Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 30

Thread: Effective picking exercises for speed and accuracy?

  1. #1

    Default Effective picking exercises for speed and accuracy?

    After a few weeks messing with tunings for playing fiddle and mandolin tunes on a short scale 6 string guitar I settled on fiddle/mandolin all 5ths tuning - cGDAEB (single strung).

    Where I'm at - I can pick mandolin & fiddle tunes slowed down a little either off the dots or by ear, but my picking's not accurate or rhythmic enough and I haven't got stuff like fast triplets and pulloffs at all sorted.

    So, can anyone please recommend effective flatpicking speed and accuracy exercises either for mandolin tuning, or that are not specific to a guitar tuning? I don't mind if they're boring as long as they work, and I'd as soon have them printable or in a book as on video.

    Thanks, Max

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Kernersville, NC
    Posts
    2,469
    Blog Entries
    3

    Default Re: Effective picking exercises for speed and accuracy?

    I don't know any exercises that will get you there faster than:

    Play a tune you know at a speed that allows you to make no mistakes. Then bump it faster. Repeat at that speed with NO mistakes. At some point jump ahead to test the deep end. If slopply back off to a speed you can just handle w/o mistakes and start again. For me this took years

    Someone wrote here recently that at some point speed was more mental than physical. That seems right to me. Once you have ironed out the left and right hand working together, you need to be able to play fast in your mind. It takes time.

    Work on right hand pick grip and up/down stroke. Especially up strokes being a crisp as down. If it's wanky you will not find speed easily. Mike Marshall's up/down open string exercise is very good for pick stroke.

  3. The following members say thank you to Mark Wilson for this post:


  4. #3
    Registered User Michael Neverisky's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    New England, USA
    Posts
    234
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Re: Effective picking exercises for speed and accuracy?

    The key to playing with speed, accuracy and good tone is to practice S L O W L Y paying focused attention to accuracy and good tone.

  5. #4

    Default Re: Effective picking exercises for speed and accuracy?

    “Slowly” is not a number. Slowly is any speed at which you can play effortlessly. If your goal is to play faster, jump around between your fastest effortless speeds, speeds where it is difficult but still accurate, and speeds where you make mistakes. This is the zone where you make progress. I can’t think of any benefits to playing slower than what is effortless.

    Be careful, because effortless can be confused with careless. Effortless is when you are playing accurately, beautifully and relaxedly.

    Jump around among phrases you want to improve. Improve one phrase, and then move on to another, and then another. Don’t sit on one phrase for fifteen minutes. Some research suggests jumping around randomly among the phrases you want to improve is the most effective schedule.

    If you are trying to improve a complex skill, it is helpful to break it down into its components. To play fast, there is no getting around the fact that your right hand has to go up and down fast. So, just focusing on the right hand and increasing its speed to where it is effortless will make combining it with your left hand more manageable. If a tune has a string crossing, get to where the right hand can do that crossing effortlessly, and then add the left hand. Isolate and master any tricky right hand maneuvers, and then combine them with the left hand. You could also try just doing the left hand part in isolation.

    Spend the most time on the hardest parts, rather than running through the entire tune at faster and faster speeds. The hardest parts aren’t fixed. They are whichever parts need improvement and will change in relation to other parts. The tricky intro is no longer hard, once you have mastered it. Finish your focused practice of the challenging parts by playing through the whole tune a few times.

    The bulk of your practice should be in a range that is challenging, but not frustrating.
    Last edited by JonZ; Mar-04-2018 at 11:56am.
    Object to this post? Find out how to ignore me here!

  6. The following members say thank you to JonZ for this post:


  7. #5
    Registered User Michael Neverisky's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    New England, USA
    Posts
    234
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Re: Effective picking exercises for speed and accuracy?

