#1
I know this sounds like a dumb question, but I'm really in the dark with this one. Everyone knows that in order to improve speed, you have to play slow and work your way up with a metronome, day in and day out, and you will slowly but surely improve. What has kept me from seeing any difference in my speed at all is that I have no idea how to practice "slow".

Everyone says you should play slow, which I can do, it's how to gradually increase my speed that I never understood. How slow of a tempo should I start at? When do I bump up the tempo and by how much? How long should I go for (per session)? The next day, what tempo do I start at? What do I do when I get stuck at a certain tempo? All these questions and more are holding me back and I haven't really found an answer to them. I have a pretty weird thing where I'll only do something if I'm doing it as effectively as possible, and am hesitant to do anything if I'm not sure if I'm doing it right, so any advice would be great.

I primarily practice the G major scale all over the neck playing 3 notes per string in triplets, and have pretty much capped out at around 160bpm. I want to improve my alternate picking as well as right and left hand coordination. Basically, I want to get faster. I know speed isn't everything, but it really is what's stopping me from playing any of my favorite solos, or fast songs. I've been playing for about 3-4 years and haven't seen any really improvement in the last 2 years, so I want to really start taking practice seriously to get past this "wall". If you could tell me a good routine to follow, some good pointers, or even just tell how you practice, I'd really appreciate it.

tldr: I want to know how to practice slowly and gradually improve speed.
Last edited by Jimjambanx at Dec 12, 2013,
#2
Speed comes with time. Don't try to force it. That's all I'm gonna say. I know it's not the answer you're looking for, but I'm sure others will answer for me
#3
I'd suggest stopping practicing scales and instead practice the songs you want to play. No amount of running up and down scales will make you "fast" enough to simply be able to play anything you want. Every new song still needs learning and that takes time, so you might as make the best use of your time. Learning a solo is simple, you learn the actions required to make those sounds - however perfecting and memorising those actions is the hard part and can be an awful lot of work. Practicing scales isn't going to help you much in that respect because all you're doing is perfecting a different set of actions that doesn't really relate to what you're ultimately wanting to play - the specific sequence of actions you need to memorise and execute is different for every solo you'll ever play.

The hardest parts in solos are usually the unexpected bits, the out of sequence notes, skipped strings, awkward position shifts etc. No amount of familiarity with a scale is ging to help with that, only familiarity with the solo itself.
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#4
When the words "slow" or "fast" or "metronome" are introduced usually the technique will suffer.They must be replaced with "relaxed hand" "finger independence" "economy of motion" "pick angle" and things like that.

So basically its not how fast or how slow....its at what tempo can you play something without making mistakes? you may find yourself stopping the metronome altogether and work seriously on your form.Great relaxed form creates efficient movements which in turn create speed as a byproduct .
#5
I too would suggest playing along with an actual song,i never understood the whole metronome thing,many programs have a way to import a song into it an change the tempo(windows media player,cubase,audacity,ect.) start at a tempo you can play the part comfortably at,and gradually increase,biggest advice would be not to rush the notes,even if you are behind the music for awhile,alot of times you'll find find you can play alot faster that you thought you could if you just take your time playing along to a tempo thats slightly faster than youre comfortable with
Nice opinion.Too bad it ain't the same as mine.
#6
I still think practicing with the metronome is more helpful, I think the issue here is more to do with focussing on the wrong things to practice.

Like you said though, the speed to start at is the speed at which you can play something comfortably, cleanly and accurately. If you're consitently playing it without mistakes then you can bump the tempo up a few bpm, if you start messing up then you sped up too soon and need to slow back down.
Actually called Mark!

