Monday, November 14, 2011

The slower I practice, the faster I get...

I spent many years as a young man with the metronome cranked up to 152 BPM playing 4 notes per click. I was the fastest guy on the block, but my playing really wasn't that good - it was just fast.  AND my arms, hands, and fingers were tense.

Fast forward a few decades, and speed is no longer the prime objective.  Playing tasty is what I'm going after these days.  Yet, I do want to be able to put the pedal down and pass a few cars when I need to - and its nice to have the horse power under the hood when needed.

So I discovered something a few years ago that I wish I'd known when I was a teenage speed freak.  The slower and more relaxed you are when you practice, the faster you can play.

For example, if you are playing along with a metronome set to 120BPM, try slowing it down to 80 BPM or even 75 BPM.  It will feel like you are playing in slow motion.  But try it for 60 minutes.  Make sure you hands - and entire body - are TOTALLY relaxed!  (This is important).  Use minimal downward pressure on your fretting hand - let it GLIDE over the notes you are playing.

After an hour, turn that metronome back up to 120 BPM and see how EASY it is to play fast - how relaxed your hands feel.  If you do this once, you will be hooked.


  1. Hey David. Love your blog.
    When you say practice at 80BPM. Is that 4 notes per click?

  2. Its up to you. I used to practice at 152BPM with 4 notes per click for hours at a time. Now I practice around 80BPM at 4, 3, or even 2 notes per click.

    For added feel, play 2 notes per click (may need to speed up the tempo a bit) and let the metronome click on beats 2 and 4 instead of 1 and 3.


  3. Cheers David. Any tips on the actual practice regime you do when you're grinding away for an hour? Chromatics, pentatonics, scattered patterns etc?

  4. I actually wrote a book that covers a comprehensive exercise I do almost everyday. Here's a video I made that gives an overview of the exercise and discusses the book.


  5. Book looks good. Just placed an order with Lulu.
    Are there good practice techniques for the Minor and Major pentatonics? Not really up to the modes etc yet.

  6. I see your lesson guitar video on youtube, thanks.. I'm your fans