This week Robin and I decided to take off for an overnight in our camper, leaving all sorts of projects and tasks behind. Partly it was to check out some repairs Robin had done, but it was more than that.

We parked the camper just a few feet away from a lake where we could simply watch the waves and birds (shags, herons, terns, swallows and seagulls) feeding along the lake edge. There was no need to bring a laptop and we’d forgotten phone chargers, so the pace of life went very slowly.

 Although it was just for one night, we had time for a long walk and I actually finished a book I’d barely started reading. We spent the evening over a game of Scrabble, unusual not only to find time to play it, but even more so to end up with tied scores (374-374). The day seemed full of hours we never have at home.

Do you notice that when you are on your computer there are all sorts of distractions that fragment what you are doing? There are so many interesting things to see that you flit like a swallow all over the place never really finding a place to land.

It can be hard to go slowly when you don’t take the time to do it often enough.

Recently, without thinking, I caught myself saying to a pupil: “The faster you learn to play it slowly, the quicker you’ll get it!”

That reminds me of our son Isaac who always liked to play everything fast when learning his music. I was sure he would get it more quickly if he played slowly and give it a chance at being correct on first reading.  But the value of slow really hit home to him when he became a teacher to another young boy. I was supervising the lessons overall, but Isaac was doing the main teaching. I heard him say “If you play it slowly first you’ll get it.”  I couldn’t believe my ears! He only really grasped the principle as he taught someone else.

As a music teacher, I think “play it slowly” could be one of the most common things I say to pupils. Maybe because even in learning a musical instrument we are trying to pack it into a frantic pace of life. Sometimes we need a bit of that 59th Street Bridge Song feeling.

“Slow down, you move too fast,

You got to make the morning last,

Just kicking down the cobblestones,

Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy.”

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Slow is cool too. Let’s enjoy it sounding right – at a slower speed.

Feel free to enjoy an improvisation at the piano I recorded of “In Your Good Time” from our musical “Nick of Time”. For those familiar with the musical, the melody comes in around the 3 minute mark. It’s an example of a slow melody in the treble but with reasonable movement in the bass to keep a sense of flow.

4 thoughts on “Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

  1. What a beautiful piece of music! I really enjoyed listening to it and feel peaceful after having done so. I played it with the speakers pointing at my stomach – so baby could enjoy it too 😉

  2. Aforementioned Isaac says:

    Hi Mum,

    Ha ha, yes I am sure you enjoyed that moment! Both in the initial learning of a piece, and with regards to memorization, I now truly do appreciate the importance of slow practice! There certainly seems to be something about moving slowly through a piece note by note that engages our minds more fully and fosters not only quicker mastery, but ensures that the music is not quickly forgotten.

    • Your response is so helpful Isaac because parents and tutors need to know that that their efforts are not in vain. One day their prodigies will grasp the value of the principles they are faithfully being encouraged to follow. Interesting that you note the helpfulness of slow practice in regards to memorisation too.

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