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#1921733 - 07/02/12 10:26 AM The Slow Gene, do you have it?
Sand Tiger Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 990
Loc: Southern California
In the AOTW thread WiseBuff mentions the "slow gene," can you identify with that? Or are you a naturally quick person with high dexterity? It may be helpful to separate the brain from the fingers. For those that say there are no genes for speed, fine, I'm not going to argue with you. Go ahead and express your opinion, but go somewhere else to argue.

There are certain computer games, classified as "twitch games" where super fast reaction speed and excellent hand eye coordination are necessary to do well. There may be some that do well at those kind of games, and yet are still slow on the piano. In those cases, it may be other stumbling blocks such as sight reading, or processing the music, and once those hurdles are overcome the speed picks up.

My experience with whistles tends to make me believe that I have the slow gene. I am not the slowest, but likely in the back of the middle pack. There are a lot of super fast expert whistle players, as that is one of the primary strengths of the instrument. I can't play at dance tempo for reels and jigs, even after many years on whistles. I have yet to attempt any super quick piano pieces.

Some related questions might be for those that think they are playing slowly now, do you think that is more a factor of lack of musical experience and training, and can be overcome? Or do you think it is more a limit of dexterity and quickness and unlikely to make much more improvement? Are there any folks with ten or more years of solid piano experience that think they have the slow gene or at least lack the fast gene?
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#1921741 - 07/02/12 10:47 AM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: Sand Tiger]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3451
>do you think that is more a factor of lack of musical experience and training, and can be overcome?

I have to work hard (hours per day) and long (for months) on getting things up to what I think acceptable speed. So I believe it's mostly a matter of training.

But I CAN type fast already, that might help me already. And yes when I occasionally play a computer game, I often beat the kids at it :-)

I have only 2 years experience
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#1921742 - 07/02/12 10:48 AM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: Sand Tiger]
Sam S Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/07
Posts: 1407
Loc: Georgia, USA
I wonder if it's related to the slow-twitch versus fast-twitch muscle fibers in athletes? Some athletes have the fast-twitch, and they do better at sprints like the 100 meter, or stealing bases in American baseball. Others have the slow-twitch, and perform better at endurance events like the marathon.

I'm sort of in-between. I was never a fast runner, but I used to be able to sprint, and once was OK at hurdles (decades ago). But I have always been very well coordinated.

When it comes to piano, adjusting for my age, I think I am still fairly quick. I'll never be able to compete with the pros, but I can play the Bach pieces in my repertoire at a decent clip, after long hours of practice.

Another part of the big picture is how fast can you read the music? How fast can you translate from written page to performance? I'm not talking about sight reading, but after the piece is "learned" but not memorized.

Sam

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#1921820 - 07/02/12 02:41 PM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: Sand Tiger]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
I think it's just a matter of efficient practice. Could having great hand-eye coordination like that of a lot of fast-paced (twitchy) video-game-toting adolescents help in the cognitive process of translating what's written to the piano as well as maybe getting pieces already learned "up to speed"? Most certainly. The caveat with this, though, is what I'd believe to be a concurrent lack of focus and concentration (at least when starting to learn/play). At 21, I'm an excellent example of this in that I can pick things up relatively easily, but with the cost of a mostly short attention span.

This is why I think practicing smart is so important. If you know that your strength is in one particular area, then focus first on a weaker area, so as to develop balance. A good metaphor can be found in the realm of bodybuilding, or lifting weights when a person just works one muscle group, meanwhile neglecting one other - or what's more often the case, several others. The one targeted muscle group will grow and come to dwarf the others to the point that you're weakness(es) will become apparent to even non-lifters, or in the case of music, non-musicians.

Everything requires balance - to say or think, without hard evidence, anyways, that you've got something holding you back is likely only true in that, by thinking this, you're only holding yourself back. Sorry to get all motivational, but just wanted to give my two cents. Practice more, and more importantly, practice smarter to bring up your weaknesses and become a more well-rounded musician/individual.

