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Play It Down!

Most musicians find it difficult doing things “in reverse”. Be it using up-picks, playing scales descending, or sight-reading notes that move descending. I know I had those challenges. Here’s how to cure those little hiccups in your playing. For at least one full practice day, do one or more of the following exercises. 1) Practice playing scales descending only, no ascending. 2) Play with only up-picks (or down-picks if your up-picks are stronger than your down-picks). 3) Practice saying the musical alphabet in reverse – G, F, E, D, C, B, A. Repeat it over and over.

The reason we have such a challenge sight-reading descending lines is that our brain is not “programmed” to read backwards, or “in reverse”. Therefore it takes a little longer to process anything that appears to be in reverse. Face it – You can recite the alphabet right? Can you do it backwards? Maybe, but my guess is that it will take at least twice as long. We never needed to learn the alphabet backwards. But in music, notes go up, and notes go down. This makes it necessary for us to memorize the musical alphabet (A, B, C, D, E, F, G) going ascending and descending. Try one of these exercises, today. It’s a really big challenge, but if you stick to it, you’ll gain a tremendous benefit! 

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