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Mar 7, 2018 - 7:58:28 PM
794 posts since 7/26/2015

People say to start out slow, but I never did know quite the right speed at which to set the metronome. I typically try to play breakdowns somewhere between 120 and 140 when playing up to speed.

Edited by - soppinthegravy on 03/07/2018 19:59:00

Mar 7, 2018 - 8:49:34 PM

76 posts since 8/30/2017

Sounds about right. 140 is getting pretty quick for old time. 110-120 is probably average.

Mar 7, 2018 - 10:36:06 PM

794 posts since 7/26/2015

That's not what I was trying to inquire about. If I'm going to practice the tune at a slower speed to try to get everything clean, what should, how many BPM slower than full speed should I set my metronome? That's what I'm asking, not what the average speed of a breakdown would be for a certain style.
quote:
Originally posted by PrairieFiddler

Sounds about right. 140 is getting pretty quick for old time. 110-120 is probably average.


Mar 7, 2018 - 10:55:07 PM

76 posts since 8/30/2017

Oh... I see. It's really quite relative I think. Slow for making sure everything goes as smoothly and correctly as you can accomplish, maybe 80 or 90 bpm? If your metronome has a "tap" button, I'd try playing at the fastest speed you're 99% certain you can get all the little technical things done as well as can be, and then keep that beat in your head and try to input it in the metronome.

Mar 7, 2018 - 11:00:36 PM

76 posts since 8/30/2017

If your metronome doesn't have that, download an app called "Metronome Beats" that has said tool. It's free and easy to use. And I forgot to mention it but I'd use that bpm as a baseline and slowly increase the speed by 10 or so bpm until you can play it at your desired non "genre-specifc" ! ;) speed.

Mar 8, 2018 - 3:03:36 AM

Gareth Bjaaland

Australia

82 posts since 12/29/2008

I think as slow as is comfortable to still feel the tune and work up and also down from there, slow practice increases your attention to detail and is extremely good for all aspects of your playing.

If say 50 bp is too slow to feel the tempo-the slower the tempo the harder it is to keep steady I find, try putting the metronome on double time-100bpm, but keep playing at the slow speed.

I also use and recommend a mechanical metronome, much more pleasant than a nasty little plastic beeping machine and also better for the environment.

Mar 8, 2018 - 6:21:28 AM
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5650 posts since 8/7/2009

I try to learn / practice everything up to tempo. When I find passages or phrases that are difficult, I will isolate those and play them at a reduced tempo. But I will also include attempts to play them at tempo before I finish with the session. And I won't spend more than 5 - 10 minutes on any one thing.

I also got this bit of advice from a banjo teacher (Josh Turknett, 9 Ways To Practice Smarter). Paraphrased: When you are struggling with a passage in a tune, don't go back and practice the whole tune from the beginning in order to get that part worked out. Isolating that part is a more efficient and productive use of your practice time. There is no need to spend your practice time on stuff you already know, use the time where it is needed. 

So, I practice the tune up to tempo, and will discover what I need to isolate. I will work on that phrase at a reduced tempo.

And before I read this advice from Josh, I always felt like a tune played at a reduced tempo looses some of its flavor / essence / feel as the tempo is reduced. I start hearing things (or add things) that aren't there, and the feel of the rhythm gets lost.

This works for me.  No doubt - other methods work for other people. 

Mar 8, 2018 - 7:40:17 AM

1315 posts since 8/27/2008

When you say 120 to 140BPM that is pretty darn fast. It depends what tune it is but I rarely get to more than 120BPM. Anyway, I start a new tune generally around 90-100BPM, I think. If you start too slow you won't have the feel of it, which is part of any fast tune.

Mar 8, 2018 - 9:47:54 AM

RichJ

USA

233 posts since 8/6/2013

Perhaps this is getting off on another tangent, but just what is meant by "practice". I've heard experienced musician say "playing" and "practicing" are different. Practicing in my view is a lot of things other than just trying to play a tune fast. For me it's more like breaking a tune into parts to find were the difficult places are, then going over these several times to improve. Or, maybe trying of find out if it's fingering or bowing that's making a particular part more difficult.

