Slowing down

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
Pill
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Slowing down

Post by Pill » Fri Jun 16, 2017 3:10 pm

Had my fourth lesson last night, I am new at this. I thought I was playing slowly but my teacher wanted it slower . He also emphasized connecting the notes. I need to work on this. I borrowed this saying " slow is smooth and smooth is fast ". I need to have patience and emphasize quality over quantity. Do others slow done as they are learning ?

KlaBueBaer
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Re: Slowing down

Post by KlaBueBaer » Fri Jun 16, 2017 3:55 pm

Hi Pill,

Three rules for the beginner: 1) play slowly, 2) play slower and 3) play again slower. Fast it will be over time. But do not forget to respect the rhythm of a piece
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Altophile
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Re: Slowing down

Post by Altophile » Fri Jun 16, 2017 4:57 pm

Goran Sollscher once said that the space between the notes is as important as the notes themselves, so each should be given their full time. Play slowly, and pause slowly to respect the spaces;-)

~Sean

Andrew Pohlman
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Re: Slowing down

Post by Andrew Pohlman » Fri Jun 16, 2017 5:24 pm

I need to learn by playing slowly for all music, not just classical guitar. Everybody agrees on that. You will find controversy in regard to when you should speed it up. What you will find is that the physics of a moving hand change from slow to fast, and it really is a different set of movements. But you need to burn in the hand positions and fingering slowly first.

I also find that all the stupid little adjustments made for accuracy when your hand movements are a tiny bit off can only be learned when playing slowly. They will translate easily to faster tempos. Plus hand strength in an actual hand contortion can only be developed by playing slowly, not breezing through those positions.

Anyway, I hope my perspective helps you.
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malc laney
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Re: Slowing down

Post by malc laney » Fri Jun 16, 2017 6:18 pm

Why do people always think that doing things fast is a virtue? how many times have people messed things up by not doing them at the appropriate speed?
Don't fall off the ladder , not finish the construction , or giving the paint enough time to dry , before putting on the next coat.I'm sure we could think of many other examples ?
One exception , is sometimes when trying to improve sight reading , is to push oneself to the limit so as not to be afraid of crashing.No one died , and staying with a piece e.g playing along with something in musescore , does the trick improves unconscious technique , and impresses friends [???]

souldier
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Re: Slowing down

Post by souldier » Fri Jun 16, 2017 11:05 pm

Yup play as slow as needed to comfortably play with great accuracy. Then slowly increase speed as your fingers adjust. Playing too fast too soon leads to more mistakes. I admit, it is very very difficult to discipline one's self to really slow down, so if need be, use a metronome.
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Tom Poore
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Re: Slowing down

Post by Tom Poore » Sat Jun 17, 2017 12:48 am

“Slow down” is good advice for the practice room. By itself, however, it’s far too vague. Effective practice isn’t the result of slowing down—rather, slowing down is the inevitable consequence of effective practice. Instead of telling students to slow down, it’s better to specifically describe what effective practice really is. After all, bad practice slowed down is just slower bad practice.

Let’s begin with some obvious characteristics of good practice:

· Solve all rhythmic problems.
· Know all pitches and, if applicable, chords.
· Work out all fingerings for both hands.
· Begin running reps.

These steps are familiar to anyone who takes practice seriously. And we could have 100 different guitarists carry out all these steps. Each guitarist would assert that he or she is doing what needs to be done. Yet inevitably, maybe one out of 100 will eventually play at a very high level. The rest will fall short.

Why?

The likely answer is that although all guitarists can go through the same steps, not all carry out the steps with sufficient rigor. Most of us move to the next step before thoroughly mastering the previous step. We can’t help it. We’re impatient. Time is short. We want so badly to already be there. So we cut corners. And it shows in our playing.

The one person out of 100 who plays at a high level is the one who stayed with each step until he or she had it down cold. This one person demanded perfection: if I can’t do it five times in a row without error, then I’m not ready to move on. This one person at all times did every step as if onstage, in front of a discerning audience. This one person practiced consistently, seldom allowing a day to go by without working at whatever was the problem at hand. This one person understood the immense power of tiny but sure incremental improvement.

Slow practice isn’t the crux. It’s a consequence of the crux. The crux of effective practice is this: accept nothing less than perfection.

And who are those who dismiss perfection as pie in the sky? Well, that would be me and everyone else. We’re the “sensible” ones. We “know” that perfection is an impossible dream. So we continue to putter along, vaguely hoping we’ll get better without embracing the exacting standards of the virtuoso.

