"Ramping up" vs "slow-fast"

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"Ramping up" vs "slow-fast"

Post by fraim » Thu Oct 26, 2017 5:45 pm

i've been reading about these 2 different practice techniques for a while and am still a bit confused about which method is better (if either) and "how to".
i've recently read in his book that dr stanley yates is not a fan of "ramping up" because playing slower than written tempo is not how one would play in a performance. dr simon powis also is not a fan (via an online lesson i've viewed).

gohar vardanyan (via a "lessonette" that i viewed) suggests "ramping up" during practice. there are others that are also favoring "ramping up".

i have been using the ramping up method to bring me up to performance speed and think it works. using the slow-fast method... maybe i just don't understand it correctly. my understanding is to play slow but then pick some measure(s) or phrase(s) at a faster tempo. is this right?

maybe some brighter minds can weigh in to help me understand

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Re: "Ramping up" vs "slow-fast"

Post by Rasputin » Thu Oct 26, 2017 6:24 pm

Is the bit from Yates in the recent technique book? Do you have a page ref?

I suspect these techniques are focusing on different things. I think the ramping up method trains your brain to cue up the next move sooner. Unless you're some kind of guitar phenomenon, you obviously don't play a piece at performance tempo first time through, so there's always going to be some ramping up anyway. You may be able to hear the piece at at fast tempo in your imagination, but the brain (mine, anyway) doesn't seem to be able to send the instructions to the hands at the same rate. Ramping up seems to be a good way to work on this.

The slow/fast method may also help with that, but I think it is mainly about developing the ability to execute the move accurately at higher speed. Ramping up does not seem to be an effective way of increasing the speed at which you can play something you know very well - not that slow/fast is the whole solution to that, but I think this is a big difference between the two.

I would be interested to know what SP said about ramping up.

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Re: "Ramping up" vs "slow-fast"

Post by fraim » Fri Oct 27, 2017 7:58 pm

it's in yates part 1 book "foundation"...pg 20 in the "use of metronome" section.

i think there's merits to both, although i'm not clear on "how to" slow/fast the piece. i can use it with scales effectively but not sure where/how to use it with a practice piece. i've been using it measure by measure & line by line but is this the correct use???... don't know.

simon said it during one of his "class video" replays that i watched & all i rememer him saying is he wasn't for ramping up & advocated the slow/fast approach. he didn't go into detail.

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Re: "Ramping up" vs "slow-fast"

Post by Rasputin » Fri Oct 27, 2017 9:43 pm

Thanks for the reference - he obviously makes a few points there but the way I would put it together is that ramping up is not a good way of working on things like quick chord changes or rapid scales, i.e. the maximum speed your technique allows for. It may still be a good way of getting a new piece up to speed when you already have the technique to go that fast.

I don't think there's an officially approved slow/fast how to, but to me it makes sense to pick out the difficult bits and play them say 3 times slowly and then 3 times fast. I would include maybe one or two notes either side of the tricky bit, to keep it context, but no more than that.

I was glad to see SY pointing out that when we play fast we are not necessarily making the same movements as when we play slowly (only sped up) especially if we learnt those movements at a slow tempo. That was the point I was trying to make in this
SteveL123 wrote:
Mon Oct 23, 2017 5:50 pm
tremolo thread.

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Re: "Ramping up" vs "slow-fast"

Post by Todd Tipton » Mon Oct 30, 2017 8:26 pm

Both methods are equally valuable. They are different tools that accomplish different things. Let me give an oversimplified example. Imagine working very hard and spending lots of time on a piece. You learn to play it well at a snail's pace. Gradually the tempo increases as you do all the right things, meditating on comfort, ease of movement, etc. After a long while, you finally realize that there are many places that your left or right hand fingerings do not work. Oops! ;-)

Being sensitive to those types of places, it is a good idea to play small sections up to tempo almost immediately to find fingerings that work. Somewhat off topic, I also use the technique to discover good fingerings. Rather than trying out certain fingerings, I will just attempt to play the passage up to tempo, and as musically as possible. After I am satisfied, I will then study what my hands were actually doing so that I can "learn" the fingerings I want to use.

There is a lot more to it that just what I wrote. The slow careful practice is no doubt valuable and is a good segment of my practice time. However, the fast practice (in as small of sections as necessary) not only requires fingerings that work, it also forces the inner and outer poise to be more refined.
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Re: "Ramping up" vs "slow-fast"

Post by Patona » Tue Oct 31, 2017 10:21 am

I use both methods. But there are no principles when I use this or the other method. I have only preferences, because I have sucessfull results. For example I use the ramping up for scales and slow fast for arpeggios, but also vice versa. I think, do what you want if it was effortless is for you. And I think also, this is effectiv for all what you do, when you play guitar.
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Re: "Ramping up" vs "slow-fast"

Post by D.Cass » Thu Nov 02, 2017 7:36 pm

There really is no magic bullet other than basic concepts to use to achieve your goals. If you do not know the passage play it slowly until it completely secure. Then one can gradually speed up. However, one may move have jump above the target tempo to see where one stands. This is more of diagnosis stage. Constantly questioning what is preventing the desired speed. Is it the fingering? Hands tensioning up? Grouping of notes? Etc, etc.

If we have been playing a piece for sometime it is not a bad idea to play it slowly paying attention to to every little technical nuance and listen very closely to the melody and harmony.

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Re: "Ramping up" vs "slow-fast"

Post by TomPage » Sat Nov 04, 2017 12:40 pm

Practicing has 2 main components:
1. Problem solving
2. Teaching the fingers to do it easily

Problem solving: Playing fast is one tool in the toolbox for problem solving. If you want to find out what does not work, take a short passage out for a spin and see what works and what doesn't. Once you locate a problem. Slow way down and solve that problem. Then go to #2 above. Don't repeat over and over at speed thinking you are practicing; that would just be teaching your fingers to make mistakes. But problem solving also means making all of your other decisions about fingering, phrasing, dynamics, timbre, etc. Playing a passage fast can be thought of as taking a quiz to see where you are and what needs work.

Teaching the fingers: Playing slow (and "perfectly") is the critical component to implementing your solutions. How slow? So slow you can intentionally control every movement. Once you know how you want to play a passage (all problems, both technical and musical solved), then you have to teach your fingers to do that effortlessly. You have to do that by practicing at such a slow speed that you don't make any mistakes -- because if you make mistakes, you are defeating the purpose of this "make it stick" practicing. You don't really have to intentionally "ramp up" because naturally, over time, that speed that is so slow you don't make any mistakes comes up. What is happening is that thing that you used to have to intentionally control become muscle memory that executes seemingly by itself. When that speed that is slow enough that you don't make any mistakes reaches performance tempo, or higher, you can transition to performance practice.

And remember, "perfectly" and "no mistakes" means no lack of legato, no note whose tone is not what was desired, no dynamic marking ignored unintentionally, no phrasing not as planned, etc. If you bring it up to speed like that, when you get to performance you will have no experience of making mistakes with the piece, and you will have tons of experience interpreting it just how you intend. Wouldn't that be confidence building?

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