What is your daily IFR practice sequence?

Would be interesting to share.

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That’s a great question, and I’m looking forward to reading the other answers.

I am not systematically doing all these steps, or in this order, but this gives an idea about what I am currently doing with my IFR practice:

  • Notes recognition
    • Using Seven Worlds Jam tracks: I randomly pick a backing track (any key). I play the backing track. I try to sing the seven notes of the major scale. I then pick one note randomly on my guitar fretboard and try to identify what it is based on the sensation. For now I’m only working with the first harmonic environment tracks.
    • Using any song/backing track: I’m doing basically the same exercise: listening to a song at random from a playlist. Pick a note on my fretboard and try to recognize it.
    • Meditation, learn the notes: I generally start playing the major scale on my guitar, in a random key. Then I just play simultaneously the bass note and another note of the scale. I listen attentively to each note I’m playing, and I try to describe a specific emotion that this note triggers. I’m trying to describe a different emotion to each note.
    • Sing the numbers: Not really part of the daily practice, but I’m trying to listen to this IFR material whenever I can.
  • Chord progression/Melody paths: I am trying to be comfortable in 1) Identifying chord progressions and 2) playing the chord notes and melody paths on simple chord progressions. I am working with the IFR jam tracks level 2, following the practice tips described in the lessons: Melody Paths and Seven Worlds Expanded. I am also doing the same practice with some songs I like.
  • Chord Melody Practice: I am trying to practice some simple tunes in chord melody. I start with singing the song, then I play it in single notes on my instrument (singer), I then add the bass and the choir. I try to feel when the chord needs to change, and work on changing my bass and choir accordingly.

I am not really doing this religiously. Unlike practicing scales, it takes me lots of focus, energy, and generally I need to be relaxed and my mind needs to be alert. If it’s not working, I don’t stress about it, and may decide to wait for the next day to practice.

Finally, I will say that this practice is based on my current progress with IFR. At this point I am not able to recognize the notes in what I hear. I am building this skill so I can really play whatever I imagine in my head. I have no idea when I will get there though. But I am enjoying the journey.

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Really interesting stuff Dave, thanks for sharing!

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The IFR method greatly changed my outlook on music and my practice in general. I always felt so lost before in trying to know what to practice and building a practice routine. I felt extremely dependent on the traditional way of practice as most music education is taught. The only issue I had with this is that it never felt personal and always felt like a chore and I didn’t enjoy practice time and therefore I found myself going longer periods of time without doing anything beneficial to my musical success.

What the IFR method did for me was give me the freedom to decide where to focus my time and build a practice method that I personally felt connected to. I’ll admit at first it was a little hard because the methodology is still pretty abstract as there’s not really a “do this then that” structure that I was used to. And everything was still very overwhelming as I was trying to rush through things to “get to the next concept”. But even as I rushed through things I still made it a point to try out the things that David recommended; just instead of following them religiously they were just kind of sprinkled throughout. What I found though, is that those sprinkled bits of action I took on his suggestions is where things finally started to click for me.

I’m a pretty impatient person, but once I started realizing that the ideas David provides were working it helped me to slow down and not rush my progress. And now the same thing that was frustrating to me in the beginning (IFR not being the typical structured practice) is what I love about the method. IFR helped me build a frame of reference for working on the things I want to work on and to take David’s ideas and make them my own.

I’ve still not made it past the 3rd exercise of the IFR method in my almost 2 years since I found the website, and I’ve gone back to the beginning of the book countless times and reread things because I seem to always find new tidbits of information that I either glossed over before or just didn’t connect with me at that certain point in time. And with guitar being my main instrument for learning I purchased the guitar video course which I have found extremely helpful in giving me sub-goals to work on that also add to my toolbox of ideas of what to work on. I also have “Sing the Numbers” 1 & 2 which are also a great tool as they too provide ideas on how to utilize the tracks and advice that helps to focus your attention on specific ideas that the song is trying to teach.

This emphasis on breaking things down to smaller concepts has been fundamental in helping my growth as it helps me to see what areas I’m having a hard time with and working on those things. For example, while learning to feel the 3rd harmonic environment, instead of focusing on the full range of the environment I can make a goal for a specific day of practice to focus on one particular aspect. I usually start with the first track of the environment in “Sing the Numbers 2” to get a general idea for the feel of the environment. Perhaps on one day I will work with just the chord tones of the environment and on another I may work on just notes 34-5 to really feel the part of the environment that gives this mode it’s defining characteristic.

To bring this long winded reply to a close, I just wanted to emphasize that my practice with the IFR method is very volatile in that I can make adjustments to my practice based on any difficulties I encountered the previous day or if I read/think of something that gives me a new idea to try and implement it.

Some of the concrete things I try to do with every practice:

  • Focus on a track or two from Sing the Numbers 1 and then the tracks associated with whatever environment is my focus for the week from Sing the Numbers 2.

  • Spend some time improvising in that harmonic environment with and without the jam tracks. (This is where I will usually fit the time to focus on whatever goal I have for the day)

  • Spend about 30-45 minutes transcribing a song

  • The rest of my time is spent improvising over music from Spotify/Pandora/Youtube

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