    Quote Originally Posted by JonZ View Post

    I can’t think of any benefits to playing slower than what is effortless.
    Because it's possible that you don't know what you're missing. Which doesn't mean that part of your practice can't include up tempo playing. But regarding what is "challenging", playing slowly with perfect time and good tone is not simple.

    Just this morning I was reading a very interesting piece in the latest Fretboard Journal (41) which included a bit of a lesson between the author and guitarist Michael Chapdelaine that touched on this.

  8. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Michael Neverisky For This Useful Post:


  9. #6

    Default Re: Effective picking exercises for speed and accuracy?

    I concur with all the previous responses - it might seem counterintuitive but practicing at slow tempo and getting proper technique ingrained in your muscle memory is a key to unlocking faster and more accurate playing. There are many books or online resources (check out the TablEdit files here at the cafe) with scale and arpeggio exercises that are perfect for this type of practice. Or you can pick fiddle tunes you've memorized and play these at a stately pace. Using a metronome or backing tracks to provide a steady beat is really, really helpful as well. Many metronome apps for smartphones include a feature that slowly advances the tempo after a certain number of beats. Strummachine.com is another great tool for practicing and it has a similar tempo incrementing feature (NFI).
    "Well, I don't know much about bands but I do know you can't make a living selling big trombones, no sir. Mandolin picks, perhaps..."

  10. #7

    Default Re: Effective picking exercises for speed and accuracy?

    Thanks for that advice, guys. From learning other instruments, I've experienced the value of playing slowly (half speed is popular with classical musicians), even if you think you've got it off at full speed. I think it's something to do with muscle memory and internalising the muscle movements. I don't always remember to do this, of course

    However, with most instruments there are technical tips about muscle and hand/arm movements which can short circuit learning. In bowed instruments like violin, some of these can double your rate of progress i a year, after a few weeks of practise. It occurs to me that the same may apply to using a plectrum to produce the sound. I assumed someone somewhere among the millions of fine guitar pickers and mandolinists would have analysed those movements. I hoped to find a system of possibly boring but effective exercises to get the most efficient method of picking down, but I can't find one - any ideas?

  11. #8

    Default Re: Effective picking exercises for speed and accuracy?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Neverisky View Post
    Because it's possible that you don't know what you're missing. Which doesn't mean that part of your practice can't include up tempo playing. But regarding what is "challenging", playing slowly with perfect time and good tone is not simple.

    Just this morning I was reading a very interesting piece in the latest Fretboard Journal (41) which included a bit of a lesson between the author and guitarist Michael Chapdelaine that touched on this.
    Anything is possible.

    Many challenging things are not particularly beneficial. The point is to challenge yourself at what you are trying to improve. Challenging yourself to play at 10 BPM will not help you play faster. If the goal is to repeat perfect execution, the slower you go, the fewer repetitions you will complete. So, there is a tempo that is optimal.

    You do have to be careful to make sure that you are really playing at a speed that is slow enough for you to optimize each movement, but, when you go slower than that, you reduce the number of repetitions without any additional benefit. Like I said, slow isn’t a tempo, it is the point at which you are playing optimally and effortlessly. You can fool yourself into thinking you are playing slow enough, when you aren’t. You can also play too slow to achieve any additional benefit for the time you are sacrificing.
    Object to this post? Find out how to ignore me here!

  12. #9
    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Rockville, MD
    Posts
    1,507
    Blog Entries
    7

    Default Re: Effective picking exercises for speed and accuracy?

    Maxr is looking for those exercises that force you to do it right. An example from bowing a violin is to draw strokes just above the string but not touching, maybe 1/2 inch away. If you can move the bow steadily in long strokes, both slow and fast, so that it follows a plane on its own, without needing the strings for support, you will quickly develop much more control over tone and dynamics. This because you are not depending on the strings to support the bow, so you are in charge of contact with the strings.

