"I can't play it slow"

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  • #13645
    nafmeadmin
    Keymaster

    Sometimes I’ll take a phrase or part of a measure and slow it down. At times I’ll have the class practice a whole song at a slower tempo to clean it up. Often students will say “I can’t play it slow”. I’ve given various responses to this and was wondering if other teachers have had students say this and if so what do you say?

    #13692
    nafmeadmin
    Keymaster

    I hate this response. I usually say if they can’t play it slowly, they’re faking it when they play it fast. Fingers aren’t moving evenly, articulation often isn’t correct, and rhythms are approximated. Playing it slowly might be harder on occasion, but it will make playing “correct-er” in the long run, both on a particular phrase/song and in general.

    #13745
    nafmeadmin
    Keymaster

    604
    Love the term “correct-er” I will be quoting you on this!
    -718
    PS:I hate it too when they say that…

    #14247
    nafmeadmin
    Keymaster

    I tell the kids “if you can’t play it slow, you can’t play it at all.”

    #14374
    nafmeadmin
    Keymaster

    Well, it is true, it’s often more difficult to play something slow than it is to play it at normal tempo or fast.

    I just tell them that once you can play it slow, you can play it at any tempo you want. So I encourage them to practice it slow with a metronome until they get it. Then they can speed it up and it will be much more accurate and musical.

    #14385
    nafmeadmin
    Keymaster

    Thanks everyone, it’s so nice to know this is common.

    snedekerj282 I appreciate your positive way of phrasing your response.

    #14393
    nafmeadmin
    Keymaster

    haddock, you’re welcome. One can always find a positive way to look at things. It’s always for the better. (Too bad so many people–mainly politicians–don’t understand this.)

    #14462
    nafmeadmin
    Keymaster

    A lot of the time my students aren’t able to play it slow because they lack an understanding in how the rhythm relates to the tempo. I would practice counting the rhythms, then subdivide the beat for them until they can play it half time (or slower) consistently and then gradually speed up to full tempo. The whole time tapping the appropriate subdivisions on a wood block or with drumsticks.

    As far as getting them to buy into this, I try to use sports analogies since a lot of my kids are also on sports teams. I would compare slowing down rhythms to breaking down your shot in basketball, form running in track, doing swimming drills to make your stroke more efficient, etc. No one would swim the 100 m freestyle with a swim buoy at the Olympics. But if Phelps and company didn’t slow down and work on their technique during training they would not be the worlds fastest during competition.

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