Slow Practice Exercises, Using a metronome to work slowly on technical exercises
The Professor
Jul 3 2013, 12:50 PM
Theory Instructor
Posts: 888
Joined: 8-January 13
From: Manchester UK
How Slow Can You Go

I’m sure that you have read, or heard from your guitar teacher, that practicing slowly is the best way to really get any new concept or technique under your fingers and into your ears.

But, how slow is slow when it comes to practicing guitar?

For me, the harder the technique, or the more important a concept is to my playing, the slower I go in the practice room, and always work with a metronome to ensure that my timing is perfect as I work through a very slow exercise.

That means using a metronome in various ways that you might not have thought of in order to really work on your timing, internal rhythm and solidify any new technical challenge into your fingers.

Metronome Challenge

This week, as you practice any technical item in the practice room such as a scale, pattern or arpeggio, try using your metronome in the following ways to go as slow as possible, and work on your internal clock at the same time.

1. Put the metronome on at 40 BPM and practice playing whole notes over this tempo, so four clicks on the metronome for one note played on the guitar.

2. Put the metronome on at 40 and treat this as the first beat of any bar, so you have to subdivide 4 quarter notes between each beat of the metronome, meaning the click is on beat one of each bar. Play either quarter, half or whole notes over this rhythm.

As you try these two different approaches to practicing very slowly in the practice room, use the time between notes in order to hear ahead and fix any technical issues that you are focusing on in your practice.

Try to ask yourself the following questions as you wait for the next note to be played.

1. Can you hear the next note in the scale/arpeggio/lick before you play it on the guitar?
2. Can you sing that next note in the space between this note and the next?
3. Are your fingers curved and close to the fretboard at all times, even the fingers that aren’t currently playing a note?
4. Is your hand and arm fully relaxed as you prepare to play the next note?
5. Can you keep your concentration on the exercise at hand and not daydream as you move slowly from one note to the next?

Try working very slowly in the practice room this week and see how it helps your ears and technique for any technical exercise you are working on in the practice room.

What do you think about practicing this slowly on the guitar? Share your thoughts or questions below.

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