Practicing up to tempo and controversies : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

Hi to everyone, I'm writing from Italy and I'm 15 years old and studying piano at the conservatory and I'm a bit confused about the controversy about the "gradually slow-to-fast" and the "short passage up to tempo" methods

My teacher always tell me to play all the pieces and etudes at a slow tempo even when he has to listen my performance He wants me to practice small sections and devote very little of my practice time to playing the whole piece but he says that it's impossible to play correctly if I start up to tempo

When I heard the first time that "gradually slow-to-fast" tempo is a WASTE OF TIME it made a lot of sense to me but also I had not idea how to change my practice routine in order to make use of this suggestion

I've a Cramer etude (14 - from the Cramer-Boluw book) that is 4 triplets per bar - 2/4 at a speed of 92

My teacher wants me to start very slowly (50 or so) and increase the speed only when I'm confortable with the previous one

But those that suggest to not waste your time in this way by gradually increase the speed and instead playing very little sections (1 bar of even half bar) up to tempo from the beginning wouldn't agree with this

Okay, now I'm totally confused and I need someone help to keep practicing

The problem is that while (it's a new piece) I have or better yet I can easily aquire the technique to practice few bars at a slow tempo I absolutly can't and don't have the technique to play those same bars at a full speed from the beginning

So what am I supposed to do ? Should I start from the beginning to play all wrong notes for weeks or maybe the truth is that slow-to-fast practice is NECESSARY even when your practice in small sections ?

This isn't clear

- Thanks -

Daniel Nicholas Galfre

-- Daniel (, March 29, 2004


Actually, you should do both. The slow tempo is the learning tempo, where you figure out everything and get used to the piece. But I don't know that it's necessary to completely master the slow tempo before you start speeding up. You should be working at getting things up to tempo, in small sections, fairly early on, at the same time you are continuing to practice at the slower tempo. As you're working faster, for example, you may discover some fingering patterns at the slow tempo don't work so well up-to-speed, so you can figure out better patterns, then work them out again slowly. Meanwhile you can be doing "rhythms" i.e. ta-dah ta-dah and dum de-dum de-dum on sixteenth notes) or whatever it is you do to get things faster. After you can play the whole piece up to speed, you should still practice in sections at the slower speed to keep things "clean" and keep the piece in your brain as well as in your fingers.

-- anon (, March 30, 2004.

First, practice slowly until you are sure you know all the notes and have enough command over them to try a higher speed. Then go back and work measure by measure adding more velocity. It will also be helpful if you memorize the music as soon as posible so you won't lose time and concentration trying to read and play at the same time. Try thinking by measure, instead of "thinking faster" , instead of thinking four fast quarter notes think a long whole note so you will focus in a beat per measure instead of four.

-- luis gaytan (, May 14, 2004.

You should be doing both. I cannot stress the importance of slow practise!! It doesn't matter if you are able to play the piece up to tempo without any mistakes, you still must often practise it slowly. This is important for a number of reasons. It will help your memory and also your fingers' memory, allowing you to concentrate on the finer details (ie dynamics, phrasing, voicing) during performance. Slow practise helps keep a steady rhythm. If never practised slowly, a scale would tend to sound like double-dotted eights and thirty-seconds, as it is a natural tendency for our fingers. Never ever practise a piece up to tempo if you are playing the wrong notes. You must immediately stop and correct the mistakes. (This is, of course, different than performance, when you must never stop and correct a mistake during a piece.) If you do not, you will only have to retrain your fingers. This is what playing individual bars at a time is for. Play them over and over until you can play it without mistakes - not just once! but AT LEAST three times without error. Then try playing two bars without error, etc. Use this technique when you are already able to play the piece through slowly. Hope this helps...and practise slowly! When practising a piece, play it up to tempo once, then practise it slowly for the rest of the practise session.

-- Zoe (, December 07, 2004.

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