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Opinions: Is this a solid speed-building technique?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Saxn, Nov 27, 2010.

  1. Saxn


    Oct 23, 2010
    Nashville, GA
    Hey guys.

    I've been rooting around this area of the forums for a little while looking at various 'correct' ways to practice this and that, and I have one I'd like to submit for review.

    I am a pretty new (<1 month) bassist, so naturally I am pretty slow around the fretboard when playing scales and arpeggios. In the process of trying to build speed with solid technique, I have sort of wandered onto this approach:

    1. I select a tempo on the metronome. Normally I start at around 60bpm.

    2. I play through the scale from top to bottom on the four strings (I play from the major seventh through the next octave fourth on a major scale 'box' for example) followed immediately by all the notes in the arpeggio from top to bottom. If what I played was PERFECT, I make a mental note and do it again. If THAT one was perfect, I do it once more. Once I have played the scale/arpeggio perfectly three times in a row I bump the metronome up by 10bpm.

    3. If at any point I mess up, even in the slightest, I make a mental note of that and start over at step 2.

    4. If I screw up three times in a row, I will drop the metronome tempo by 10bpm and start again from step 2.

    I was just wondering if those of you with more experience think this is a pretty decent system to use for building some technique with speed.

  2. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    My initial response would "yes," but with the caveat that you should be comfortable with the hard approach you're taking with yourself. If you don't mind the figurative self-flagellation (it's better than someone else doing it, right?), then by all means, keep going. But I sense that you'd have more fun, and let me stress, that no matter why you play, you should derive a real sense of satisfaction from what you're doing, if you went a bit easier on yourself and interspersed this technique with some free-form playing.

    But your fundamental approach is sound; my concern is that you'll become frustrated if you don't succeed right away. We all improve at different rates, but for me, it arrived in unexpected moments of clarity over the course of 30 years. The first few were pretty good, then I flat-lined for a while, then there were various break-throughs along the way.
  3. Saxn


    Oct 23, 2010
    Nashville, GA
    Thanks for the reply.

    You sound very much like me in the way you describe your progress! I have played the saxes for almost 20 years, and have gone through the same sort of thing. Heavy progress in a short time frame, then a plateau. Repeat.

    I will certainly take this advice, and gladly! It will be a bit more satisfying to turn on the drum machine during periods of frustration.

    Thanks for the technique review and advice, fretless.
  4. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    +1 to this.

    The fundamental rule when working on speed, is to start slowly and build up the tempo gradually... exactly as you are doing. ;)
  5. puddin tame

    puddin tame

    Aug 14, 2010
    Speed is about economy of motion which comes from good technique and practice, as long as you're playing it will improve
  6. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    I would say drop step 3 and 4.
    Simple reason is you are changing the task from speed to accuracy. This adds an additional pressure to what you are trying to achieve. To play fast and fluent you need freedom in your thinking and playing, not the restriction of the pressure of making mistakes.
    Making mistakes is natural in any learning so don't change the task to "not making mistakes".

    Dealing with the demands of playing "perfect" is a task to be learned later when you have better skills to rely on. I know you may think that being hard on yourself is a good way to learn discipline, but it will have a negative effect in the long run. Music always moves and flows, so better learn to cope with that aspect, because in real life when you play you never get the chance to stop and start again because of mistakes. In real life you have to cope with the mistakes and get on with the task of playing. It is better to ingrain that habit and learn to get on with the task of playing with freedom.:)
  7. Saxn


    Oct 23, 2010
    Nashville, GA
    So none of you guys think that playing as fast as you can play PERFECTLY is necessarily the ticket, then? I have to admit that surprises me a little.

    I really am not trying to be a bass-playing masochist... hence the time spent jamming with tracks and drum machines. I just figured speed and good technique should develop hand in hand. If this is not the case then I am sure my speed will improve much more... uh... speedily? :ninja:
  8. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Well they can't develop hand in hand if you think about it. If learning to play fast you cannot have any restrictions, in learning to play accurate you have to play slow.
    You have to learn the notes slowly and accurately to the extent that you can play them without thinking. Once you can do that then you can speed up because you have the freedom to play without restriction.
    Speed come from many things, better technique, experience, better thinking, accuracy of fretting, accuracy of plucking. Speed to a beginner is a by product of the learning, you get fast just by becoming familiar with the instrument and playing.:)
  9. I think that he is learning to play accurately he's starting on 60 bpm thats slow as christmas..I used this same technique for my state orchestra auditions for trombone for one part i had to play all major scales in two or more octaves in a certain amount of time (I can't remember the times but it wasn't very long; I got 2 octaves on all scales and 3 on a few go me) and it worked great for me but understand it can be very frustrating and you dont need to beat yourself up to much
  10. Chris K

    Chris K

    May 3, 2009
    Gorinchem,The Netherlands
    Partner: Otentic Guitars
    IMHO it is far too soon (< one month!!) for you to even dream of speed. Concentrate on buiding a correct technique, comfort, relaxation. Give your body some time to adapt to these new and strange activities. After that, accuracy and control will have to move to the top of the list, followed by playing something that might be appreciated as 'music'.

    Basic speed will come to you in due time, and if you need more, wait till after you've laid a solid basis.

    Some info: http://chriskeuken.nl/health.html
  11. Saxn


    Oct 23, 2010
    Nashville, GA
    I agree with this 100%. I maybe should have made it more clear in my OP that my goal is to develop them both. That is what the thrust of my question is... do you think this method will work both simultaneously IF one doesn't get impatient with it?

    As thesilence pointed out earlier, 60 is pretty doggone slow, and there's no moving on from there until you can consistently get it right. Even then you're only at 70.

    If I am on the wrong track here that's fine. Just wondering if it's a good way to work technique while not remaining static in the speed department.
  12. amen to that.....strive for good technique and speed will happen on it's own....

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