During this week’s Practice Club meeting Andrew introduced us to the “Fast/Slow-Slow/Fast Method,” which he says is one of his top 2 or 3 most useful exercises! It will help you to steady out and increase the speed of scales and passages with a consistent rhythm. The faster a passage needs to be, the more the effectiveness of this exercise shines, however, it is still useful even for beginners
This exercise is only meant for music that has a consistent rhythm, such as a scale or other long chain of notes of the same value (for example a bunch of 8th or 16th notes all in a row). It does not work for chords or non-steady rhythms.
Okay, now for the exercise!
As you play through the notes, you want to alternate between slow and fast notes, with the note values being, for the purposes of this exercise a 3/4 to 1/4 ratio. In other words:
Slow = Dotted quarter note
Fast = Eight note
You will do this in both slow/fast and fast/slow patterns.
To get an idea of how this will sound as you play…
Slow/Fast: daaah dah daaah dah daaah dah daaah dah daaah dah daaah…
Fast/Slow: da daaah da daaah da daaah da daaah…
Usually one or the other is going to feel more comfortable to play. You will want to choose the one that feels harder and do it more often than the other, just like you’d give extra exercise to a recently healed broken leg, to help its weakened muscles catch up to the other leg
Common mistakes people make when trying to perform this exercise is to make the rhythm into a “jazz” swing, and/or gradually speeding up the slower portion the further you get into the passage. You really want to make sure you’re playing this prescribed rhythm steadily all the way through.
Homework: Try out fast/slow slow/fast on C major and D major this week.