    I find the duo-style forced me to have a looser grip, a smoother motion, and taught me how to use pick grip position and angle to have the string contact drive it back into my grip instead of forcing it out, so that I can hold the pick very loosely and still go fast. Also, working to get the smooth motion and even dynamics while playing very quietly helps me. I also work on power, or course, but that comes sooner than control with a lighter touch.

    My favorite duo-style piece is Tarrega's "Recuerdos de la Alhambra" but anyone can invent musical exercises that require multiple strokes on one note with an intervening note on another string. I would guess there are plenty of pieces or exercises from the Italian school.

    But any piece of music can be made an exercise by doing things like playing it with a different rhythm, or faster/slower, or just using a deliberate technique throughout, like attempting to play a familiar fiddle tune with a super-loose grip.

    The light grip is probably the best way to test any pick technique. If you can't do it without gripping tightly it's probably the wrong approach.
    Blog--Miniature Orchestra
    Sound Clips--SoundCloud
    Videos--YouTube
    The viola is proof that man is not rational

  13. The following members say thank you to Tom Wright for this post:


  14. #10
    Registered User Michael Neverisky's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    New England, USA
    Posts
    234
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Re: Effective picking exercises for speed and accuracy?

    Quote Originally Posted by maxr View Post
    From learning other instruments, I've experienced the value of playing slowly.. . I think it's something to do with muscle memory and internalising the muscle movements.
    Yeah, that's a big part of the value of slow, deliberate practice as well. And if you want to go further down that path, practice one hand at a time being careful to use the exact fingerings and pick movements each time. A sort-of engineering approach, breaking something large and complex into smaller subsystems. 8-)

  15. #11
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    San Francisco, CA or forgotten East Galway, take your pick.
    Posts
    2,678

    Default Re: Effective picking exercises for speed and accuracy?

    Economy of motion plays a big part in speed in accuracy - this video clip on right hand technique for flat picking guitar is one that I referred to when I was wanting to improve my speed and accuracy on the tenor banjo and I found it quite helpful. I modified the exercises shown to incorporate scales and triplets and trebles and use it as my warm up now before I start practicing.

    2018 Girouard Concert oval A
    2015 Ome Juniper 19 fret open back tenor banjo
    20?? Mid-Mo mandola
    1969 Martin 00-18




    my Youtube channel
    Blog: rural.trad.punk

  16. The following members say thank you to Jill McAuley for this post:


  17. #12

    Default Re: Effective picking exercises for speed and accuracy?

    Yes Tom , that's what I'm looking for, or at least descriptions of where the pick should be going in the stroke. Most methods say 'some folks hold it this way, some that...' without examining just how those might work. I had a look at some classical mandolin exercises, but didn't find a great much explanation about building good pick movements. They would have been useful after a physical lesson to explain and demonstrate the movements, but on their own, half the message was missing.

    Thanks also Jill , our posts crossed - I'll watch that.

  18. #13
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    In hills, FRANCE.
    Posts
    174

    Default Re: Effective picking exercises for speed and accuracy?

    I have a preference for musescore.org at the moment, you can adjust speed, see tab and notes at the same time, and it helps me to think not just notes but in blocks of 4 or 8 and how my hand is going to move in each segment, or repetition.
    At least for guitar, many people anchor the wrist on string 6 which imposes a restriction but gives your pick stability and accuracy.
    Another tip may be to play a drum loop, GarageBand is one of the many examples. Although quite addictive, these loops are ideal because, unlike the metronome, they have variations in accent, syncopation and swing which will get your hand to think about how it plays the overall rhythm of each piece. After a while you’ll hear how some people make changes to emphasize the melody. I’ve found that the metronomes that speed up are really effective, if you can handle it! 😊

  19. #14

    Default Re: Effective picking exercises for speed and accuracy?

    there is a theory where, on another site I frequent, they have a "21 day challenge", the idea to play a speed you can play perfectly, no faster, no slower, for 21 days, then go to your desired speed, the theory being you will play it perfectly based on muscle memory. Everyone swears. Some swear by it, some swear at it, but the method definitely brings responses.

