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An Idea How To Build Up Speed
I've been playing the guitar for about 6 years now, and I've been very lucky to have really great teachers along the way. All my teachers said that it's more important to learn the right techniques, than to learn as many songs as possible. If you have the right technique and can read music well, you can pretty much play any song you like. I agree with that, and think it's a greay philosophy.
How should you practice then?
Well I'm not an expert really. I can only tell from my own experience, and if you consider yourself to be an expert, there's no need to keep reading this. This is directed to beginners and intermediate players who wants to improve.
First thing you need to do is set your mind to it, and not give up when you get stuck on something. I've lost count of how many players I've seen trying to play something that's too hard for them, which usually results in frustration, and finally they give up.
That's why it's extremely important NOT to attempt playing a song or a solo too fast in the beginning. Start at a very low speed, so slow your grandmother can play it. So slow that every note or chord sounds perfect. Use a metronome as well.
And also remember this:
You must practice with both of your hands, otherwise you will never achieve speed. Practice with your picking hand just as much as you practice with your playing hand.
What patterns to use?
When it comes to patterns, it's not so important how the pattern sounds. I mean, it doesn't need to be a melody in it. The important thing is that you practice fingerpatterns that feels both uncomfortable and ones you aren't used to. Let me show you an example of this: