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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Exercises To Increase Picking Speed?


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Brian T - Posted - 12/01/2008:  09:38:58


Using my computer midi, the melody disappears below some "bpm" for most tunes, many of which I really like. I got 114 results for a search of "picking speed". I read most of them. Many, many posts suggest working on timing and clean picking first, then "work on speed" later. As much as I admire the players who can pick at escape velocity, I don't think I will ever need to do that.
I want to start(?) working up my speed. I don't care if the exercises are repetitious. How do you all suggest I work on speed?

We do not know where we are going.
Nor do most of us care.
For us, it is enough that we are on our way.
Le Matelot

goldtopia - Posted - 12/01/2008:  09:55:16


Can you pick your nose as fast as you can pick your banjo.

Bill.O

TTreppa - Posted - 12/01/2008:  10:01:06


Brian,
What seems to work for me is to pick a tune such as Cumberland Gap. Memorize the first four measures and the four measures up the neck. Play them at 70 bpm until I have them memorized. Then when I practice I increase my speed by 20 bpm until I reach 200 bpm - at which point I sound like a blathering idiot. Then I decrease my speed by 20 bpm and lo and behold eventually I sound pretty good at 140, then 160 and even 180. Amazing how perfect practice makes for perfect playing. Now I am doing the same with Foggy Mountain Breakdown. Ever a challenge.
Hope this helps in a practical way. By the by this practice requires a metronome.
Terry Treppa

Terence F. Treppa

stormoveroklahoma - Posted - 12/01/2008:  10:20:08


Earl talks about one excercise where you fret the first string on the fifth fret and the second on the 8th fret to give a G G G sound to even out your stroke.

I prefer practicing all my rolls on each single string with all three fingers.
I do practice on all five strings but mostly find it useful on the lower four.

By moving your right hand like a typewriter carrage over the strings you can position your hand over each of the five strings bangng out your rythem and rolls of each string individually. Takes a little time to practice but will smooth out in time. the benefit is the even sound of each finger can be compared to the other fingers and the way they heit, energy, sound etc...

Hope this helps.

I still do this excercise fretting chords all over the fret board every day as a warm up.

Helps you improve the timing and accenting on the rolls as well as your speed on the triplets and runs etc.
Storm

Kstevensmd - Posted - 12/01/2008:  11:09:06


A good tip passed on to me by Bill Evans was to just focus on the right hand. Don't use the left at all while practicing your rolls. Start with a simple forward roll and just play it over and over again; in time it will be come smooth at fast. Vary the strings you pick to relieve boredom and just keep at it! I now start every practice session with 15 minutes of just doing various roll patterns with the right hand and it has helped improve speed and rhythm.

Ken Stevens

GHohwald - Posted - 12/01/2008:  12:06:55


Brian,

Here is a sample of a download lesson on increasing forward roll speed.

You will need a high speed connection and quicktime on your computer to view this.

BJ23
Banjo Download: Forward Roll Exercise 3
http://www.cvls.com/download.php?sc...OPQI2MKVP8VX

If you like these lessons you can go to the following link for a catalog of all of the lessons.

http://www.freeguitarvideos.com/ban...catalog.html

Sincerely,

Geoff Hohwald

quote:
Originally posted by Brian T

Using my computer midi, the melody disappears below some "bpm" for most tunes, many of which I really like. I got 114 results for a search of "picking speed". I read most of them. Many, many posts suggest working on timing and clean picking first, then "work on speed" later. As much as I admire the players who can pick at escape velocity, I don't think I will ever need to do that.
I want to start(?) working up my speed. I don't care if the exercises are repetitious. How do you all suggest I work on speed?

We do not know where we are going.
Nor do most of us care.
For us, it is enough that we are on our way.
Le Matelot



Geoff Hohwald
http://www.freebanjovideos.com

caloscalzo - Posted - 12/01/2008:  12:10:15


Geoff

I use your speed videos regularly. They are so helpful and my speed is really picking up. The 7 beat roll is the real key in my opinion. Thanks for making the videos.

cthetford - Posted - 12/01/2008:  12:27:03


During lessons over the last couple of years, I generally found that 70-80BPM was a comfortable learning speed at first. My teacher would routinely record tracks for me to push to up around 100. One of the things that I noticed at the faster speeds is that my roadblocks were mental rather than physical. My fingers could go faster, but my brain wouldn't let me. For example, I'd get to a part of a song and I'd have to think for a moment about what to do next... at 75BPM, I could have that quick thought and maybe skip a note and get right back into the song. At 100BPM, that thought would have to happen much faster... then my brain would get flustered and next thing I knew, I was in a train wreck. Same thing would happen if I just missed a string or hit a wrong note... at slow speeds, my brain adapted quickly, but at faster speeds it froze up. I think it just takes a while to convince your brain that "yes, I really expect you to think that fast"!

I agree with everyone about not trying to play too fast to soon and about doing the exercises to get your fingers to move that fast. However, my experience has convinced me that you have to work on the mental aspect as well. I think this means that you have to learn the songs really well. For most of us beginners, even for songs we think we know well, we are often doing a lot of thinking as we play it. To speed up, you have to eliminate the need for all of those thoughts (or maybe it's just training the brain to have them faster!). I suppose some people call this muscle memory... I'm convinced that there's some part of your brain that has to be activated to allow your brain to function that way. Our brain is an amazing machine that eventually adapts to any task we ask it to do... some of us have more adapting to do than others!

