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LJS 22: How to Play at Fast Tempos and Not Get Burned

Welcome to episode 22 of the LJS Podcast where today we are talking about how¬†to play at fast tempos and not get burned. Up tempos tunes are something that all jazz musicians must confront, and we’ve all been burned by them before! In this episode we go over some tips for playing fast tempos and how we can start getting better control over them. Listen in!

Listen to episode 22

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In this episode

  1. Relaxing while you play, and developing that mind set.

  2. Subdividing- making the tempo feel slower by perceiving the time differently.

  3. Changing how you play on fast tempos vs. slower tempos.

  4. Exercise for fast tempo playing.

Exercise to practice

Playing free (not over a song form) or using a song form, with a metronome set at a medium-down comfortable tempo, do the following:

  1. First chorus (or for a given period of time) play only whole notes.
  2. Second chorus play only half notes.
  3. Third chorus play quarter notes.
  4. Fourth chorus play eights notes (optional triplet quarters).
  5. Fifth chorus play triplet eighths.
  6. If you can, for the sixth chorus play sixteenth notes.

Listen to episode 21: 4 Steps For Finding More Time to Practice

How do you practice playing at fast tempos? Leave us a comment below.

Brent Vaartstra
Brent Vaartstra is a professional jazz guitarist and educator living in New York City. He is the head blogger and podcast host for which he owns and operates. He actively performs around the New York metropolitan area and is the author of the Hal Leonard publication "Visual Improvisation for Jazz Guitar." He's also the host of the music entrepreneurship podcast "Passive Income Musician."


  1. Basically, my approach is – make some interesting lines in slower tempo, and than gradually speed it up … Than I would put on minus one, and try to play those lines on the right places; just them … After practiced this, I usually try to make solo consisting of those lines


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