When I'm playing a performance, I often find myself speeding up. Over the course of a tune, I may speed up to the fastest I can play the piece, or even beyond. I find myself unable to slow down smoothly, even though I know I am playing too quickly. If I stop playing, pause a moment, and then start playing again, I can slow down, but I'd rather be able to slow down smoothly such that it's not terribly noticeable, or at least not as noticeable as stopping altogether.

This may have something to do with stage freight, given that the adrenaline dump I get during a performance invariably causes me to play too fast. However, I have difficulty smoothly slowing down even when practicing alone.

I've read How to keep the tempo still stable?, which gives practice techniques for maintaining a steady tempo. My question is what are practice techniques that I can use to learn to smoothly slow the tempo back down after it's gotten away from me.

Context: I play the banjo solo, often singing. I do not play in a group.

  • 2
    You are trying to solve the wrong problem. You should be focusing on "how not to speed up", not "how to slow down."
    – user19146
    Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 8:16
  • @alephzero On some SE sites, "sideways" answers that suggest that the focus of the question is incorrect are OK. If this is one of them, then your comment ought to be a proper answer so it can be up-voted. It doesn't answer my actual question, but that's OK with me. Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 14:08

1 Answer 1


Sometimes, the music just makes the tempo change anyway. And it's something that solo performers don't have a huge problem with, as far as affecting other players in a group. What you can do is, when practising, actually speed up and slow down, over a number of bars, to prove to yourself that you can do it. Start too fast/slow, and adjust as and when in rehearsal. Get used to doing it over a line or two, on purpose, so you are in control. The oft-stated use a metronome (or drum machine) is a good idea, whether in practice or live - give it a try.


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