Robert Estrin - piano expert

Can Slow Practice Improve Your Piano Playing?

Learn how practicing slowly can help improve your playing

In this video, Robert talks about practicing slowly on the piano, and how it can help you to improve your playing a great deal.

Released on March 18, 2015

Post a Comment   |   Video problems? Contact Us!
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 The show today is the magic of slow practice. Ah, slow practice. What is this all about?

Well, there's several different components of slow practice that can be incredibly helpful for you. I want to start with the premise that slow practice is an essential part of your daily practice. Even pieces that you have polished that are on performance level will benefit from the reinforcement of going through slowly, with the music, with no pedal and oftentimes with a metronome to solidify the memory and the fingers.

It is the best thing you can do as a matter of fact, just before a performance that you are well prepared for the day before or even the day of. Going through things slowly is very reassuring. But I want to talk about another type of slow practice which you may not have heard people talk about before, and it's something that I find to be incredibly important. And I talked to my wife about it, and she's a really fine flutist, and she has the same exact perception about this.

Here's how it works. You sit down to practice, and let's say you have a whole piece to work out and you know the whole thing is kind of shabby. Maybe you've got it kind of learned but it's not on performance level, and you figure I got to get through this thing and work on it. Well, you could try to go through the whole thing and cover as much as you can and try to get through it. But a much, much better approach is to not worry about the whole piece at all. Just start at the beginning. The very, very first phrase or section and do it quite slowly until you have total comfort with that section.

Now here's what's really interesting. You're going to find that the beginning, you're going to put so much time in such a little bit of music that it will seem at first as if how can I possibly get anything done, and you're going to be tempted to move ahead sooner than you should. But here's the thing, if you just stay with that section until it's absolutely, totally, 100% comfortable, then increase the speed little by little. I suggest using the metronome for this. You could do one notch at a time. Really get it absolutely polished. You're going to find that at the end of your practice session you have really accomplished something.

Here's the surprise. You may think, oh my God I've spent all that time on just one little section. How am I going to learn everything? Here's the great news for you. You're going to go through the piece, and you're going to find that most sections are not going to require that kind of intensive practice. That's right. There will be a few key sections that, yes, you're going to have to do the same thing that you did in that first section. But much of it will be fluid and you'll be able to get the speed up naturally because very, very few pieces have equal difficulty throughout. So if you focus your attention right for the first part that gives you problems and take it all the way, completely uncompromising, you're going to find your practicing becomes incredibly productive.

It's an amazing technique. I want you to try that and remember the value of slow practice. It always helps, even when you don't go through all the steps and all the metronome speeds between which is important just the slow practice. Even if you do nothing else and then play it up to speed you'll be astounded at what the benefit is just from that.

Add slow practice to your regimen or increase the amount of slow practice you do and I guarantee you'll see results in a very, very short amount of time.

Thanks for joining me, Robert Estrin here at I'll see you next time for another show.
Post a comment, question or special request:
You may: Login  or  
Otherwise, fill the form below to post your comment:
Add your name below:

Add your email below: (to receive replies, will not be displayed or shared)

For verification purposes, please enter the word MUSIC in the field below

Comments, Questions, Requests:

Steve Borcich * VSM MEMBER * on November 15, 2018 @10:38 pm PST
There is a learning technique called spaced repetition. I believe this is the best way to get over the speed bumps in a piece. By going over the difficult parts several times and playing them very slowly and accurately you will be able to get over these speed bumps!
Robert Estrin - host, on November 16, 2018 @1:37 pm PST
Zeroing in on trouble spots and practicing slowly, working up speed gradually is a staple of effective practice.
Mike on June 10, 2015 @11:40 pm PST
Thanks Robert for your videos, they are very appreciated!
mmaria jose on March 20, 2015 @6:55 pm PST
thanks Mr Robert for your good advice.I also practice slowly.the piano I am plying the 3ªsonata of Chopin.very very beautiful
mmaria jose on March 20, 2015 @6:55 pm PST
thanks Mr Robert for your good advice.I also practice slowly.the piano I am plying the 3ªsonata of Chopin.very very beautiful
Fulvia Bowerman * VSM MEMBER * on March 19, 2015 @5:43 pm PST
Thank you for your great advice! It is almost as if I were listening to my mother all over again! ... except now I really listen! Smiley Face
Questions? Problems? Contact Us.