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#1061385 - 03/21/05 05:30 AM How fast is fast?
ShiroKuro Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3553
Loc: not in Japan anymore
I bought a new music book the other day which has a very fun arrangement of the Tarantella played in the move "Legend of 1900." I am looking forward to getting started on it, except that it's really fast. The MM is 138 (for a dotted quarter, it's in 6/8 time) If you remember the movie, you know how fast it is, or if you just think of a very very uptempo tarantella... sigh.

Anyway, I was lamenting over this, and I realized that the fastest piece in my repertoire is one I play at about MM 104 (for a quarter, in 4/4 time) and the fastest things I'm working on right now are Hanon and Czerny!

My mother (who doesn't play piano, but always comes up with these eerily correct comments that sound like they came straight out of Chang's book) suggested that I should not wait until I'm "ready" to play faster pieces, but that I should just play the fastest pieces I can find now, before I get any older (thanks for the vote of confidence mom!) She went on to add that playing fast is a technique in and of itself that I should be working on separately (do you think she's been sneaking peaks at Chang on the internet?)

How fast are the fastest pieces you play? Are you doing anything (besides Hanon and the metronome) to improve your speed? Can you play this tarantella?!
Started piano June 1999. My recordings at Box.Net:

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#1061386 - 03/21/05 05:37 AM Re: How fast is fast?
jon-nyc Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/05
Posts: 2023
Loc: NY
I'm working on Ravel's Sonatine, 3rd movement. Its by far the fastest thing I've learned, played at around q=140-160, but has sixteenths throughout.

So if you notice in the practice log that I spend virtually all my time on this, thats why!
If you don't talk to your children about equal temperment, who will?

#1061387 - 03/21/05 05:39 AM Re: How fast is fast?
ShiroKuro Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3553
Loc: not in Japan anymore
Um, yeah, that's fast... way too fast for me. \:\(
Started piano June 1999. My recordings at Box.Net:

#1061388 - 03/21/05 06:14 AM Re: How fast is fast?
Linda in PA Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/02
Posts: 767
Loc: PA - USA
Hi, ShiroKuro:

I'm working on a few studies that challenge me to build speed.

Slow practice and gradual metronome increments get me only so far. Beyond that, I need to experiment with physical aspects of my playing to break through my speed barriers.

With one of the studies, I tried changing fingerings, articulations, hand positions, etc. Eventually, I found by raising my left elbow ever so slightly, I was off and running - with this particular study (q=120 with 16th notes).

It took me about a week of experimenting to hit on the adjustment that ultimately delivered the results I wanted. As I gain more experience, I hope I'll be able to solve these tempo issues in a shorter time frame. Not sure if that's realistic - time will tell.

I also try to break my tempo-building practice time into 15-minute chunks. After about 15-20 mins., I find that my frustration builds faster than my tempo. With the frustration comes tension - and that's a sure-fired speed killer (for me).

Good luck with your efforts. I'd be interested in learing of any speed-building insight that you gain along the way.

Thanks . . . Linda

#1061389 - 03/21/05 08:09 AM Re: How fast is fast?
Cindysphinx Offline

Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
I can't play fast with accuracy.

When it happens, it's just a fluke. \:\(
Vote For Cindy!!


#1061390 - 03/21/05 08:21 AM Re: How fast is fast?
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
i can play Mozart K545 1st movement at around 130-140 (1/4) tempo (while i may stumble at some spots though).

i used to play CPE Bach's Solfeggio(?) very fast, but i kind of forget most of it already...

#1061391 - 03/21/05 12:30 PM Re: How fast is fast?
apple* Offline

Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
it is really fun to play super fast.. It's my favorite thing. When you play fast you have to remember the piano is a percussive instrument.. practice air hitting it in tempo.
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, ├Ľun (apple in Estonian)

#1061392 - 03/22/05 04:50 AM Re: How fast is fast?
ShiroKuro Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3553
Loc: not in Japan anymore
Apple, I get that fun feeling doing Hanon. That may sound silly or something, but when I am relaxed and can just let my fingers run up and down the keyboard, it is a blast!

I think I need to do some things like Linda did and try to figure out if my body is in a position to slow me down.

Other than that, my teacher said it's just a state of mind. She says I play too "politely" both in terms of mental attitude and technique...

Anyway, I think I am going to start this tarantella tomorrow, on the page it's deceptively simple. Most of the time, only one note in each hand, so no chords, just blistering arpeggios in the right, (or they would be blistering when someone else played them!) and the left is just 1 and 4 (it's in 6/8 time) for three-quarters of the piece. I can sight-read it with ease at a much slower tempo... Just have let my mind go I think...

