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Metronome Practice

 
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The other very useful way to use a metronome is to help you train your fingers to do things faster. Of course we're not trying to play anything super fast or crazy right now, but changing chords is one area where it's really helpful to build some speed when you're first starting out. And the approach is exactly the same, when you do get to the fast and crazy stuff someday. Let me show you how it works!

Let's say for example you're having trouble switching between the E minor chord and the C major chord and you want to get faster. But it could be anything, that's just a random example!

We'll come up with an exercise where we switch chords every bar. Notice that I'm doing the switch on beat 4. But you can of course tailor the exercise to be exactly what you need.

Now the all-important thing is to start well within our comfort zone.
So try to find out at which tempo you can comfortably play the exercise we've come up with, regardless of how slow that many be. You'll just have to try a tempo and see if it's too fast or too slow.

I'm going to try 70 BPM. Now I don't know this of course, but pretend say that's a little too fast for you right now! Remember it's supposed to feel easy at first. We're not trying to push any speed yet.

For the sake of this example let's imagine you're comfortable making the change at 60 BPM. Again, your tempo could be faster or slower, doesn't matter. Let's pretend like this is it!

Once we've found the comfort zone the goal is to repeat the exercise for a while, maybe a minute or so. And then eventually you increase the tempo of the metronome by a tiny bit, no more than 2 or 3 bpm. It should be such a small increase that you don't really feel it all that much. Then do it at the new tempo for a while before you increase it again and so on. This is a slow process, but it's really the only way to build the kind of speed we want.

The alternative way that many players use is to just push the tempo and try to do it as fast as they possibly can, which may be fun in the moment, but it really isn't helpful. Because when you do that, you're most likely not doing it completely right and then you work those mistakes into your muscle memory, which means later you'll have to go back to the slow down tempo and unlearn those bad habits.

When you push the speed there's also a high likelihood you'll end up tensing up in your neck, wrist and elbows and get various kinds of physical pain you'll have to deal with afterwards.

So this slow and steady approach really is the fastest way to build speed.

Instead of doing an example together at this point, I encourage you to try this on your own before moving on to the next lesson. Try to find the tempo where you're comfortable changing chords every bar, like I did. You can pick an easy chord transition like A minor to C or a harder one like E minor to D. Once you've found the tempo where you're comfortable, just patiently play there for a bit and then increase the tempo a tiny bit at a time.

Some metronomes can even do this automatically, where you set them up to increase the tempo a little bit every certain number of bars, which can be fun. But just be careful that you're not pushing yourself too quickly.

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Metronome Practice