The end result of this is that speeding up requires lots of repetition (suprise!). That develops both the mental and physical aspect of playing, but I'm convinced the physical develops first (after all there's only 5 strings and three fingers... how many permutations can there be!?) I don't think that many of us mortals really appreciate the amount of repetition that goes into the practice of great players. Many of them probably log more time at the banjo in a year than the rest of us will get in in a lifetime. 15 minutes on a lick and I'm bored and mentally worn out, however, I've heard my banjo teacher talk about working on a single lick for a whole day at a time.

Slick Salmon - Posted - 12/01/2008:  13:21:21


A copy of Band-In-a-Box is really useful for developing speed. You can set any tune up so that it increases in speed with each repetition of the chorus. I set mine up so that it increases the tempo 5% each time around.


Edited by - Slick Salmon on 12/01/2008 13:25:48

Rich Weill - Posted - 12/01/2008:  13:50:17


quote:
Originally posted by cthetford

I agree with everyone about not trying to play too fast to soon and about doing the exercises to get your fingers to move that fast. However, my experience has convinced me that you have to work on the mental aspect as well. I think this means that you have to learn the songs really well. For most of us beginners, even for songs we think we know well, we are often doing a lot of thinking as we play it. To speed up, you have to eliminate the need for all of those thoughts (or maybe it's just training the brain to have them faster!). I suppose some people call this muscle memory... I'm convinced that there's some part of your brain that has to be activated to allow your brain to function that way. Our brain is an amazing machine that eventually adapts to any task we ask it to do... some of us have more adapting to do than others!

One thing which I found helps activate your brain for faster playing is to set your metronome at a really brisk clip -- and then just sit and listen to the click-clacking for a bit before starting to play. Something about the sound of the high-speed clicking seems to prime your fingers to move faster.

sangrej - Posted - 12/01/2008:  14:11:30


Check out Ross Nickerson's book, How to Build Your Speed on the Banjo (simple title-dynamic results; at least for me). I did the exercises in this book every day for one month and my comfortable picking speed went up over 50 bpm. Now granted, my situation may be different from yours; I had been picking for many years, I practiced dilligently, so on & so forth. But after years of wondering if I would ever substantially improve my speed, I finally DID, by doing these right-hand exercises. Good luck!

http://www.rossnickerson.com/howtob...o/index.html



Sangrejoven
"The way I see it, as soon as a baby is born he should be issued a banjo!"- Linus Van Pelt

rb4player - Posted - 12/01/2008:  15:20:09


Metronome. Repeat passages or entire tunes at 4-6 bpm increments, e.g. 80, 84, 88, etc until you start making many mistakes or lose the ability to keep up with certain passages. Typically, when you just can't keep it clean any more, you can back down 8-12 bpm and play with pretty good control.

Jim

JoeZ - Posted - 12/01/2008:  18:11:00


The real secret to increased speed is simple, but at the same time most difficult and time-consuming. Constant practice, playing songs you can get through completely. Do that, with your known repetoire (whatever it is) over and over, day by day, and you will increase speed on a weekly basis. It's a muscle skill, and a memory thing. When you know where you're going next, and have physically practiced playing the banjo enough, you'll play fast.

"Someday I will play as well as my banjos sound." Joe Z

Banjophobic - Posted - 12/02/2008:  08:12:56


The key to playing fast, is learning to play coreectly at SLOWER tenpos. You gradually increase speed as you technique allows. Diligent practive with a metronome and gradually bumping the speed with increase your speed. How fast you are ultimately able to play with good technique varies from player to player, but about anyone can increase speed by working with a metronome.

Brian T - Posted - 12/02/2008:  09:27:28


Thank you all. I don't object to time-consuming practice. My question, well answered, thank you, concerns just what to do in that practice time for a quality effort. So far, my notes include: increasing metronome speed (have one), increasing playing speed for tunes I can (accurately) get through. pay attention to the mental "think too much" part, look to Geoff and Ross Nickerson for studies and exercises. No hi-speed connection here but I'll be back in the other house by week's end and check from there. Terence: Cumberland Gap is a perfect example. I like the midi speed/melody but try as I might, I can't pick fast enough to hear it in my own playing. Ah well, I suppose that string bass is worse. So. Morning chores then shut up, close my eyes and pick.

We do not know where we are going.
Nor do most of us care.
For us, it is enough that we are on our way.
Le Matelot

MitchellB - Posted - 12/03/2008:  09:48:15


Being self-taught, I learned by playing along with those old 33 1/3 albums (and even a few 45s and 78s) over and over until I could play the song close enough to what I heard, that I could play it with others in a live jam session. I do the same thing now to keep in practice if Iím not picking regularly with anyone. I pick out a few CDs of some hot young (or old) picker and try my best to keep up with them. If I want to build my speed, I purposely pick out songs that are at the extreme edge of what I am capable of keeping up with and hang on for the ride. After a few songs or a few days of this, Iíll smooth out. For me, it is a lot easier to slow down later rather than speed up.

Mitchell



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