I also like to practice scales, arpeggios and double stops especially if its' a key I'm not used to such as F or Bb.

Guess what I'm trying to say is there a lot of stuff in "practice" other than just trying to play a tune fast. For me increased speed is something that seems to naturally happen once I work out the difficult parts of the tune.

Mar 8, 2018 - 10:31:49 AM

5650 posts since 8/7/2009

quote:
Originally posted by RichJ

Perhaps this is getting off on another tangent, but just what is meant by "practice". I've heard experienced musician say "playing" and "practicing" are different. Practicing in my view is a lot of things other than just trying to play a tune fast. For me it's more like breaking a tune into parts to find were the difficult places are, then going over these several times to improve. Or, maybe trying of find out if it's fingering or bowing that's making a particular part more difficult.

I also like to practice scales, arpeggios and double stops especially if its' a key I'm not used to such as F or Bb.

Guess what I'm trying to say is there a lot of stuff in "practice" other than just trying to play a tune fast. For me increased speed is something that seems to naturally happen once I work out the difficult parts of the tune.


Well, along those same lines... I guess you could make distinctions between learning tunes, practicing exercises, and playing tunes - or break things down even further. And when distinctions are made for doing that - it should all make sense.

I guess I'm kind of simple minded when it comes to all this... To me, there are tunes that I can play but, rarely am I ever completely satisfied with the way I play any tune. So in that regard, every time I play a tune at home / by myself - I am trying to improve what I "sound like" when playing any tune. So I always consider that to be a practice session. 

Most of my practice session time is spent playing along with recordings (hence up to tempo) - and - its not unusual for me to hear something new or different (just when I thought I "knew" the tune). When that happens - I tweak and polish. And for me, that is a successful practice session. So, most of the time I'm playing through the whole tune. But I will break things down and spend time with phrases I can't play or can't hear. 

I might add that my practice sessions are rarely spent working on how to play tunes faster. I try to learn them, practice them, and play them at the tempo on the source recording. 

For me - I go out to play. "Playing" is a time when others are paying attention to what I am doing - more like a performance or jamming with others. A time when stopping in the middle of playing a tune would be considered disruptive or inappropriate.

Mar 8, 2018 - 11:05:40 AM
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946 posts since 4/6/2014

Wouldn't it depend on how "notey" the tune is, what sort of rhythms are involved, the form, whether i want my articulations/ornaments to be accurate, is it a tune that demands good tone, is it a listening tune or a dancing tune...etc...etc...etc?

i think each tune has different requirements for practice and performance tempo, but i think i need to have an idea of how the tune "feels" at, or around the tempo it would be performed before i decide on a practice tempo, so i get a simplified version first, (at or around performance tempo) maybe just the chords, or a rough outline of a tune and dial in from there.

Mar 8, 2018 - 11:14:25 AM
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3694 posts since 9/26/2008

Play as slow as you want, it is literal subjective. Judging on the comments already, your version of fast appears to faster than some - your version of slow is therfore also probably going to be different. Let's say, play as slow as you need to in order to play 'error free' however you may interpret that. I personally fall into the 'play up to speed whenever possible' category.

Edited by - ChickenMan on 03/08/2018 11:14:57

Mar 8, 2018 - 12:18:07 PM
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1315 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
...and play them at the tempo on the source recording.

That is a good thing to do. A lot of old tunes are faster than I play them, and sometimes it's hard for me to get them up to speed. I suspect spending too much time polishing things at slower speeds tends to lock them in there. Speed is not the enemy of a good tune like I've heard said around here. But I think when you can hear the effort that's not good. I'm often fooled to find out how fast a tune is because the players are so smooth.

Mar 8, 2018 - 1:45:37 PM
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794 posts since 7/26/2015

I meant 120-140 when it's up to speed. My practice speed is usually around 80-100.
quote:
Originally posted by abinigia

When you say 120 to 140BPM that is pretty darn fast. It depends what tune it is but I rarely get to more than 120BPM. Anyway, I start a new tune generally around 90-100BPM, I think. If you start too slow you won't have the feel of it, which is part of any fast tune.


Edited by - soppinthegravy on 03/08/2018 13:48:15

Mar 8, 2018 - 1:54:34 PM

1120 posts since 10/13/2010

When I've mastered a tune and want to play it faster I up the tempo by one click on the metronome and practice that speed until I get it mastered.

Mar 8, 2018 - 3:07:50 PM
Players Union Member

boxbow

USA

2314 posts since 2/3/2011

quote:
Originally posted by tonyelder

I try to learn / practice everything up to tempo. When I find passages or phrases that are difficult, I will isolate those and play them at a reduced tempo. But I will also include attempts to play them at tempo before I finish with the session. And I won't spend more than 5 - 10 minutes on any one thing.

I also got this bit of advice from a banjo teacher (Josh Turknett, 9 Ways To Practice Smarter). Paraphrased: When you are struggling with a passage in a tune, don't go back and practice the whole tune from the beginning in order to get that part worked out. Isolating that part is a more efficient and productive use of your practice time. There is no need to spend your practice time on stuff you already know, use the time where it is needed. 

So, I practice the tune up to tempo, and will discover what I need to isolate. I will work on that phrase at a reduced tempo.

And before I read this advice from Josh, I always felt like a tune played at a reduced tempo looses some of its flavor / essence / feel as the tempo is reduced. I start hearing things (or add things) that aren't there, and the feel of the rhythm gets lost.

This works for me.  No doubt - other methods work for other people. 


Lots of solid advice here.  I can't address the OP because I don't have a metronome and my occasional work-arounds are too silly to be productive for you.

Mar 8, 2018 - 7:07:01 PM
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2178 posts since 9/13/2009

Practice does mean different things to different people. Thus the original question might be related to which view or method.

For some it means involves more rote memory building repetitions of exercises and repertoire; go slow and build speed is usually part. I think in this method, isn't one size fits all specific bpm... depends on where you individually are at in skill for that tune... just slow enough to play it without mistake... then gradually bump it up.

 

For others it is more focused working on what you want it to sound like, analysis, problem solving, dissecting, problem passages, bowing, phrasing, groove, accent, dynamics and such to achieve the end (what you want it to sound like).

The one thing to point out, that many folks realize, the tempo plays a role in feel.., and might involve slightly different mechanics or technique. That is what works and sounds fine for slower, moderate, doesn't quite work for fast. The old "you have to walk before you can run" - but running isn't just fast walking. And walking can use fairly sloppy technique and still work.

The trick to slow is actually practice "slow motion" of fast. This can be difficult, and can involve bit of catch 22.., how to practice if don't know what the fast involves. So one strategy is to just try and push it, don't worry about falling or crashing... get a sense of the feel of fast... even if not perfect... pay attention to how it feels and how it falls apart... then slow down enough to work on it. Try to push it again.

Another related method is to use more top-down... (playing at up-to tempo jams/sessions teaches you do this) - thin the tune to more just essential and get that up to speed... get the overall essence of the feel, get it solid. Any trouble spots, see if you can make simpler within your skill. Then within that context, gradually add in what ever detail and complexity.

Just different ideas.

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 03/08/2018 19:10:26

Mar 8, 2018 - 8:17:57 PM
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1918 posts since 8/23/2008

quote:
Originally posted by soppinthegravy

People say to start out slow, 


You need to learn the tune, so you play it slowly, as slow as you need to learn it. However, there is a different technique to play it fast. You can practice this technique on the tune you want to play fast, but it maybe better to practice this technique without the tune, such as permutations of a few notes on every degree of the scale. Playing slow tends to  use long bow strokes and firmer left hand finger pressure, thus the opposite is required to play fast, eg, shorter and lighter bow strokes with an active wrist, and very light left hand finger pressure with a flick of the finger.    

Mar 9, 2018 - 5:03:59 AM
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946 posts since 4/6/2014

i also think there is a degree of "smoke and mirrors" you can use at faster tempo's that doesn't work at slower tempo's( ghosted, notes substituted notes, pushing the beat, lead in notes etc)...but that may just be hopeful thinking on my part...

