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About Speed
#2954509 03/05/20 04:43 PM
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Hello, friends. I've always had this doubt and I hope you can help me. It's about how to increase speed in any piece. Some teachers say that speed comes naturally and some teachers say that speed must be push beyond limits. For example now I'm practicing Beethoven Moonlight Sonata. Do you suggest to practice the 3rd movement slowly, let's say quarter 80, and increase speed up to 140 in one practice session and repeat it the next days? Or should I practice in a comfortable speed always, maybe quarter 120, and wait until speed come by itself naturally?

Re: About Speed
Shinobi #2954528 03/05/20 05:31 PM
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I would never practice a fast passage any faster than I can play it comfortably and without mistakes. That said, I may momentarily take a stab at a fast tempo to see how my slower practice is "working," but I never seriously practice at a fast tempo that allows mistakes to occur.

This certainly wouldn't work for me, doing this much of an increase in one session would surely lead to mistakes: ... let's say quarter 80, and increase speed up to 140 in one practice session and repeat it the next days... and if you can already play it at 140 why would you be playing it at 80?

One of my former teachers always maintained: "Slow practice leads to fast playing." Of course that statement needed some refining in the detail, such as making sure you have fingering that works for the ultimate performance tempo. Often the fingering that can be used for slow playing will not work when a passage is brought up to speed, so one needs to practice with the appropriate fingering.

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Re: About Speed
BruceD #2954529 03/05/20 05:39 PM
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Thank you, sir. Actually I can play it in 150 but kind of uncomfortable. The comfortable speed for me is 120 or 130, but I'd like to push it so I can play much faster. Would you recommend me to stick practicing in my comfortable speed (120) and wait until a much faster Tempo comes naturally?

Last edited by Shinobi; 03/05/20 05:42 PM.
Re: About Speed
Shinobi #2954536 03/05/20 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Shinobi
Or should I practice in a comfortable speed always, maybe quarter 120, and wait until speed come by itself naturally?

Speed will come naturally - but only if you keep pushing yourself, testing yourself, on a regular basis.

In other words, you have to train for speed, in short bursts, to get your fingers (and hands and arms) accustomed to moving quickly. You will feel uncomfortable, because you will feel like you're on the verge of losing control every time you play right at (or just beyond) your speed limit, but it will become more and more comfortable with time, and what was once fast to you will feel very moderate in a year's time.

When you push the speed, make sure that what you're playing is not totally out of control, and a mess: it should feel like you're just about to lose control, but not quite; and all the notes should still be there, not scrambled or totally blurred or uneven. Then slow back down again until you feel completely in control. By repeating the whole process on a regular basis, you train your playing apparatus to move fast, and keep accuracy while doing so.

If you're a runner, that's known as running 'intervals' to build up speed. whistle

Of course, in piano playing, there's a lot more to speed than just speed, if you get my drift. As BruceD said, you have to have the right fingering to allow you to play fast without sacrificing accuracy and control, so don't be afraid to change the fingering if you find that the ones you used previously don't work at fast speeds. With experience, you'll be able to find the right fingering to use right from the start, if you know the speed at which you're going to eventually play the piece.


"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: About Speed
bennevis #2954589 03/05/20 07:58 PM
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Thank you very very much, Mister Bennevis, you have helped me a lot. I really appreciate your kind help.

Last edited by Shinobi; 03/05/20 08:00 PM.
Re: About Speed
Shinobi #2954598 03/05/20 08:45 PM
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Josh Wright did a few videos on increasing speed:


When learning the right notes, I'd get the speed way down and play with a metronome until I hit all the notes and then bring the speed up gradually by 3 - 5 beats per minute until the ideal speed.

You may not be able to get pass a certain # beats per minute when you learn a piece. Relaxation and hitting the keys just enough to make a sound and then release is the way to go.

