example, in a jam setting). Sometimes I worry that I don’t improvise with the ukulele enough to get there.

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