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#1922033 - 07/03/12 12:56 AM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: Sand Tiger]
FarmGirl Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 09/14/10
Posts: 1893
Loc: Scottsdale, AZ
I definitely have the slow gene. Not gifted with either dexterity or musicality. One would wonder then why the heck I am playing the piano... Well, I LIKE IT. Donno why. Can't quit. Anyway, I was reading an article about dog's intelligence a/k/a dog's IQ. it's typically measured by how many times a trainer have to repeat a command until a dog gets it. If they apply the same metric to pianists, my Golden's will easily beat me. I'm not sure if I can surpass Shih Tzu (ranked 70th) either.
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#1922037 - 07/03/12 01:16 AM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: Sand Tiger]
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1269
Loc: Portlandia
I haven't got the quick twitch thing going. I suck at video games, but then again they hadn't invented the darn things until I was in my late teens, so I kinda missed the boat there.

But I'm great at stuff requiring tiny accurate hand motions. I've always been good at manipulating stuff under a microscope, and my other main hobby is knitting and crocheting lace with very very teeny tiny yarn or thread.

How does this translate to the piano? Well... better than it used to. Practice helps

But also very helpful has been getting by with a lower dose of certain medically necessary CNS depressants than I needed when i first started re-learning piano. Now that had really slowed down my reaction time -- one of the reasons I've always been shy about posting recordings.
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#1922043 - 07/03/12 02:15 AM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: Sand Tiger]
Sand Tiger Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 990
Loc: Southern California
Thank you for the responses. Something more tangible such as typing might be a better analogy. I have been typing for many years, and feel about as trained as I am going to get. I can type mistake free at about 60 words per minute.

A friend is a transcriptionist and does 200 wpm. Another friend was a music major in piano and can type 150 wpm. I am sure that those higher typing speeds come in handy when it comes to fast piano pieces. Most any beginner typist can take a semester long typing class and improve their speed. However, with typing lessons there is a point of diminishing returns.

Maybe there is a Jonathan Livingston Seagull moment for my typing and I can transcend and leap to 200 wpm, but perhaps not. I've been typing for many years, and at times had jobs where I type for several hours a day. So it is quite possible that 60 wpm error free is close to my top end.

Back to music, like I have said, I've been playing whistle for over 10 years. I am not a novice musician. This may be my first rodeo for piano, but not as a musician. I am not fast, not compared to top expert whistle players. That's why I asked if there were any piano players with 10 or more years of solid experience that still feel slow. I'm sure there are some out there. Perhaps some of these experienced pianists could get faster with more practice, but perhaps like my typing, perhaps they are already near their top end after 10+ years of training and experience.

When I was a student, I used to think in terms of working on my weaknesses. In hindsight, I think it was a mistake. On piano, I've decided to find ways to work around my weaknesses, and focus on my strengths.

I'm not going to be a concert pianist, a piano teacher, or pass the high level graded exams, or any number of goals that others may have in their sights.

I am going to write some beautiful, original, lyrical piano music and perform it live, and connect with live audiences. It may be medium to slow speed music, but like my whistle and flute music, I am confident that my audiences will appreciate what I have to offer. I'll leave the fast Scarlatti pieces and the like to others. There's oodles of beautiful music at slower tempos.



Edited by Sand Tiger (07/03/12 02:56 AM)
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#1922091 - 07/03/12 07:16 AM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: Sand Tiger]
WiseBuff Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/03/05
Posts: 797
Loc: Brighton Colorado
Yes...anecdotal evidence suggests that some of us have slow built into us. My typing teacher used to yell at us "slow hands slow minds"...how come typing was the only grade less than an A? Hmmmm? I did get up to 60 on the typewriter but still had occasional dyslexic moments of letter confusion. On the other hand...I could run fast (not so much now) and I manage a VERY busy and fast life...I can sing fast music... but the fingers...poor things.

