Practising Slowly

This short post is aimed at the beginner student.

Many times in my teaching studio, I come across alot of beginner students who tend to rush through their exercises to get to what they want quickly. They end up not sounding good at all because:

1) the physical control is not there
2) the co-ordination is not smooth
3) the timing is uneven
4) the inherent rhythmic nuances of whatever they are playing are often ignored as they rush through things in their practice.

It is important to understand that we had to learn how to walk first before we could run, jump, and dance, e.t.c. Taking our first baby steps were not easy, and we stumbled on the floor many times before our legs strengthened and could hold our weight whilst performing the action of walking. Over time, the legs were also better able to co-ordinate through SLOW and REPETITIVE practice.

Practising something slowly and repeating it over and over again will definitely come across as “uncool” in this day and age. We live in a world where we can order food and get it in less than 5 minutes over a counter, or we can lose weight in under 2 weeks if we follow a certain diet program or take certain pills. This type of thinking however does not translate to learning musical instruments or any other art form.

SLOW and REPETITIVE practice, done right (you should ask your teacher to help you with it if need be), brings a zen-like focus and clarity to what you are working on, and is often very therapeutic. Yes, therapeutic. It helps you to relax and remain calm under moments of pressure and frustration, which are what you will often experience when you are trying to master something. Calmness and composure are very much needed to play the drumkit. How else can you play something as complex as this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCOP7dPlDtw if you are not truly relaxed?

With SLOW and REPETITIVE practice, comes CONTROL. With CONTROL, comes speed. In other words, speed is a by-product of having practised something over and over again slowly…Counter-intuitive, yes?

SLOW and REPETITIVE practice at the beginning is like trying to eat a non-favourite vegetable or fruit (mine happens to be Bittergourd), in all honesty. Do it in small amounts with high frequency however and you will definitely begin to enjoy the process. You would want to do more. JUST GIVE IT A TRY AND SEE YOUR PROGRESS BY A MONTH’S END. There will certainly be a difference. A POSITIVE difference.

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