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Old 05-24-2013, 12:53 PM   #1
The.new.guy
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Join Date: Jun 2008
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Getting out of a rut.

I'm in a rut with creativity, and a plateau with my speed. The creativity part is a pretty easy thing for me to overcome. I've done it many times before. However, my speed seems to be stuck at around 120-130BPM playing 16th notes. Any ideas how to overcome this? I've heard a couple of things...

Play faster than what I can for a while and slow it down. It should feel easier. The problem with this is that, for me, I only use this for short-term plateaus. This has been going on for a while. I've tried it with no success, nonetheless. It feels easier, but only for a short time.

Slow wayyyy down and speed it back up. I've tried this over and over and I still can't seem to break this barrier. I've tried slowing down for days and speeding up by as little as 5BPM/day, and I still hit this wall.

Any ideas, guys? I'm sure either one of these ideas would help, but I feel as though I'm missing something. There was an exercise that helped me out a lot with my last plateau, but it doesn't seem to be doing anything here.

Thanks, in advanced!

EDIT: I just wanted to re-introduce myself. I used to be quite the frequenter around here, but I've been gone to JamPlay.com for a while, as the video lessons helped me tremendously. Anyways, the name's Laine. I was never really known by that name, but I'm sure someone will recognize my screen name. Hiya!
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Old 05-24-2013, 01:36 PM   #2
Zaphod_Beeblebr
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You've reached the point at which simple brute practice won't be enough any more; you can't get any faster because you've reached the limit of your current technique.

What you need to do is really examine what you're doing when you're playing at your limit: look for extra tension; movements that are too large; anything too jerky or lacking in fluidity. From there you need to start practicing slowly enough that you can completely control what you're doing and entirely eliminate that bad habit, whatever it is.

Speed isn't a function of practice, it comes from good technique and just sitting grinding an exercise with a metronome isn't going to actually make you improve at all.
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Old 05-24-2013, 01:47 PM   #3
The.new.guy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zaphod_Beeblebr
You've reached the point at which simple brute practice won't be enough any more; you can't get any faster because you've reached the limit of your current technique.

What you need to do is really examine what you're doing when you're playing at your limit: look for extra tension; movements that are too large; anything too jerky or lacking in fluidity. From there you need to start practicing slowly enough that you can completely control what you're doing and entirely eliminate that bad habit, whatever it is.

Speed isn't a function of practice, it comes from good technique and just sitting grinding an exercise with a metronome isn't going to actually make you improve at all.


Thanks, Zaph! I'll check out my technique from my personal perspective, and in a mirror, and see what I can do better.
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Old 05-24-2013, 03:55 PM   #4
aimeesdad
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Well, this is my first post. But I have been playing guitar for over 40 years.

I have done scales, finger exercises, arpeggios and the like sometimes 12 hours a day. I was determined to get faster, better by hard work.

This is good.

But, IMO working on phrasing, sound (like bending a note and making it SING), dynamics and such will make you not only a better musician overall, but will make speed come on its own. Just working on playing "fast" wont make you get fast all that ...uhhh.....fast.... But getting the phrase right, then slowly getting it in the tempo you want well, that will make speed secondary AND improve it at the same time.
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Old 05-24-2013, 09:37 PM   #5
cdgraves
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Play slower and take a systematic approach. The flaws that hold you up at 120bpm are present at lower tempos, just not as obvious. The only way to root them out is to work slowly and deliberately so your basic motions are smoother.

Use the metronome EVERY DAY. Start slowly, like 60-72 bpm, and play scales at quarter notes, then 8ths, triplets, 16ths, and sextuplets when possible. Same with arpeggios. For sake of consistency, just go in circle of 5ths order (C F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb/F# B E A D G) and do all your majors and minors across the entire fretboard.

Practice picking without any left hand involvement. Adjacent string movement, string skipping, rhythm ladders on a single string, etc.

Come up with your own exercises and do them every day for a few weeks at a time. You will see improvement, guaranteed. Even if your overall speed doesn't improve a whole lot, you'll notice you sound better all around and can play fast phrases when you're in the zone.

Consistent practice becomes consistent technique, which becomes consistent performance.
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Old 05-24-2013, 09:47 PM   #6
The.new.guy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cdgraves
Play slower and take a systematic approach. The flaws that hold you up at 120bpm are present at lower tempos, just not as obvious. The only way to root them out is to work slowly and deliberately so your basic motions are smoother.

Use the metronome EVERY DAY. Start slowly, like 60-72 bpm, and play scales at quarter notes, then 8ths, triplets, 16ths, and sextuplets when possible. Same with arpeggios. For sake of consistency, just go in circle of 5ths order (C F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb/F# B E A D G) and do all your majors and minors across the entire fretboard.

Practice picking without any left hand involvement. Adjacent string movement, string skipping, rhythm ladders on a single string, etc.

Come up with your own exercises and do them every day for a few weeks at a time. You will see improvement, guaranteed. Even if your overall speed doesn't improve a whole lot, you'll notice you sound better all around and can play fast phrases when you're in the zone.

Consistent practice becomes consistent technique, which becomes consistent performance.

This is great information. I never thought of the idea of picking without the left hand involvement. I suppose that would help with my focus issues.

Also, to the other guy (The guy with his first post. Welcome, by the way.), I've found that I have to focus specifically on speed to get faster. I simply can't seem to focus on phrasing and have it all come to me. Maybe I'm interpreting your post wrong, but it seems to me like speed and phrasing should be two different concepts. Nonetheless, I'll give it a go and see how it works out.

EDIT: This question has to do with Zaph's post:

Will this be a recurring problem, or will it all depend on how well I practice "perfect" technique? I'm assuming that, if I get it perfect this time, I won't have to slow down much at all after this? Not to sound like I'm whining, it's just discouraging to think that this could happen over and over again, even if I get my technique "perfect" at a slow speed and gradually speed it up this time.
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Old 05-25-2013, 09:43 AM   #7
Zaphod_Beeblebr
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The.new.guy
EDIT: This question has to do with Zaph's post:

Will this be a recurring problem, or will it all depend on how well I practice "perfect" technique? I'm assuming that, if I get it perfect this time, I won't have to slow down much at all after this? Not to sound like I'm whining, it's just discouraging to think that this could happen over and over again, even if I get my technique "perfect" at a slow speed and gradually speed it up this time.


Protip: you will never achieve perfect technique when playing. It's something that you have to work on all the time and gradually improve as time goes by, it's not something you can just do and say "well I've done that, now I can play anything".
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