Re: About Speed
Shinobi #2954797 03/06/20 01:03 PM
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hands-separate practice above final tempo for "speed" since you're forced to work in small fragments and have to figure out the most efficient movement and fingering

hands-together slow-motion practice for coordination then at tempo to solidify

amalgamate fragments into ever larger sections though too large and you waste time and effort


slow practice with metronome is inefficient because you'll run into speed walls and it's as ridiculous as incrementally increasing your walking speed to run

Re: About Speed
baudelairepianist #2954839 03/06/20 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by baudelairepianist
[...]slow practice with metronome is inefficient because you'll run into speed walls and it's as ridiculous as incrementally increasing your walking speed to run


That analogy doesn't work for obvious reasons.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: About Speed
Shinobi #2954913 03/06/20 06:11 PM
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I would agree with slow practice. I would also agree once you have got is solid at a slow tempo you need other sort of practice to increase the speed. It is a very simplistic idea to just increase the tempo on a metronome. I normally have been taught to practice in rhythms and especially to focus practice on the challenging passages. So practice short-long and long-short is really helpful. Moonlight 3rd movement however has so many other challenges. I suggest you discuss with your teacher. My teacher said once something about thumb collection when you play the arpeggios start. I think you have to be quite solid in your technique to be able to play this piece so unless you are particularly talented I dont think the you should force the speed for this piece at the expense of accuracy. It will be a hard piece to learn. Good luck.

Last edited by Moo :); 03/06/20 06:14 PM.
Re: About Speed
Shinobi #2954923 03/06/20 06:28 PM
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I am unsure why everyone is suggesting playing with the metronome. Are these suggestions from people who have played moonlight sonata 3? It is above my standard so can only manage at best a very slow play through. I would have I'm sure if you can play this standard practice you should not need any metronomes just to keep the time. I could understand maybe play the metronome for a few beats and when you have the time you can play without it. That is the only time I used to use a metronome to get an idea of the pace required. Surely if you are at the standard where you can play this piece you should be able to keep time without the tick of a metronome. I think playing with a metronome would encourage a very robotic learning. It is very far from the style of the period to play it with no rubato at all to keep up with a metronome. It just seems an odd suggestion to someone who is skilled enough to play this. I would be interested to hear other views.

Last edited by Moo :); 03/06/20 06:31 PM.
Re: About Speed
Moo :) #2955004 03/07/20 12:31 AM
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Metronome practice is still used and recommended by teachers to increase speed.
They will add a few ticks at time over several weeks if not months to get to the goal tempo which would explain why so many quit or end up with injuries since so much time and effort is wasted.

Re: About Speed
baudelairepianist #2955043 03/07/20 05:58 AM
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Originally Posted by baudelairepianist
Metronome practice is still used and recommended by teachers to increase speed.
They will add a few ticks at time over several weeks if not months to get to the goal tempo which would explain why so many quit or end up with injuries since so much time and effort is wasted.


I have never read or seen any documentation or even anecdotal stories that practicing with a metronome causes injuries. Those that use a metronome use it to check consistency, check progress in tempo. It is not used in practice so consistently that it eliminates rubato. That is not the purpose.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Re: About Speed
Shinobi #2955062 03/07/20 09:09 AM
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I think at some point, you have to realize you might never play as fast as you want to as we are limited by biology sometimes. It’s like running or any other sport. Some people have higher ceilings than others.

Re: About Speed
Shinobi #2955078 03/07/20 10:28 AM
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It seems to me there are two separate reasons one can't play a piece very fast: 1. unfamiliar with the notes. 2. don't have enough speed in your fingers (hand, arm). Let's say you can play scales, arpeggios and technical exercises super fast, then you know you can move that fast. You just need to become really familar with the piece. If you haven't trained for speed on scales and exercises separately, then you'd be working on that using the piece you're learning which means you'd be addressing two issues at the same time.

The Moonlight Sonata 3rd movement, I think those who play technical exercises recognize patterns they've seen before and which they are able to play at presto, the body knows how to move. They would then have an edge on playing this piece faster. You put in the work either previously or as needed. Whatever works best for you.

Re: About Speed
boo1234 #2955221 03/07/20 08:19 PM
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Trying to increase ticks from 100 to 160 will result in (RSI) since so much time and effort is spent on one piece.
This is a common problem with people who practice slow and then use the metronome to bring it up to tempo by adding a few ticks everyday when tackling virtuoso repertoire like Chopin etude 10.12.

Originally Posted by boo1234
I think at some point, you have to realize you might never play as fast as you want to as we are limited by biology sometimes. It’s like running or any other sport. Some people have higher ceilings than others.


The standard performance speed is attainable by anyone unless you have some disability though flashy performances like Shishkin would be in a "higher ceiling" though there are a multitude of factors aside from biology that allow for such a feat.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=of_afnCe4IE

Re: About Speed
baudelairepianist #2955235 03/07/20 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by baudelairepianist
Trying to increase ticks from 100 to 160 will result in (RSI) since so much time and effort is spent on one piece.
This is a common problem with people who practice slow and then use the metronome to bring it up to tempo by adding a few ticks everyday when tackling virtuoso repertoire like Chopin etude 10.12.

