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Albunea Offline OP
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I've just thought that I am ok at the stage of practicing slow, but then I'll need to practice it fast anyhow! When slow, you can play as slow as necessary to avoid making any mistake, but that won't be possible when you finally play it a bit faster.

Any thoughts? smile

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The concept of learning at a slow rate, accurately, is that you ingrain the correct notes and correct rhythm into your fingers and brain. Then when you speed up the rate, your brain and fingers are already coordinated into doing "what is right"

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Thank you, dog person. smile But that doesn't happen as easily as it sounds, at least to me.

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Dogperson is right. You program the right moves into your brain as a series of actions but once established they can be replayed as fast as you can think and later as fast as the synapse/nerve connexion allows, which is faster than you can control the individual notes of.

If it's a fast piece you can get to target tempo with each hand separately and not upset the coordination used in slow programming.

While you're learning the piece, the faster you go, the shorter the fragment. Consider the opening figure of Beethoven's Bb Sonata, Op. 22; just that figure can be worked on, at various speeds from dead slow to full steam ahead, or the septuplets in Grieg's Watchman's Song, Op. 12 No. 3.

Once you can coordinate the moves correctly make sure you add the dynamic contour and articulations before you allow the tempo to rise too much and work in slow motion as opposed to slow playing otherwise you might struggle to control them later.

And you get better at slow practise the more you do it.


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Originally Posted by Albunea
Thank you, dog person. smile But that doesn't happen as easily as it sounds, at least to me.
.

Nothing is as easy as it sounds, for any of us. In order to remind myself of this, I have a sign above my piano:

I didn't tell you it would be easy, I told you it would be worth it.

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Albunea Offline OP
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Originally Posted by zrtf90


While you're learning the piece, the faster you go, the shorter the fragment.



Does that mean that we also should practice a faster tempo in fragments?

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Originally Posted by dogperson
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Originally Posted by Albunea
Thank you, dog person. smile But that doesn't happen as easily as it sounds, at least to me.
.

Nothing is as easy as it sounds, for any of us. In order to remind myself of this, I have a sign above my piano:

I didn't tell you it would be easy, I told you it would be worth it.




smile smile smile

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I remember a time when I could hope to learn a piece start to finish in about three months, but those days are gone. Now any one of my grade pieces is taking between eight or ten months to get to some sort of proficiency. During this time most of my practice I would consider slow practice, as anything faster than what I did yesterday or the day before that just seems to derail the piece. Forgetting about tempo during the long months it inevitably takes me by surprise the day I find I am pretty close to playing at the intended tempo.

It is also clear that as beginners we have technical limits, (as our technique matures), as to how fast we can play. The CD's I use as my reference often promote a faster tempo than it is wise for me to attempt. I am happier if I play a piece well at a slower tempo than badly at a faster one.


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That makes sense, earlofmar. I never practiced pieces intensively so I was not surprised it took me long to play them fluently. Since I now was practicing something more intensively I was expecting a faster progress, but it seems it will simply take TIME. smile

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Practicing fast pieces slow is good to ingrain the coordination but there are problems if you never try to play it fast. Body movements that work at slow tempo don't necessarily work at a faster tempo and it means you might practice for weeks or months only to hit a wall when you attempt to speed up. That's one of the reasons it's essential to have a teacher who can see how you're moving and pre-empt those kinds of problems.

I like the approach that Richard recommends. Practice short passages hands separate as fast as you can manage just to get a feeling for what is required to play it at tempo, then slow it down but without changing the movement. Once you figure out that movement you need to practice this same movement in slow motion.

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Originally Posted by Albunea
Originally Posted by zrtf90


While you're learning the piece, the faster you go, the shorter the fragment.



Does that mean that we also should practice a faster tempo in fragments?


Yes, but I'd say "section" or "passage." Some parts will be easy to speed up. Others will trip you up. Practice the parts where you get tripped up.


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All pianists develop speed by first getting the actual movements down pat when playing slow, and sorting out the correct fingering.

Of course, when you see an experienced pianist sight-read something at performance tempo, you might not think so, but that pianist in fact has already 'rehearsed' the finger/wrist/arm movements required to play those notes from all the technical stuff they've done over the years - scales & arpeggios, lots of pieces, etudes etc. Which is why when they see similar stuff on the page, their fingers instinctively know what to do, and the right movements to make to play the notes at the right speed.

But it takes a lot of 'practice time' to get to that stage where you can just toss off almost anything like it is child's play. So, for now, concentrate on practicing the things you have difficulty with, not the things you already find easy. BTW, that's what all virtuoso concert pianists do too - they don't waste time practicing stuff that are easy for them; instead they hone in on the things they find difficult. When that 'difficult' stuff - or something similar - crops up again in another piece (or later on in the same piece), it's no longer difficult. They've acquired another string to their bow, another weapon in their armoury.


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There was a moment I thought "Ok this is too easy for me" but that only happened with Level 0 pieces (which are mostly one hand laugh ). Level 1 pieces are not yet "too easy for me"...I'd still be learning even if just trying to read them at a decent speed. And, of course, they vary: I have many I have been playing for long but not polished yet.