Here it comes again, time for "the Zen of Piano"
Started piano June 1999. My recordings at Box.Net:

#1061393 - 03/22/05 06:02 AM Re: How fast is fast?
markb Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/29/04
Posts: 2593
Loc: Maryland
I've been working on Bergmuller's Sincerity for a few weeks. It's not coming along too badly, and I thought that I'd be able use this as a piece I could pull out if someone forces me to play something. Last night, I checked the metronome and figured I've been playing at about q=98. Unfortunately, Mr. Bergmuller suggests that the piece be played at q=152. So, I cranked up the metronome to 152.

And I thought I was almost done with this piece.
markb--The Count of Casio

#1061394 - 03/22/05 05:29 PM Re: How fast is fast?
Linda in PA Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/02
Posts: 767
Loc: PA - USA
markb - I feel your pain. \:\(

#1061395 - 03/22/05 07:20 PM Re: How fast is fast?
ShiroKuro Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3553
Loc: not in Japan anymore
For at lesat the near future, I don't think I want to include any uptempo pieces in my "play casually for friends" list. With nerves, my hands get really shakey, and I can't imagine how that would affect me trying to play at MM 138, with my hands shaking like a 1972 Ford stationwagon trying to compete on the Autoban...
Started piano June 1999. My recordings at Box.Net:

#1061396 - 04/02/05 09:00 AM Re: How fast is fast?
LaPianista Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/27/04
Posts: 89
Loc: New York City
What is the rush? You need familiary with the piece in order to play it up to tempo. Also I have gotten to the MM speed and found that it didn't leave enough room for interpretation, and so I played it slower. it is only a speed limitation, it may not be MUSIC.. consider that. Why play something you cannot handle yet, in the first place. It will come with experience. If you work on your grade level, eventually you should be able to play up to tempo.. It will not happen over night.. Be patient with yourself.
The fastest piece I remember playing is "Rustle of Spring" Sinding and "Fantasie Impromptu" - Chopin... Don't worry about playing politely, if you have a nice interpretation.. That is your musical personality. I bet you are really good. Speed is relative to the piece you are playing. There is a wide variation in tempos if you listen to other transcriptions of the same piece and the ones that are orchestrated.. Play as you express yourself best.. Of course, there is a right and a wrong. But, within reason.. You don't have to trip all over yourself to play expressively and attractively...
To play the piano is to live again!

#1061397 - 04/02/05 05:12 PM Re: How fast is fast?
ShiroKuro Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3553
Loc: not in Japan anymore
"Rustle of Spring" that is such a lovely piece!! Do you know any other pieces by Sinding, I've never seen any, and I always wondered who he is.

LaPianista, you are right of course, there's no reason to adhere fanatically to the MM marking. But at a certain point, one wants to be able to have the ability to *choose* the speed at which a piece is played. It's one thing to play a piece at a certain (maybe slower) tempo because that's the tempo that feels/sounds good. But it's another thing to play a piece at that slower tempo because that's the only tempo you can get to! Then it is a limitation, not a choice. I want to be at the choice-making stage, hence this post, and my current speed-adventures.

And I am making nice progress, which is very motivating. My teacher actually clapped when I played the Tarantella in my lesson the other day! I should try to post a bit of the score here, it's dead-simple, but played upbeat and lively, a very very fun little piece.
Started piano June 1999. My recordings at Box.Net:

#1061398 - 04/02/05 05:39 PM Re: How fast is fast?
middlec Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/04/05
Posts: 36
Loc: Ottawa
The fastest thing I play is Chopin's minute waltz. I'm not sure what speed I've got it up to, I've never tried it by metronome. Usually the faster I try it, the sloppier it sounds.

Thing is, even when I try and play it slower, my fingers keep wanting to go faster, and it's hard to hold back.

I've found that it's easier to play quickly if you use a very light touch on the keys.

Signa, I used to play that Solfeggio too, but got tired of having to untangle my fingers afterwards. \:\)

#1061399 - 04/03/05 11:26 AM Re: How fast is fast?
SAnnM AB-2001 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/20/04
Posts: 2022
Loc: Canada
I'm counting on my teacher to give me faster pieces as he thinks I'm ready..... perhaps after I get my current arpeggio study up to speed.... For now I just try to play my pieces with all the right notes, tempo and dynamics.....challenging enough with Moonlight Sonata and Chopin Waltz in B minor... Speed will come....won't it??????

P.S. there are so many threads relating to logging and challenging time - doesn't it take away from your practice time??? I usually practice/play 2.5 - 3 hours per day (4-5 on weekends) but when I get online, I can spend hours browsing through the posts here (which I love)......
Just wondering....
It's the journey not the destination..


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