Ten times perfectly in a row?

I am trying to apply Justin’s advice that to learn a part, you should slow it down until you can play it ten times perfectly in a row before you increase the tempo, and keep repeating that cycle until it’s up to full speed. Brandon Acker has basically the same advice for classical guitar.

I understand and appreciate the general principle of starting slow and gradually speeding up, but I find I very rarely can work to a target of ‘ten times perfectly in a row’. Ten is a lot of times! That takes ages. I get bored. I know this is just a matter of mental discipline, but if I set out to do the same part ten times in a row I usually find myself getting distracted, playing on further into the song, or wandering off to do other stuff on the guitar.

Also, trying to play “in time” at massively reduced tempos is something I’m struggling with. Once it’s slow enough for me to play it perfectly, it often doesn’t sound like the song anymore, it doesn’t sound like anything anymore, it’s just a series of unconnected notes at that point. And once it doesn’t sound like the song to me, I find it really hard to play in time.

Just curious if other folks are having this kind of issue. Being real, do you genuinely stick to the “ten times” rule? If so, do you find it difficult to stay on target? How do you keep yourself honest?

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Absolutely not. If I applied that philosophy I’d go nuts. I’d rather increase tempo with the odd mistake than torture myself trying to hit the perfect ten. Even the pros make mistakes.


I don’t have any sort of ten times rule but I do try to be honest with myself about where I am with a song.
If you’re accurate but slow then the speed will come but if you’re fast but erratic you’ll likely always be that way is my opinion. Unfortunately accuracy does require patience and repetition. I don’t think it matters if what you play is too slow to sound like the song, it’s part of the process of getting there.
I tend to have a few things on the go at once. I practice each for a few minutes and then move onto the next. For me this helps avoid any frustration setting in because there always seems to be some progress with at least one of them


I haven’t heard of the ten times rule, I use the four times rule.
If you switch to four times perfectly, you’ll be increasing the tempo more often. When you get to a tempo where it starts to go pear shaped, drop back to 5 above where you started and build up again.
I’m sure this method will be far less boring and monotonous- and far more productive.


I’ve heard Justin mention four times too, not ten.

Regardless, I think it depends who you are and what works best for you. For some people constant repetition of the same thing for long periods will quickly bore them to death, perhaps eventually contributing to them stopping playing altogether. For others, they could play the same riff all day long and never get bored.

So like anything else, it’s about tailoring the process for yourself. Most of what Justin says is advice, not hard and fast rules that must be stuck to at all costs. Use his advice as a guide, and don’t be afraid to tweak it for your own needs.

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Hi Brendan,
I later heard Justin say that 10 times (or read) , but when I started the first year I only heard him say play 4 times without mistakes quite often…and I have stuck to that and I still stick to it …

I think I would have sold my guitars if I stick at 10 times :grimacing: :flushed:…I’m not a professional and I won’t be :blush: :sweat_smile:


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I had to think about this one…

No, I don’t… but sometimes I do.

I don’t think this is a Yes/No answer - it’s “Yes/No/It’s Complicated”. It depends on the part/riff and the level of precision required.

TBH I also think this is one of those pieces of advice that Justin gives which is really far in one direction - get it perfect 10x - because the norm of what people do otherwise is the complete opposite - attempt it full speed really badly and hope it gets better (hint: it won’t).

The way that works for me is somewhere in the middle. Practicing both speed and accuracy, but doing them separately, and for certain things then building speed (while trying to maintain accuracy).

What I do is something like this:

  1. Learn the part really slowly to make sure I actually know it. The notes, the timing. Make sure I’m playing it right, slowly. There’s no point in going fast if you haven’t got it under your fingers. Repeat ad nauseam. I don’t count, just until I’ve got it.
  2. Attempt it full speed. If it’s not too far from my current skillset, sometimes that’s it. Practice full speed on repeat until it’s automatic.

But - if I can’t play it full speed straight away - or if it’s something like a scale where there is no such thing as full speed - then I use a metronome or drum track and gradually speed it up. I ramp speed both within a practice session and day to day. Sometimes I go backwards.

I don’t really count 10x. But I practice a piece enough until it is right the vast majority of the time. Would it be 10x perfect in a row before the metronome goes faster? Probably not. But it definitely needs to feel comfortable under the fingers at that speed.

There’s probably something in this. There’s definitely a time when learning a piece that you’re not going to be able to get it right no matter what speed you’re at. You’re figuring it out. Just figure it out until you can do it.


My method? Once I get the notes/ sequence etc down, I then experiment to find the fastest tempo I can play it comfortably, without errors. I don’t see any point going through intermediate tempos to get to this one.
I believe the rhythm is crucial. Once I really lock into the rhythm of something, the speed can often increase very quickly.
If the lick etc requires a faster tempo than I can currently play it comfortably, I’ll the increase it in increments. 3 x in a row, and I’m upping that tempo.
I also think there’s also alot of value in playing parts of the lick etc at much higher tempos, just to see what happens, how your techniques changes etc. And, film yourself.

Cheers, Shane


Come to think of it, I remember Justin saying something about ten times. Can’t remember exactly but it was something about a teacher teaching him a scale wrongly when he was young. Can’t remember if it was wrong notes or wrong fingering. He re-learned it the right way and he had to practice it ten times in a row perfectly to rewire his brain. He says even now he can get it wrong sometimes!

I think the ten times thing was a bit of an off the cuff remark.
His point was that if you learn something wrong from the start, it takes a lot more practice to get it right than if you learn it correctly from the start.

Makes a lot of sense. Learn good habits not bad ones.

I’m not sure if this video is relevant for here…no time to listen, but it`s seems useful here


Thanks for the replies all. I think three or four times in a row is about my happy place, which lines up with some of you.

To explain where I got the “ten times” from, it was in the Legato Penatonics lesson from Grade 3

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I find the stamina to replay something to be a real challenge, even at full tempo. I have been building on this since my first day, and it feels pretty hard to stick with doing something over again, even when playing along with an original recording. If you find it hard to keep going through a whole song, playing the same sequence over again, then you will want to build your mental stamina to do this and then the “ten times” rule won’t seem so difficult.

I have noticed that slowing way down once I have timing right pretty much at tempo does sound correct. I believe that minor tempo faults in the early stages make it sound off. There may be some mental time keeping as well that is adjusting once I know something really well that is making the slow sound right.

That would be a no from me. I rarely play the same thing the same way ten times in a row, so I don’t practice that way. I’m also not interested in playing by rote, because it is tedious and would drive me to find a more artistic endeavor. Would you do the same painting ten times in a row exactly the same way?

I will practice a particular technique however many times it takes across the fretboard in different keys to solidify muscle memory and long term memory. I would not limit it to ten times in this case. This would serve as a skill to add to my tookit. I would never do something like this for a particular song or part of a song.

Yep, I certainly get bored trying to do it 10 times perfectly. When I stick to it, the outcome is always better than if I rush. Sigh. I’m lazy. Double sigh