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About speed.
#487001 05/07/04 01:23 AM
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I have been playing almost a year now (no lessons). I feel like I have ran itno a dead end. I know all my scales and chords, but I have trouble finding my way around the piano (sometimes I have to think about). I was wondering what could I do to improve my overall speed

Re: About speed.
#487002 05/07/04 07:44 AM
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There's nothing like consistent, slow practice to improve all aspects of your technique.

Regards,


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Re: About speed.
#487003 05/07/04 07:44 AM
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Just keep practising and playing, and as you become more experienced you'll be able to find your way around the piano more easily.

It's important to practise slowly and get things right before you try to play faster.

Re: About speed.
#487004 05/07/04 07:45 AM
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What have you been playing?
I don't think you can make real progress without some kind of direction, i.e., a teacher.

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BruceD
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Re: About speed.
#487005 05/07/04 01:57 PM
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Slow and accurate practice is important. Don't allow yourself to make mistakes and especially don't practice your mistakes. If you can't play a passage accurately then slow down until you reach a speed where you can play it accurately and evenly in strict time. If you need, make an exersize out of it by playing through it in short groups of notes (2, 3, 4, and 6). When you can play it cleanly that way play through it in longer groups (4, 6, 8, 12) and then in longer groups until you can play it all the way through. If you need to practice hands seperately so that you can focus on teaching each hand how to get the to notes accurately and quickly. What you want is to get so used to going to the right notes as you read them that the action becomes a reflex - that you go to the right notes without the overhead of having to mentally figure out where they are.

Beyond these suggestions there are many techniques for the motion fingers, hands, arms, and body that will allow your whole body to participate in finding and playing the right notes. They will also help your sound production and expressiveness and will bring your playing to a whole new level. But for these you really need to work with a great teacher or mentor.

Ryan

Re: About speed.
#487006 05/07/04 04:19 PM
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Yes, it's a paradox. To get faster, you need to spend a lot of time playing things slowly.

When you try to speed up, do it in increments. Don't go from slow to concert tempo in one jump.

Finally, when speeding up train your mind to just relax. Tension will kill a fast passage.

Nina

Re: About speed.
#487007 05/07/04 05:19 PM
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Nina wrote, "Yes, it's a paradox. To get faster, you need to spend a lot of time playing things slowly."

IMHO the explanation is that the subconscious mind plays our fast passages -- no one can consciously think fast enough to do it. When Ryan referred to "reflex," that's essentially saying the subconscious mind is doing the playing.

Slow and even very slow practicing is necessary to teach the subconscious part of the mind what to do.


pianodevo
Re: About speed.
#487008 05/07/04 06:14 PM
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what people have said about the "slow" is right enough, but what BruceD said about the teacher, is I think closer to the target.
I don't know your situation, but if you're playing and "teaching yourself" without any outside input, I can see how the dead-end feeling would come about.
See if you can find a teacher that fits you.
Most areas have a "Music Teachers Association" (I'm not exactly sure of its correct name, perhaps someone could correct me if I'm wrong). Whoever is the current president of that association could help you find a teacher that would be well suited for your particular needs.

Bob

Re: About speed.
#487009 05/07/04 08:10 PM
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Beck,

I agree with BruceD and Bob. A good teacher will not only help you progress but your lesson time will be enjoyable. I am a retread and even though I had no problem reading and navigating Treble clef I really struggled with Bass clef. All due to the fact that I played a Treble instrument in high school (French Horn) and am a Soprano.

My teacher started me right at the beginning because I had been away from the piano so long and so she could assess my level. One thing she encouraged me to do was to use flash cards, which, in my arrogance, I thought was pretty infantile for a grown adult! Well, let me tell you, those flash cards really helped!

It’s little things like that a teacher will guide you with. A good teacher is worth her/his weight in Beethoven!

Don’t hesitate to find someone you’re comfortable with and have a blast!


Patty

A tired dog is a good dog.

