Friday, January 25, 2008

Metronome Slow-Play Combined with Forte Practice

Blogging will continue to be infrequent, as I am going through my annual metronome slow-play routine, only this time I've combined it with forte practicing. And seriously, I can't think of any more boring thing to blog about than my practice regimen. Adding the forte playing is a cool development, however, so I thought I'd share that.

To review, the metronome slow-play routine is playing a piece along with a metronome down to half the speed you started at in order to solidify and work out the nitty gritty details of the finger choreography. Let's say I have a piece in 2/4 time, and I usually perform it at 120 beats-per-minute. The steps go like this:

01] Play the piece with the metronome at 120 BPM.

02] Play it at 110 BPM

03] Play it at 100 BPM

As you slow down, ten BPM becomes a larger percentage of the total left, so at 100 BPM I begin to decrease in increments of five BPM.

04] Play it at 95 BPM

05] Play it at 90 BPM

06] Play it at 85 BPM

07] Play it at 80 BPM

08] Play it at 75 BPM

09] Play it at 70 BPM

10] Play it at 65 BPM

At this point, the piece is slow enough that, 1) all of the fingering moves have been brought out of the subconscious memory (Wrongly so-called muscle memory: Muscle memory relates to strength training, not guitar practicing) into the conscious memory - this almost totally eliminates "blanking out" of a piece during high-pressure performance situations - and, 2) the finger choreography can now be concentrated upon in a very detailed manner. So, the last two increments go thusly:

11] Play it at 63 BPM

12] Play it at 60 BPM

So, we've played the piece down from 120 BPM to 60 BPM, we've brought the entire piece out of the subconscious memory into the conscious memory, we've worked out in a concentrated manner the details of the finger choreography, and we've been through it twelve times so far. Se why I consider this the very best practice regimen there is? Scales are a total waste of time by comparison.

Now, here's the new part. I've known for a long time that forte playing - or double forte: Just as powerfully as you can possibly attack a piece - is a great way to, 1) increase physical playing strength and, 2) expose weak points in your technical execution: Mistakes stand out like a sore thumb if you play them loud. The problem has been working forte practice into my routine efficiently.

The "light bulb moment" came a couple of weeks ago when I was bogged down in a particularly fiendish piece of a very technical nature, and I got so frustrated I started just hammering the damned thing as hard as I could. It worked! And, by combining the metronome slow-play with metronome-limited forte work, I made it even more effective. Quite a nice breakthrough. So, we got our piece down to 60 BPM:

13] Play the piece forte at 65 BPM

14] Play the piece forte at 80 BPM

15] Play the piece forte at 100 BPM

16] Play the piece forte at 120 BPM

This is really doing wonderful things for my playing. I have gone through about 60% of my repertoire since I started on this after Christmas, and I ought to be done by the end of March, at which time I'll be ready to record v2.0 of the three demos of Heavy Nylon. I'm psyched.


BTW: I've actually gained some weight, but it's all muscle: My waist has gone down two inches to a 35, but my chest and legs are much larger now. I've never combined the high protein diet with the Bowflex training before, but giving your body protein sure does help it pack on the musculature. I've worked up to 30 minutes on the Bowflex in the morning, thirty minutes in the evening, the ice-water deal twice a day, and just tons of my favorite, red meat! BWAHHHaahaahahahahahaaaa!


Last time we saw Marina, she was posing with a falcon. This time, she's selling melons (I'd buy one! LOL!). I enjoy the fantasy-land girls, but this is the kind of chick I usually end up falling for. She kind of reminds me of a cute little hippy girl I loved years ago. Just a nice, natural babe.



Anonymous Ernesto said...

Interesting. I've always heard of starting slow and slowly working your way up, but never of starting at tempo and working down. I'll have to try it out.

Kinda reminds me of "suicides" in weightlifting. :)

6:55 PM  
Anonymous phil said...

Is that a melon? it looks like a pumpkin.

4:14 AM  

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