View Full Version : speeeeeed

pick up the world
Dec-04-2005, 6:25am
So folks I've been playing mandolin for one and a half year now. I can play several tunes like "pick a lilly" or a version of big mon and jerusalem ridge. But I don' get the speed. Okay I don't play it that slow but not that fast for example the happygrass tune by tabledit. Well I can but than I'm missing some notes or I just play it wrong.
So I'm asking you: do you have exercises to practise and build speed?

John Flynn
Dec-04-2005, 10:46am
It's been said time and time again when this question has been asked: Practice with a metronome and only practice a tune as fast as you can do it PERFECTLY. When you "conquer" a tune at one setting on the metronome, go to the next faster speed. It takes a lot of patience and hard work, but eventually you will get to whatever speed you want. If you do this consistently, the rate at which you can go to higher speeds on the metronome on subsequent new tunes seems to increase somewhat, but it always takes patience and hard work. I don't know what its like at the level of the "big names," but most of us will never be able to just hear a tune and/or look at the sheet music and then immediately rip out a tune at high speed. In my case, I can play a few pretty tough tunes at "near-professional" speed, because I have put in the practice on them, but then I am still struggling with some easier tunes that I haven't had the chance to practice.

Peter Hackman
Dec-04-2005, 10:54am
Another answer, especially at my advanced age, is
to choose material that doesn't require
high speed - at any rate you can do much more
with it, rhythmically (incidentally, Jerusalem
isn't THAT fast, in contrast to Rawhide where
speed seems to be more important than melodic detail).

As an improviser I have been relying
to a great extent on
whatever comes to me in playing; ony when I
discover things that I can't execute fast, I will slow down and analyze them, e.g., find better fingerings.
And then play something else ...

Dec-04-2005, 5:53pm
Pick Up: I've been playing about as long (or short!) as you and face similar issues. I've found it helpful to play along with a rhythm track using Amazing Slowdowner through my laptop, which now resides in my practice area. Recently I've been using the new Jam Tunes book/CDs, which currently is the subject of a thread in the General forum. Once I can play a song confidently several times through at the normal "slow jam" speed, I increase the speed by 10%. I then repeat this process until I can play along at the "fast jam" speed. It is effective and more fun than a metronome, for sure. Hope this helps.

Dec-04-2005, 7:00pm
I'm not a real speedy player, but here are some tips I've gathered over the years that have helped me a lot. I don't always follow all of this advice...heck, I get as excited as the next guy and freak out regularly.

Knowing the material you are trying to play is the biggest assist. Using TabEdit is a great way to gradually increase the speed as you learn a new piece. It's easier to inch up the speed starting at a really easy pace and working your way forward. Pretty soon a clip that seemed impossible at 120 seems easy at 140. It's weird, but it helps you get out of your own way mentally speaking.

Playing every day is also a big help. Thirty minutes every day is a lot better for you than playing an hour every other day.

Make sure you have a good handle on pick direction and picking-hand technique. Tension is the enemy. The trick is to hold the pick tightly enough not to drop it, but no tighter. Hard to do when you're nervous or pushing yourself, but a good thing to practice at home where there is no pressure.

Play around with all kinds of picks until you find the one that works for you. I like the Clayton large triangles, the thicker the better. They never bend or wear out so far as I can tell. A bigger pick is easier to secure without pressure.

As you're working on speed, focus on playing cleanly rather than loudly. Cleanly picked and fretted notes carry much better than clunkers you play when you are trying to "play louder". If you ever get a chance to sit in a clinic setting with a pro player, you'll probably notice that the biggest difference is how cleanly they play everything. I've sat near Roland White and David Grier for lessons, and they don't play especially loudly---just very cleanly. That helps a lot when you're playing in an ensemble or into a mic.

If you're under pressure, say taking a break at a speed that is a challenge for you, focus on playing within your ability, especially with the left hand. Repeating the same note, using tremolo, playing double stops, etc. give your left hand a fighting chance to keep up with the speed of the tune. Trying to play lots of different notes or across strings can lead to disaster. Focus on playing a musical phrase, even if it's at half speed. You'll sound a whole lot better than just grabbing a lot of notes from a scale, which sounds like vomiting most of the time.

It can help your speed and confidence to learn to play in closed positions up the neck. Learning to play the closed major scale and to play licks from the common four-string chord position may be challenging at first, but once you have got the hang of it you can play your licks in any key simply by moving to another position.

Anyway, there's a few ideas for you.

Dec-04-2005, 7:32pm
Metronome. Slow. Tone before speed. Good timing before speed. Then slowly work the metronome up. Repeat daily until fast http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

pick up the world
Dec-05-2005, 9:54am
well this answers gonna help me. I found another (better way, for me) to hold the pick. Now I pick a little bit cleaner and I think too that helped me to play faster.
Thanks http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Dec-08-2005, 6:14pm
To what's been said above, let me add a comment on knowing the tune, especially, having a solid idea what notes are "optional" to keeping up the sense of the tune. Good metronome discipline is important, but that assumes you're home alone and in control of the tempo. When you're out and about in sessions and someone else calls the tune and sets the tempo, being able to jettison some of the notes for the sake of staying "in the fray" can go a long way towards helping you enjoy the moment, keep relaxed, build some confidence, and even surprise yourself at what you can do at "their" speed. -- Paul

Dec-08-2005, 9:51pm
Just curious, what is fast playing? I know fast to some may be seem slow to others and vise versa. I have been playing for three years now and I don't really work on speed at all. I just pick up the mando and play. I try at least once a day to turn the metronome on and play along with it for one reason only, to play lead and chops on beat and stay on beat. I would say on fiddle tunes like blackberry blossom I play at about 220-240 or so, depending if I am warmed up or not. Honestly I have a hard time moving my wrist much faster than that. Plus when I play, I play for tone and clearness. I know that 240 isn't that fast compared to most people, but I just don't worry too much about it because I have only been playing three years.

Dec-09-2005, 9:33pm
Seems to me that "standard" performance speed for fiddle tunes & such is around 110 -130 BPM if playing sixteenths, 220 - 260 bpm for tunes written in eighth notes. That would be about 440 to 520 notes per minute if you were playing all eighths or sixteenths with no rests. Songs, as opposed to tunes (hoedowns in fiddle contest parlance) go all over the place in terms of tempo.

Speed that up by even 15% and you're getting into the fast range, in my opinion. Differing opinions are always welcome.