The Main Reason for Poor Technique, and How to Overcome It

Anyone can play fast and accurately. There is no magic to it, just practising in a correct and constructive way.

Most students nowadays fall into what I like to call a computer game mentality when they practice. They play a passage/lick/exercise wrong and/or sloppy a few times, and when they play it right once or twice they feel like they got it and it’s time to move to the next level, so to speak. Unfortunately, our brains don’t work like that, and what they end up doing is practicing wrong form for more times than they practiced the right one. That’s why many people feel so stuck and frustrated. They learn new things, but their technical execution doesn’t get better.

The secret is to always practice in a speed where you make no mistakes and where you can play the passage/lick/exercise perfectly with great tone, the right articulation, and full control.

If it means starting at 50 bpm and playing wholenotes, then that’s where you need to start. Then take the metronome a notch up each time you get it right. Then slow the metronome back down and play it in a different subdivision or try to displace it. Again, only do it in a speed where you can execute it flawlessly.

Here is a simple exercise you can construct at home:

  1. Choose a number of scale degrees.
  2. Choose an interval to move them.
  3. Choose a direction.
  4. Choose a subdivision.
  5. Move all permutations in all scales on the entire instrument, starting on the lowest note you can start on (hence the examples starting on B despite them being in the key of C major).

For example:

  1. 1234
  2. seconds
  3. up
  4. sixteen notes
  5. (move the permutation around as mentioned)

In C major it will be:

  • 1234 – B C D E, C D E F , D E F G A, etc.
  • 1243 – B C E D, C D F E, D E G F, etc.
  • 1324 – B D C E, C E D F, D F E A, etc.
  • 1342
  • 1423
  • 1432
  • 2134
  • 2143
  • …And so on (24 permutations for this one)

Second Example

  1. 147
  2. thirds
  3. up
  4. Triplets
  5. (move the permutation around as mentioned)

In C major it will be:

  • 147 – B E A, D G C, F B E, etc.
  • 174 – B A E, D C G, F E B, etc.
  • 417 – E B A, G D C, B F E, etc
  • 471
  • 714
  • 741

(only 6 permutations for this one)

Remember, start in a tempo where you can execute it perfectly.

Good luck!

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