    Books such as "The Practice of Practice" claim research shows practice no faster than you can do it correctly to be the most effective, but of course...your mileage may vary. I have no skin in the game other than personal improvement, but those are thoughts from people who have done research

  20. #15

    Default Re: Effective picking exercises for speed and accuracy?

    Covered elsewhere on the cafe I'm sure but these are two additional resources that come up time and again as spot-on tips for improving technique on mandolin:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1_Q7DMrSck
    https://www.amazon.com/Mike-Marshall...l+mandolin+dvd
    "Well, I don't know much about bands but I do know you can't make a living selling big trombones, no sir. Mandolin picks, perhaps..."

  21. #16

    Default Re: Effective picking exercises for speed and accuracy?

    Practice rest strokes on a single string, staying on time with a metronome, then bump the speed. Bump it until you can't stay in time.
    Then add a string cross, either direction. Then add the other direction.

    John Moore and Mike Marshall have great exercises, check Mandozine for John Moore exercises.

    Pay attention to a full tone in any exercise and give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. If it were easy, everybody would play like 'favorite artist here'.
    Play it like you mean it.

  22. #17
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Manchester - Lancashire - NW England
    Posts
    14,013

    Default Re: Effective picking exercises for speed and accuracy?

    The only way to improve 'speed & accuracy' is repetition. As Drew Barton says,''muscle memory'' is a large part of it. Constant repetition drives the physical action home, so that eventually,you can do it without even thinking about it. Whether to decide to slow down whatever you're playing is up to you,but you need to repeat & repeat & .... !. Personally,i try to play up to tempo from the off on any new piece of music. If there's a bit that i don't quite get (i'm an ear player),i'll work on that 'slowly' until i've ironed it out,then it'll go back up to full tempo.

    Here's a tune that i play - ''8th of February'' by John Reischman. I'd listened to the tune dozens of times before i ever held a mandolin. I pretty much had the melody line 'in my head' & picked out the notes on my mandolin one by one -slowly. When i'd got a section worked out,i played it 'up to speed' from the off - not perfectly - i had to follow my own advice - repeat & repeat - i got there,
    Ivan
    Weber F-5 'Fern'.
    Lebeda F-5 "Special".
    Stelling Bellflower BANJO
    Tokai - 'Tele-alike'.
    Ellis DeLuxe "A" style.

  23. #18
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Kernersville, NC
    Posts
    2,469
    Blog Entries
    3

    Default Re: Effective picking exercises for speed and accuracy?

    Playing slower without mistakes before playing faster is good, but sometimes the downside effect of an inefficient technique only shows up with speed.

    Playing faster imo, your down/up stoke has to be really efficient. My upstroke was a weak link. Evidently the upstroke can be crappy and still be effective at lower speeds, but if it's not as crisp as your down stroke it can be a hindrance when trying to increase speed.

    There are some good up/down exercises around for grooving your upstroke and down stroke. Any repetitive up/down exercise should give you the feedback you need to improve your stroke. An lighter grip might give the best feed back.

  24. #19
    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Upstate N.Y.
    Posts
    1,072

    Default Re: Effective picking exercises for speed and accuracy?

    To have speed you have to practice speed,,fast playing starts with having a quick and precise tremolo,,it's the same motions to pick fast,,also to sync your left with your right,often the left is a little behind the right,if your not hitting it clean,speed up your left until they mesh,,

  25. #20

    Default Re: Effective picking exercises for speed and accuracy?

    Also, make sure you pay attention to pick direction. It's easier to play faster if you're picking down up down up down, etc than a load of downstrokes or up strokes in a row.

    Just a quick edit to add that in certain types of music, down up down up down doesn't always work! I know some Irish tunes can follow a different picking pattern. But my opening comment is certainly valid for most Old time, bluegrass, country, blues and rock.