Fortunately, however, we don’t have to be permanent members of the mediocrity cult. (I don’t want to stay there. Do you?) We can at any time cross over to the rarified ranks of the virtuoso practicer. We just have to tire, at long last, of cutting corners. Once there, we may not rise to the heights of those who made that decision at a tender age. But we may catch a glimpse of the promised land.

Tom Poore
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USA

KlaBueBaer
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Re: Slowing down

Post by KlaBueBaer » Sat Jun 17, 2017 7:52 am

Hello Tom,
Thank you very much, that you took the time for this impressive and extensive post. All points are correct and important. But remember that a student has to solve a whole series of other tasks after 4 lessons. In my opinion, it is important at this stage to increase interest and motivation for the GC.
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Goose997
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Re: Slowing down

Post by Goose997 » Sat Jun 17, 2017 8:38 am

Tom Poore wrote:
Sat Jun 17, 2017 12:48 am

Let’s begin with some obvious characteristics of good practice:

· Solve all rhythmic problems.
· Know all pitches and, if applicable, chords.
· Work out all fingerings for both hands.
· Begin running reps.

...

The one person out of 100 who plays at a high level is the one who stayed with each step until he or she had it down cold. This one person demanded perfection: if I can’t do it five times in a row without error, then I’m not ready to move on. This one person at all times did every step as if onstage, in front of a discerning audience. This one person practiced consistently, seldom allowing a day to go by without working at whatever was the problem at hand. This one person understood the immense power of tiny but sure incremental improvement.

Slow practice isn’t the crux. It’s a consequence of the crux. The crux of effective practice is this: accept nothing less than perfection.

Great advice Tom! I learned piano as a child (played at an advanced level), and am learning the guitar after not playing an instrument seriously for about 30 years. The biggest difference for me now is that there are proper literature available on how to practice, and Tom is summarizing this extremely well. As a kid I tried to play too fast too soon, and the other mistake was to play pieces from beginning to end while practicing.

Playing guitar is about mastering muscle movements, and these need to be burned into your (subconscious) muscle memory.
1. Don't try to play a whole piece through at once, play the difficult phrases 5x in a row without mistake. If you make a mistake, reset your counter (I have beads on my sheet music holder) until you can play it 5x without mistake in a row.
2. If you struggle, you are playing too fast and slow down more until you can play it correct with the correct notes, rhythm, etc.
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Christopher Freitag
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Re: Slowing down

Post by Christopher Freitag » Sat Jun 17, 2017 1:31 pm

Tom Poore wrote:
Sat Jun 17, 2017 12:48 am
“Slow down” is good advice for the practice room. By itself, however, it’s far too vague. Effective practice isn’t the result of slowing down—rather, slowing down is the inevitable consequence of effective practice. Instead of telling students to slow down, it’s better to specifically describe what effective practice really is. After all, bad practice slowed down is just slower bad practice.

Let’s begin with some obvious characteristics of good practice:

· Solve all rhythmic problems.
· Know all pitches and, if applicable, chords.
· Work out all fingerings for both hands.
· Begin running reps.

These steps are familiar to anyone who takes practice seriously. And we could have 100 different guitarists carry out all these steps. Each guitarist would assert that he or she is doing what needs to be done. Yet inevitably, maybe one out of 100 will eventually play at a very high level. The rest will fall short.

Why?

The likely answer is that although all guitarists can go through the same steps, not all carry out the steps with sufficient rigor. Most of us move to the next step before thoroughly mastering the previous step. We can’t help it. We’re impatient. Time is short. We want so badly to already be there. So we cut corners. And it shows in our playing.

The one person out of 100 who plays at a high level is the one who stayed with each step until he or she had it down cold. This one person demanded perfection: if I can’t do it five times in a row without error, then I’m not ready to move on. This one person at all times did every step as if onstage, in front of a discerning audience. This one person practiced consistently, seldom allowing a day to go by without working at whatever was the problem at hand. This one person understood the immense power of tiny but sure incremental improvement.

Slow practice isn’t the crux. It’s a consequence of the crux. The crux of effective practice is this: accept nothing less than perfection.

And who are those who dismiss perfection as pie in the sky? Well, that would be me and everyone else. We’re the “sensible” ones. We “know” that perfection is an impossible dream. So we continue to putter along, vaguely hoping we’ll get better without embracing the exacting standards of the virtuoso.

