I know this sounds weird, but it’s true –
“if you practice at half-speed, you’ll learn twice as quickly”
Now of course, no-one’s measuring precisely but surely you would think that practising at a slower pace would take up more of your precious time and in an effort to get it all in you will have to cut corners…
Well the first approach is to prioritise.
It is much more useful having the ability to play a few things well, instead of having about ten things you haven’t quite finished or can play ‘sort of’.
Think about it this way –
“if you practice slowly and accurately, you’ll develop your skills properly over a certain period of time.
If you practice something badly, you’ll never learn it over ANY period of time”
This is just pointing out the obvious really (it’s only obvious once you know) but just stick to one thing, learn it and master it as best as you can. Take your time. Chill out!
Start at a comfortable pace, accept the fact that it is going to take a little while and set yourself a short term goal:
“By the end of this week, I’m going to be able to play the first few bars of that riff/that scale/those chords etc…”
Then you can add to it and within a few weeks, you will have it (depending on what you’ve chosen to learn of course – be realistic!)
I’ve had people come to me for lessons who’ve been playing longer than I’ve been able to wipe my own bottom and they’re angry, god they’re angry.
A pent-up bubble of rage is swelling inside them: “Why can’t I play this ***** thing?!?”
As it goes, they’ve been playing the same things over and over, full speed and trying to mask bad habits or just putting up with that bit that isn’t quite right but “it’ll do…”
My first port of call is to get them to chill out, play it slowly and accurately to a metronome (or with me playing the chords slowly)
If they can’t do this, then that’s the problem – they’re running before they can crawl – if they can, then I keep speeding it up incrementally, 5-10bpm until I find their limit, which is usually 20-30bpm slower than what they’re trying to play it at – running before they can walk.
When you’ve finished reading this, pick one thing you’ve been trying to learn and tap along to this metronome to find the speed – then cut off 30bpm and try it again – I’ll be interested to see after a week or so of solid practice if it helps 🙂