Slow Down Speedy

Practicing while it reguire relaxed fealings also requires a lot more.

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Okay, so we all at one time or another as guitarist have run across this song or part in a song that we just could not master. Now I strongly suggest you read some of the other articles on being relaxed when you play but also, there is lot more to it than just being relaxed. Basically, when you play a song, your first insticnt, which all of tend to do, is to try and run through the entire song, going full speed and up to tempo the first time we play it. Usually the end result of this is failure (not to mention it probably sounded like complete crap).

So how does one fight this, the answer is simple if you were to ask any musical professional: slow down. (But there has to be more than just slowing down, well there is, just wait.)

First, when you are about to begin to play, relaxation is key(suggested reading on this site: "Discover Your Discomfort" and "the Incredible Lightness). Make sure that you are completely comfortable in your surrounding and that your posture and everything "feels right."

Second, after step one (assuming you have the music in front of you), you should look over the entire piece so that you are not surprized by a chord or something you will trip over later. Then, it is time to start playing.

However, there are a few guidelines to follow when you begin this as well. 01. Do Not Try To Play The Song Up To Tempo.

Why you may ask? The human brain and our muscles use patterns and usually follow muscle memory. When you play a new song for the first time, you are actually creating new pathways and patterns in your brain and muscles. Do you really want to create wrong pathways by playing wrong notes and patterns on the first try, because you brain starts learning from the first time you do something and if you are doing it inncorrectly, you will create a stumbling block that you will have to go over and correct through tons of frustration later.

02. The First Couple Of Times Through A Song, Do Not For Any Reason Stop.

Stopping anywhere the first time is yet another pattern and muscle memory breaker. If you miss something, make a mental note of it but do not stop going. It will only aggrevate you later.

03. Listen To Yourself.

While still keeping in tune with how your body feels (ie are you comfortable), one must listen to how your instrument sounds. Are you out of tune? Does something somewhere in the song just "not sound right?" Do you like the way everything sounds or is something obviously off? This is where you have to confront yourself and be honest with yourself.

04. Section Practice.

After you have completed going through the piece at least once, it is time to catch those problem parts. When you go over them you should:

  • Go over the main problem part until you are comfortable with it (the above rules apply to this part as well).
  • Practice the part of the song that leads into your "problem section" (Many players can get the part by itself but may not realize that the lead up the problem area is what caused them to mess up in the first place).
  • Finally, go through the entire song with your newly "perfected" and practiced sections while keeping all above rules.

    05. Now It Is Time For The Speed.

    After you have practiced your piece and know it from playing it slowly and deliberately with all the self-discipline you had to muster. It is time to take it up a noch. This is where it is safe to start playing faster. If you happen to mess up on a certain part of song at this point, then you should go back and practice slowly those parts using the above guidelines and then try to take it just a bit faster.

    I hope that with this article many of the guitarist out there will take a good, hard, long look at their playing and see if they are sabotaging themselves by trying to be speed demons. Take it easy and the speed will come to you. Chase it and she will flee, it is just like dating. Think about it.

