Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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For discussion of studies, scales, arpeggios and theory.
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Post by lennarton » Sun Feb 04, 2018 7:58 pm

What is the best way to learn speed.
Many thanks

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Re: Speed

Post by D.Cass » Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:48 pm

Well, this could be a long answer. First, you have to know exactly what you are playing and repeat it the same way each time. If one is fishing for the notes and reinventing the fingering on the fly it will not speed up. Speed is a result of accuracy. Secondly, befriend your metronome. If you can play it at a slow and flawlessly at a reasonable tempo you are on the track. From there it is a matter of repetition. This would be first place to start. There is no real magic bullet to speed. Having said that, there are so,e tricks along the way such as prepared stroke, counting, and like. One could write a whole book on the subject, which I am sure someone has. However, start with the basics.

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Re: Speed

Post by thomasonedin » Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:56 pm

As D.cass said, practice slow. I think it has to do with the fingers/hands/arms/rest of body having the time to really remember the movement and when it's time to do it fast all of your body and mind is well prepared and you don't end up fumbling. Metronome is good for a more accurate execution.

Also, singing the lines has helped me a lot in my playing. Failing less if I know what I'm playing. I guess you could read it but singing is performing more than just memorizing which notes to play and isn't that what we're all doing in the end but with another instrument?

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Re: Speed

Post by D.Cass » Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:45 pm

Practicing slow does imprint the motions in to the brain. Also, practicing slow allows us to think about every movement. At a faster tempo we cannot rationalized or process every movement quickly. It is the difference between playing 8th notes at 200 bpm verses 16th notes at 100 bpm. At faster tempos we tend chunk our movements than think of them as separate actions, another trick to speed.

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Re: Speed

Post by dtoh » Mon Feb 05, 2018 3:13 am

As everyone else says practice slow. Be extremely conscious of the movement (angle, timing, etc.) of the fingers individually and their motion in time relative to your other fingers. If there is any hesitation or imprecision in the movements, trying to play faster will be counter-productive IMHO.

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Re: Speed

Post by GMR » Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:20 pm

This seems very good advice. I struggle with my precision, which horribly hampers any build up of speed. Slowing down to get things right at slow tempo seems to be the best approach to my mind, before increasing the tempo.

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Re: Speed

Post by zupfgeiger » Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:39 pm

Play scales, start slowly. Precise execution is always more important than speed. Then accelerate. But only slightly -. and again execute until perfection. Repeat until you play the scale parts in Bach's Chaconne as fast and good as John Williams. :wink:
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Re: Speed

Post by Leitmotiv » Tue Feb 06, 2018 5:52 pm

The problem with speed is the feeling that you are constantly playing 'catch-up'; that what you are doing is hurried. Your right hand must be
super-relaxed at all times. Each stroke/pluck, to be even, must come 'out of the center of the racket'/'from the sweet spot'. The bass/ground
from the thumb, the single most important element, the fingers (i,m,a) coordinating with (p) to keep the flow within the hand steady.

There are two speeds: number of notes produced (the most common lol); and speed through the string, which goes to sound-production and tactile feedback/recovery. With control and dynamic range comes final mastery.

"...the wonderful ease of masters" - Albert Camus

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Re: Speed

Post by Denian Arcoleo » Tue Feb 06, 2018 6:35 pm

Learn to relax the muscles not required.

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Re: Speed

Post by Rick Hutt » Fri Feb 09, 2018 3:58 pm

Years ago, my teacher said, "Speed is a function of accuracy".
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Re: Speed

Post by Rasputin » Fri Feb 09, 2018 4:51 pm

Accuracy is a prerequisite of speed, more like. I think there is a lot more to it, which is why the much-touted ramping up method often doesn't work very well. Although plenty of people have theories in this area, there is a dearth of evidence - it looks as they are just going on what makes intuitive sense to them, and although what they say sometimes appears to be reinforced by observation (of students, for example) that looks very much like confirmation bias. I am sure that the ability to relax muscles that are not needed is important, but I question whether this is something that can be worked on directly as a way of developing the right technique, or whether it is more like a result of using the right technique. I can't say I've spoken to hundreds and hundreds of guitarists about it, but I have yet to come across an example of somebody who struggled with fast passages for a long time (the raw speed I mean, not the accuracy) and suddenly made a breakthrough. The picture seems to be more that people who start fast but sloppy can become fast and clean, if they work at it, but people who start slow remain slow. What is especially curious to me is that you have a pretty broad consensus that starting at a painfully slow tempo and ramping up is the key - which makes it sound as though this problem has been solved and it's just a question of putting in the work - but then you have many serious amateurs who are struggling to achieve any real speed. I am just going on what I have read on the forum there but that's how it looks to me.

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Re: Speed

Post by ronjazz » Sat Feb 10, 2018 3:05 am

Up to a point I agree, Rasputin, but slow playing to learn the movements perfectly will often cut the time in half from fixing mistakes and sloppiness. I find that a good balance includes speed bursts, short passages that each you to "group" notes as a movement form instead of a series of single moves. And going from slow to fast in a single practice session isn't difficult, only a minute or two, literally, needs to be spent on each exercise at each speed. The slow playing frees you to inspect your movements and try different things that may feel or sound better.And these can be done with single-note or arpeggio or repeated chordal patterns. Making a transition to speed starting with accuracy seems to be what most of us are saying.
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Re: Speed

Post by PeteJ » Sat Feb 10, 2018 12:38 pm

I share your view, Rasputin. Ramping up is good but not a cure-all. Young tennis players are often encouraged to hit the ball hard without worrying too much about accuracy and the accuracy comes with time. To preserve the accuracy while building up the power is the other half of the practice, but getting used to playing with power means doing it badly at first. When I came across this I was disapproving - players whacking the ball into the back netting and missing the court by yards, but then saw the point. I suspect that speed on the guitar is the same sort of situation.

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Re: Speed

Post by MaritimeGuitarist » Sat Feb 10, 2018 1:19 pm

Years ago, I had the privilege of studying violin/viola with a very well known and respected performer/pedagogue. I once asked him how to approach practicing the fast passages in my repertoire. His response was, " practice fast. How do you expect to be able to play fast if you don't practice fast?"

There is certainly a great deal of value in practicing slowly and, admittedly, the bulk of my practice is approached through slow deliberate playing. I think, however, that some time must be devoted to playing at very fast speeds in order to develop the reflexes needed to play quickly. Iznaola, in his book, states that, in addition to traditional scale and arpeggio practice, one should push speed levels through practicing speed bursts. First, this should be done with a very limited number of pitches (3-4). Gradually, additional pitches should be added until high levels of speed can be maintained for longer durations. The teacher mentioned above gave me similar advice and I believe that Tennant mentions speed bursts in his book too.

As a final disclaimer, I believe speed development is dependent on multiple factors and there is no magic exercise that will provide instant results. Practicing speed bursts should be used in conjunction with a variety of technical exercises and approaches.

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Re: Speed

Post by D.Cass » Sat Feb 10, 2018 6:43 pm

I think the issue with practicing slowly is that most people take it to literally. It is ok to test the waters and challenge yourself. The problem occurs is when you only play fast.

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