Essential Secrets 36: Work on Speed Last
Work on Speed Last
Controlling the Notes Is More Important Than Going fast
Here’s a rule every bassist should take to heart: If you can’t play something slowly, there’s no way you can play it quickly.
Trying to play music up to speed before you have control of it wastes enormous amounts of your time. This frustrating way of learning music is the main reason many bassists have to practice for an hour to achieve the same results they could have gotten in ten minutes by practicing correctly.
Immediately playing music at the performance tempo is usually impossible. There’s just too much going on to be able to execute everything well at full speed. When you eliminate speed as a goal in learning new music, you will be much more relaxed. Once you’ve worked out your fingerings and learned the music at a slow tempo, you’ll focus on increasing speed as the very last step in mastering the song.
From the beginning of the learning process, you want to play correct pitches, accurate rhythms, controlled tone, meaningful phrases, clean articulations, and varied dynamics. To master all these elements of your song, slow down to a snail’s pace.
Not worrying about your speed will help you learn faster and make you feel more confident. You’ll find yourself playing accurate pitches and rhythms from the beginning and putting in your phrasing and dynamics, lick by lick, section by section. It’s better to play slowly in control than to flail through a song at full tempo, making mistakes, pausing, and cleaning up your errors.
If you play too fast too soon, you’ll think, “Wow. I made it. It wasn’t all perfect but I got through the song!” Well…You only got through something very much like the song. When a bunch of notes and rhythms were wrong, did you really play the song?
Don’t try to play at full speed if you haven’t learned the music yet. Instead, master the notes first and work on speed last.
Books by David Motto:
THE TEN MINUTE
FOR ELECTRIC BASS
COMPLETE 3-VOL. SET