If you talk to any of my students, you’ll quickly realize that I’m a big fan of racing, Formula One in particular. There are so many similarities between the two “sports”. Let’s explore a couple of them.
Practice slowly and accurately first:
One thing I always tell my students is “if you can’t play it slow, you surely can’t play it fast”. Just like a car – how on earth are you ever going to be able to control a fast car if you can’t even drive smoothly at the lower speeds?
When learning a new song or lick, or anything else where some sort of sequence is involved, make sure to play at a pace or tempo that allows you to get through the sequence without any mistakes or without having to restart all of the time. Picture a racecar driver learning the sequence or turns on a new track. If he goes 100 mph the entire time will he succeed? No, he’ll most likely crash within the first or second corner. He must treat each corner individually. When he gets to a hairpin turn, he’s got to go slow enough to get through it without making a mistake, and yet push the limit to see how fast he can get through it. Eventually he’ll find his rhythm and pace so that during the race he feels quite confident with his technique through all of the tricky turns.
So, when learning that new song or lick, instead of just blowing through it and always sounding like a broken washing machine full of quarters, make sure to practice it at a tempo that allows you to get through it without “crashing” when the tricky changes come up. Then bring the tempo up gradually while always maintaining your control, until you can play through the piece with confidence and passion!