6 April 2010

Slow Guitar Practice - Is It Useful?

Do you use slow guitar practice in your training sessions? In a recent debate on slow guitar practice on the classical guitar blog it seems there are some differences of opinion on how useful it is.

The first post, Rethinking Slow Practice argues that a more effective technique is to practice very short passages - a few beats - at normal tempo. But slow practice is not dismissed completely, it is suggested as an exercise to do after normal tempo practice. Mainly as a way to reinforce the things learned playing at normal tempo.

But this view was followed up with a different opinion in Rethinking Slow Practice - A 2nd Perspective which emphasises the benefits of slow practice. The two main benefits listed are related to listening and technique.

Slow practice lets you listen to each note and get to grips with all that's going on in the piece. It also helps you to resolve technical issues by training your hands and fingers to move correctly.

The Benefits Of Slow Practice

In my opinion slow practice has plenty of benefits for your guitar playing. Here are some of the things you can use it for.

  1. Learn the fingerings of new chords, scales or passages
  2. Show if your mind and fingers really know where they're going next
  3. Identify weaknesses in your finger movements and technique
  4. Practice optimal movements from one position to another
  5. Memorise a series of chords and notes to learn a piece of music by heart
  6. Notice things around the chords or notes you play, e.g. see how musical elements relate to one another
Of course, if you only practice slowly then you won't develop the ability to play at normal speed. Obviously you need to spend some of your time to practice at faster speeds too. But just because slow practice doesn't solve every problem doesn't mean it doesn't have its place.

What's Your Experience?

Have you tried slow practice as you learned to play guitar? What was your experience, do you think it helped you or not? I'd love to learn about your experiences, please share them as a comment...

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