Robert Estrin - piano expert

How You Make Fast Piano Playing Feel Slow

A useful technique to avoid the "hurried" effect

In this video, Robert shows you how to correctly play fast music on the piano.

Released on November 10, 2021

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Welcome to Robert Estrin here with a question: How can you make fast playing feel slow? There's nothing worse than feeling rushed, whether it's in your music or even in life. You're going through your day and you can't quite get caught up with things. It can drive you nuts. You're supposed to be able to relax with your music. So many people say classical music is relaxing. Of course, that's a subject for another video, which I've done, music is more than just relaxing, there's a whole range of emotions. But when you sit down to play the piano, you want to feel that you're in the zone, that you're not constantly rushing. To demonstrate what I'm talking about I want to play a little bit of the Clementi D Major Sonata, sonatina that is. The Opus 36, number six, and I'm going to play it in kind of a hurried manner.

All right. That's not good piano playing, but what's wrong with it? The notes are compressed. Even if I played at the same tempo, but played all the notes as long as possible within the beat, it's a complete different feeling to the listener and to the player. Listen.

Now, how do you achieve such a thing? Well, working at a very slow tempo, filling up all the notes for their full value, and I recommend working with the metronome doing this. So even at a slow tempo, you'll find that if you're not really in the zone, even at the slowest tempo, you'll be rushing.

Instead of...

So it's a matter of filling up all the notes for their full possible value. Now, when do players understand this in an intrinsic way? I'm also a French horniest. I've played French horn almost as long as I've played the piano, although I haven't done much with it in the last few years being so immersed in Living Pianos. But the point is that a wind player knows that you must fill up each note with the air for the sound to come out, and for the playing to be fluid, and to create a musical line. Well, the piano is no different. Now, it's not necessarily air that is producing the sound on the piano, but the analog to that is the wave of the arm in slower playing and in faster playing, filling up your notes for their full value. So, practice first slowly. And if you find that you're not quite with the metronome, find a tempo at which you can play precisely with the metronome and work from there progressively up, so that you can achieve that comfort in your playing, where you don't feel hurried, and the audience will be rewarded with a performance that just feels relaxing.

And that's the tip for today. Again, Robert Estrin here at, your online piano resource. Thanks for joining me and subscribing. We'll see you next time.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Carrie Cooley on November 10, 2021 @9:10 am PST
My teacher always said, "your playing feels hurried. Stretch the notes". You've given me a specific way of thinking about it. Thank you!
Robert Estrin on November 10, 2021 @3:59 pm PST
It's always the talented students that rush! It's interesting listening to pianists from recordings early in their careers compared to later as mature artists. They typically take more time. It's not that they can't play as fast. It's that they savor each note!
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