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Slow It Down! Why You Should Focus on Practicing At Slower Speeds

By Joshua LeBlanc

Every guitarist I have met wants to play fast. Don't get me wrong, playing fast is awesome. It shows mastery over what you are playing as well as impressing people you are playing for. However so many people focus on trying to play fast that they tend to overlook the importance of playing at slower speeds. It's the equivalent of trying to go run a marathon without any prior training. In this article I'll point a few reasons why you should make a note to practice slow.

Catching Mistakes


Many guitar players starting out who play fast tend to play sloppy. The issue is that they're so happy that they can play fast they tend to overlook that what they are playing is usually not in time, not correct rhythmically, full of wrong notes, etc. By slowing down what they are playing they would be able to notice where their playing is falling apart and be able to make corrections as needed. If this is an area that you are having trouble an experienced guitar teacher will be able to show you how to do this.

Learning It Right The First Time


A lot of my students (as well as myself in the past) have made the mistake of trying to rush into playing something new at full speed. Then when it doesn't sound the way it should, they look at their hands wondering what went wrong. The reason this happens is they didn't take the time to work through the passage that they are trying to play slow enough to understand how to move their hands correctly first. If a guitarist takes the time to do this then increasing the speed afterward becomes much easier.


It's Not Done Enough


An interesting phenomenon I've seen with guitarists is that they can play well at fast tempos but many of them struggle when asked to slow down and still play in time. This creates an issue in their abilities as a guitarist (especially if they want to be a studio musician and/or a performing artist) since there are times where you will need to play slow. Sure there are fast passages in slow songs but not being able to focus on where those notes are landing and making sure they are on the beat will cause you to lose that gig fast. 


In conclusion, these are few reasons why you should take the time to practice at slower speeds. If you find that this is something you struggle in you should consider seeking an experienced trained guitar teacher to provide you lessons in order to accomplish this.

Joshua LeBlanc is the owner and lead instructor at Lafayette School of Guitar. If you are interested in guitar lessons and live in the Lafayette, LA area visit to learn more about getting started.

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