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Advice for practicing fast finger (and hand) movements? (Read 451 times)

Offline pegasusgr

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Advice for practicing fast finger (and hand) movements?
« on: August 14, 2021, 12:55:56 AM »
tldr: Do you have any techniques and methods that youíd like to recommend which would help to improve how one practices passages requiring very fast finger movements?

Hey everyone!

Iím currently trying to play this piece fluently (ďPermission to DanceĒ by BTS, arranged by Pianella Piano -
), and Iím having some trouble with the sections that involve very fast finger movements, for example 0:28-0:30 (right hand) and especially 1:05-1:06 (right hand) in the linked video.

The pieceís tempo is 125bpm; right now Iím at the stage where Iíve practiced enough memorize the notes, I know the rhythms and ideal fingerings, and Iím able to play the piece hands separately at 75bpm and hands together at around 55bpm (and these tempos are thankfully increasing the more that I practice), with the exception of the very difficult parts mentioned above.

In general, the way that I practice a piece as a whole is: hands separately until Iíve memorized the notes, then hands together in small sections (e.g. 2 bars at a time) at a slow tempo until I play comfortably and consistently, then gradually increasing the tempo (and of course practicing difficult parts more often than easy parts, as necessary), and this thankfully works for me. (But if you have any advice regarding this, Iíd still really appreciate it :D).

When it comes to difficult parts though - especially when the difficulty is due to speed - the way Iíve been practicing is first hands separately at a very slow tempo compared to the intended tempo (e.g. 50bpm) until I can play the notes correctly (I.e. with correct technique and dynamics) and consistently 7 times, then do the same thing at that tempo, but hands together. Then, once thatís done, I move up to a slightly faster tempo, and repeat the process (I.e. hands separately again until consistent, then hands together again until consistent, and so on) until the intended tempo is achieved.

However, Iíd like to know if you have any techniques and methods that would help to improve this practice method?

Please know that Iím not looking for shortcuts - I know that hard work and consistent practice is what will lead to success; I was just wondering if there are more effective ways of practicing fast passages to get your fingers to be able to play notes more quickly but still correctly.

For example, Iíve heard that practicing fast passages by doing various rhythmic patterns - as well as breaking the passage down into smaller parts, practicing those and connecting them together - can help, but Iím not entirely sure of how those methods work/are properly implemented. So, if anyone could assist in explaining more about those (or referring me to an explanatory video or guide) - as well as providing your own advice and experience - Iíd really appreciate it. :D

P.S. When it comes to very fast movements of the hands themselves (e.g. the left hand at 0:38-0:44), is there any more effective way of practicing the hand shifts other than practicing at a slow tempo until the shifts are consistent, and gradually increasing the tempo?

Thank you in advance for any help you give! :)

Offline nightwindsonata

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Re: Advice for practicing fast finger (and hand) movements?
«Reply #1 on: August 14, 2021, 01:26:29 AM »
Good post!

These kinds of passages you mention are a common problem for pianists. The most important thing to understand is the position of your hand--how efficient can you be when learning a passage? If the notes are all close together, and there is little movement necessary, then the speed of the notes is limited by the dexterity of your fingers (which, after a year or two of playing, will naturally get better and better).

However, the passages you mention require a little bit more than "fast fingers" (though that is a part of it for sure). The most helpful thing I can think of is to slow down and isolate the problem measures, identify where exactly your hand needs to move to hit the right note, and then practice in two-note sections moving from one position to the next. In the second passage especially, block the notes that can be played in one position, and then jump to the next position as quickly and efficiently as possible, taking time beforehand to identify exactly where you want to go.

This is the purpose of using various rhythmic patterns--mindlessly changing the rhythm from straight notes to swing will not help much unless you have a specific goal in mind for the exercise (in this case, building a muscle memory of moving from one position to the next). It's not even necessary to play the second note in a jump; merely finding the position accurately is enough (and better sometimes). Eventually, it will  flow together naturally as you slowly work up to tempo, but until then concentrate on maximizing each position as much as possible.

Hope this helps! I'm sure that some other pianists here have feedback or ideas as well (and likely better than mine).
Scriabin Etude Op. 8 No. 12
Bach Prelude and Fugue in A flat, WTC 1
Beethoven Sonata Op. 31 No. 3 "The Hunt"
Brahms Op. 119
Florence Price Clouds
Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No. 5

Offline lelle

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Re: Advice for practicing fast finger (and hand) movements?
«Reply #2 on: August 14, 2021, 01:28:07 AM »
Regardless of practice method make sure that your fingers are completely relaxed when not in used. Even small amounts of tension in the hand, wrist or arm can often block speed. They should be like cooked spaghetti. So get familiar with that feeling in the hand and make sure you maintain it during each key press. You can press down one note and then check your non-playing finger using your other hand to see that they are completely loose.

This is also one way to use rhythms where you play a one or a couple of notes fast and then stay for a long time on the last one in the group. When you hold and wait on the long note you can check that you are relaxed. But the end goal is that you shouldn't tense up during the fast notes and the idea is that repeatedly training yourself to let go of any tension on the long note should spill over to the fast notes eventually.

Offline ranjit

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Re: Advice for practicing fast finger (and hand) movements?
«Reply #3 on: August 14, 2021, 01:39:12 AM »
If you're only able to play the non-difficult parts of the arrangement at 55 BPM HT, the piece may be too difficult for you right now.