The Four Times Rule – How to Eliminate buzzes and wrong notes

The Four Times rule is something you can use to improve the quality of your practice and eliminate small and annoying mistakes that can creep into your playing. Sometimes mistakes do happen when practicing or performing and thats ok but we can definitely minimise them through methods like this one. One often finds that under performance pressure mistakes can arise, this method will help to create some form of practice pressure that simulates some of the feeling/nerves of performance.

As with all practice, stay relaxed and alert, and put your focus on your breathing, your body and stay alert. Watch for any feelings of annoyance and stress, if these arise let them go. The aim of this is to improve and refine your technique and this is always a slow process. If you do this method properly you will get great results fairly quickly.

It works as follows:

  1. You choose a passage you are trying to improve
  2. Set a metronome speed which is just a little challenging.
  3. Repeat the passage four times in a row without mistakes.
  4. If you make a mistake repeat from start.
  5. If you can’t get to four times, slow the metronome down
  6. If it becomes easy, speed up the metronome or move to next passage.
  7. For more pressure you can go for more times in a row.
  8. Define what a mistake is e.g. a buzz, a wrong note.
  9. You can also try it by trying to achieve a positive e.g. consistent legato, correct articulation, good dynamic, competent tone colour.
  10. Try also an open string version of the passage just with the right hand.

Hope you get great results from this method, let me know how you go!