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Practice for fast passages
#2848787 05/16/19 12:17 PM
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Hi, after an exhaustive search of YouTube I have found nothing to help me,and my piano teacher is not sure how to even me out !On two different pieces ( of boogie )I have a whole bar of 1/16th notes to be played at 120 or more.While I can now complete the bar in the alotted time, the spacing of the notes is not even.In one piece it is a thumb move which is causing a stutter in the flow and I can isolate that and practice it of course.I do like using the metronome but I find above 100 it is too fast to keep track of and I have to resort to keeping track of every other note , or every fourth note in the run .Any suggestions on practicing it would helpful .

Re: Practice for fast passages
Simon C #2848978 05/16/19 07:33 PM
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Try letting go of your need to keep track of every note. This will become more difficult as you play faster. It's not impossible, but being aware of every note at a fast tempo will feel very different than it does at a slow tempo. Kinda like how when you hear someone speaking quickly, you can understand what they say, even though you wouldn't be able to count the words.

Re: Practice for fast passages
Simon C #2848992 05/16/19 08:01 PM
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Try playing the passage slowly, then gradually speed up until you can identify the exact location of the problem and analyze its cause. Pay careful attention to tension in your hand, wrist, arm, shoulder and body. Are you keeping your fingers very close to the keys or are you lifting up too high? Are you coming off all the keys in time? Try altering your wrist and arm position and the angle of your hand on the keyboard. Experiment with different fingering. Analyze both hands because sometimes a problem appears to be in one hand but is in fact, caused by a glitch or insecurity in the other hand.

In my experience, uneven playing is almost always due to tension or inefficient fingering. Good luck.


Best regards,

Deborah
Re: Practice for fast passages
Simon C #2849004 05/16/19 08:39 PM
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There are many possible technical problems for fast passages. Each one requires a different solution. IOW I don't think there is one overall/general answer to your question.

Re: Practice for fast passages
Simon C #2849005 05/16/19 08:42 PM
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There are many possible technical problems for fast passages. Each one requires a different solution. IOW I don't think there is one overall/general answer to your question.

If you can post the music or link to the score for the piece you mentioned, you may be able to get specific suggestions for that piece.

Re: Practice for fast passages
Simon C #2849031 05/16/19 10:10 PM
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Not sure if using the ideal fingerings is the issue. You can even try different fingers for playing to same notes to see if this feels more natural. Just have to keep playing slow with the metronome and try to get the evenness on each note with the same beat and gradually go faster.

Re: Practice for fast passages
Simon C #2849043 05/16/19 10:38 PM
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Start slow with the metronome, then play the passage with a dotted rhythm and a reverse dotted rhythm.

Rinse and repeat, work up the speeds on the metronome slowly.

Next day, start again on the slow metronome speed and work up again.

Slowly shift the range of the metronome you're working in upwards as well every few days or week or so.

This irons out the uneven rhythm.

That's my go-to method for fast passages that need to be played evenly. Works for me, don't know about anyone else.

Sorry better edit this and say - that is for the even-ness. However, as far as speed goes, I think you mark kind of marker points in the run and practise getting from marker point to marker point and then string them all together over a period of time. But then also make different ones that offset the original ones so it kind of irons out the joins. Josh Wright did a video about this, I think.

It's all ironing really. Can get to be hard work.

The other thing is don't get discouraged, a high morale will help you progress faster. On off-days, simply play slower and concentrate on precision.

Last edited by Zaphod; 05/16/19 10:45 PM.
Re: Practice for fast passages
Zaphod #2849124 05/17/19 06:47 AM
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Zaphod is dead on. Playing it as dotted rhythm is the secret to smoothing it out and really getting it under your fingers. I usually break it into clumps of four notes and play the first of each four as a dotted note. Then the second. Then the third. Then the fourth. It forces you to iron out any spots where your fingers are lagging or unsure (plus is makes practice more fun). I can post a video example if you're unsure what we mean by dotted rhythm!

Also, sometimes in passages like that, you just need to memorize it, because watching the music and your fingers at the same time becomes too much.

Last edited by Amy C; 05/17/19 06:51 AM.
Re: Practice for fast passages
Simon C #2849497 05/18/19 06:32 AM
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This sounds intriguing.When you say a dotted rhythm do you mean swing it ?
A video would definitely help and be much appreciated.
I can post the music if needed though I haven't yet worked out how to attach a file to a reply !
Perhaps I could email to you directly .

Re: Practice for fast passages
Simon C #2849502 05/18/19 07:09 AM
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Josh Wright shows the dotted rhythm at 6.02. You might find the entire video lesson useful

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LVnIhTgsL3Q

Re: Practice for fast passages
Simon C #2849631 05/18/19 01:13 PM
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Break it into fragments and then join the fragments?

Fragment = group of notes that can be played at or above tempo

Also hands-separate practice helps

Slow-motion should only be used after you can play at tempo to secure the technique and memorize

Re: Practice for fast passages
baudelairepianist #2849635 05/18/19 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by baudelairepianist
[...]Slow-motion should only be used after you can play at tempo to secure the technique and memorize


What do you mean by "slow motion?" Most of us cannot play fast passages "at tempo" until we have learned them through slow and progressively faster practice.

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Re: Practice for fast passages
BruceD #2849675 05/18/19 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by baudelairepianist
[...]Slow-motion should only be used after you can play at tempo to secure the technique and memorize


What do you mean by "slow motion?" Most of us cannot play fast passages "at tempo" until we have learned them through slow and progressively faster practice.

Regards,



Whiteside makes the distinction between "slow plodding practice"...

"This, too, has to do with forming habits that are not those demanded by a performance. If the tempo of performance is practiced only after slow practice has made the accuracy of detail important, the habits are for slow detail--not for exciting performance. Also, slow practice does not perfect the blend in activity that is necessary for speed; it establishes habits of slow plodding. The right kind of slow practice (and even then, in moderate quantities only) can be useful for establishing new controls to replace faulty habits."

versus "slow-motion" practice:

"The slow-motion picture of a polo pony in action is an excellent illustration for this combination. When the film is slowed down, the continuity in action between applications of power against the ground becomes much more evident than the actual points of contact. We see with such vividness the projection of the body from one contact with the ground to the next. It may not be easy to isolate the awareness of the movement of the upper arm when multiple actions are involved, but it is precisely this smooth continuity in progression with the upper arm (like the slowed-down picture of the polo pony) that is the action which initiates and maintains control when playing is at its very best."

---------------

Her analogy with the slow motion film of a polo pony is pretty spot on imagery in terms of what you should imagine it feel like.

I don't think people realize that there is a skill level involved in using slow practice that you can get better at.

If it doesn't feel like the slow motion scenes in movies like the Matrix, then your total body coordination isn't quite right. When it's done right, your sensation of balance and proprioception against the chair seat becomes much more vivid with the sensations of individual articulations being "absorbed" into a continuous rhythmic whole with a forward sensation that is "elegantly spaced out".

Re: Practice for fast passages
BruceD #2849711 05/18/19 05:42 PM
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easier measures can be played at tempo hands-separate while difficult ones have to be broken into fragments and then chained

This allows for rapid acquisition of "speed" which is far more efficient than metronome practice trying to bring it up to tempo

slow practice is not the technique that is used at tempo

incorrect "slow" practice results in speed-walls

slow-motion solidifies the technique and coordinates the hands

Re: Practice for fast passages
Simon C #2849792 05/19/19 01:49 AM
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The faster I need to play a difficult passage, the more slowly I practise it. That's because very slow playing makes it easier to attend to relaxation, which is essential to playing fast.

For me it's a mental thing, and usually has very little to do with technique -well apart from relaxation being fundamental to technique. grin

I also practice short snippets as fast as I possibly can in order to shed light on novel technical difficulties.

Practising with the metronome for speed is bad, I believe, as it leads to racing the metronome, which encourages out-of-control playing at speed. I find it much more efficient to practise at whatever speed is comfortable, and then I get a sense of what I need to do. Usually I go from dead slow to really fast without too many intermediate steps. If I have worked out any unwanted tension, the transition to fast playing can feel like the flick of a switch -but after a lot of work.

Sometimes I will find a comfortable but fast tempo, and then see what it is on the metronome, and then try and stay at that speed for a while. The metronome can be used to enforce my own speed limit.

Last edited by johnstaf; 05/19/19 01:52 AM.
Re: Practice for fast passages
johnstaf #2849797 05/19/19 02:37 AM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
[...]
Practising with the metronome for speed is bad, I believe, as it leads to racing the metronome, which encourages out-of-control playing at speed.[...]


I think that is an over generalization that doesn't necessarily apply to everyone. Why does practicing with the metronome "lead to racing the metronome?" It may do so for you but that has never been my experience. Indeed, some of my teachers have advocated a step-by-step increase while practicing with the metronome to get difficult passages under control and - eventually - up to tempo.

Yes, there are other methods to apply, too, and this is only one of them, but it's one of them that seems to work for many.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Practice for fast passages
Simon C #2849835 05/19/19 06:22 AM
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Thanks to everyone for so much help.I am pleased to say it has made a huge difference already .I think chopping into fragments playing them quickly and then stitching it back together is particularly good .Relaxation definitely helps as it is easy to build tension when trying too hard .Metronome probably has only a small part to play at faster tempos , and then mostly just for monitoring .The dotted rhythm method I can’t really comment on till I get a better handle on it .Josh Wright’s suggestion of Staccato practice seems like a good idea too .

Re: Practice for fast passages
Simon C #2850196 05/20/19 01:10 AM
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Also, remember that playing any note requires two motions: the down motion and the up motion (recoil). In my experience it's the ability to recoil that limits my speed. I don't consciously worry about the down motion nearly as much, and always strive to achieve a crisp/snappy recoil. If you practice with this in mind, you'll soon realize how easily your speed will increase without having to push your hands quicker. Increased speed should be the result of having better conditioned forearms extensors (among other things such as relaxation, flexibility, coordination, etc.).

Re: Practice for fast passages
Simon C #2850267 05/20/19 06:34 AM
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TwelfthRoot2, it is always difficult to put into words what we do at the piano with our fingers but I really don't recognise what you are describing.

When you play a note, unless you jab it down with an isolated finger, there is very little muscle involved and the key is struck by the finger, aided by the weight of the hand and arm. Once that has happened, you don't push and your finger holds down the key with minimal muscular contribution. You then progress to playing the next note the same way, and the release on the held key again involves the most minimal muscular effort and is usually cued by the striking of the next note. Speed is surely a function of how we get from one struck key to the next (i.e. it is a horizontal movement). The release is largely automatic and the next strike is not dependent on it. Your description makes it sound as if you are playing with your fingers alone, which is not a good idea...

But I may have misunderstood your description...

Re: Practice for fast passages
Simon C #2850285 05/20/19 07:42 AM
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Simon, there is a thread about the same subject going on right now in the Adult Beginner Forum. Maybe some of the suggestions there will be helpful. I listed some In this post.

It’s not all about practicing a click faster each time. It’s about learning the proper technique. Relaxation of muscles is necessary but not sufficient. I couldn’t play quickly on fast passages either, but my teacher has some very specific exercises for me that I listed in my post. They may help you, but your technical issues may be different.

See what you think.


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