  26. #21
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Pennsylvania, US
    Posts
    46

    Default Re: Effective picking exercises for speed and accuracy?

    Some more advice and expanding on other's comments. Since mandolin is predominately a folk instrument, technique is less dogmatic than in classical music. You'll get a broader range of opinions than asking about classical violin technique.

    Searching the Cafe for "right hand technique" and "pick grip" will result in a lot of threads. The general consensus is play with a loose fist, hold the pick loosely between your thumb and curled index finger, don't plant your fingers on the mandolin (though brushing the strings lightly on/behind the bridge is ok), arch your wrist at least a little, and play without any tension/stress. Here are some examples:

    Mike Marshall
    Don Julin
    Pete Martin

    Most folk/bluegrass mandolinists preach alternate picking. Play downstrokes on the beat and upstrokes on the "and". In 4/4 (1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and):

    A measure of quarter notes is played |D D D D|
    A measure of eighth notes is played |D U D U D U D U|
    If you play a hammer on or pull off you don't change the pattern, so you end up with multiple downstrokes in a row: |D U D (hammer) D U D U|
    Same thing happens with triplets which are typically played DUD or DUU: |D U (DUD) D U D U| or |D U (DUU) D U D U|

    Don Julin explains Alternate Picking

    I like The Mandolin Companion for exercises, but there are others (the John Moore right hand exercises are useful, Mike Marshall's book of Fingerbusters). You can also play out of violin books (ignoring bow direction) or just play fiddle tunes to build technique.

    Other tips:
    Always play with a metronome or backing track.
    Keep your left hand fingers down until you need to move them.
    Practice using rest strokes (even if you aren't going to use them when playing, it teaches you to play through the strings and "into" the instrument).

    The other problem you might face using a short scale guitar is left hand fingering. Instead of mandolin/violin fingering (each finger covers 2 frets) you'll probably need to use cello fingering (index finger covers first 2 frets, every other finger covers one fret).

  27. #22
    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Cornwall & London
    Posts
    2,569
    Blog Entries
    3

    Default Re: Effective picking exercises for speed and accuracy?

    Here are a few books that I found really helped with left & right hand coordination, accuracy & speed.

    Technique on Eight Strings by Gertrud Weyhofen (Tröster) Books 1&2
    https://www.trekel.de/Technique-On-E...ud-728499.html

    Fretboard Studies by Todd Collins
    https://www.melbay.com/Products/2057...ndolinist.aspx

    Mandolin Crosspicking Technique by Mickey Cochran
    https://www.melbay.com/Products/9661...technique.aspx

    The Great Book of Finger Busters by Mike Marshall
    https://www.elderly.com/mike-marshal...er-busters.htm

    & +1 on the Mandolin Companion too.
    Eoin



    "Forget that anyone is listening to you and always listen to yourself" - Fryderyk Chopin

  28. #23

    Default Re: Effective picking exercises for speed and accuracy?

    I recently made this overview on building up speed - not just a shameless plug, I promise, haha.

    As others have said (and as counter-intuitive as it might sound) I think that the key to getting faster is really working on slow, precise timing rather than on speeding up. That said, it can also be helpful to sometimes try to play a familiar tune at a tempo way beyond your current max speed - although I would only recommend that if you're technique is already pretty solid.

    Good luck!

  29. #24
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Kernersville, NC
    Posts
    2,469
    Blog Entries
    3

    Default Re: Effective picking exercises for speed and accuracy?

    Quote Originally Posted by T.D.Nydn View Post
    To have speed you have to practice speed,,
    Yep.

  30. The following members say thank you to Mark Wilson for this post:


  31. #25
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    In hills, FRANCE.
    Posts
    174

    Default Re: Effective picking exercises for speed and accuracy?

    One technique that really helped me was hammer-on FFcP scales on an electric mandolin with a metronome. As has already been said, it gets your left hand to move exactly on the beat and in time with the pick hand. Coordination for speed.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •