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Why am I struggling to play grade 3 pieces at the right spee #2769850
10/05/18 02:04 PM
10/05/18 02:04 PM
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 10
Uk
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Chemblue Offline OP
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I have been learning grade 3 abrsm pieces. I don't take grades but this helps me measure progress. For about 21 weeks. My teacher is sick but I am struggling to play them at the right tempo. I have been practicing using interleaved practice method. Any advice to help me achieve the right tempo.

Thanking you

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Re: Why am I struggling to play grade 3 pieces at the right spee [Re: Chemblue] #2769862
10/05/18 02:54 PM
10/05/18 02:54 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 21,752
Victoria, BC
BruceD Offline
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The only solution I see:

Don't play any piece any faster than you can without making mistakes. Achieving the "right tempo" frequently involves working up to that tempo from a slower tempo. There's no point in trying to play pieces at the "right tempo" until you can. It may sound basic, but that's really the key, isn't it?

Regards,


BruceD
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Estonia 190
Re: Why am I struggling to play grade 3 pieces at the right spee [Re: Chemblue] #2769867
10/05/18 03:00 PM
10/05/18 03:00 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
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Georgia, USA
Sam S Offline

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fast practice = slow progress
slow practice = fast progress

Sam

Re: Why am I struggling to play grade 3 pieces at the right spee [Re: Chemblue] #2769869
10/05/18 03:01 PM
10/05/18 03:01 PM
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bennevis Online content
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If you can't play Grade 3 pieces at the 'right speed' after 21 weeks of practising (is that really what you meant - 5 months?), they're clearly too difficult for you at this time. Maybe you should be playing pieces at a lower grade and let your skills develop first? After all, you only started piano less than a year ago, and didn't have many lessons since.

Remember, anyone can 'learn' any piece, but that doesn't mean they can actually play it, no matter how hard they practise. I did that quite frequently when I was a student (especially from Grade 3 onwards - BTW, I did all the exams: one grade a year, that means three years to get to Grade 3), trying to play Chopin polonaises and etudes at Grade 5 (actual ABRSM grade, not 'assumed grade') with no octave and chord technique to my name, let alone the finger agility to cope with the notes. Like these:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFvqvZOtCF0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6RIwVi1Mjs

Wisely, I let them go (and I never told my teacher), but kept returning to them every few months to see what how much more I could play of them (very slowly). Every year, I found I could play more of the notes (slowly). But it took five more years before I could actually play them properly, and at the right speed.

What I'm saying is that developing piano technique takes a lot of time, even with the right kind of practise method. Apart from frustration, there's not much harm in trying to play stuff that's beyond your technique, as long as you're sensible about it and don't develop bad habits or injuries along the way that stymies your progress. But it's much better to play pieces properly, don't you think?


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Why am I struggling to play grade 3 pieces at the right spee [Re: bennevis] #2769874
10/05/18 03:15 PM
10/05/18 03:15 PM
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 10
Uk
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Chemblue Offline OP
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Thank you. I was hoping you would advise that with practice it will happen. I can play them hands separately

Re: Why am I struggling to play grade 3 pieces at the right spee [Re: Chemblue] #2769912
10/05/18 06:55 PM
10/05/18 06:55 PM
Joined: Aug 2008
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South Florida
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Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted by Chemblue
I have been learning grade 3 abrsm pieces. I don't take grades but this helps me measure progress. For about 21 weeks. My teacher is sick but I am struggling to play them at the right tempo. I have been practicing using interleaved practice method. Any advice to help me achieve the right tempo.

Thanking you

Worry about the speed of your grade 3 pieces when you can fairly comfortably make it through many pieces about grade 4 or 5. Then speed will take care of itself.

And do more finishing work on grade 2. Pieces. Also realize that no grading system is ever fully consistent. Push forward on harder pieces, review the level you are on, then polish BELOW your level.


Piano Teacher
Re: Why am I struggling to play grade 3 pieces at the right spee [Re: Gary D.] #2769915
10/05/18 07:14 PM
10/05/18 07:14 PM
Joined: Dec 2010
Posts: 1,951
Midwest USA
Stubbie Offline
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by Chemblue
I have been learning grade 3 abrsm pieces. I don't take grades but this helps me measure progress. For about 21 weeks. My teacher is sick but I am struggling to play them at the right tempo. I have been practicing using interleaved practice method. Any advice to help me achieve the right tempo.

Thanking you

Worry about the speed of your grade 3 pieces when you can fairly comfortably make it through many pieces about grade 4 or 5. Then speed will take care of itself.

And do more finishing work on grade 2. Pieces. Also realize that no grading system is ever fully consistent. Push forward on harder pieces, review the level you are on, then polish BELOW your level.
Quote of the month, in my opinion. Words of wisdom.


