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Fast Pieces - How? (Read 5586 times)

Offline RiskyP

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Fast Pieces - How?
« on: June 25, 2003, 09:14:26 PM »
Listen to a good pianist playing the fast variations of Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganin (If I remember correctly, the 11th has some very fast parts.)

It sounds, almost literally, like magic. It reminds me of the kind of fire crackers that sparkle. How can one possibly play that fast?!! It seems like it is faster than doing an ordinary glissando, yet it is obviously not that simple.

My real question is, what should one practice to become that fast? Also, someone please give a rough estimate on the average time it takes for someone to get this fast (I know everyone is different, etc. but I am looking for how long it took someone who has already managed to learn pieces like this.)


Offline Black_Key

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Re: Fast Pieces - How?
«Reply #1 on: June 26, 2003, 03:21:57 AM »
For me the fastest piece I've ever played was Chopin's second etude from Opus 25 and I'm not sure how fast the variations are, but generally speaking I think the best way to gain speed is to relax. Sounds simple, but as you probalby know, it's not quite as simple as it seems. I find that a good amount of memorization and dexterity really helps. Once your confident with the piece, the music will literally flow from you fingers. Soin order to gain confience,you should practice, practice, practice. When you practice, practice slow, almost to the point where it's ridiculous. This will ingrain the notes into the brain and you wont have to think about them often.

As for the amount of time it takes< i guess it varies from piece to piece. To acheive the level of speed of Etude 2, Opus 25, it took me a week, but  somthing like Rachmaninoff would probably take more than that.  And as for the pieces, I think you should just keep practicing the pieces you choose to work on. Doing suplementary excercises like Hanon can also help.

Believe me, the list of things you think you can't do will decrease in time. The speed will come to you. Everything will come to you with practise.

Offline ayahav

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Re: Fast Pieces - How?
«Reply #2 on: June 27, 2003, 12:50:47 AM »
When you are familiar with a passage so much that you can almost play it with your eyes closed, you can try playing it faster and then work it up to being able to playing it with eyes closed again, and so on ad infinitum. The idea is that during this arduous process you learn to automatically make the movements in one continuous swoop, as opposed to thinking about each one. I got to know this technique really well lately - in Chopin's etude op.10 no.4 (in c# minor), and than in Villa-Lobos' a prole do bebe in the second piece. it works. try it.
Amit :)

Offline RiskyP

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Re: Fast Pieces - How?
«Reply #3 on: June 27, 2003, 06:58:34 PM »
Thank you for the suggestions. It sounds logical that speed will come if one can play a piece with almost his/her eyes closed, but no matter how many hours I practice, that never really happens. Let me also say that I am working on relatively simple pieces. Do you think it would be a good idea to split up my pieces into very small sections, and work on those until I can play those almost eyes closed, then work up the speed of the piece by working up the speed of the small sections?

Offline Black_Key

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Re: Fast Pieces - How?
«Reply #4 on: June 28, 2003, 12:50:29 AM »
Definately. Learning the piece bit by bit is better than learning the whole thing at once. You can concentrate more on what you're learning and you'll memorize it better with more accuracy. Remember though, don't make the pieces too small (maybe 8 measures, more or less,) and make a cumulative practice afterwards where you play all that you've practices. That will keep the piece from counding choppy. Memorization is the key for me.

Good Luck!

Offline RiskyP

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Re: Fast Pieces - How?
«Reply #5 on: June 28, 2003, 01:02:49 AM »
Thank you everyone. I shall try my best. It's kind of hard to learn piano without any guidance, therefore I am glad that you people on this forum are willing to help.

Offline jdskee

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Re: Fast Pieces - How?
«Reply #6 on: June 29, 2003, 11:14:29 AM »
Quote
Doing suplementary excercises like Hanon can also help.


I agree with everything Black_Key said except hanon. At least, dont do hanon the way its explained to "properly" do hanon, that is "lifting each finger high and with precision." When I started to play again last year after a 6 year period of not playing I picked up my Hanon book and figured that would be a good way to build up muscle and dexterity. I ended up badly pulling a tendon in my left hand (stupid me) and now have tendonosis in that wrist. In a way it has actually worked out the better for me since I now find that both of my hands are very relaxed compared to how I used to play when I was in my teens and my Hanon book is out of sight out of mind.

Ive found the a way to build speed besides slow practice is to play with your hands completely flat on the keys. Dont worry about arch structure in your fingers, this is just slow practice anyway and you will notice when you play at speed your fingers will assume proper position anyway.

Concentrate on just pushing down the note enough to make it sound, and notice when changes of hand positions need to happen. Try to keep those to a minium. You'll notice that good fingering tends to minimize hand movement. I remember hearing Glen Gould's recording of the D major prelude from WTK1 and listening to amazement at how fast he played it. I spent a few days doing slow practice playing flat and I can get it pretty close to his speed now. I am working on sections of the 3rd movement of the Appasionata using the same method over summer break, hopefully Ill get some similar results.
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James Skee