Playing Broken chords/arpeggios are like practicing an elementary technical ex.
And it's essential to build 'elementary' technics as such b4 attempting more technically challenging stuffs. These tiny ex are like building blocks.
And sometimes, they will appear as motiffs in their original context. Take for instance, the mind-blowing, mech-speed, Beethoven's Moonlight Sonate, 3rd movement.
The opening motiff is one big sweep of C#minor Arpeggios or rather Broken Chords, which is deployed throughout in different inversions( as regan already mentioned ), and reinstated in different keys- to the sub-dominant, the dominant, etc and parallel keys.
So, this last movement would have been 'manageable' and possible if you've already mastered your Arpeggios/Broken Chords.
But often, one only takes note of hitting the correct notes at mech speed, without understanding the true intention of playing Arpeggios.
U have to understand the true nature of a technical ex to embellish its every ounce of benefit. Why is Arppegios a compulsory study for classical scales( u will be tested on this when u sit for practical exams )...?
The sole purpose of Arpeggios is to develop a good grasp of keys, and a strong, firm hand shape. And esp. so if u have really small hands, and wish to play technically 'impossible' masterpieces like Chopin's 1st Etude in C major.
The correct way of playing Arppegios is to work on the shape, not the notes. Trust me, examiners do not make u play scales for nothing, which otherwise will be meaningless. So next time u practice your arpeggios, try doing this:
1. Do a 'visual' and 'touch' warmup by striking and moving the fingers on the piano cover. Yes! The Cover. Do not attempt to play on the actual keys first.
2. Then, try getting the correct notes on the piano.
3. Lift and strike the notes with your fingertip. This will help to develop good pianistic tone and allow your notes to roll when playing hell fast. Trust me, u do not want to sound like a pneumatic driller when playing fast.
4. Now, feel the distance/interval between each notes with your fingers. Esp. so when u need to turn. U have to know excatly how much to open/spread out the fingers and how much to turn to, without any visual help. Cause, when yr playing hell fast, your eyes will not be able to help u much. The movement is simply to fast for the human eye to capture, analyse and judge the fingers spacing. U have to rely on the feel of the 'shape' as mentioned earlier.
Make sure yr shape feels and stays constant for each octave, no matter ascending or descending. So it's essential to use sequential fingering for every octave. Changing the fingering will only confuse the feel/perception of your hand muscles. IE : LH : 5,3,2,1( 1st octave )
then 5,4,2,1 (2nd octave ) is not acceptable. Caz everytime u change a fingering, u are in fact changing the size and shape of your moving hand.
5. NOW, comes the most important strategy : Close your eyes and play, with the hand muscles remembering the exact shape, and how much to turn to etc.
6. Repeat same process for the other hand.
7. Now, do BH. And try speeding up. And at this point, I'm sure you'll agree that yr eyes are in fact not of much help. Speed aside, how do u expect yr eyes to diverge their focal point and observe 2 different hands/movements at the same time? Impossible. So please play Arpeggios by shape. U'll be suprised how strong and accurate your hand movements will be in the future if u do this everday. Thank you.
Article taken from http://www.solomusic.net/forum