I'm learning this exercise and I'm astonished at how it is difficult to keep on time.

He's playing 16 16th notes per measure, but the phrasing of the notes is in groups of seven. I sounds weird to me since I have always followed a tempo that goes with the resolution of the melody.

How would recommend me to play this? I was thinking about memorizing even more the left hand notes so that I don't think about it and I only count or keep the timing with the right hand. Still, it's been very difficult.

My intuition is that at some point I have to do either the left hand notes or the picking without thinking about it at all.

How would you approach this?

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    Perhaps not helpful, but I’ve always relied on very slow practice with counting out loud. Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 10:54
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    I just wanted to clarify your question. I think the issue you're facing is: When playing normal 16th notes, in groups of four, each group starts with a down-pick, but when playing groups of 7, one starts with down and the next with up, and they alternate. Is that the core of the problem? I'd also recommend a few edits: 1) You mention "tempo," and I'm not sure that's the word you want. (Though it is the first and best suggestion—start at a slow tempo.) I think you mean either that you're used to having the picking pattern align to the strong notes, or ... Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 11:48
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    ... or you mean that you alter the rhythm to "fill in the gaps" so that the pattern becomes even. In either case, that's not the same thing as tempo, which is basically "the speed of the beat," the number you would set a metronome at. 2) —Wait, never mind; I was going to say you were confused about the time signature and it couldn't possibly be 4/4, before paying attention to what's actually shown in the video, and he does indeed notate it that way. I think that's a bit confusing in itself, but I'll address that in an actual answer. Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 11:53

1 Answer 1


I have some suggestions that might help you. This is a very complex and technical exercise so it is important to break it down to something that we can digest and absorb. First, I interpret the phrases not in groups of 7 but groups of 14. That seems to be where the phrases start and end to me. Thinking in 14 actually makes it easier, not more complicated than 7 because it’s an even number and you can subdivide the phrases easily. Here’s what I would do:

At least initially, forget that the exercise is in 4/4. Set your metronome to steady 8th notes with no accents. Think of it as 14/16 instead of 4/4

Subdivide the phrase. A good way to think of it is 4-4-6. Count it 1234,1234,123456, not 1-14. That makes it 14/16, or 4+4+6/16. This can be subdivided in other ways (for example 4-4-4-2) but I find 4-4-6 to be easy and effective in this case.

Memorize the first phrase and play it very slowly and steadily with alternate picking. It doesn’t appear he is dragging the pick or doing any consecutive up or down picking. Try looping the first phrase.

Start adding in the other phrases one at a time. You should start to feel comfortable with the pulse of the exercise by now.

The exercise is five 14 note phrases which then moves down in half steps chromatically from Dm to Bm. Once you have the first 5 phrases you will be able to play the whole thing.

Learning to feel this in 4/4 will take time because of the rhythmic displacement. In every bar the phrase starts an eighth note earlier starting with bar one on the 4+, then bar 2 on the 4, etc. It is very tricky. When you’re ready for that start practicing it with a drum pattern that is very obviously 4/4. This is a difficult skill to acquire so be patient.

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