Sand tiger...you're not alone with slow...a slow whistle is probably beautiful and so is piano.

Just more practice you suggest? On average I play 1-2 hours a day efficiently and focused on building up the tempo and my tone, my touch improves but the speed only goes so far. For instance...Carol of the Bells I'll play beautifully but not at lightening fast tempo. I mean I can get up to the allegro range but beyond that is uncharted territory. Now I'm not talking fast quarter notes. I'm talking 16th notes up beyond 160 bpm to the quarter. When some of you start a piece at 60 bpm I start at 30 to get it into muscle memory. LOL.

BUT there is sufficient music to keep me busy for my lifetime. Thank you composers for offering us music of all speeds.


Edited by WiseBuff (07/03/12 07:19 AM)
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#1922129 - 07/03/12 08:59 AM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: WiseBuff]
Oongawa Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/14/12
Posts: 238
Wow, this is fascinating. I had not really thought about the typing / piano comparison.

I'm a very good and very fast typist. I can type, including numbers and symbols without ever thinking about where any of them lay on the keyboard.

I recall the long and extremely boring typing exercises in the 7th grade class that brought me the skill: sws SWS sws lpl LPL lpl jnj jnj JNJ lpl lol lol jhj gfg etc, etc. Remember all those? We all hated them, they were just awful, boring and (I thought) stupid. But each repetetition built the skill of locating the letter without looking at the fingers, until we could read the assignment and type it without looking. Just let the fingers do their thing, since they knew where the letters were. First on the home row, then on the upper row, then the lower row, then finally the numbers.

So, I guess that tells me what I need to do to improve my sight reading - I guess it's back to scales, and similar exercises, huh?
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#1922143 - 07/03/12 09:41 AM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: Sand Tiger]
Andy Platt Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2375
Loc: Virginia, USA
Slow gene? I'm half tortoise. The other half is a snail.
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#1922149 - 07/03/12 10:01 AM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: FarmGirl]
Cmajor Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/03/11
Posts: 229
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: FarmGirl
I definitely have the slow gene. Not gifted with either dexterity or musicality. One would wonder then why the heck I am playing the piano... Well, I LIKE IT. Donno why. Can't quit. Anyway, I was reading an article about dog's intelligence a/k/a dog's IQ. it's typically measured by how many times a trainer have to repeat a command until a dog gets it. If they apply the same metric to pianists, my Golden's will easily beat me. I'm not sure if I can surpass Shih Tzu (ranked 70th) either.


FarmGirl,

As someone who has worked with and trained working dogs for over 25 years I can say that there are many variables in determining a dog's "IQ". Much of how fast they learn is determined by how well they focus on the trainer/handler just as students in a classroom who are focused on the teacher and not gawking out the window will retain much more information. Working dogs are all taught (or should be) to focus first, before even the "sit" command is introduced. Family dogs are often introduced to the basic obedience commands with little or no prior focus training by fairly inexperienced trainers. Professional trainers of working dogs can't waste time shouting commands at a dog who has "checked out" mentally. In that scenario, a "trainer" can shout commands all day with poor results. The dog has focused on something else and they can only focus on one thing at a time, just as with humans. It is never the dog's fault, it is the handler/trainer's inability to maintain the dog's focus on them that is the reason for poor response.

The things dogs taught me in my youth, about focus, drive, pragmatism, patience, persistence, the immense power of intermittent reward, etc. stuck with me my entire life and helped me immensely when I entered the field of aviation as a second career. Those early lessons continue to help me as I attempt to learn how to play the piano in my retirement. Overall, dogs have taught me much more than I have ever taught them.

Back to piano:

I don't think there is much doubt that some of us are gifted with naturally fast reactions. However, any high caliber coach will also list the ability to focus on the task at hand as an equally important tool. Those of us with average or below average natural speed can benefit greatly by increasing our ability to focus. We may never be concert pianists but that is not what most of us are after... we just wanna have fun, but we also want to be as good as we can be.

As many who contribute to this forum have noted, 1 hour of focused and organized practice is worth 5 hours of poor practice time. The fastest and "smartest" dogs I ever trained were also the ones with the greatest ability to focus intently on the exact task and ignore distractions. A good handler also organizes sessions so the time spent is most productive. This is where a good teacher comes into play (pun intended).

There are many "brain exercises" that can help someone concentrate more effectively and I suggest that increasing one's ability to concentrate during practice or a performance will speed things along considerably. After all, it is our "control module" that tells everything else what to do and how to do it... Memory should not be confused with focus, although the two are related. Often, a less physically talented team can win if they just play smarter.

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#1922199 - 07/03/12 01:22 PM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: Sand Tiger]
ProdigalPianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
One of the things I've learned from my current teacher is that the way to improve your speed is *not* to start slow and then slowly work up one notch on the metronome at a time.

Practicing like that does many good things, but markedly improving speed is *not* one of them. In fact, done poorly it can increase tension which will *lower* speed.

The way to improve your speed is one note at a time. Have your hands in playing position on the keys, and be very, very calm and relaxed. Then play a single note as quickly as possible (from thought through completion). Don't "mentally prepare" to play, don't think "I'm going to play really fast...ready...set...go."

Just "ZAP" from thought through completed action (using as little physical energy as possible).

Then return to relaxed mode. Then play the next note the same way. You can practice sections of pieces or just scales.

This can actually greatly improve your "twitch rate" (at least, as much as is possible for any individual, given that individual's limitations).

I've actually amazed myself at how quickly I can play some things, given that I always thought of myself as "slow". (dealt with tension problems all my life, too...this exercise is good at training myself to not become tense)


Edited by ProdigalPianist (07/03/12 01:23 PM)
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#1922268 - 07/03/12 03:57 PM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: ProdigalPianist]
chopin_r_us Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 874
Loc: UK
I definitely have it. I can read quite perfectly at a given speed, faster and it takes me sometimes months to get there. Things like remembering chord progressions in real time are a trial.

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#1922436 - 07/04/12 01:41 AM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: Sand Tiger]
Sand Tiger Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 990
Loc: Southern California
I appreciate all the comments. I find some of them to be curious, perhaps even misplaced. Those with the "slow gene" (if there is such a thing) will likely have more focused practices. So the suggestions about focus and brain puzzles might be better suited for a fast players thread. One response from a self-described fast person said as much, that he/she has issues with attention span and focus.

After the thread, my working theory is that most people have some kind of top end speed for typing, and likely for playing piano. Lessons, training and practice, and focused practice, can get a person closer to their personal top end, but there is a point where most will level off.

The hours needed to get to near top speed, might be at 3,000 hours like someone suggested on another thread as a base number to obtain proficiency, or the widely cited 10,000 hours for mastery. Those are relatively big numbers for hobbyists: 3,000 is about three years of one hour per day six days a week and 10k ten years. So the comments on practice do apply to an extent. A person won't get to their top speed without many hours of good practice time. However, a typist that has 150 to 200 wpm potential, might well be at my top end speed of 60 wpm, after two months of lessons and practice. It may well be the same on piano.

So following my theory, each person's level of proficiency, or mastery will vary, because each person is different. If the theory is true, the top speed achieved will vary widely, even if the instructor is the same, and the instruction very similar. There will be some that either get improper training and/or make poor use of their time (or miscount their hours) and don't approach their top end even after putting in time. However, I don't think those exceptions negate my theory of some kind of top speed for each person for typing and also piano playing.

There was that one very good, and concrete suggestion to just play one note, as fast as possible, without thinking. Then perhaps to elaborate that with scales in the same style. I wonder if that works for typing. I'll have to try it.



Edited by Sand Tiger (07/04/12 02:13 AM)
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#1922444 - 07/04/12 02:21 AM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: Sand Tiger]
chopin_r_us Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 874
Loc: UK
If I'm reading you right I'd say you're barking up the wrong tree. Neurologically, I believe, we all work at the same speed. I find it's more of a short term memory or more likely, a bit of left brain/right brain interference problem. I also suspect it could be a myelin issue.

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#1922540 - 07/04/12 10:53 AM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: chopin_r_us]
Cmajor Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/03/11
Posts: 229
Loc: USA
I think all the comments on this thread have value are indicative of a situation where there is no single answer that is correct making all the others incorrect.

In my personal experience I discovered that learning a piece properly by playing it slowly enough to use proper fingering and hit the proper notes works best for me since I learn the piece or song one time. The speed increases seem to occur in stages, rather than gradually but it does occur naturally over time without the use of a metronome. I agree that using a progressive metronome places pressure on the student and that creates tension. Tension is one of the biggest enemies of speed so just let the speed come gradually in non measured increments. The exercise presented by Prodigal would seem to be a really good addition to a practice session. I plan on adding it to my regular exercise segments and it was very considerate of Prodigal to share this tidbit of information with all of us "students".

I don't think we ever stop improving speed but that we do all have our upper limits in which progress will eventually diminish to very small increases that may be barely noticeable. It would be interesting to hear the opinion of a great concert pianist with decades of experience comment on speed plateaus and speed increases in very experienced pianists.

Chopin_r_us might be interested to know that several months back I was invited to participate in an eighteen month study of older adults who are learning a musical instrument and the effect that has on cognitive skills. It is being conducted by the neurological department of a University Medical School located in our city. The "myelin issue" is mentioned from time to time as are fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers as well as just where each muscle is attached to a bone.

One thing that has become apparent to all of us participating in this study is that speed is directly related to the ability to relax. A relaxed mind can better focus and relaxed muscles and ligaments can move faster.

We also learned that speed is useless without accuracy and, according to the neurologists conducting this study, accuracy must be established first and speed with follow (within individual limits). This pertains to any activity in which we participate. We are told that this is how our mind and body works so it is always best to go with the flow and swim downstream.

Participation in this study has been one of the most enlightening experiences of my life and it has helped me greatly in my approach to learning to play piano. I should be paying them instead of vice versa.

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#1922545 - 07/04/12 11:12 AM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: Cmajor]
chopin_r_us Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 874
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: Cmajor

One thing that has become apparent to all of us participating in this study is that speed is directly related to the ability to relax. A relaxed mind can better focus and relaxed muscles and ligaments can move faster.
Yes, I've found that. It's learning speed I'm most interested in. Please keep us informed on this study - sounds fascinating! Both the leading writers on the physiology of piano technique, Ortmann and Schultz, finished with a wish to explore the neuroscience of piano technique. Sadly, neither got very far but maybe that's about to change?

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#1922573 - 07/04/12 12:12 PM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: Cmajor]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5447
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Originally Posted By: Cmajor
One thing that has become apparent to all of us participating in this study is that speed is directly related to the ability to relax. A relaxed mind can better focus and relaxed muscles and ligaments can move faster.

We also learned that speed is useless without accuracy and, according to the neurologists conducting this study, accuracy must be established first and speed with follow (within individual limits). This pertains to any activity in which we participate. We are told that this is how our mind and body works so it is always best to go with the flow and swim downstream.


Amen.

Cathy
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#1922576 - 07/04/12 12:29 PM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: Sand Tiger]
kb fanatic Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/05/12
Posts: 19
Loc: Louisiana
slow gene, fast gene? I don't know. But something seems suspicious. After all, muscles are activated by nerves and electrical signals through nerves are extremely fast. Too much variation of that speed from the norm is indicative of a disease process.

I know, however, that it is possible for people who believe they have the
"slow gene" to learn to play rapidly. This was true of me. For years I believed I was limited with speed at an unacceptable level. But with patience (and a lot of practice of Bach at slow to moderate tempos, and Czerny) I have learned that playing fast is a matter of thinking every single note rapidly. When you can think the notes rapidly you will be able to play them rapidly. Of course, proper technique is essential and a good teacher indispensable. The hands must be relaxed and supple at all times.

Also, very clear playing usually sounds "faster" to the listener than it probably does to the pianist.

Most people are capable of far more than they typically believe themselves to be. Have patience and aim high!

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#1922580 - 07/04/12 12:39 PM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: Cmajor]
FarmGirl Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 09/14/10
Posts: 1893
Loc: Scottsdale, AZ
Originally Posted By: Cmajor

.... Working dogs are all taught (or should be) to focus first, before even the "sit" command is introduced. Family dogs are often introduced to the basic obedience commands with little or no prior focus training by fairly inexperienced trainers. Professional trainers of working dogs can't waste time shouting commands at a dog who has "checked out" mentally. In that scenario, a "trainer" can shout commands all day with poor results....
.

Back to piano:

I don't think there is much doubt that some of us are gifted with naturally fast reactions. However, any high caliber coach will also list the ability to focus on the task at hand as an equally important tool. ...


C Major, it was very interesting to read this. Although the thread is going toward "relaxation = ability to play fast", let me say that the power to focus or power of concentration is something I learned necessary to perform piano music well. We have to put our mind before our fingers. The moment I start thinking about audience or tonight's dinner, my mind goes and my fingers start rushing through with muscle memory only and I lose it. I fail to execute some spot in the way I intended.

I see the power of concentration in professional / seriously accomplished pianists performance, I observe the difference. Generally speaking, they are so much into the piece. I can see their whole body and mind are with the piano. I have never been moved by a performance where someone going through the piece half hearted. I might be impressed by their fast fingers or technique but the performance would not move me / speak to my heart.

I once read an interview of a piano teacher who taught a child prodigy in Japan. She was asked "was Aime (girl's name) very different as a child?" She said that she stood out in her power of concentration. She had an incredible strength of will power for such a young child. She was struck by Aime's focus, determination and concentration and will to not let anything bother her. Her teacher believed that Aime never had room for stage flight since she was so deadly focused on each piece.
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#1922595 - 07/04/12 12:58 PM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: Sand Tiger]
Rusty Fortysome Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/25/11
Posts: 194
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Sand Tiger

The hours needed to get to near top speed, might be at 3,000 hours like someone suggested on another thread as a base number to obtain proficiency, or the widely cited 10,000 hours for mastery. Those are relatively big numbers for hobbyists: 3,000 is about three years of one hour per day six days a week and 10k ten years.


Way off on the math.

1 hr per day, 6 days per week, 50 weeks a year (chop off two for math convenience) = 300 hours practice.

It will take you over 30 years of that type practice to get anywhere near the 10,000 mastery hours.

...sorry to kill that optimistic formula.

NOW, 3 hours a day for a year is around 1000/year. THAT is 10 years practice for 10,000 hours of mastery. And if you are really determined and geeky, you can put in a couple extra hours each weekend day making 4 extra hours a week and 200 extra every year.

1200 hrs/year brings about 8 years (or more) to get to 10,000 hours or play and practice. If a hobbyist is REALLY into it, I can see them easily getting brilliant in 8 years.

Don't forget that after about 2000 hours it begins to loosen up, 3000 (as someone said) is when the reading and playing really begin to come more naturally, and by 5000 hours you should be sitting down and having hours fly past you as you play and play. It helps to have a lot of theory behind you in those first 3000 hours, as well.
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#1922614 - 07/04/12 01:42 PM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: chopin_r_us]
Sand Tiger Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 990
Loc: Southern California
Chopin_r_us, How would that apply to typing? How come I type at 60 wpm after thousands of hours of typing, and my friend can do 200 wpm? You seem to say it is myelin or left/right brain interference? How does one overcome those obstacles? Or if one can't, how is my theory off? If those limits are hard wired, then those are the factors that play a large role in determining a person's speed limit.