I am understanding what you all are saying, and yes, I realize the pieces that I am practicing more intensively and not progressing as expected are simply more difficult technically...I've realized I could already write the notes down but can't play them well! That had never happened to me before at all. I can now understand the people who say they memorize their pieces while learning them.

I already have experience to understand what you are saying, bennevis. For example, I spent a long time at the beginning of Bastien 2 going from C chord to F chord and back, and now that is much easier. smile

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Originally Posted by Albunea
I've just thought that I am ok at the stage of practicing slow, but then I'll need to practice it fast anyhow! When slow, you can play as slow as necessary to avoid making any mistake, but that won't be possible when you finally play it a bit faster.


Slow practice is half the story--well, more than half.

If the piece is uptempo, then, yes, once you think you've got your notes secure then crank the tempo up a notch. If they're still secure, take another step.

If you start missing:

* you may not have the notes as secure as you like so back up to the speed where you weren't missing and work there. Backing up can be pretty difficult to do psychologically!

* if you just completely hit a wall, you might have to rework fingering (yuck). Sometimes things work okay at a slow pace but become hard to execute at speed

Take the above for what it's worth--I don't have particularly fast hands.


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A couple of things come to mind about slow practice. It is a method of learning something, so like any other practice technique, it should be applied correctly to the problem. If you are playing straight through a piece at a slow tempo, that might be the correct thing to do at the time, or it might not. If that is a default thing you are doing (practicing slow start to finish), then perhaps it's not exactly what you need for the entire piece. You could be wasting time and effort.

OTOH, if you are working a particular portion slowly to get the gesture down, or work out the technique, or figure out the fingering, etc., then slow practice would be a good application here.

If you are trying to increase the overall tempo of a piece, it is important to establish why you are not able to play it faster. Usually this comes down to pointing to the various places that trip you up and force the tempo to be slower: parts that you don't quite know how to play faster yet (and faster without excess tension). It is those places where slow practice may help.

Practicing in rhythms in alternating long-short and then short-long patterns helps increase tempo. When you've done that, you can also play in short bursts of speed. So practice 3 notes very fast, pause, the next 3 very fast, pause, etc. Then increase to 4. This technique works best when the passage contains a series of notes of the same value in a row (i.e., running 8th notes or 16ths notes).


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Originally Posted by Albunea
I've just thought that I am ok at the stage of practicing slow, but then I'll need to practice it fast anyhow! When slow, you can play as slow as necessary to avoid making any mistake, but that won't be possible when you finally play it a bit faster.

Any thoughts? smile


Try to be mindful of what exactly you're practicing at a slow tempo. There are a hundred skills you could practice at a slow tempo. In fact, you may be making things more difficult by practicing "playing slowly" which may ingrain slow languid muscle movements that are difficult to speed up!

A better way to think about it is - what am I practicing at a slow tempo? For example you could practice accuracy at a slow tempo, giving accuracy priority over everything else in the music - this will naturally help you speed up accurately in the long run. Or you could prioritize dynamics, articulation, balance, rhythm, phrasing etc. ... at a slow tempo. These will help to internalize and execute those things better when you play at a faster tempo.

Don't just practice slowly, practice 'some skill' at a slower tempo.


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Originally Posted by Morodiene


If you are trying to increase the overall tempo of a piece, it is important to establish why you are not able to play it faster.


I'm starting to think that I truly need to give pieces a rest. Do you know any students like this? Today I've been playing level 1 pieces that I had not played for about a month and I think the rest helped me with them!

I mostly focus on accuracy, Groove On. What you say is something keystring told me in another thread and I should not forget it.

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By the way, I've realized I have them quite memorized (probably just muscle memory since I wouldn't be able to tell you the notes without the score). No way I was just reading... laugh

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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Body movements that work at slow tempo don't necessarily work at a faster tempo and it means you might practice for weeks or months only to hit a wall when you attempt to speed up.


The key to this problem is to work out the fingering to minimize the acceleration of your arms and hands. For instance, the first bar of the coda in David Rose's "The Stripper" has two D-flat's in a row. Going slow, I could play both with the same finger. But before them there's a D flat an octave below, and after it goes chromatically to the F above (with the F an octave below, 1-5). So, I hit the first with 5, and the second with 3 while my arm is moving to get to the part that ends with the F.


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Originally Posted by Albunea
Originally Posted by Morodiene


If you are trying to increase the overall tempo of a piece, it is important to establish why you are not able to play it faster.


I'm starting to think that I truly need to give pieces a rest. Do you know any students like this? Today I've been playing level 1 pieces that I had not played for about a month and I think the rest helped me with them!

I mostly focus on accuracy, Groove On. What you say is something keystring told me in another thread and I should not forget it.
Oh, I do this all the time with myself! Pieces often take a while to gel in our brains, and I believe during that the time away from playing, your brain is still working it out. Also during that time, we can forget the tension we have in certain areas while we remember how we wanted it to sound.

This is really helpful to do.


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