One mistake that rookie and professional musicians alike will make during their practice time, is playing too quickly when learning new music. You always want to get the song over with and just play through it, but that will not be beneficial to you. To make real progress with a song, you must play it slowly before playing it quickly, and here is why.
As the saying goes, you must learn to walk before you learn to run. In the sense of music, this is absolutely true. If you play through a song ten times too quickly, you will end up practicing your mistakes instead of practicing the right way to play it.
As a musician, your fingers and brain need to line up correctly for a piece to sound right. Sometimes you may be able to play a song quickly, but not slowly because you only taught your fingers and not your brain. If you start playing the song more slowly and add speed over time, it will sound proper and much more musical.
Musicality is what separates playing a song and playing music. You can play every note in a song right, but it will still not sound beautiful. Learning a song slowly will help you incorporate embellishments to it, such as dynamic contrast, and just sheer emotion.
When you play a song too quickly, you will only worry about what your fingers are doing. However, when you play a song slowly, you can really think about exactly how you want each note to sound, and how to create that sound. In terms of musicality, learning a song at a steady pace is going to make all the difference.
Now the question stands, how can you learn something progressively rather than all at once? You should first of all get a metronome. These days, there is no need to go to a music store and drop $20 on a metronome. If you have a smartphone, you can choose from many great metronome apps. Once you acquire a metronome, set it to a slow pace. For faster songs, you may want to start around sixty beats per minute. For a slower song, you may want to start as low as forty beats per minute. This will assure that your notes are even and accurate. Never start learning a song faster than you can play it. Confidence is great for musicianship, but overconfidence is not.
To progress your learning, you can start moving your metronome up in speed. The general rule for musicians is playing an excerpt from your piece three times without mistakes. Once you’ve accomplished that, you can move up about six notches, and do it again. After a certain point, you have to call it a day. You can come back to it the next day and start where you left off, hopefully making even more progress.
It is much easier to learn a song slowly than to rush yourself and make mistakes. Playing slowly shouldn’t be shameful, but it may be a bit tedious. Sometimes, you just want to play your song at the tempo you hear it. That will not help you as a musician, though. Using progressive tempos, you will be able to learn just about any song you want. This will instill confidence in you, as well as make you a better player, so make sure to do it with every piece you learn!