[Linked Image]
Re: Why am I struggling to play grade 3 pieces at the right spee [Re: Chemblue] #2769922
10/05/18 07:56 PM
10/05/18 07:56 PM
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 3,290
Australia
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earlofmar Online content
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Australia
Originally Posted by Chemblue
Thank you. I was hoping you would advise that with practice it will happen. I can play them hands separately


It will happen with practice, but cannot be forced. In order to get an increase in speed, I have to know the piece back to front and inside out. Sadly this does not happen easily and because of that I set aside eighteen months for grade 5, and the same now for grade 6. Learning the notes is not the most difficult thing for me, but getting them firmly fixed so they flow easily and it becomes almost impossible to make a mistake just takes time. Occasionally if a piece needs it more than the others, I will give it some intense practice and over several weeks I might see results. But I do this not to increase my tempo but to deepen my knowledge of the piece. Speed is a by product of knowing the piece well.

Something to be careful of is thinking the desired speed is that of your cd or youtube clip by some very talented player. Most of the exam pieces I have been practicing are played by the same person (on the cd) and I have no way of achieving her speed or interpretation at this time. Preparing for an exam the tempo has never really come up with my teacher, even if I am playing slightly below the marked tempo. It is more important how I play the piece.

Scale and arpeggios are of course good exercise to consider if you are not doing them already.


Problems with piano are 90% psychological, the other 10% is in your head.

13x[Linked Image]
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Re: Why am I struggling to play grade 3 pieces at the right spee [Re: Chemblue] #2769927
10/05/18 08:19 PM
10/05/18 08:19 PM
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 4,887
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malkin Offline
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It takes as long as it takes.


I've been trying to change my signature quote for weeks.

Re: Why am I struggling to play grade 3 pieces at the right spee [Re: Chemblue] #2769938
10/05/18 10:32 PM
10/05/18 10:32 PM
Joined: Aug 2007
Posts: 7,783
Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline
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Orange County, CA
What is all this fixation with grade/level?

Does it make any difference whether you are struggling with grade 3 pieces or grade 8 pieces? The advice is the same: Stop what you are doing and go play easier pieces.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Why am I struggling to play grade 3 pieces at the right spee [Re: Chemblue] #2769964
10/06/18 02:56 AM
10/06/18 02:56 AM
Joined: Oct 2016
Posts: 78
Worcester. Uk
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Wayne2467 Offline
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Worcester. Uk
Not sure if this applies to you but I’m finding that as pieces get more difficult the need not to take my eyes off the music is becoming more so. On the slightly easier pieces I could glance at the keyboard but on some pieces now if I do that then I lose my place in the music which results in not keeping up to speed and/or errors

Re: Why am I struggling to play grade 3 pieces at the right spee [Re: Chemblue] #2769967
10/06/18 03:25 AM
10/06/18 03:25 AM
Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 114
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Michael P Walsh Online content
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What's the rush? I guess the trick is to play it slowwww but still make it sound musical. Speed will come eventually. As someone once said: make it sound like Bach! You get the idea.
PS. One day I'll follow my own advice! There are a lot of us in an awful rush.

Re: Why am I struggling to play grade 3 pieces at the right spee [Re: Chemblue] #2769993
10/06/18 07:40 AM
10/06/18 07:40 AM
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 4,051
rocket88 Offline
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It must be something in the water...every student I have had goes too fast...much too fast...Practicing too fast, and advancing to more difficult pieces too fast.

I spend time during virtually every lesson explaining that they should go slower, that if they could control themselves and go slowly, their progress would be more solid and faster.

Don't know who wrote this, but it is true: Fast practice = Slow progress. Slow practice = Fast progress.


Piano teacher.
Re: Why am I struggling to play grade 3 pieces at the right spee [Re: Chemblue] #2770006
10/06/18 08:28 AM
10/06/18 08:28 AM
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 10
Uk
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Chemblue Offline OP
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Uk
Hi

Thank you for all your encouragement and advice. This is very much appreciated. Practice today was much better. Teachers not only give guidance but encouragement and confidence. This is what I needed. Thank you and bless you x

Re: Why am I struggling to play grade 3 pieces at the right spee [Re: Chemblue] #2770022
10/06/18 10:06 AM
10/06/18 10:06 AM
Joined: Sep 2017
Posts: 387
Toronto, Canada
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A few things I normally do in my practice. The first is not to expect a perfect run the first time I play a piece through. The first time is an overview to get a sense how a piece is divided in different bids. I'd break a piece up into sections and work on each individually. A 4 line church hymn I'd work on each separately before putting them together. A lot of times you are playing most of a piece well but always get stuck in a few spots. You can play reasonably well at a faster tempo but when you come to specific spots you'd slow down. I'd never run a piece from the beginning to the end each and every time. If I'm really stuck, I'd take out my phone, take a quick recording with the voice recorder and come back to my practice later. I'd listen for the places I need to work on. I'll go straight to the problem areas first.