Perzina GP-187
Kawai CP209


Re: About speed.
#487010 05/07/04 09:02 PM
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Hi, Beck:

Welcome! I've been playing for almost 2 years now. I'm learning that patience and managing expectations are important to my success as an adult beginner. My advancement isn't always linear - progress seems to come in spurts for me.

I find it helpful to periodically return to a previously learned piece and brush it up. Sometimes I'm amazed at how much faster I am able to relearn the piece, or at being able to express more subtle nuances, or at finding that a former technical challenge is no longer difficult. It leaves me reassured and encouraged - and keeps more repertoire at my fingertips.

Hang in there and enjoy your playing - the progress will follow.

. . . Linda (who agrees with those, above, who advocate slow practice and working with a good teacher!)

Re: About speed.
#487011 05/07/04 09:25 PM
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Hello Beck, as an adult who learned as a child under teacher's instruction and then quit and played irregularly and then had no piano for many years, I'm finally back at it. I urge you to seek out a good piano teacher who you are comfortable with. I finally did after realizing that I just wasn't going to pick up my skills to play confidently on my own. I found a wonderful instructor via the ASSOCIATION for Piano Instructors here in Toronto. I'm sure there are other associations elsewhere. I was even given referrals upon asking in music stores that sold piano sheet music. When I finally began with this teacher just over a year ago, I had developed many bad habits. It's inevitable and the sooner you find good guidance the better. If not, you'll just have to re-learn. You'll find you enjoy the whole process much more in doing so. I know it's made a world of difference for me.
Also, the others are right.There's no magic. It all comes with time and practice and taking it slow at first with gradual increases in speed. Get yourself a metronome if you haven't already and lots of luck to you. Above all seek out an instructor if this is possible for you.
All the best. smile

Re: About speed.
#487012 05/08/04 12:40 AM
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Thanks alot for the information. I have been seeking a piano teacher, its kinda hard living little old Arkansas. I have found one though. Thanks againg for the tips and god bless

Re: About speed.
#487013 05/08/04 01:15 AM
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I second the slow practice method, I rarely practice pieces close to tempo, but through slow practice, they end up more secure when played at the correct tempo in the long run. Your mind has more time to process and think, and it isn't only finger memory doing the work.

Re: About speed.
#487014 05/08/04 02:46 AM
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Originally posted by pianodevo:
IMHO the explanation is that the subconscious mind plays our fast passages -- no one can consciously think fast enough to do it. When Ryan referred to "reflex," that's essentially saying the subconscious mind is doing the playing.
I think this is true. After a certain point of playing just as Ryan suggested, when I finally really know a piece and CAN play it up to speed, even a fast complex piece, the surest way I can stumble and kill it is to have even a complex thought about it instead of just listening. I may think "build more here into that next bar" or some such, but if I think about fingering or even notes, I just kill it right there. But I didn't get to that point of just "playing" without thinking without exactly the work Ryan described. And I covered a lot of pieces that way before it became fairly natural to get there more quickly with new stuff without so much of that separate hands, measure at a time and slow.

With enough of that type of practice, you DO become familiar with the keyboard and much of the time won't have to think where your hands are and speed will come more naturally.

Most importantly--keep your hands anchored to the keyboard whenever possible, even if by notes and with fingers you aren't using (touching but not pushing), or by those notes you are using that provide natural position indicators for a group of notes of the moment so you develop a tactile sense of where your hands are all the time. I know exactly where I am by feel--which octave by arm position and which notes by the spacing of the black notes. After a time, even frequent and far jumps aren't a problem with enough practice and the ensuing familiarity.

Re: About speed.
#487015 05/08/04 10:41 AM
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i've mentioned this before in another thread, but a great way to develop keyboard familiarity is to practice sightreading hymns and force yourself to not look at the keyboard at all--do it all by feel.

glad you found a teacher. now have patience while your teacher helps you overcome the bad habits you may have developed on your own. that part can be painful, but in the end it is so worth it!


