Choosing the right BPM for each phases and exercises

Hi everyone,

I need help.

I feel I’m exactly at the heart of my “practicing habit problems”. On the point of finding the solution to decades of stagnation (which I’ve never felt before) and at the same time still confused as to which road to follow (which is a very familiar feeling) and to turn all this knowledge into a healthy and effective practicing routine.
Kiko’s advices from the practice routine livestream 2 weeks ago helped me clear a few things (that "Exactly! " as a reply to my comment still resonates. I think I actually blushed there for a few seconds lol :rofl:) Anyway. These are basically the advises I remembered from it :

  • practice every day even if it’s just for a few minutes.
  • What matters is that the practice exercises have some form of challenge.
  • You should focus on getting better at one specific technique before moving to another one.

To be honest, these advises were more like confirmations of information I had already known (except for the last one). But, sometimes you need to be reminded of things… Like a good kick in the arse :grin: but also to be somehow reassured that you’re on the right path.

Now I do practice every day but it’s rarely the same thing (although for the last week, I’ve been practicing almost every day an exercise based on Exercise 7 from Alternate picking, Day 1, Phase 1…but I made it more challenging for me. And sometimes it’s exercise 6 from that same phase).
So this is where I get to the subject of this topic…
BPMs.

  1. When you only have time to practice a few exercises. What is the most effective way to use BPMs in practicing this(these) exercise(s) ? Is it by just finding a comfortable speed and repeating that exercise until you’re comfortable enough to increase the speed?
    Or do you try to find a comfortable speed at 4 notes per beat and then try playing the same thing at 1 beat, then two beats then 8th notes before going back to that initial 4 notes per beat for example ?

  2. When practicing Alternate picking Day one, I’m still trying to figure out the right BPMS to play those exercises at. Especially when playing the first 10 minutes of Phase 2 (1st 5 minutes : exercises 1, 2 & 3 then 5 minutes of exercise the Gray Stone Gateway exercise) because there’s such a wide difference of level from that 1st exercise to the that 4th exercise (which is still an exercise I’m struggling with after all these months… More because of the left hand precision than because of the string skipping).
    So for example, should I take the most difficult exercises from this phase (exercise 6 is as equally challenging for me as this Grey Stone Gateway riff) and level down the speed of the other easier exercises to this one? Are keep on adapting the BPMs to the difficulty of each set of exercises, like I’ve done so far (I chose to play exercise 4 about 30bpms slower than exercise 1,2 and 3)?.. The problem when I do this is that I find the first phase much too slow. And this brings me my 3rd question…

  3. In the videos, Kiko explains that phase 2 (for any given day) should be played at least twice as fast as the exercises in phase 1, and phase 3 even faster. But, most of the time, I find some exercises so difficult in phase 2 that I need to slow them down so much that it would make me have to play exercices in phase 1 at a ridiculous pace of 20bpm or even slower! (if I was to follow this advice of playing phase at least twice as fast)
    So It makes me having to choose between :
    A - playing difficult exercises from Phase 2 at a reasonable speed but risking severe “snail boredom” (:sweat_smile:) with phase 1 OR…
    B - Playing exercises in phase 1 at a reasonable slow speed but taking the risk of making too much mistakes in the most difficult exercises of Phase 2.

  4. Oddly, I find myself having less difficulty in playing Day 3 and 4 of the Alternate picking than Day 1 and 2.
    Is there a logical progression in BPMs from one day to the other? Or is it of no consequence at all to play days 3 or 4 at higher speeds than Day one?

That covers pretty much all of the problems and questions I face in my practice.
I’m really curious to know how my fellow guitar hackers are dealing with these BPM issues, if you’ve asked yourself similar questions and if you have, how you’ve overcome them or not…

Thank you very much to having read up to here anyway :grin::pray: Cheers!

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Hey Bruno! Thanks for the comment.
when I say phase 1 has to be half of the speed of phase 2 it’s just for us to remember we need to play very slowly at the beggining of the practice. If it’s a very hard exercise it might be that there is no difference between the phase 1 and 2
or phase one can be something like 80% slower than the phase 2. Or(!!!) phase two at the same speed but you play the entire ( and complex ) phrase. Let’s say phase 1 you play the Em from Gray Stone only and phase two ( at the same speed) you play the entire lick. So phase is the fundamental movement of the lick and phase two the musical application
Day 1 is the most difficult day… but it’s so important!!!

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Thank you so much for your reply Kiko :pray:

So if I understand correctly… I can, for example with the Gray Stone exercice, incorporate it into the first 5 minutes of Phase 1, practicing only the right hand pattern without the notes (at the same speed as the other exercises from phase 1) and then practice it at the same speed again in phase 2 (even if I play the easier exercises of Phase 2 at twice the speed or more…)?

I’ve always tried to play these exercises entirely… Even if I sometimes paused the timer to repeat a specific difficult passage. So this always led me to slow things down.
But perhaps that was my initial mistake…

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Hi there. This was a great read! This month or so I have been in a real weird mood on how much I’ve improved or haven’t improved but reading your post about what Kiko suggested like reminding us to stay focus and letting us know that there will be moments where you think you’re not getting anywhere but to just keep focused.

But to answer some of your questions. I tend to leave my bpm at 100 for phase 1 and phase 2 on alternate picking. Phase 1 I will go at it at around 1 note per beat and then when I go to phase 2, I tend to do 2 notes per beat to increase some speed. Depending on which day of alternate picking I’m doing, I will only increase 120bpm more on out of the plateau. Now I don’t know if we can increase our bpm during our second phase or just leave it at 100. I hope my answer kind of helped or gave you some ideas.

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Hi Fabiana,
I’m glad you enjoyed the read :blush:

As far as I’m concerned, I tried to use the right hand patterns of exercises 4 and 6 of the second phase (day one) and incorporate them into the 1st phase.
I couldn’t helped playing them with the left hand as well (palm-muted) so, in order to use them effectively in phase 1, it had to be slower than the speed used on phase 2 (roughly 40 bpm slower than exercises 1,2 and 3 and only 7 bpm slower than the exercises 4 and 6… Which I play 30 bpm slower than the other exercises 1,2 and 3 on phase 2).

I also created an exercise out of a specific passage from exercise 4 (Gray Stone Getaway) to really help play the whole exercise as smooth as possible. And so far it has helped a lot :wink:
I have to test it on a long term period now…

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Yeah man good luck on that!

:sweat_smile: Yes, we’ll try to “embrace the struggle” as Kiko said in his Practice Routine live video. Good luck to you too :wink: