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Best way of incresing speed? #2805980
01/24/19 01:22 PM
01/24/19 01:22 PM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 165
Norway
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oivavoi Offline OP
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Hi all. Sorry if this has been covered to death in the forum before. I'm wondering what are the best approach for increasing speed?

Some background: I've been playing piano for 30 years, I'm now 38. I played classical until I was 16. Then I stopped taking lessons, and since then I've been mostly playing on my own or in bands - improv, jazz, pop, song writing and simple composing, etc. Which means that my playing has become quite chord based, and melody and "feeling" have become more important than speed and agility.

I recently decided to pick up on playing classical again. And I realize that my technique has taken a hit from all of this individualist improv stuff. The speed just ain't there. Particularlly in the left hand. As an example, I started playing through Burgmuller's 25 easy etudes. Lovely stuff. I can pick most of it pretty easily after a bit of practice, but I'm not even close to being able to playing some of it at the correct speed (the Arabesque, for example).

So what I'm wondering: What is the best approach for improving speed?

Here's what I think: I can either just play piece by piece by piece, engage both hands equally, practice again and again, and think/hope that my speed will pick up eventually.

OR I can do specific finger exercises which aim at improving speed.

What is your experience, or your recommendation?

Last edited by oivavoi; 01/24/19 01:24 PM.
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Re: Best way of incresing speed? [Re: oivavoi] #2805996
01/24/19 01:45 PM
01/24/19 01:45 PM
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Niagara Falls NY
ebonykawai Offline
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The best way for me has been to use a metronome, starting at a slow enough speed to play comfortably with no mistakes. Then increase bit by bit each day or two. Stay at the new speed until it's comfortable, then move up. Obviously fingering is super important so get that down from the get go, and keep it consistent throughout. You'll get there. Burgmuller is great, I love his etudes. Some are gorgeous, like Angel's Voices, Ave Maria, etc. They teach a lot of different techniques. Bach is great, too. 😊👍


Lisa

Currently working on RCM 7 repertoire
Kawai UST-9, Yamaha CLP565GP, Kawai KDP110

"Sometimes I can only groan, and suffer, and pour out my despair at the piano!" - Frederic Chopin
Re: Best way of incresing speed? [Re: oivavoi] #2806003
01/24/19 01:52 PM
01/24/19 01:52 PM
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UK
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Pianist magazine on YT lessons on gaining speed

Re: Best way of incresing speed? [Re: oivavoi] #2806045
01/24/19 02:52 PM
01/24/19 02:52 PM
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Warsaw, Poland
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I wouldn't worry too much about the indicated tempo in Burgmuller. Nobody plays them that fast, and not necessarily because it can't be done but more because it doesn't sound so good.


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Re: Best way of incresing speed? [Re: oivavoi] #2806051
01/24/19 03:00 PM
01/24/19 03:00 PM
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Sweden
Animisha Offline
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Godkväll geographical neighbour oivavoi!

Originally Posted by oivavoi
And I realize that my technique has taken a hit from all of this individualist improv stuff. The speed just ain't there. Particularlly in the left hand.


I have rather recently asked the same question and got good answers like the one ebonykawai gave you, but since then I have come to realise that one part of my problem with speed was (or still is...) bad technique. If your arms, elbows, wrists or fingers are blocked in some way, this blockage can be the cause of a speed wall. So if you notice that in spite of your practice, your speed does not improve, or not improve enough, I would take a better look at my technique.

Last edited by Animisha; 01/24/19 03:01 PM.

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Re: Best way of incresing speed? [Re: Qazsedcft] #2806058
01/24/19 03:08 PM
01/24/19 03:08 PM
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Finland
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outo Offline
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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
I wouldn't worry too much about the indicated tempo in Burgmuller. Nobody plays them that fast, and not necessarily because it can't be done but more because it doesn't sound so good.


And in the WieberUrtext edition it is specifically stated that some of the original tempos are unrealistic for a student on a modern piano.

Re: Best way of incresing speed? [Re: oivavoi] #2806063
01/24/19 03:11 PM
01/24/19 03:11 PM
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Finland
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outo Offline
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Sometimes you cannot play faster for physical shortcomings (or bad fingering), but sometimes it's your mind that cannot keep up. Different methods for different problems.

Re: Best way of incresing speed? [Re: oivavoi] #2806116
01/24/19 05:12 PM
01/24/19 05:12 PM
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Norway
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oivavoi Offline OP
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Thanks guys and gals, great advice!
Will take a look at those instructional videos.

Just briefly on Burgmuller’s tempo: ok, so I won’t get hung up on the indicated tempo smile Good to know. But my speed is still not where it needs to be. As an example, I want to be able to play the Arabesque in the same tempo as this guy, with the same kind of ease: https://youtu.be/aREB2y9ow_s

I’m not there yet.

Re: Best way of incresing speed? [Re: oivavoi] #2806138
01/24/19 06:08 PM
01/24/19 06:08 PM
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Moo :) Offline
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I would not worry too much about the speed. This is normally the last thing I worry about when I try a piece of music. You have to be able to play it well slowly first. I actually progressed a lot faster when I learnt to play slowly, not quickly.

I myself played this lyrical piece by Grieg, which has a similar fast moving scale pattern finished with a staccato that I think you are trying to learn. I could play it easily at a slow tempo. I had to learn to play fast and hitting all the notes when I sped up. This was actually very difficult. I spent most of my time to develop this agility in the fingers.

Fast, accurate and sounding like the version you want is was a difficult skill to learn in piano playing. It requires practice, teaching and patience.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CjiUmSt1bA

If you cant do it you need to find out why. You probably have not the scale practice I had but this would be the start. Even with the scale practice I had to learn another technique - taught to play fast with a drop and a rotation of the fingers - to play as the video above. Left hand is normally harder. This is where a piano teacher is helpful as normally you have to learn from someone who can do it.

When people try to force and play too fast, it normally comes apart, even in the skilled. When you hear Grieg March of the Dwarfs, most people play actually dwarf armaggedon where most of the dwarfs seem to be massacred. If you listen to this version, although I think the pianist it comes apart. This version is not what Grieg wrote. I think he played too fast. The fast runs with the octave jumps (30s) you see it come apart. I suppose it sounds exciting but it shows the risks of trying to play too fast.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7o7FSfQ9Ak

So play it slower, dont worry about the speed. Sometimes I leave a piece finished but at a slow tempo. There are times I cannot get it up to speed but can play it well slowly. With time, you can come back and quicken it without much effort at all. If you want faster take it to your teacher and he should be able to advise.


Last edited by Moo :); 01/24/19 06:17 PM.
Re: Best way of incresing speed? [Re: spanishbuddha] #2806149
01/24/19 06:43 PM
01/24/19 06:43 PM
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Originally Posted by spanishbuddha
Pianist magazine on YT lessons on gaining speed

Also there is 2nd video by Graham Fitch. I was just rewatching these two videos this morning. Good stuff.




Re: Best way of incresing speed? [Re: ebonykawai] #2806173
01/24/19 07:20 PM
01/24/19 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by ebonykawai
Obviously fingering is super important so get that down from the get go, and keep it consistent throughout.


+1 Super important that your fingering is designed for speed. What works slow might not work fast. Change your fingering if you have to, then keep it consistent.


-- J.S.

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Re: Best way of incresing speed? [Re: oivavoi] #2806186
01/24/19 07:50 PM
01/24/19 07:50 PM
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The videos are very interesting. I normally dont find videos very interesting but I think he covers most of the standard techniques.

I have not touched a metronome in many years but I think this is probably the most simply technique of gradual speeding up is the most simple strategy. I use this I think in most pieces.

Some of the things suggested - e.g. rhythms - are very common and useful. I normally do selectively for very hard parts.

I would say again the pianist in the video is very advanced and some of the things suggested are complex and may take a very long time to use in a piece.

I found that some of the suggestions were very interesting. I myself tried to learn rondo capriccioso, what he did with playing slowly but having fast movements, that was very interesting !

I did think the suggestions he picked were appropriate for the piece but I'm pretty sure not all the strategies work for all pieces. I would not blindly use these strategies. I think it is important to get some guidance from a teacher.

But thanks for sharing the videos, very interesting again ! smile

Last edited by Moo :); 01/24/19 07:52 PM.
Re: Best way of incresing speed? [Re: oivavoi] #2806202
01/24/19 08:24 PM
01/24/19 08:24 PM
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Posts: 150
Detroit
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Fidel Offline
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Originally Posted by oivavoi
Thanks guys and gals, great advice!
Will take a look at those instructional videos.

Just briefly on Burgmuller’s tempo: ok, so I won’t get hung up on the indicated tempo smile Good to know. But my speed is still not where it needs to be. As an example, I want to be able to play the Arabesque in the same tempo as this guy, with the same kind of ease: https://youtu.be/aREB2y9ow_s

I’m not there yet.

I know nothing about these pieces and this is the first time I've heard one. Anyway, relaxation, rotation, weight transfer and grouping should easily tackle the figuration in the attached video. For this sort of stuff I think of the music 4 to 8 notes at a time to avoid getting fingery.

Really you don't need technical exercises or metronomes. Relax. At your experience level you just need to think about the speed at a meta-level and avoid getting tangled in individual notes and individual fingers.


"the lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne." -- Chaucer.
Re: Best way of incresing speed? [Re: oivavoi] #2806221
01/24/19 09:28 PM
01/24/19 09:28 PM
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Focusing on playing with less tension and quietly has helped my speed a lot. Also, I practice not only rotation but moving my fingers in a more 'tickling" motion than plunging/pushing the keys down. Lastly, and this is important in my experience, isolate phrases or sections slowly to build up speed. I try not to run through too much material in spots where speed needs to be fluid so i often focus on just a couple bars over and over.