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#7
something that seemed to help me when trying to practice things slowly was to remember not to just move my hands slower. if you simply just do everything slower, you may be playing in a way that doesn't translate well to higher speeds. instead, the actual note-playing (i.e. the picking motion and the motion of the fretting finger coming down to the string) should be brisk. just give yourself more time in between each note.

i also never really used a metronome when practicing scales. i just make sure i hit every note with deliberate dynamics. better for practicing, at least for me, is to record myself to a metronome/click track, whether it's a song i'm trying to write or a cover.
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#8
Another thing to remember is to play using techniques you use when playing fast, but at a slow pace. For example, you may use your thumb muscles more when *actually* playing slow and you may be picking more parallel to the strings and you might be moving the pick away from the strings after each attack. But if you're practising a fast riff or lick, use your wrist, pick at an angle and try and keep the pick close to the string after each attack while playing at a slower pace.
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Last edited by BlueIceBox at Dec 12, 2013,
#9
Thanks for the suggestions guys. As far as I know my form is alright. I've been taking lessons since I started guitar, so I know what I'm doing when it comes to picking angle and all that jazz (for the most part). I consider my finger independence to be pretty good, I can use all 4 of my fingers at any given speed without notes sounding buzzy, and my left hand never really feels like it's lagging behind. When I slow down and really look at what I'm doing, I don't see anything wrong with it, the pick stays close to the strings, I'm in a comfortable position and my pick is at a good angle. So when I try and gradually increase my speed from as slow as 60bpm, bumping up the tempo by as little as 2 beat for every minute I play, and still get stuck at the same point every time, I can't help but feel I'm doing something wrong.

When it comes to playing songs I want to play, that too is a problem. I've gotten to the point where every song is either too easy, or too difficult for my current skill. When regarding electric guitar stuff, I mainly listen to metal, so playing power chords for 3 minutes then stopping at the solo, just isn't what I want to do. The reason why I've just been practicing speed and such is because I know that through improving my technique and speed, I'll be able to tackle solos with a fighting chance of nailing it, as of now, it's like a 3 year old picking a fight with Mike Tyson. It's like a boxing, you don't go into a title bout without first being able to hit a punching bag. I know that if I just keep going at a leisurely pace expecting my speed to improve through time, I'm won't be going anywhere. That mentality has stopped me improving at all in the past 2 years. If I want to improve, I'm going to have to buckle down and perfect my playing.

I've noticed my picking hand to be the one that isn't as fast the other hand, so maybe I should work on that, look at my form a bit more, then I guess I'll just keep practicing technique and what not as slow as I can bear, bumping the tempo up only when I can play with no difficulty at all and comfortably. I don't know if I'll be able to keep up with it, but hopefully with the holidays coming up, I'll be able to see some improvement (if luck permits).
#10
Quote by Jimjambanx
Thanks for the suggestions guys. As far as I know my form is alright. I've been taking lessons since I started guitar, so I know what I'm doing when it comes to picking angle and all that jazz (for the most part). I consider my finger independence to be pretty good, I can use all 4 of my fingers at any given speed without notes sounding buzzy, and my left hand never really feels like it's lagging behind. When I slow down and really look at what I'm doing, I don't see anything wrong with it, the pick stays close to the strings, I'm in a comfortable position and my pick is at a good angle. So when I try and gradually increase my speed from as slow as 60bpm, bumping up the tempo by as little as 2 beat for every minute I play, and still get stuck at the same point every time, I can't help but feel I'm doing something wrong.

When it comes to playing songs I want to play, that too is a problem. I've gotten to the point where every song is either too easy, or too difficult for my current skill. When regarding electric guitar stuff, I mainly listen to metal, so playing power chords for 3 minutes then stopping at the solo, just isn't what I want to do. The reason why I've just been practicing speed and such is because I know that through improving my technique and speed, I'll be able to tackle solos with a fighting chance of nailing it, as of now, it's like a 3 year old picking a fight with Mike Tyson. It's like a boxing, you don't go into a title bout without first being able to hit a punching bag. I know that if I just keep going at a leisurely pace expecting my speed to improve through time, I'm won't be going anywhere. That mentality has stopped me improving at all in the past 2 years. If I want to improve, I'm going to have to buckle down and perfect my playing.

I've noticed my picking hand to be the one that isn't as fast the other hand, so maybe I should work on that, look at my form a bit more, then I guess I'll just keep practicing technique and what not as slow as I can bear, bumping the tempo up only when I can play with no difficulty at all and comfortably. I don't know if I'll be able to keep up with it, but hopefully with the holidays coming up, I'll be able to see some improvement (if luck permits).


