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#1219332 - 06/18/09 06:48 PM Playing too fast  
Joined: Jan 2008
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nycplayer Offline
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nycplayer  Offline
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My teacher says I play too fast. Basically, I guses my brain can't keep up and so I mess up fingering, rhythm and what not. She said this happens to many of her students. She finds it annoying but seems to attribute it to nervousness. I'm not sure why I rush, but it could well be nerves and a desire to hurry up and get through the piece. I guess I find it easier than playing more slowly, even though the results may be worse. Maybe the point is to simply focus on enjoyment of playing the piece.

Have others found ways to overcome the urge to play faster than they should?

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#1219335 - 06/18/09 07:04 PM Re: Playing too fast [Re: nycplayer]  
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Cantabile_affettuo Offline
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Cantabile_affettuo  Offline
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I have the exact same problem, especially when I play Bach. The only solution I know of is to play it very slowly...unbearably slowly most of the time. Use the metronome to keep yourself from rushing. Then, slowly increase the speed everyday but make sure that it is still controlled. Rushing is actually a sign that you don't have a very good control of the piece, since it's easier to "go with the flow" and play it fast than to keep it under wraps.

#1219351 - 06/18/09 07:51 PM Re: Playing too fast [Re: Cantabile_affettuo]  
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beet31425 Offline
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Originally Posted by Cantabile_affettuo
I have the exact same problem, especially when I play Bach. The only solution I know of is to play it very slowly...unbearably slowly most of the time. Use the metronome to keep yourself from rushing. Then, slowly increase the speed everyday but make sure that it is still controlled. Rushing is actually a sign that you don't have a very good control of the piece, since it's easier to "go with the flow" and play it fast than to keep it under wraps.


This is exactly the right thing to do. Also, I think that almost everything we play on the piano has every bit as much a sense of "beat" as any pop tune or rock song. This is true whether it's a Beethoven allegro, a Beethoven adagio, or a Chopin nocturne: there's this beat that's driving the music-- feel that, and concentrate on that, as if there were a real drum beat steadily driving you along. Feel the pulse!


Beethoven op.110, Chopin op.27/2, Liszt Vallée d'Obermann
#1219353 - 06/18/09 07:53 PM Re: Playing too fast [Re: Cantabile_affettuo]  
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BDB Offline
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You are not finding it easier to play fast, you are finding it easier to play sloppy. The key to great playing is control, not speed. A perfectly controlled performance awes the crowd more than the fastest possible performance. You can tell a controlled performance by its rhythmic and dynamic inflections, by the clarity of the voices, by the shaping of the melodies, etc. This is the signature of a great performance. Get your mind to concentrate on these things, and you will be playing at the proper speed, even if it is not what the metronome markings say it should be.


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#1219628 - 06/19/09 11:28 AM Re: Playing too fast [Re: BDB]  
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JBiegel Offline
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JBiegel  Offline
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I would do two things:
1: Count out loud, hands apart, then together;
2: sing out loud--since most of Bach's music is written on vocal lines, if you sing along, chances are you will not rush since the voice is the most accurate and natural instrument of all.

#1219690 - 06/19/09 12:58 PM Re: Playing too fast [Re: JBiegel]  
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Dr. J Offline
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Dr. J  Offline
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Record yourself. You may be amazed at what you hear and will find ways to play more beautifully. But first you need to listen carefully to the sounds you are making. Are you satisfied with the sound of the piece? Is it too rushed? How can you play differently for a more musical effect?

Dr. J - The More You Play the Better Your Day


Dr. Jordan is a professional piano teacher and performer,
offering creative online piano tutorials to adult beginners.

Dr. Js blog http://playpianotodaywithdrj.wordpress.com/
#1219865 - 06/19/09 10:03 PM Re: Playing too fast [Re: Dr. J]  
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nycplayer Offline
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Thanks for the advice, everyone.

I have counted out loud as I play (admittedly, not always, but I try to when I remember ...). I have even tried singing along when I play Bach. The problem is my range is so limited sometimes I find it hard to sing. Counting is a little more effective but here the problem is that because it strains my voice I can only count out loud so much. Maybe I'm too tense or something. Does this happen to others??

#1219885 - 06/19/09 11:06 PM Re: Playing too fast [Re: nycplayer]  
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JerryS88 Offline
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JerryS88  Offline
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NYCPlayer - one of my best discoveries of late is a concept of what I'll describe as allowing micro-beats to establish tempo rather than fitting micro-beats to an established tempo.

Wait - don't go yet - I'll explain, and yes, it does have to do with rushing.

I can best describe this by giving an example. If a piece is written in 4/4 time, it is natural to hear and feel the four main steady beats "1-2-3-4" in each measure - like a metronome playing in the background. Not only do we count or hear those four "macro-beats" in our head even before we begin to play, but more often than not they are written into the actual accompaniment figure of the piece as well. On top of that beat we have all the micro-beats - the smaller value notes - that we have to then "fit into" that established pulse.

One day recently, in my ongoing quest to improve the clarity of my playing, I decided to try an experiment. Instead of trying to fit all those faster notes (micro-beats) to an established pulse (macro-beats), I decided I would completely let go of the notion of an established beat. Instead, I decided to concentrate on the faster notes and play them at a tempo determined by only one thing - the speed at which I could play each and every one of them cleanly and securely. In fact, if that meant I had to slow down temporarily to ensure clarity in a particularly difficult measure, so be it.

One of the immediate effects of this was to notice just how much I had always played with a feeling of rushing. Why? Because I *was* rushing to fit all those notes to a tempo I had chosen that was too fast to play the fast notes cleanly. When I shifted my attention on playing the fast notes at a tempo that would allow absolute control and clarity of each note and when I allowed that to determine the pulse, it became immediately apparent to me how many notes I had been short-changing in order to keep up with a predetermined tempo. My playing became less rushed and much more even and controlled.

Anyway, I know this sounds bizarre, but it has improved my playing enormously and has stopped my rushing, so I throw this out as something for you to try. It takes some practice to shift one's focus like this. I find it helpful to think of the smaller value notes in small groups, say groups of 4, and count *them* in my head - 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, etc. - counting 16th notes (depending on the piece - notes may be counted in groups of 3, 4, 6, etc.). The point is to count the micro-beats, not the macro-beats.

#1219982 - 06/20/09 07:17 AM Re: Playing too fast [Re: JerryS88]  
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JerryS88 Offline
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JerryS88  Offline
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I realize now after reading through my post that it may not sound any different from the typical advice to scan a piece for the fastest note values and determine your tempo based on how fast you can play those notes. The difference is that this advice is used to establish the pulse, and typically you would then play the piece in the "fit all the fast notes to an established pulse" method. In the method I am recommending you focus your attention fully on the fast notes throughout the piece and let the speed at which you can play the fast notes with full control and clarity determine the tempo from measure to measure. It may sound like you'll end up with a chaotic quickening and slowing of tempo from measure to measure depending on technical difficulty, but what I find is that I wind up choosing a slower tempo and being able to stick to it and keep a steady pulse that is not rushed. Maybe a good way of describing it is to say that you hyper-focus on the clarity of the fast notes throughout the piece - sometimes they are in the melody, sometimes in the accompaniment. It's not just a different way of playing but a different way of listening as well.

#1220032 - 06/20/09 10:03 AM Re: Playing too fast [Re: JerryS88]  
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nycplayer Offline
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nycplayer  Offline
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JerryS88, thanks for the detailed recommendation. I follow what you're saying and will give it a try. It seems to makes sense but I guess it will be a question of whether I can actually implement your approach!


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