Cmajor, that is very interesting data. I think I am above average in terms of relaxation for a beginner pianist. In my case, I believe it comes from flute training where literally no sound comes out if a person is too tense. That and my confident attitude when performing in public. If relaxation is a key, then meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, and other relaxation techniques might be ways to more speed on the instrument. I see very little mention of proper breathing when playing piano. Are relaxation and tension, areas that would be inclusive of proper breathing?

Kbfanatic, that is a great story. Perhaps there is hope for all that responded to the affirmative to this thread, or at least a percentage of us. I wonder what it was in your case that limited your speed, and what it is that limits the speed of others that responded to this thread.

RustyFoursome, thanks for the math correction. Those corrected numbers are sobering. So 10 years for a hobbyist (one hour per day most days) to get to 3000 hours and perhaps a proficiency level.
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#1922621 - 07/04/12 01:56 PM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: Sand Tiger]
chopin_r_us Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 874
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: Sand Tiger
Chopin_r_us, How would that apply to typing? How come I type at 60 wpm after thousands of hours of typing, and my friend can do 200 wpm? You seem to say it is myelin or left/right brain interference? How does one overcome those obstacles? Or if one can't, how is my theory off? If those limits are hard wired, then those are the factors that play a large role in determining a person's speed limit.
I don't think it can be overcome. It is the difference between quick witted people and slow witted people. The quality of thoughts are not necessarily effected either way, only speed of access. I'm quite convinced it's mainly connected with the myelin growth pattern in the early (up to 18 months) years with a bit of genetics thrown in. As myelin is an insulator maybe left/right brain interference (leaking) is also implicated?

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#1922639 - 07/04/12 02:47 PM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: Sand Tiger]
jazzwee Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7060
Loc: So. California
I've built up my speed quite a bit and now I realize that you really have to work those "fast twitch muscles" separately. I personally don't think it's going to happen doing the "play slow and speed will come automatically" approach.

The play slow works to a point. Of course you still need it to develop accuracy. But without the fast twitch muscles being activated (practiced), there will be a limit.

The approach to playing super-fast, I find, is completely different. You have to balance the effort of digging in deep in the keys (which you need for tone) vs. the need to use the least amount of muscular power (if you don't your fingers lock up).

I don't know if people are limited neurogically from developing the fast-twitch but since I'm a fast typist, then I figure I had it in me.

But to summarize my opinion: Playing fast -- It has to be practiced.
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#1922641 - 07/04/12 02:49 PM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: Rusty Fortysome]
jazzwee Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7060
Loc: So. California
Originally Posted By: Rusty Fortysome
Originally Posted By: Sand Tiger

The hours needed to get to near top speed, might be at 3,000 hours like someone suggested on another thread as a base number to obtain proficiency, or the widely cited 10,000 hours for mastery. Those are relatively big numbers for hobbyists: 3,000 is about three years of one hour per day six days a week and 10k ten years.


Way off on the math.

1 hr per day, 6 days per week, 50 weeks a year (chop off two for math convenience) = 300 hours practice.

It will take you over 30 years of that type practice to get anywhere near the 10,000 mastery hours.

...sorry to kill that optimistic formula.

NOW, 3 hours a day for a year is around 1000/year. THAT is 10 years practice for 10,000 hours of mastery. And if you are really determined and geeky, you can put in a couple extra hours each weekend day making 4 extra hours a week and 200 extra every year.

1200 hrs/year brings about 8 years (or more) to get to 10,000 hours or play and practice. If a hobbyist is REALLY into it, I can see them easily getting brilliant in 8 years.

Don't forget that after about 2000 hours it begins to loosen up, 3000 (as someone said) is when the reading and playing really begin to come more naturally, and by 5000 hours you should be sitting down and having hours fly past you as you play and play. It helps to have a lot of theory behind you in those first 3000 hours, as well.


