Dotted practice for speed...?

Seems that varying rhythm is a popular way amongst classical musicians to work-up fast licks. For example, take a string of straight 16th couplets and dot the first note of each pair (and then move the dot to the second later on).

One reason it interests me is that it seems to more or less obey the ‘starting-fast’ rule. (Okay, guideline; there are no rules, I know, I know;)

Tried it a bit. Didn’t like it at all. It feels to me like if the passage is too fast as written, this doesn’t really help much. But again, it’s one of those tried-and-true things, so maybe it’s just me. Anyone have success with this approach?

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My old teacher was a technical wizard and had me perform dotted practice within the context of this rhythm:

It did help a bit, but that was quite a while ago and I can’t remember how much. He was a classical guitar major and apparently this was a very popular exercise among the virtuosos in the genre.

Right, I could see that being good for various things… but building speed?

Of course.

The sixteenth note is played as rapidly as possible and the dotted note allows for recovery time of the muscles. It’s always easier to play faster when you have rests and larger note values following a rapid note or burst of notes. Metal bands abuse this trick all the time.

Beginners - whether on the electric or acoustic - often have trouble passing the string quickly enough to generate good tone. This exercise also targets that specifically. It’s a two for one. You get speed and the understanding of how botched the rhythm will sound if you don’t pass the string quickly enough. It instantly becomes stilted.

If dotted rhythms don’t help, then straight bursts might. But those are more difficult and require more stamina than the above.


Let’s say you can’t yet tremolo on one string at 160. I don’t think that dotting the notes as described above is going to help you.

There are a lot of practice methods that work for something that’s just out of reach. It seems this may be one of them. But when your actual mechanics need to change, a trick like this probably won’t do it, imo.

More and more I’m trying to distinguish between methods that are good for just-out-of-reach as opposed to those (like maybe chaining) that are meant for steeper climbs.