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> Why Practice Slowly When You Want To Play Fast?
Kristofer Dahl
post Jun 4 2019, 09:23 AM
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I recorded this video to welcome Rids back to the forum - but it struck me this is a highly relevant topic to anybody working on building their chops.

So here is a question for you - do you ever practice way below your comfort speed? Why / why not?



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Rids
post Jun 4 2019, 02:44 PM
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One the most useful advice I got from a guitar instructor.

Again Kris, I've got nothing more to say than thank you very very much!

To all GMCers this video is PURE GOLD!
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Monica Gheorghev...
post Jun 4 2019, 03:38 PM
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I always practice very slowly from many reasons:

- it's a good way to train my patience. Always playing below the comfort zone it's a very hard thing but it's a highly necessary one.

- learning to play correctly, clean and clear at a very slower tempo, helps me to have accuracy and precision at higher speeds. From my point of view these are the essential elements which make impressive the fast playing, not the speed itself.
I don't accept to hear missing notes in my fast playing, so... this kind of practice really does miracles.

- at slowly speed I have enough time to pay attention at many things: hands position, subtle details, sound of each note, fingers movement, technique, etc.


As a conclusion, playing below my comfort zone it's really a rule for me and has absolutely the same importance as playing over my comfort zone. Both styles of practice come with amazing benefits and are highly important for a good development. wink.gif
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Mertay
post Jun 4 2019, 06:47 PM
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Golden advice here for me was when you commented on playing slower but with realistic motions.

One can find many giving the advice of playing slow, but very few mentions the motions must replicate fast. Thinking the past when I was struggling on things, that advice would have been a real time saver.


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Phil66
post Jun 4 2019, 09:02 PM
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Sterling advice there Kris, thanks, we have to fight our impatience and learn to walk before we can run wink.gif


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Rids
post Jun 4 2019, 09:34 PM
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QUOTE (Phil66 @ Jun 4 2019, 08:02 PM) *
Sterling advice there Kris, thanks, we have to fight our impatience and learn to walk before we can run wink.gif


It's more like perfecting a running technique with slow motion.
Walking is a different technique from running.
Walking is definitly not running in slow motion.
You don't run faster by walking better. It may help but it's not the point here.
That's why the usual advice "to play fast you have to play slow" is not a good one.
The insights offered by Kris are a more detailed and complete explanation.

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Phil66
post Jun 4 2019, 09:52 PM
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I understand what you're saying but the walk/run thing is the old one of not trying to let ambition outweigh skill.
I guess I picked a bad analogy, you can't use a sprinting technique at walking pace, obviously you'd fall over. Kris's advice works on guitar though.

I stand corrected.


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Adam
post Jun 4 2019, 11:09 PM
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Aaaaand that sexy white Solar strikes again. I swear I'll get one eventually...

Practicing at my limits is good for pushing my abilities even further beyond but it's not always a go-to strategy. To make out the most of the practice time I find it essential to create such strategy. I usually go for the 100% when practicing for the Bootcamp because at this point it's not just a matter of precision but also pushing the comfort zone. For the songs and classical pieces I usually go between 50-75%, depending on how hard they are. In general I start all of them at half speed and slowly work my way up as I get more familiar and the sequence gets into muscle memory. For really hard stuff I go 25-50%, again building up speed as I go. This is my strategy for stretched licks, like Stream of Consciousness, but also for sweep picking practice because it allows to shape my hearing and pick up any unwanted string noise which I wouldn't notice otherwise when playing it faster (also at start I used my hands differently when playing slow and fast and the trick is to do the same motions in both cases, sans the speed). Basically, all the technique-heavy stuff. Slow pace practice is also great for developing patience and sense of tempo. When whatever you are playing is really slow, it's only natural you want to speed up (pretty much ends up like Metallica's Can-You-Keep-Up contests in live shows). The trick here is to patiently time the pick strokes to match the tabs/score sheet. Oddly, that really helps.

With that said, it's possible to get used to higher tempos practicing around 40-60% of one's limit but iirc, Luca Turilli said that playing a solo/lick/riff faster than you can is healthy too, when done moderately. It kind of tells your brain that you need to be faster and after a session of butchering a solo you find out your actual speed limit went up. The key is to combine the strategies properly. That way you end up making progress even if you play 15 minutes a day.


