Robert Estrin - piano expert

The Benefits of Playing Music Too Fast

Learn how practicing fast can sometimes be beneficial

In this video, Robert tells you why sometimes practicing fast can be beneficial. Have you ever thought that?

Released on November 16, 2016

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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

Hi, I'm Robert Estrin, here at and with an interesting show, "The Benefits of Playing Your Music Too Fast." Now I know there are probably piano teachers out there and other music teachers who are shocked and horrified that I'd even suggest such a thing because the last thing in the world you wanna do is to play something too fast. Certainly in performance and even in practice, it can be destructive to play your music faster than you're able to. But what I'm talking about is not something you'd ever do in performance and indeed it is just one of many different tools that can provide a shortcut for you and sometimes open tremendous possibilities.

So sometimes you're on a piece and you just don't have a sense of what it's about and playing it faster than it even goes, you develop new techniques. For example, a piece that already goes fast and you play it faster than it goes, you must lighten up to accommodate the speed of that piece technically so that when you take it back down to the right tempo or an appropriate tempo, you feel very comfortable because you've learned how to to play it at a faster tempo. But even slow movements, for example, the second movement of the Mozart K. 332, which is a gorgeous, lyrical movement, you might think, "What value would there be in playing this movement too fast?" Well, you'd be surprised because sometimes you can get bogged down. Let's say, for example, you were playing this movement and it came out something like this...Now there I'm purposely accentuating each and every eighth beat or every sixteenth actually, so it doesn't have any sense of line. Now if I were to play it much too fast for a minute, I couldn't help but get a sense of fluidity. Of course, this movement is an adagio. It doesn't go that fast. But by incorporating the sense of line with a faster tempo, not thinking each sixteenth note, but thinking the line, I can play it closer to that first tempo and yet get a sense of this beautiful, lyrical singing quality.

So there you have it. An interesting tool sometimes to get yourself out of a rut is playing something at a drastically different tempo. Sometimes playing things much more slowly can be helpful and in fact, slow practice is an intrinsic part of music practice on virtually all instruments but particularly with a piano where you don't have the length of the bows you do in stringed instruments or the breadth as you do in wind instruments. Slow practice is something that all great pianists do on a regular basis, certainly with a classical repertoire. So thanks so much for joining me, Robert Estrin at and Thanks for joining me. See you next time.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Joseph B. Sarnowski on June 1, 2022 @8:26 am PST
What if you are playing a piece to slow? How do you know? Sorry, I am a mandolin picker. You give me a window into classical music world. But, how to you get the correct timing down, let alone make it through Vivaldi's Concerto in C for Mandolin and Orchestra. .
Robert - host, on June 2, 2022 @12:02 pm PST
You can ascertain a range of tempos that are appropriate for a piece by listening to several recordings of fine artists playing the piece. There are many practice techniques for increasing the speed of your playing. Here are some tips for you:




Laura Wahlers on December 26, 2018 @8:56 am PST
Thank you, Robert! It's always nice to hear someone affirming what I have been saying for years to my students, I.e. playing slow to learn the piece to build proper fingering and create muscle memory and then playing faster to instill lyricism, confidence and control. Love your videos! Thank you and Happy New Year!
Robert Estrin - host, on December 27, 2018 @3:52 pm PST
It's good to hear of the success you are having with your students - keep it up!
Oluwaseun Collins on November 20, 2016 @5:05 am PST
Thanks, love it.
Shirley Fraser * VSM MEMBER * on November 16, 2016 @4:08 pm PST
I had a classical teacher who would sometimes have me play a technical exercise very fast.... and then turn the metronome back down to my actual target tempo. It was extremely useful!
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