#1
.Hey everyone I'm properly struggling playing up and down scales consistently without a little string nosie or playing a bummed note. For example I'm practicing the C blues' scale atm I started at 60bpm I can play it through sometimes twice perfect or 4 times. Than I try to put the metronome up in BPM as I think I'm making progress, but when the speed goes up slowly I start becoming sloppy I've been trying to work this out for a while now and I keep starting back at 60. Can anyone help or give me some pointers to head me in the right direction thanks.
Last edited by dannyjp97 at Jul 3, 2017,
#2
More info required.

What causes you to fumble? Do you pick the string at the wrong time? Or do you mess up fretting the note (either too slow or in wrong position)? Are you thinking about your right hand, which causes your left hand to fumble, or are you thinking about your left and causing your right hand to fumble? Are you internalizing the pulse of the metronome or reacting to the audible click of the metronome (i.e. are you feeling the beat or anticipating the click)? Do you feel any tension in your shoulders, arms, wrists, or fingers/thumb (all of these should feel very relaxed)?

We'll get to the bottom of it!
#3
gweddle.nz  Hi there thanks for the reply much appreciated. I would say I  focus more on my fretting hand more than my picking hand and I have noticed sometimes there will be tension in my right shoulder which I try to correct it straight away.
#4
dannyjp97  You want to look for any signs of stress / tension as you make a movement to play a note, as gweddle says.  Add to that list a clenched jaw, holding your breath, and a sense of nervousness.

Stress/tension while playing (practicing),  can become habitual, if unchecked.  A vicious circle can occur where the thought of playing something you've had issues with in the past causes a trigger response where you anticipate the problems re-occurring, and hence stress/tense up, and the problem re-occurs.

The usual solution to this, assuming no physical issues with your hands etc, is to move very slowly as you familiarise yourself with new movements (such as a scale pattern played a certain way). This gives your brain a large amount of time to assess how to handle a given movement, by really closely focusing on what's happening in the hands etc.  In this style of practicing, your goal is to make all these observations, and detect where issues are occurring in minute detail.  Then home in correcting the issues, at this same very slow speed.  

You may want to try playing at 1 note per click, at somewhere around 40-50 bpm, for around a week, with say 15 minutes a day.  The reason is that the brain has to generate a lot of micro-coordination and control of the joints, and timing of signals sent to the muscles.  As coordination develops (and relaxation is present), the brain can move on to cataloguing the overall motion required to play a group of notes as one overall pattern, rather than thinking of individual motion per note.

And certainly, up at speed, there's not enough time to attend to every finger motion individually (and everything else around it).  

For example, the brain is more likely to deal with a ("1,3,4" finger pattern, played as 1,3,4,3,1 on a string) , and just concentrate on starting the pattern in time, and rely on something like muscle memory to pump out the required pattern, without additional thought.

After a week, then try speeding up, quite a lot.  E.g. to 80 bpm, 4 notes a click, and observe.  If problematic, drop the speed till no problems.  If no problems, crank the bpm until you can just about handle it (with some mistakes).

This is a continual iterative process, of detecting issues, and fixing them accurately, and then speed increase.

Remember, the goal of the practice is issue detection and working on these, with an eventual background goal of playing that item perfectly eventually.  When the issues are gone at the speed you want, move on to something else (ideally work on a few things, one being technique correction).
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jul 5, 2017,
#5
jerrykramskoy     Thanks very much I've started making a list of all the techniques you've said and applying them to my routine. I'll tell you how I get on in a week or two.
#6
What rhythms are you doing? Start with half notes if you have to. A lot of discomfort comes from unfamiliarity with what you're trying to play. Starting extra slow helps get it under your fingers with the right technique and rhythm.

And I would start with a picking-only exercise before getting the left hand involved. Just do alt pick quarters for 8 beats on each string, and then do 8th notes the same way.

Another good exercise is a rhythm ladder at multiple tempos. An example would be to play your scales or whatever like this:

@ 60bpm: Quarter notes, 8th notes, triplets, 16ths
@ 72bpm: Quarter notes, 8th notes, triplets
@ 84bpm: quarter notes, 8th notes
@ 92bpm: Quarter notes

You can modify to meet your needs, but the idea to work on rhythms/subdivisions at multiple tempos and while doing more exercises at the edge of your comfort zone. Doing quarters notes at 72bpm will make you better at 8th notes at 72bpm than doing 16ths at 60bpm. It's not just about speed.
Last edited by cdgraves at Jul 5, 2017,
#7
You've got some top notch answers here. Just remember that practice is extremely focused. You need to constantly evaluate and listen as you play. If something doesn't feel effortless/easy then stop and figure out why it doesn't. Then practice the problem area at a very slow tempo until solved. I can't stress how important it is to be very relaxed when playing. You need to really observe areas of tension, because tension is the enemy of fluidity & speed.