Graham Fitch has a book series that is really good. His second book on technique addresses speed and fluidity very succinctly with various methods of practice to help boost technique in that area.

Last edited by spartan928; 01/24/19 09:30 PM.
Re: Best way of incresing speed? [Re: oivavoi] #2806615
01/25/19 02:53 PM
01/25/19 02:53 PM
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Niagara Falls NY
ebonykawai Offline
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Originally Posted by oivavoi
Thanks guys and gals, great advice!
Will take a look at those instructional videos.

Just briefly on Burgmuller’s tempo: ok, so I won’t get hung up on the indicated tempo smile Good to know. But my speed is still not where it needs to be. As an example, I want to be able to play the Arabesque in the same tempo as this guy, with the same kind of ease: https://youtu.be/aREB2y9ow_s

I’m not there yet.


As they say in Yoga: " Do your practice and all is coming." 😊❤️


Lisa

Currently working on RCM 7 repertoire
Kawai UST-9, Yamaha CLP565GP, Kawai KDP110

"Sometimes I can only groan, and suffer, and pour out my despair at the piano!" - Frederic Chopin
Re: Best way of incresing speed? [Re: oivavoi] #2806682
01/25/19 05:45 PM
01/25/19 05:45 PM
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I use the gradual increase of the metronome a good bit as I'm learning pieces. Sometimes as slowly as up one bpm increments. Both for small sections and for an entire piece. My iphone app allows for a different sound for beat one so this helps me to know I'm on time all throughout the piece.

My teacher also suggested I not end small section practice on beat 4. She said if I am repeating two bars for example to end on beat one of the next bar so I get to practice the transition to the next section. So this is what I do and I think it helps.


First Lesson Oct. 17, 2017. Currently in Faber Piano Adventures Book 3a. Yamaha P-115. I play a little bass guitar also.
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Re: Best way of incresing speed? [Re: oivavoi] #2806818
01/26/19 04:03 AM
01/26/19 04:03 AM
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Originally Posted by oivavoi
I recently decided to pick up on playing classical again. And I realize that my technique has taken a hit from all of this individualist improv stuff. The speed just ain't there. Particularlly in the left hand. As an example, I started playing through Burgmuller's 25 easy etudes. Lovely stuff. I can pick most of it pretty easily after a bit of practice, but I'm not even close to being able to playing some of it at the correct speed (the Arabesque, for example).

For me at half of the indicated tempo these pieces fit the term "easy etude" much better and they still sound gorgeous.


Yamaha P-515 | Kawai ES100 | Steinberg UR22 | Sony MDR-7506
Re: Best way of incresing speed? [Re: ebonykawai] #2806842
01/26/19 07:37 AM
01/26/19 07:37 AM
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Florida
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Originally Posted by ebonykawai
.....As they say in Yoga: " Do your practice and all is coming." 😊❤️


The best exercise, I love Vinyasa Yoga. So smooth and powerful, you gain strength, flexibility and clarity. It really does translate to other areas of life as you allude to.

I had a teacher who pushed me to play faster and wanted me to play a each piece over and over for months until I got it faster, but offered no specific advise as to how to accomplish this. It got frustrating and boring to the point that I had to leave him for my own sanity.

I agree practice and relaxation are the keys. The specific practice techniques listed by Moo and by Graham Fitch are very helpful. In the end, a lot of time and repetition are required. I’m still not where I want to be in terms of speed. However, I believe that just playing a lot of variety and improving help with speed in any individual piece. Oh- and lots of scales and arpeggios.


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Re: Best way of incresing speed? [Re: oivavoi] #2806867
01/26/19 10:11 AM
01/26/19 10:11 AM
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My favourite way to gain speed is to play really slowly. Concentrate on each note, and then think of the next one. Do it in such a way that you're absolutely certain of each movement. Also got back and forth a few times on each pair of notes. Daniil Trifonov trills between each pair of consecutive notes of a piece, so he can concentrate on the transition between each and every note. If your technique isn't getting in the way, speed is all about the mind and not the fingers.

Re: Best way of incresing speed? [Re: johnstaf] #2806913
01/26/19 11:22 AM
01/26/19 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
My favourite way to gain speed is to play really slowly. Concentrate on each note, and then think of the next one. Do it in such a way that you're absolutely certain of each movement. Also got back and forth a few times on each pair of notes. Daniil Trifonov trills between each pair of consecutive notes of a piece, so he can concentrate on the transition between each and every note. If your technique isn't getting in the way, speed is all about the mind and not the fingers.
Yes, the technique has to be there in order for speed to sound musical, and technique isn't acquired overnight. Speed and technique go hand in hand, and it takes time and experience to achieve them. That's not to say we don't need to work on speed as a specific skill, we do, but fluid, elegant speed is a product of good technique and neither comes overnight.


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