The standard performance speed is attainable by anyone unless you have some disability though flashy performances like Shishkin would be in a "higher ceiling" though there are a multitude of factors aside from biology that allow for such a feat.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=of_afnCe4IE
I think it's impossible to know what percent of people could play Chopin 10/12 well if they practiced enough and had excellent teachers. What I think is possible to estimate is what percent actually ever reach a skill level where they could play that piece. I think it's less than 1%. Whether a lot more people would reach that level with a lot of practice and great teachers...who knows?

Re: About Speed
Shinobi #2955238 03/07/20 09:12 PM
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I think two of the most important things haven't been mentioned yet.
1. One cannot just speed up by some general method(gradual increase with metronome, chunking)unless one's technique is correct. If one's basic scale technique at a moderate speed is poor/incorrect, the chance of getting a fast scalar passage up to desired speed using increments on a metronome is very small.

2. For every technical problem one has to try to figure out a solution and/or practice techniques. Getting scalar passages fast is not the same thing as getting octaves fast is not the same as getting jumps fast etc.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 03/07/20 09:16 PM.
Re: About Speed
baudelairepianist #2955241 03/07/20 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by baudelairepianist
Trying to increase ticks from 100 to 160 will result in (RSI) since so much time and effort is spent on one piece.
This is a common problem with people who practice slow and then use the metronome to bring it up to tempo by adding a few ticks everyday when tackling virtuoso repertoire like Chopin etude 10.12.

[...]


This could be considered as a response without much thought behind it.

No pianist with any degree of experience and any amount of intelligence is going to practice this way for hours on end for days and weeks at a stretch on one single piece. As part of one's daily routine, whatever the repertoire is, moderation - especially in demanding works - is the key to injury-free progress. With that, a metronome is a tool that can be helpful in several ways if used wisely.

Ten to fifteen minutes of one's practice time on difficult and challenging sections of a piece could profitably be spent bringing a work up to speed over time; but it doesn't mean that that one work is all one is preparing and practicing. No "time and effort" is wasted if practicing is done sensibly and intelligently.

I don't know anyone who spends all his/her time working on one piece for extended periods of time; that is senseless.

Regards,


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Re: About Speed
pianoloverus #2955276 03/08/20 01:38 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I think two of the most important things haven't been mentioned yet.
1. One cannot just speed up by some general method(gradual increase with metronome, chunking)unless one's technique is correct. If one's basic scale technique at a moderate speed is poor/incorrect, the chance of getting a fast scalar passage up to desired speed using increments on a metronome is very small.

2. For every technical problem one has to try to figure out a solution and/or practice techniques. Getting scalar passages fast is not the same thing as getting octaves fast is not the same as getting jumps fast etc.


^^ This. Acquiring speed is not just a matter of endless repetition and dialing up the metronome.

Re: About Speed
bennevis #2955287 03/08/20 03:25 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by Shinobi
Or should I practice in a comfortable speed always, maybe quarter 120, and wait until speed come by itself naturally?

Speed will come naturally - but only if you keep pushing yourself, testing yourself, on a regular basis.

In other words, you have to train for speed, in short bursts, to get your fingers (and hands and arms) accustomed to moving quickly. You will feel uncomfortable, because you will feel like you're on the verge of losing control every time you play right at (or just beyond) your speed limit, but it will become more and more comfortable with time, and what was once fast to you will feel very moderate in a year's time.

When you push the speed, make sure that what you're playing is not totally out of control, and a mess: it should feel like you're just about to lose control, but not quite; and all the notes should still be there, not scrambled or totally blurred or uneven. Then slow back down again until you feel completely in control. By repeating the whole process on a regular basis, you train your playing apparatus to move fast, and keep accuracy while doing so.

If you're a runner, that's known as running 'intervals' to build up speed. whistle

Of course, in piano playing, there's a lot more to speed than just speed, if you get my drift. As BruceD said, you have to have the right fingering to allow you to play fast without sacrificing accuracy and control, so don't be afraid to change the fingering if you find that the ones you used previously don't work at fast speeds. With experience, you'll be able to find the right fingering to use right from the start, if you know the speed at which you're going to eventually play the piece.


I just wanted to say that I agreed with every word of this. I have also been practicing getting more speed on a piece and I couldn't have said it better-this is great advice.
To the OP it would be nice to hear you report back in a months' time or so to see what/if anything worked for you!

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