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klasaine
post Jun 5 2019, 12:33 AM
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I know that a lot of pro musicians with decent technique (in any genre) do this ...
When they're having trouble with something they already know at the correct (fast) tempo, they will instinctively and automatically slow it down to 1/2 speed for a few passes and then bump it back up the fast tempo. Not incrementally though. Just 1/2 speed then full speed.

I didn't realize I did this until another player commented while watching me work on something during a sound check.
He said he did the same thing and then I started noticing that a lot of players do this.

Again, this is just for passages that you already know (or knew) but are having trouble with after maybe not doing them for a awhile. Like a riff or lick in a song that you haven't played in a long time.

Just something to think about.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Jun 5 2019, 01:34 AM
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Todd Simpson
post Jun 5 2019, 04:57 AM
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This video is brilliant and I think it should go on the front page. It explains in detail why playing things with precision/control is part of the process. It's certainly not the only part of the process, and playing above ones actually ability, or in burst mode, are also things one can do as part of the process. But, one has to actually be able to play a given lick, scale, etc. with precision and control in order for it not to sound rushed/sloppy, etc.

Working up to the point where one can play briskly and still maintain control over a vast distance of ground, is the goal of many players and honestly takes ardent, dedicated practice. That's what separates wheat from chafe. It is a process and has to be earned hour by practice hour. The good new is, once you ear, it, it's yours forever and anyone who plays guitar can hear it in your playing.

Todd
QUOTE (Kristofer Dahl @ Jun 4 2019, 04:23 AM) *
I recorded this video to welcome Rids back to the forum - but it struck me this is a highly relevant topic to anybody working on building their chops.

So here is a question for you - do you ever practice way below your comfort speed? Why / why not?



This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: Jun 5 2019, 05:08 AM
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Kristofer Dahl
post Jun 5 2019, 06:54 AM
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Awesome you guys dig this video - and thanks for the feedback. Here is an attempt to summarise:

* Playing below your comfort speeds gives you faster progress - especially if you haven't done it before.

* When doing so, you need to make sure you hand/finger movements are as a small and consistent as possible - so that they convert into higher speeds.

* Playing fast then your ability is also OK - in order to show your brain where the target lies. However this should be done for a minimum amount of time in order not to mess up your technique.

* Other benefits of practicing super slow: better control of tension, muting / cleanliness, improvisation / spontaneity, motion economy

* if one can't play a lick slowly, one does not know how to play the lick

This post has been edited by Kristofer Dahl: Jun 7 2019, 09:53 PM


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Todd Simpson
post Jun 5 2019, 10:54 PM
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Very well said. There is a LOT of controversy for some reason about playing slow to play fast. You did a great job of explaining what it actually means. It's not just playing slow. It's playing the way you will be playing when playing fast, (e.g. correct minimial motion/economy of energy output from hands/not tensing up) just doing it at a pace that allows precision. Also another great point, if one can't play a lick slowly, one does not know how to play the lick


QUOTE (Kristofer Dahl @ Jun 5 2019, 01:54 AM) *
Awesome you guys dig this video - and thanks for the feedback. Here is an attempt to summarise:

* Playing below your comfort speeds gives you faster progress - especially if you haven't done it before.

* When doing so, you need to make sure you hand/finger movements are as a small and consistent as possible - so that they convert into higher speeds.

* Playing fast then your ability is also OK - in order to show your brain where the target lies. However this should be done for a minimum amount of time in order not to mess up your technique.

* Other benefits of practicing super slow: better control of tension, muting / cleanliness, improvisation / spontaneity, motion economy
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Kristofer Dahl
post Jun 7 2019, 09:54 PM
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QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ Jun 5 2019, 11:54 PM) *
Also another great point, if one can't play a lick slowly, one does not know how to play the lick


Good one, added!

I think we are working on the X GMC commandments?! cool.gif


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Todd Simpson
post Jun 8 2019, 01:22 AM
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That is a great name/idea for a lesson or a reference article. Such great wisdom of the Axe here. Should be enshrined for good in the wiki and the lesson archive for sure!!
Todd
QUOTE (Kristofer Dahl @ Jun 7 2019, 04:54 PM) *
Good one, added!

I think we are working on the X GMC commandments?! cool.gif
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