Improving your speed
Over the years that I have practiced guitar, I sort of collected speed secrets. Every time I heard someone mention, “This is the secret to speed” or some variation, I have been all ears. I would then go home and practice this new concept over and over again in my room only to be frustrated time and time again.
Eventually I realized that there isn’t “one secret”. They were all connected, sort of like a puzzle. Most people are missing different pieces.
One of the most common missing pieces that I face with guitar players is that they are focused on the wrong problems. More often than not, when someone comes to me to improve their speed, lack of speed is not what is making them play slowly.
Yes, you read correctly, lack of speed is not why they are playing slow. They are playing slowly because their hands are not totally and 100% completely in sync.
If you never could get either one of your hands to move any faster at all, but you improved the synchronization of your hands, you would already be playing faster! (Read the prior sentence once again)
I use several different methods to practice this with my students. One thing you can do to begin applying this idea right now, is to first find a metronome. You can find one at any music store. I even have a free one right on my site www.patrickmaloneyguitar.com
Figure out at what speed you are able to play a particular lick or riff you have been working on. It can be any technique at all, but I would rather it be something that you have already been struggling with instead of giving you a new lick that may or may not fit your tastes in music.
Write this number down but be sure that you are playing the technique cleanly.
Set the metronome at a very slow speed like 60 bpms. Make a conscience effort to play each note as in sync as possible. Play only one note per click. Pay VERY close attention. The pick strikes the string, as soon as the string touches the fret.
Do this for about 5-10 minutes (even though it can be excruciating) everyday for about 2 weeks. At the end of each session, drill the riff at 110% speed for an additional 2-4 minutes. Do not worry about playing it sloppy. There is a time and place to play clean and tight, but not for those couple of minutes. Not for right now.
After the 2 weeks have passed, use the metronome again to determine the new speed that you can now play the lick cleanly. It will be faster. And you are now on your way to much faster progress because you have identified an often overlooked key ingredient in guitar playing.
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