  • 43 comments sorted by best / new / date

      chrchsingr
      repley to garagerocker69: those are just some of the important tips I know but I wanted to stay on subject with the topic and there is always room for another article. Your teacher is right however in the fact that learning to play classical music will help you to play all other things much better by a larger percentage. The problem I see that most play it by ear musicians is that they cannot read "real" music ( by real I am refering to sheet music or not tab) but if more had an understanding of it they would do much better in their playing reading anything.
      piperm1
      its cool to slow down but u try doing one of slash from G n R solo's u try doin that slow and yer still goin as fast as some simpler solo's =s
      endywendy
      very insightful. sometimes we get too caught up in learning the song that we forget that we're only learning it for now, not really playing it yet.
      Danny7
      Cool article. The way I learn a song is like yours in places, but waay different in others. I won't bore you all by saying, but the main different I find; and this is something I find that helps me alot, is to listen to the song at full speed once or twice without touching the guitar at all, and just following the tab through, bit by bit. Then I'll listen to the song through another couple of times; looking at the tab and trying to play it, whether it be wrong or not, and just seeing if it all fits in. Then there are other differences, but yeah.. mostly I slow down, and play it through at a slower pace in the tiniest little parts till I get it near perfect. Perfection comes after playing through at full speed 9 or 10 times until it becomes second nature almost.
      ooohyeah
      pretty good article. I think I needed reminding of some of that stuff
      Riryoku
      Oh crap...I'm a bassist, and in the past, I've done pretty much the opposite of this article. Not that I suck, it's just I get a habit of getting frustrated and stopping when I make mistakes.
      chrchsingr
      reply to Danny7: I usually do the same thing, you know don't touch the guitar and just listen first. There is so much we can miss if we don't just sit and listen, tune everything else out and really concentrate on the music.
      Sum1
      lol slashe's stuff isnt all that fast, thats why you get a metronome.. you can slow the fastest songs down with a metronome, just gotta know your types of notes..
      dogsballs
      thanks man that advice helps me heaps, i kept on wondering why this girl didnt email me back. the guitar stuffs good too. didnt know yu had to go slow.
      SRVGuitarFreak
      wow short, to the point and some notes i never thought of, like making it totaly correct the first time to speed it up in the end, sweet i'll have to see how this works.
      Necronomicon
      Okay, so we all at one time or another as guitarist have run across this song or part in a song that we just could not master.
      Not me. Nah jk
      skasolo
      Eddie_Van_Halen: Thanks for the advice, I've been trying to play a few tricky parts of a solo and it feels like Im never gonna get it! I'll take your advice though. Good article.
      Something tells me your not the real EVH
      Moto+_+
      Great article? whats so great about this....this is obvious.....everything. This guys for sure is some kind of buddhist...no discrimination...lol....this sucks. and by the way....i think i read it from someone....but wheres the metronome!!...argg....LAME! an to CvPrEpKiLLaH: dude...whats up with you....why do you need to let ppl know you are 16.....lol....its ok if you want to show off saying you are first or second....but 16th...come on man....and by the way....you are 14th XD
      chrchsingr
      Moto+_+ wrote: Great article? whats so great about this....this is obvious.....everything. This guys for sure is some kind of buddhist...no discrimination...lol....this sucks. and by the way....i think i read it from someone....but wheres the metronome!!...argg....LAME! an to CvPrEpKiLLaH: dude...whats up with you....why do you need to let ppl know you are 16.....lol....its ok if you want to show off saying you are first or second....but 16th...come on man....and by the way....you are 14th XD
      Can't you read, my freakin tag is churchsinger for christ sake, I don't do well with the whole sitting still for long periods of time going HMMMMM...in a yoga pose, I'm catholic, we do callistenics all through the mass, you know stand up, sit down, kneel. That sort of thing. Yes, I did forget to mention the metronome, my God forgive me, I cannot believe I didn't put something about how much help a metronome can be. Tell you what, did you write one better, cause, in all seriousness, you know not to be an ass or anything, but if you did, I would sure like to read it.
      KevinHallX
      it's a good article, but you didn't mention the most horrendously useful bit of equipment when learning a new song. Power Tab. that program has helped me through more tough songs than i care to count. you can slow down the song so you can play along, and it helps you out with any tricky counting problems or anything like that.
      Eddie_Van_Halen
      Thanks for the advice, I've been trying to play a few tricky parts of a solo and it feels like Im never gonna get it! I'll take your advice though. Good article.
      redwing_suck
      man, we need to start getting people to write articles who can actually WRITE... with a sense of style. most articles lack a lot of.... well, article stuff. spam deleted.
      Bong Water
      some pretty good points in there, good structure to follow. i dont reckon it applies to all guitarists and songs though, as youve made it seem like this is the only way to learn, but for people who arent as skilled yet or are tackling songs just out of their level, this is pretty helpful.
      chrchsingr
      When I wrote this I meant it to be used by any musician who played anything, and no it is not the only way to learn a song. I know that some musicians have it, that ability to pick up a song anytime anywhere. This article is for those songs that are so tricky to learn that they just frustrate the hell of you. This is the same method a band teacher, choir teacher, or any other professionally trained musician would take to correct a problem or to just learn a "killer" piece.
      chrchsingr
      thank you guys for the comments by the way, this is my first type of post on this site.
      Sum1
      this article sucks, they dont even suggest getting a metronome, that is the end all speed builder.. nothing beats it
      Primis
      Good article, chrchsingr. It seems so obvious but I know a lot of people who don't seem to grasp the "slow down at first" concept when learning a new part, riff, or song. You can always slowly get upto speed later. -- Primis.
      garagerocker69
      those are the most important tips for learning songs that you know. i remember my teacher givin me a rant bout how i should be learnin classical pieces so that im not screwing up in the song trying to play it at the speed ive heard th song at
      rock_musician
      Great article man. You know you can get a thing to actually slow down the song for you. It slows down the song without actually changing any tone or anything. Its really cool reccommended by loads of magazines and stuff. I cant remember the name but if i think of it i will post it onto this article. Later Days
      Damicksta2k
      This is fantastic! It applies to any instrument, which is handy for someone who plays several! Thank you very much for this, hope to here more from you!
      T-DaWG
      I agree with Bong Water's post on the article, but it is very good. The only thing I would even argue against is "Do you really want to create wrong pathways by playing wrong notes and patterns on the first try", I have done this purposely before and once I've warped my 'messed up version' a bit it's a totally new song. Sometimes going the wrong way with a song makes it another song entirely, or a new one to call your own.
      chrchsingr
      Oh wait MOTO, that's right, I checked your profile and so far, all you have done is comment on other peoples work and have not submitted anything article-wise to better this site. So, when you do, come back and we'll talk. K