Tips on increasing speed

I attached some quotes from the book “Practicing Music By Design”. They give you an insight to the difficulties self-taught musicians encounter.

George Kochevitsky writes, “The elimination of too much muscle action is the real basis for developing technical agility.”27 (page 13,). In other words, to increase speed in your playing, you must reduce hand movement.

Recent research has shown that the better one knows individual skills (sections of a piece of music) before combining them, the stronger one’s learning of the whole will be. Therefore we must try to avoid playing a piece from the beginning to the end. We should focus on difficult section and play them slowly, analyse the sections, say the name of the notes we are playing. Once we have a full understanding of the individual section we may introduce speed bursts.

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) shows the presence of increased brain activity while one is learning a new skill. As one assimilates and acquires a skill, brain activity decreases, leaving energy for approaching higher levels of skill or adding more skills.(page 13). Therefore pieces need to be mastered before they are performed!

George Kochevitsky, who relates this story in The Art of Piano Playing, states that “muscular overstrain produces a disturbance of the whole mental activity.” (page 14). Therefore, to free our playing we need to reduce tension in the hands.

The most efficient ways of practicing and studying are not intuitive and are likely to remain undiscovered by those without a guide. (Page 17). This is the unfortunate reality of the way I learnt and many other. I had guidance but it wasn’t good enough to make me develop quickly. I had to learn the art of practising through trial and error! It made me loose years of precious time!

The great pianists and violinists who wrote about using a passage from a piece as an exercise always wrote about transforming the passage by studying it with different rhythms, dynamics, accents, articulations, bowings for violinists, and transposition and voicings for pianists. Neurological, physiological, and psy- chological research has confirmed that working this way confers significant artistic and technical benefits. None of the great musicians of the past wrote about mindless repetition of scales, except to condemn these practices.(page 18)

Every time you play something badly you have given your body bad information. Every time you play something properly you have given your body good information. The more times you play a part well, the better it is going to be the next time!

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