What’s the rush?! Slow is good…

We rush here, we rush there. Got to do this, go to do that, too many things to do. This meeting, that appointment. Got to answer that email. Like. Right. Now. Busy busy, oh so very busy. No time. Can’t stop. Got to get more done, be more efficient. Got to do it faster!

Victoria Station
Rush!!! (Photo credit: markhillary)

Sound familiar?

Yes, pretty much all of us are subject to the constant pulls on our precious time, urged to do ever more, cram more in and get faster and more superficial with the things we’re doing. Twenty first century Western life, in many ways, seems typified by the need to get faster and rush around.

So why the blooming heck do we feel the necessity to do the same with our learning process, practice and playing on the guitar?!

Perhaps it’s that influence of being in a rush elsewhere in our lives that translates itself on to the guitar as well? Or perhaps there’s something in our culture that teaches us that faster is better? Maybe it’s something in-built in our brains?

Well, I’m going to go get controversial here and say that faster isn’t necessarily better! Ooh…..

The most effective, efficient and ultimately faster (kind of paradoxically) learning takes place when we take our time. And this is not about playing slowly for the sake of playing slowly. This is about taking the time to notice, to hear, to feel, to sense, to experience, to “upload” to the brain what the left hand is doing, what the right hand is doing, how they’re moving in relation to one another, the sounds and tone quality you’re producing.

Can you to take that all in at a lightning fast tempo from the outset? Possibly not.

It’s also about soaking in and embedding the music, establishing a firm and solid ground to explore and make space for some real musical awesomeness.

Can you respond to and “make” music if your fingers and brain are working at two different speeds?

Frankie Says Relax
Kick back and relax! (Photo credit: Wide-eyed Vagrant)

Just take a step back, and pull it back a notch, work it in at a slower tempo before then pushing yourself slightly again. And once you do achieve your goal of playing scales, pieces or whatever at a faster tempo, it doesn’t mean you’re necessary a better player. Just faster. And just because you can play something fast doesn’t mean you should. Tempo should ALWAYS serve the musical intention of the piece you’re playing.

Remember, these things take time, as all good things do.

Most of the time we’re not working to a timetable with our learning – sometimes we get a phase of real acceleration, sometimes it’s slower. Just go with the flow and relax with it, enjoy the journey and don’t be in such a rush. You’ll love it. I promise.

Do send me an email if you’d like to chat further about this. No rush though…… 😉


4 thoughts on “What’s the rush?! Slow is good…

  1. All very true. I have tried briefly meditating before playing and even during a practise – don’t have to sit like a Buddha, just follow breathing for a few seconds while not playing – It allows tension to disperse and makes me more receptive to the music I’m hearing…..that’s when I’m not too rushed and forget..lol

  2. Right. What works for me is that before I start playing a piece in a recital or anywhere, other than trying to relax, I try to put my self in the mood of the piece. I imagine it taking place somewhere and I make a story for it before hand. Then, I take a minute before starting the performance to put myself in that world. It really helps.

    1. Thanks for the comment. Excellent words of advice there – visualisation and auralisation (if that’s a real word?!) of the piece does really help create a good frame of mind for playing and performing 🙂

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