When it comes to speed, I normally don't have to push myself unless a piece requires a very fast tempo. In the beginning I'm working on a section of a piece very slowly. After repeating the section half-dozen times the sequence get set into my muscle memory and I naturally speed up to the point I even play faster than the intended tempo and have to slow myself down.

Re: Why am I struggling to play grade 3 pieces at the right spee [Re: rocket88] #2770104
10/06/18 04:26 PM
10/06/18 04:26 PM
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bennevis Online content
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Originally Posted by rocket88

It must be something in the water...every student I have had goes too fast...much too fast...Practicing too fast, and advancing to more difficult pieces too fast.

"I feel the need......the need for speed." - Tom Cruise (a.k.a. Maverick) in Top Gun. My favorite movie of all time (apart from the soppy bits wink ).

I'd always enjoyed playing fast (and loud), even to this day, in my very old age (well, so did Horowitz grin), but my teachers made sure I tempered my need for speed with the pieces that really mattered: the examination ones of course, and the ones I needed to master to develop some aspect of technique, for which deliberate practice at all times and complete precision is key. With every little improvement in technique, the ability to combine speed with precision became easier.

It's good to have fun (which I never shied away from) and push oneself to go further than one has ever gone (I'm beginning to sound like Star Trek grin), and I had, and still have, fun with pieces I'm sight-reading and/or not taking seriously, or when I'm improvising and/or playing pop stuff by ear. After all, all work and no play makes Jill a dull girl.

The key is to work properly at stuff that needs working on (and slow & steady is mandatory, along with lots of patience and lots of time), then you can also have your play-time afterwards. When you have the skills.

Like this young virtuoso:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IPkNbuaSAg&list=RDe-atGn-5vrw&index=5
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-atGn-5vrw


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Why am I struggling to play grade 3 pieces at the right spee [Re: Chemblue] #2770124
10/06/18 05:59 PM
10/06/18 05:59 PM
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Moo :) Offline
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smile

The suggestions would make it seem like we only have fast and slow.

Also to play a piece intentionally slow, I don't think I have done this.

I tend to play a steady tempo when I'm learning it. I would only go slow down I was struggling or making slips.

But I don't normally try to go faster until its really well learnt, playing faster is normally the last thing, if the piece is secure you wont have problems.

I think perhaps its a problem with trying to speed up too early which is quite a normal and good problem to have when learning.

On particularly tricky pieces, I've gone too quick too early and its unfixable at speed. On these occassions I've gone really slow, but normally this is for harder pieces or passages, but this is not really my normal style.

So yes, in a conclusion, it is pretty normal 'struggle' to have. There is nothing wrong with trying to play fast and failing. You just need to adjust and work on it. It is very much a normal part of learning.

Re: Why am I struggling to play grade 3 pieces at the right spee [Re: Chemblue] #2770478
10/08/18 06:49 AM
10/08/18 06:49 AM
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Basingstoke, UK
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Guilty as charged, your Honour! I often try to play too fast. My teacher is always telling me to slow down and that the speed will come.

I would say I'm about ABRSM Grade 3, but I'm tackling a grade 5 piece (Burgmuller, La Chevaleresque) which has a couple of tricky sections. I've had great difficulty in getting evenness and speed in the unison semiquaver runs at the end. Lots of slow practice to get the evenness first, then lots more repetitions to build the speed. If it starts to become uneven, I slow it down again. It's getting there, but it's taking a long time!

Keith


Yamaha CLP 535
Re: Why am I struggling to play grade 3 pieces at the right spee [Re: Chemblue] #2771647
10/11/18 08:22 PM
10/11/18 08:22 PM
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MH1963 Offline

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I long for the day when I might have the confidence to sit and play something on the spur of the moment.

That said, I can understand why a business might say ‘no.’ For them, it might amount to someone disturbing their decor. Many places have a grand piano only for decor.

If I were a singer, would I feel I should be able to step to an open microphone and belt out a song just because I can sing? Or if a drum set is sitting there, is it ok to just sit down and play if I can? Most of us would consider it unusual if a person did either of those things. But it seems like we should be allowed to play a piano in a public place. It isn’t logical.

Still, I really want to get to the point I could sit down and play something!


MH1963

'63 Mason & Hamlin Model A
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Working on: Chopin - Mazurka 7 No. 2 / The Prayer - Coates Arrangement / Einaudi - Nefeli

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