A violin instructor giving advice about speed

I found this fascinating, it is likely applicable to guitar:


I’ve seen this. This is essentially burst practice, although distilled to very small clips of notes at a time. Martin Miller discusses the same thing here:

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Well we have some backup now to know that this kind of practice works right. So someone stating start slowly and work your way up was somewhat short sighted. Doing that may help ingrain the right finger placement but it will never get you speed. SO a blend of both is a must. So another example of how chunking works.

Yes, I do believe, at least for the moment, it is entirely a matter of going back and forth. My own experience and feedback from others seems to support that you need to attack technique from both angles, going slower and focusing on internalizing proper movements, and then going fast to establish the “closed loop” (to use Martin’s terminology) chunking coordinations.

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so some random violin instructor stating his opinion settled the question altogether huh?

I’d say that if this is common practice in violin, then it’s probably a great idea. (I’ve tried it and find it very helpful, but I wonder what I’ll think in a few months… no idea yet!)

What is interesting about both classical violin and piano is that they can basically take anybody and run them through a system where they play very sophisticated and demanding music, something that does not remotely exist in the non-classical guitar world. Over there, they spilt hairs about interpretation and are extremely demanding (and expect conformity, etc.), but it’s nothing like the rock world where there are practitioners 3x faster than others. (Troy gave a hint of this in one of his videos where he was reflecting that only a handful of guitar players in the world could play arpeggios that any group of professional string players could easily manage.)

I think that one of the most interesting things that Troy has discovered is that a lot of the “secrets” are actually common knowledge in fields outside of rock guitar, and the first example of this that I believe that he cited is “gypsy jazz” [DWPS], but that actually goes (according to other videos on the subject) much further back in time… another way to look at this discovery is how I do, “rock guitarists totally lost track of ancient best practices and only a handful of them were able to rediscover but not explain, likely by accident and athletic gifts.” Looked at that way it is sad, but likely true. I’m just happy that we have Troy.

I think that given that the violin people are arguably the speed kings, it would be interesting to understand their left hands and approaches to going fast. I agree with you that we must not believe any individual violin teacher, but they’re worth listening to, particularly when they can obviously walk the walk (like this teacher that I cited, I know nothing else about him).


He is apparently the real deal:


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the guitar stores are full of guys who try to play as fast as possible…and suck. For every 1 guy who finds the magic way by bursting etc, how many dozens of others just deeply ingrain sloppiness??

The thing is, lets say a guy wants to play the Yngwie pattern at 140 bpm. Yeah, maybe he can start playing guitar on Tuesday and he can “just play fast” and have it wired by Friday. I mean, its that simple right?

Thats why everyone on this site is as good as Yngwie and Rick Graham, right?

Its a bit more logical that a guy starts off at some controllable speed and gradually builds up motor skills and he reaches that Yngwie lick at 140 anyway…without tons of sloppiness and bad habits. So what if the technique at 100 isnt the exact same as at 140…who cares? the technique can morph into what it needs to be as the speeds increase.

I understand, and use, burst type training etc. Absolutely. But I wholeheartedly reject when it is presented as the only logical way to do things. Its a tool but its no panacea

the list of great players who recommend gradually building speed would read like a whos who of shredding. Are they all idiots? (Vai, Gilbert, Graham, Stump etc etc)

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I know a famous old concert pianist that bumps her metronome 1bpm at a time (these were special order, pre-computer)! And naturally I love all of the guitar players that you mentioned, and they are all clever and gifted, and worth listening to. But none of these people could even explain what they were doing… that deeply disturbs me. Troy has to explain it to them.

These days I am very interested in teachers that can regularly pump out high-performers, e.g., classical piano and violin teachers. I’m not sure how to apply their advice in many cases, but if I can, it’s likely gold.


I’ve seen a lot of heated conversation on this forum about practicing techniques. The context of this video is important, it was recommended by Noa Kageyama whose interview is featured here on this site. Here is his blog post that features the video: https://bulletproofmusician.com/struggling-to-get-a-tricky-passage-up-to-tempo-try-this-clever-practice-technique/

Once you get into the science of learning, things are actually pretty strange. I’ve started to read the book Make It Stick, also recommended by Kageyama, and it offers this advice on the first page “But there’s a catch: the most effective learning strategies are not intuitive.”

I think that there are many more guitar players who are trying to slowly work things up to speed and failing than guitarists who are following this incredibly methodical and research based approach to practice. These ideas are recommended by people who seriously know what they are talking about and have dedicated their life’s work to making sure musicians are operating at peak performance.

If we could trust these “naturals” like Yngwie and Rick to accurately tell us how they reached their level of playing ability, we wouldn’t need cracking the code at all. We would have the intricacies of picking straight from them. I’m not saying that you’re wrong, but it’s just as important for us to pay attention to motor learning experts and world-class professors as the virtuosos that we all love.


My two cents…
I think some guys could achieve good result by smart approach, some by thousands of repetitions, some - going from slow to fast, some - from correcting their fast but messy movements ,some using another methods. The only one thing that is common for a good guitarists - they practiced a lot. I mean a lot!
I guess nowadays with all that information around people get that so called ‘analysis paralysis’. Triying to choose best strategy, best approach people forget to do the essential - to practice freaking hours all day long.
There’s no magic pill. Deep knowledge may help or may not help at all. It’s like walking. You could analyse it, calculate how much force you must to provide by any muscle, which angle have you to bent your knee etc but it won’t help a person to learn how to walk. Don’t get me wrong, I like the research process, I find what Troy or other analytical guys do fascinating but it could be useful for someone and totally useless for another one. And I believe most of these teachers preaching their smart methods came to realising these methods by the same way of trials and errors.

As for classical musicians… as a classicaly taught musician I can say how things are going. At least in old-school russian musical institutions. Practice-practice-practice, and when you tired to death… practice one more time.

P.S. Auto-correction tries to make me spell ‘realizing’… Bloody hell, no way, mate! ))


I do believe there is something to this, and Joe Stump himself says in Troy’s interview something to the effect of sometimes you just need to be a little boneheaded, hit the practice room with your metronome, and not come out until you’re faster. I took a few lessons with Emil Werstler once and he also said something similar.

Yep, good old woodshedding )
I think a combination of analysing and practicing is a killer combo, but practice must take like 90% of time.

I know it’s funny to hear that from me, since I always stated that I’m not a practice guy. Well, that’s how it is. I can’t deny the truth even if it hurts me personally )

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Being a little nosy here, but what Martin meant is the “open loop”. He got that wrong.