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Re: About speed.
#487016 05/08/04 11:01 AM
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I am not sure, but I wonder if the best way to develop keyboard familiarity is not to play our repertoire without looking at the keyboard.

I find that I look at the keyboard to memorize a few bars. But as soon as these are memorized, the next step is playing without looking at the keyboard.

I might be wrong, but the enormous motivation that we have at this particular moment must really help us get an "imprint" of the keyboard.

It is counterintuitive because this is the moment where we want to play the piece fast and well and playing without looking at the keyboard may be the last thing we want to do.

But in the long term, it might be a very rewarding investment.

Just thinking aloud, of course.

I have tried the hymns of course, but they really are not my cup of tea. laugh I suppose if they were really an important part of my "culture", I would love to sightread them or even play them in a church.
I am playing Tum Balalaika now and it moves me to tears. Yesterday, my youngest daughter and I wondered were we could get an accurate translation from the yiddish lyrics.

We all live through our roots, don't we ?

And we often have different (and often complex) roots.

Globalization is about sharing roots.

smile


Benedict
Re: About speed.
#487017 05/08/04 11:34 AM
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Originally posted by benedict:
I am not sure, but I wonder if the best way to develop keyboard familiarity is not to play our repertoire without looking at the keyboard.
That's what I implied but did not say explicitly as I should have said. That's why becoming familiar with the tactile sense of the keyboard is so important. If you're not looking at your hands and the keyboard and paying attention to the score, you must become familiar with the feel of two black, the gap and three blacks, and how that feels when your hands are in various positions. That tactile infomation can let you know at a very subconscious level exactly where you are without looking so that your whole mind can be focused on the score. So I absolutely agree--without looking. I steal a glance on big jumps in an entirely new and more complex piece, but only a time or two through, and soon not at all for even that as I practice.

Re: About speed.
#487018 05/08/04 11:42 AM
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Chickgrand,

You are speaking about sightreading or sightplaying and I am speaking about memory-playing.

I feel (I am still not sure) that memory playing without looking at the keyboard might be the most powerful way to unconsciously memorize the keyboard.

Curiously, while I am doing this, I do not feel at all like practicing my sightplaying.

I just did that once to test and I was amazed by the progress my sightreading had done without any practice.

I bought Clair de Lune and I have already memorized 6 bars. I have the CD of Claudio Arrau.
I love Debussy. It is such a sensuous experience, isn't it ?


Benedict
Re: About speed.
#487019 05/08/04 12:14 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by benedict:
I bought Clair de Lune and I have already memorized 6 bars. I have the CD of Claudio Arrau.
I love Debussy. It is such a sensuous experience, isn't it ?
"Sensuous experience" are very appropriate words for me when playing that particular piece. Playing very different types of music is like dancing very different types of dance. Some pieces are a hot-blooded tango. Some a delightful polka. Other pieces remind me more of running up and down dribbling a baskeball on the court in a frenzy. But playing that piece is a solo ballet where personal expression is not compromised by athletic form.

I do feel my deepest sense of connection with the keyboard and the instrument and all its potential when playing entirely from memory. Then I am entirely free to concentrate solely on blends of tone and time, and sensing the choreography for the arms and hands in that "dance" innate in particular musical form of the piece. The "whole body" feeling in that kinetic form and making the movements fluid but precise and using inertia and gravity to make it feel effortless and even sensuous like a dance are for me the goal entirely--to be entirely at one, dancing with the beautiful music, wasting no energy or motion.

I always finish with a couple of favorites I know that well to remind me what I'm working toward amid the other stuff I'm working on just to remind myself I've already done it, and can do it again with patience, willingness to explore fingering options and differences in attack to find the right one of each for the right "choreography". Then repetition. And some more repetition. And again tomorrow.

Re: About speed.
#487020 05/08/04 01:09 PM
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Then repetition. And some more repetition. And again tomorrow.
Spoken like a true zen priest laugh


Benedict

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