Thanks ViG. lol. Jackson, you brought up a good point about the impact technical exercises have on your playing. How you practice inherently influences your playing at least somewhat. I agree, jamming over chord progressions idea is a good way to practice as well (especially fusion progressions!).
Don't get me wrong, technique is important; just don't let it become your playing style. Music is about expression, not how many notes you can play a second, so IMO practicing technique - mechanically or not (preferably not) - is good until you reach a point where you are not limited in creatively expressing yourself anymore. After that, you won't need to 'practice' or 'maintain' your technique if you're playing on a consistent basis.[list]However, if I were
to come up with a list of things that should be practiced IMO, here it is:
[*]Originality above all else. There is no way to mechanically practice this, either.[*]Improvisation. Pretty much goes hand in hand with originality but involves things like spontaneity and theory as well.[*]Theory. Even just enough to play in key is fine, although obviously a solid grasp on the subject will get you much farther.[*]Chords & scales. Related to improvisation and equally important. [*]Technique. I will emphasize the point I made above - chops are to be used with discrection and taste. Don't limit yourself with mediocre technique, but don't become a robot by not 'practicing' the other four items.
If you would like to see my completely un-mechanical approach to scales, check out my long post in this thread
. This wouldn't be hard to adapt to chords either.