I guess the "someone said in the other thread" was me. So +1.
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#1922648 - 07/04/12 03:09 PM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: chopin_r_us]
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1269
Loc: Portlandia
Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
I don't think it can be overcome. It is the difference between quick witted people and slow witted people. The quality of thoughts are not necessarily effected either way, only speed of access.

I think I'm a counterexample of this. I'm quick at repartee. When it comes to math/physics/computers, I can learn in a weekend what it takes a class a quarter to cover (and set the curve on the exam). When I'm solving obscure math problems, I see the solution in a half-second lightning flash (though it may take quite a long time to write it all out).

But when it comes to physical coordination, I'm klutzy and spastic, and a remarkably very slow learner. Always the last chosen for a team in projectile sports. Classic geek material.

But, (now for something completely different) I'd been following all the recent discussions on slow practice, and I've slowed down my practice when learning a new piece to "as slow as you can go". It's really worked wonders. So my thanks to to all you proponents of (and recent converts to) slow practice!
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#1922657 - 07/04/12 03:29 PM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: tangleweeds]
chopin_r_us Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 874
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: tangleweeds
I'm quick at repartee. When it comes to math/physics/computers, I can learn in a weekend what it takes a class a quarter to cover (and set the curve on the exam). When I'm solving obscure math problems, I see the solution in a half-second lightning flash (though it may take quite a long time to write it all out).
Maybe you're not. I'm the same with theory - it's a kind of vision thing isn't it? You can see the solution so easily and wonder why others can't. In jazz for instance I can hear the progressions and understand the structure in real time but I can't do the reverse very well i.e. take a chord structure from memory and do things with it in real time. It's my executive function - retrieving something from memory - not the vision thing - seeing patterns/structures, that's weak.

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#1922666 - 07/04/12 03:56 PM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: Sand Tiger]
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1269
Loc: Portlandia
Yeah, my experience also indicates that there's probably to what you're saying

At the piano, I've noticed that I'm more spastic when I lack an extremely clear and detailed idea of where I'm wanting to move. That's kind of where the slow practice thing comes in -- I can develop a clearer sense of... ?"destination"? for my fingers that way, which seems to resolve my tendency to just randomly spaz out.

And as far as some people requiring physical tasks, it's just takes me a really long time to get there. I think the spazzing does in general have something to do with knowing I need to move fast but not having a clear enough sense of where I need togo.

ETA: No idea what i was trying to say in the last paragraph laugh That's what i get for posting while drinking my morning coffee :P


Edited by tangleweeds (07/04/12 07:49 PM)
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#1922680 - 07/04/12 04:38 PM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: Sand Tiger]
rada Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 1124
Loc: pagosa springs,co
#70 for a shi-tzu....no wonder my husband calls my dog 'dope,e-o' his name is romeo....I love him just the same...


I never wanted to use any brain matter [ or myelin] to memorize the keys on a typewriter....I still look at the keyboard...

but the piano...I can play with my eyes closed....

rada


Edited by rada (07/04/12 04:38 PM)

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#1922702 - 07/04/12 05:53 PM Re: The Slow Gene, do you have it? [Re: Sand Tiger]
j&j Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/24/09
Posts: 444
Loc: Southwest
Only took one typing class during the summer when I was a kid. I don't hunt and peck and can type faster than my co-workers, but I certainly wasn't hired for my typing skills.

I can't play piano with my eyes closed, but can play much of my music without looking down at the keys. I do practice sight reading every day and since that forces me to look ahead it does help me play my small repertoire faster. It takes me quite a while to get up to tempo, but it's hard to blame it on genetics, or ability to stay focused, or the length of time I practice, or my wasted years when I didn't have a piano, or when I didn't practice everyday.

All in all, I'm probably the Airedale in the Greyhound race. Way ahead of the Basset Hound, but still far back from the leader (unless I get distracted by a lizard or a squeaky toy and then even the English Bulldog beats me).
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