Going slow before going fast

April 15, 2021

I just got off the phone with my friend and we were talking about working through problems that arise (mostly inside the head). He said, “I firmly believe you have to go slow before you can go fast”. What he means is you have to take some time to sort through the issue before you can quickly put it to rest, or get into the habit of putting issues to rest quickly.

It made me think about how I’ve been re-learning music this year, mostly through the support of my teacher and mentor. Learning a piece of music is overwhelming for me. One reason for this is because I prefer to improvise and write my own music. If I have to learn a new piece of music for an upcoming lesson, it’s very likely that I will procrastinate learning it.

Yet if you just stick to the formula or method I’m about to describe, you don’t have to go through such agony: You start from the top of the piece, and learn it bar by bar. You work out what sort of fingering needs to happen in order to execute the passage.

Most contemporary songs follow a bit of a pattern so once you’ve got the beginning under control it won’t be a huge stretch to move on to the next passages. An example would be if you’re learning a country fingerpicking piece, you’re going to be dealing with the technique to play that in the beginning and it will likely stay throughout the whole piece.

And back to the idea of playing slowly, I like to set a metronome for a pace that is slow enough for me to play it logically, but being careful to not set it too slow so that there is no sense of rhythm.

When working through a piece like this, it takes surprisingly less time than you would expect to get into the flow of practice.

← Back to All Posts