Slow down when practicing

Sometimes it gets frustrating when you’re learning a new song, especially if that song has chord changes in it that are “pushing your envelope”.

The secret to master these is simple… Slow Down!

One way to tell when you need to slow down is if you’re playing a tune “at speed” and you do slow down at a difficult passage, whether you want to or not. That’s a sign to back up, slow down the entire song and continue to work on it.

If you slow down to a tortoise’s pace and go over the difficult changes repeatedly you’ll find that pretty soon you get the “feel” of how your fingers are placed and what motions are required to get them there. This is called “developing muscle memory” and it’s having a good muscle memory that allows you to strum quickly along through a variety of tunes.

Once you’ve gotten to the point that you can go through the difficult changes slowly, speed up… but just a bit. Make sure you can hit it at that speed and speed up a bit more. The idea is to progress in small, easily mastered steps between the tortoise’s pace and the hare’s.

Soon you’re up to whatever tempo the song calls for, your hands remember what to do and you just have to concentrate on selling the song.

(Note: this was first published on January 15, 2007 as part of my “bi-weekly uke tips”)

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