Mar 9, 2018 - 9:47:38 AM
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1315 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by

Practice does mean different things to different people. Thus the original question might be related to which view or method.

For some it means involves more rote memory building repetitions of exercises and repertoire; go slow and build speed is usually part. I think in this method, isn't one size fits all specific bpm... depends on where you individually are at in skill for that tune... just slow enough to play it without mistake... then gradually bump it up.

 

For others it is more focused working on what you want it to sound like, analysis, problem solving, dissecting, problem passages, bowing, phrasing, groove, accent, dynamics and such to achieve the end (what you want it to sound like).

The one thing to point out, that many folks realize, the tempo plays a role in feel.., and might involve slightly different mechanics or technique. That is what works and sounds fine for slower, moderate, doesn't quite work for fast. The old "you have to walk before you can run" - but running isn't just fast walking. And walking can use fairly sloppy technique and still work.

The trick to slow is actually practice "slow motion" of fast. This can be difficult, and can involve bit of catch 22.., how to practice if don't know what the fast involves. So one strategy is to just try and push it, don't worry about falling or crashing... get a sense of the feel of fast... even if not perfect... pay attention to how it feels and how it falls apart... then slow down enough to work on it. Try to push it again.

Another related method is to use more top-down... (playing at up-to tempo jams/sessions teaches you do this) - thin the tune to more just essential and get that up to speed... get the overall essence of the feel, get it solid. Any trouble spots, see if you can make simpler within your skill. Then within that context, gradually add in what ever detail and complexity.

Just different ideas.


Well said. Something that won't translate well by practicing slow is the feel of the tune, as you said. Playing fast you will need to use shorter bow strokes in general, and different attack pressure on the strings. I notice that more on the low strings where response is slower to begin with. Playing clear notes at a good clip takes practice.

Mar 13, 2018 - 6:02:23 PM

902 posts since 1/25/2008

96

Mar 14, 2018 - 5:43:19 PM

Peghead

USA

1511 posts since 1/21/2009

IMO Its best when you can drop down into the tempo rather than having to reaching up for it. In other words if you can play a little faster than the desired tempo, there will be space between the notes and it will breath. As far as absolute BPM, that's going to vary with the player and tune? Practice tempo sounds rushed, it should by it's very nature. However, if you perform at that speed you run the risk that the energy will obscure the content. Playing on the edge is also a thing in itself but it sounds like gymnastics. Regarding tunes themselves, every tune has its own bell shaped curve that plots its maximum personal tempo. Even if you could comfortably play it faster, a tune has it's own intrinsic, built in limit. After it's optimal speed, it starts to collapse musically or just plain sounds silly. Some tunes are built for speed, others not specifically. It takes some experience with the material to know where a tune lives. You can generalize about tempo's and types of tunes, reels, hornpipes, breakdowns, etc. but I take it on a tune by tune basis. If you play for dances, you have to serve up what's needed. As long as it hangs together, the dancers are happy.

Edited by - Peghead on 03/14/2018 18:01:24

Mar 17, 2018 - 12:35:22 PM

133 posts since 1/31/2013

I frequently find the problem area I have with a particular tune crops up in other tunes as well - such as intonation of my pinky, or a finger dexterity, or a rhythm kink somewhere. Practicing an exercise designed to repair these problems alongside a metronome seems to ease the problem with that tune as well as others and only takes only a few minutes out of each practice session .

And often whatever it is that draws me to a tune seems to only happen up to tempo and playing too slowly can tire me of that tune.

Mar 17, 2018 - 1:59:32 PM
Players Union Member

boxbow

USA

2314 posts since 2/3/2011

I've found that the process of learning a tune off the page follows a longer and slower progression than learning by ear. What they call "catching" the tune is inhibited by the processing power it takes from this crispy old brain, and some tunes are acknowledged as being much harder to catch regardless. The discussion seems to be most relevant to having caught the tune by whatever means and figuring out what to do with it from there. What am I missing about the use of a metronome earlier in the process? Again, the last time I needed something, I fired up a casio electronic keyboard from the '80s to beat out a waltz step. I'd like to find a nice mechanical metronome.

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