Your technique must be exactly the same when playing something fast and when playing something really slow.....thats key...cause even if you think you have good form....when the speed starts getting uncomfortable you start making changes,sometimes wihtout you even noticing...for example when play something slow your pick is at the correct angle,you dont squeeze the pick too tight and your overall feel is a relaxed one....but up the tempo and you start tensing all over,the pick is squeezed, the angle changes slightly,finger independence is all over the place etc etc etc.....happens all the time.One way to to be absolutely sure is to record yourself playing something at a relaxed tempo and something at a rapid fire one.....i can bet anything that all those things i mentioned above change.

So keep this rule in the back of your head.PLAY FAST EXACTLY AS YOU PLAY SLOW...cause think of it from another angle..if you already had great form you would already be able to play fast simply because no one has "faster"fingers than the next person..no one....but he can definately have far more efficient fingers....that do the absolutely necessary motions and nothing more .
#11
Just play things at a comfortable speed. And if you think you could do it faster, increase the bpm and see if you're still comfortable. Easy as that. Gaining speed is a matter of time
baab
#12
What I have done and what has worked extremely well for me is this
Learn the lick /riff to the point that you have it memorized aka you know what note is next etc ..
then find the speed you can play it at perfectly(I have an app that slows down songs,I highly recommend it ) so 100% being full speed il lower the lick/riff to whatever speed I can play perfect so lets say 70% for arguments sake ,then what Il do is practice fur 20 mins on 70% abs every 20 mins il increase the speed by 2-3 % and before you no it I'm playing at 100% speed perfectly :-)
Last edited by wld-kid at Dec 13, 2013,
#13
Quote by Jimjambanx
I know this sounds like a dumb question, but I'm really in the dark with this one. Everyone knows that in order to improve speed, you have to play slow and work your way up with a metronome, day in and day out, and you will slowly but surely improve. What has kept me from seeing any difference in my speed at all is that I have no idea how to practice "slow".

Everyone says you should play slow, which I can do, it's how to gradually increase my speed that I never understood. How slow of a tempo should I start at? When do I bump up the tempo and by how much? How long should I go for (per session)? The next day, what tempo do I start at? What do I do when I get stuck at a certain tempo? All these questions and more are holding me back and I haven't really found an answer to them. I have a pretty weird thing where I'll only do something if I'm doing it as effectively as possible, and am hesitant to do anything if I'm not sure if I'm doing it right, so any advice would be great.

I primarily practice the G major scale all over the neck playing 3 notes per string in triplets, and have pretty much capped out at around 160bpm. I want to improve my alternate picking as well as right and left hand coordination. Basically, I want to get faster. I know speed isn't everything, but it really is what's stopping me from playing any of my favorite solos, or fast songs. I've been playing for about 3-4 years and haven't seen any really improvement in the last 2 years, so I want to really start taking practice seriously to get past this "wall". If you could tell me a good routine to follow, some good pointers, or even just tell how you practice, I'd really appreciate it.

tldr: I want to know how to practice slowly and gradually improve speed.



Let's change your question from, "How do I practice slowly?" into "How do I practice?" Good question.

First - technical exercises do have a place in your practice routine, but practice shouldn't consist entirely of them. Think of technical exercises as a warm up. Bust out your metronome and work on 3-4 exercises for about five minutes a piece. Pick exercises that will help you improve the skills relevant to the music you want to learn. Pick a tempo where you can play the exercise very proficiently. As time goes on, think about perfecting the exercise at your current tempo vs. trying to increase the tempo. You will get more out of that approach. 15-20 minutes a day doesn't seem like much but if you do spend that 15-20 minutes a day on technical exercises, you will see marked improvement in your technique over the course of 6 weeks so long as you are consistent and don't rush.

Once you're done with that, you should work on your repertoire. Technical exercises are good for building fundamental skills, but they don't teach you how to be musical. Because of this, you should spend the brunt of your practice time learning and making music. When you are practicing songs, don't just mindlessly run through the entire song either. If you make a mistake, stop and isolate the mistake to a single bar or note if you can. Once you identify your weakness, attack it by practicing just that specific bar, phrase, or transition repeatedly with your metronome. This is a much more efficient way to learn songs as you don't waste time on things you can already play. You can even take it a step further by creating technical exercises for the beginning of your practice based on the parts that are giving you trouble.

Hopefully that helps you out.