How to play fast right – a few tips

“I have good news,” is a phrase I often use when teaching or conducting an orchestra, “you play too fast.” It is a fascinating phenomenon that if we have to play fast passages, we tend to panic and play even faster. The results are often sloppy and uncontrolled, you just made it worse…
One of the things it has to do with is notation. But why is it harder to play this?:




Then this?:



Of course, in the first example there is more to see, more ink is used and the notes are notated more together. So I get it We tend to rush through the notes when we have to play the first example. Often I find that a player doesn’t really know what the notes are, the player just seems to be guessing what the notes are. This is where the key to success is hidden.

What can we do?

1. Slow down. It’s that easy. Really look each note in the eye (as if it were a person) before moving on to the next. Then focus on the airstream and make sure every note sounds the way you want it to.

2. Search for scales and chords. Most music is based on scales and chords, so your teacher encouraged you to practice scales and chords for a reason. When you recognize them in a piece, you don’t have to practice them anymore, because you did all those years. Simply write in your score which scale or chord to play.

3. Look for patterns. Sometimes a scale, chord or melody is decorated with extra notes. Try to find them anyway and it will help you understand the music better.

4. If you know the passage or piece better and can play it flawless at a slow tempo, try speeding it up. Make sure that you can clearly hear all the notes in your head while playing. I find it fascinating that it is possible to play really fast and at the same time hear the music in slow motion in your head. Try it, it’s great fun!

5. Use key clicks to study a quick passage. Play very slowly, tongue all the notes and use all fingers of the fingering to play a key click with the note you need to play. If you know the passage well enough, it’s easy to combine the key click with the tongue and it sounds perfect together. If you have some work to do, you’ll hear extra notes and probably sound like a mess.

People wrote books on this topic. So these are just some quick thoughts and tips that will hopefully help you achieve a fast passage with joy and precision.


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