Fortunately, however, we don’t have to be permanent members of the mediocrity cult. (I don’t want to stay there. Do you?) We can at any time cross over to the rarified ranks of the virtuoso practicer. We just have to tire, at long last, of cutting corners. Once there, we may not rise to the heights of those who made that decision at a tender age. But we may catch a glimpse of the promised land.

Tom Poore
South Euclid, OH
USA
It's no wonder that every student of yours that I have heard plays so well.
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Pill
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Re: Slowing down

Post by Pill » Sun Jun 18, 2017 3:32 pm

Thanks all of you for your help and advice . Tom excellent information I will try to be mindful of good practice or deliberate practice as some call it . I'm glad I joined this forum. I'm already seeing how helpful people are here. Thanks again.

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SunnyDee
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Re: Slowing down

Post by SunnyDee » Sun Jun 18, 2017 4:00 pm

Goose997 wrote:
Sat Jun 17, 2017 8:38 am

Playing guitar is about mastering muscle movements, and these need to be burned into your (subconscious) muscle memory.
1. Don't try to play a whole piece through at once, play the difficult phrases 5x in a row without mistake. If you make a mistake, reset your counter (I have beads on my sheet music holder) until you can play it 5x without mistake in a row.
2. If you struggle, you are playing too fast and slow down more until you can play it correct with the correct notes, rhythm, etc.
I've only been playing for a bit over a year, but I'm very serious about it. My take on slowing down is this: If you are making mistakes, don't keep doing that, you are moving too quickly and you are training the muscles to make that mistake.

What I have found is that, if I'm making a mistake, even just a couple times, I need to slow waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down to slow motion "bullet time" to find and isolate the one tiny motion in the larger one that is wrong.

It might be as small as my shifting the weight of my finger at the wrong time in the music to anticipate a move too soon, these are very tiny motions causing the mistakes. It only takes a minute to slow down this way, practice that teeny tiny micro-motion a few times. I have done this enough times and been successful with mastering moves in just a few practices with very little effort to be thoroughly convinced.

If you think you are doing it slowly, but you are frustrated, stop. You are not really doing it slowly. Bullet time.
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Tom Poore
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Re: Slowing down

Post by Tom Poore » Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:44 pm

SunnyDee wrote: What I have found is that, if I'm making a mistake, even just a couple times, I need to slow waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down to slow motion "bullet time" to find and isolate the one tiny motion in the larger one that is wrong.

It might be as small as my shifting the weight of my finger at the wrong time in the music to anticipate a move too soon, these are very tiny motions causing the mistakes. It only takes a minute to slow down this way, practice that teeny tiny micro-motion a few times. I have done this enough times and been successful with mastering moves in just a few practices with very little effort to be thoroughly convinced.

If you think you are doing it slowly, but you are frustrated, stop. You are not really doing it slowly. Bullet time.
Jason Vieaux, in talking about practice, often refers to what he calls “no tempo practice.” It means practicing so slowly and deliberately that any consideration of tempo is entirely absent. Even correct rhythm may be set aside temporarily. All that matters at this level is smooth and accurate choreography of the fingers. As the fingers become more comfortable with the correct movements, then rhythm and tempo are eased back into the mix.

People often assume that virtuosos don’t have to do this. They’re wrong. In the pursuit of perfection, virtuosos do far more glacially slow practice than the average hacker. It’s one of the many differences between the virtuoso and the hacker.

What you’re describing sounds very much like what Vieaux advocates.

Tom Poore
South Euclid, OH
USA

guitarforlife2
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Re: Slowing down

Post by guitarforlife2 » Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:21 pm

I could not agree more. I would tell my students you have to crawl before you can walk then run.
When playing electric guitar learning fast runs or arpeggio sweeps I always play very slow until all is fluid and smooth.
Then move up tempo a bit and so on and so on.

I find this extremely important with classical/flamenco playing. It helps with the right hand alternate picking. If you start to fast you will skip fingers and if you learn this way you will never play fast. It is much easier to detect your alternate picking slow.

Slow, steady, smooth will win in the long run. The key to fast is SLOW.

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zupfgeiger
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Re: Slowing down

Post by zupfgeiger » Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:45 pm

Playing a scale really slow can be more difficult than playing it fast. Same rule applies to slow pieces like a Sarabande. With fast pieces you have the chance to "overplay" some flaws or even mistakes. In a Sarabande every note has plenty of time to reach the listeners ear. That's why it is so difficult to play complexe Sarabandes like in BWV 996 or BWV 997 flawless and convincing. No cheating possible.
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