One of the great temptations when playing music is the natural want to slow down the tempo and play a song to give the illusion of mastery in performance.
Playing a song at a slower tempo is a great way to learn in private, but when you make that slower tempo a “new interpretation” of a song in public performance — the quicker you become a lazy musician.
You see bright evidence of this slowing down of songs on YouTube as singers and musicians try to become the next big thing on the internet with their interpretation of songs.
Those performers know they are slowing down the song — and so they often claim that the slower speed is their “special interpretation” of the song — but that’s only a rub to excuse their inability to sing and perform the song up to tempo.
When you learn a new song — start slow and build speed — but you must manage your speed to an appropriate level for the song. Speed doesn’t kill in music — speed sells!
There’s nothing worse than a Bluesy song that is made twice-as-slow than it was intended to be performed and that makes The Blues — A Dirge.
Most of us do not natively have the ability to keep a steady tempo, so to help keep time, use a metronome. You can buy standalone metronomes. Many good guitar tuners come with a built-in metronome. You can buy metronome Apps for your iPad and iPhone. Or, you can go to Metronome Online and use one for free.
Practice slow. Then practice fast. When you’re fast, you can always go perfectly slower; when you’re slow, you can never be perfect fast. Perform up-to-speed to honor the original intention of the songwriter and by doing that, you will help propagate the proper spirit and intention of the song into the hallowed skies.
That’s pretty much what I’m learning right now, David. I’m still on the slow transition from C to G7 (my first two chords in my lessons) but as soon as I can move between one and the other and back without looking down to figure out where to put my fingers, I will start speeding up! 🙂
That’s it, Gordon! Just take your time. There’s no rush. Making your fingers move in unison to new fretboard positions is worth taking the extra time to make sure you have it all right.