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I want to perform a really fast song for a competition. Could anyone suggest how I can learn to play fast? For example, does anyone have advice on which songs to choose?

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    Not being a violin player It would be better for me to not answer but technical work with a metronome is probably your best bet. – Neil Meyer Mar 13 '16 at 10:06
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    Practice more. There's no magic shortcut – Carl Witthoft Mar 13 '16 at 11:33
  • "Orange Blossom Special"? I'd point to a video/recording here but a brief search only turned up sort-of ironical renditions. Also it's not really violin but fiddle. – user27160 Mar 13 '16 at 12:19
  • Lots and lots of scales with a metronome, from very slow to very fast. An etude book might also help you – user3932000 Jan 10 '17 at 6:12
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Well, as someone already commented, there are no "short-cut" tips for playing fast. And whether you can learn to play fast notes within the interim time between the competition and now I am not sure. Since learning violin is a developing progress. You can't simply attain the holy grail of playing fast notes really quick just like that.

Anyway, besides the suggestion Todd provided I can only add a few suggestions:

  1. When playing short, quick notes its better to play from the middle part of your bow as opposed to from the tip (where you have less control) or from the frog (where the weight of the bow causes problem). The middle part is the best, sweet spot.

  2. Your bowing technique must also be appropriate. For example since the notes are shorter ones you should only move your wrists slightly to play them instead of traditional arm movement. That is to say the horizontal movement of the hand is important. And depending on the effect you want to create (say a crunchy feeling) the vertical movement of the hand is also handy (swinging the hand up and down in relation to the forearm). In fact, a combination of the two is what that allows the hand to move in any direction. This book explains such matters in more detail.

Also, on picking a suitable piece, there is not much suggestion I can give you. Because you did not provide enough information about your level as a violinist, the nature and degree of competitiveness of the competition, etc. So you should factor in these matters and perhaps research the previous performers and winners in the competition and what pieces they played, etc. to come up with the best piece for yourself. Since it appears playing fast notes isn't your forte you should pick a piece where there are repetitive patterns of notes and less string changing when the fast part comes up (or use shifting to compensate) so that its easy for you to play.

Lastly I would suggest this book for practicing fast bow movements or other aspects.

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Between Carl and Neil I think you have the answer.

  1. Start with a metronome set to a tempo slower than one you feel comfortable with. Make sure you can play the piece in question essentially flawlessly at that tempo.
  2. Increase the tempo slightly and complete step 1 again.
  3. Repeat over the course of weeks to months (don't rush it!) until you are at the tempo you want/need to be at.
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Like what Todd and Sazid said, don't expect to have an immediate result. Also, it helps if you build up confidence in your left hand. You can do this by plucking the notes, instead of using the bow. Although it might not sound as nice, it builds up muscle memory in your left hand so you don't need to stress over it while playing in a performance. Also, YouTube the songs. If you're self taught or don't have a teacher, this is great to do because you get to hear how it sounds and what to aim for. Also another tip, keep your left hand fingers close to the fingerboard while playing fast. Doing this will make it easier to coordinate when you have to put your fingers down because they aren't far away from the board. Good luck!

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Play slowly first, then, once you know the piece, gradually start playing it faster. Use a metronome, and do not expect immediate results.

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It I were to practice a fast piece,

  1. Patience is key. I would first start with a metronome at a slow speed. Try to figure out all the best fingering patterns and gradually increase your speed when you feel more confident. Don't rush it.
  2. Second, you could try some finger exercises like etudes and studies. Practicing scales would help too.
  3. If there is a particular "running" section that isn't smooth, it probably is your left hand not keeping up. In that case, try patterns like:

dotted quaver - semiquaver - dotted quaver - semiquaver , and so on... and the opposite too...

  1. Listen to the songs you're playing, but don't get discouraged if your playing isn't there yet! Take time to carefully prepare your pieces and think about the music too, not just the notes.

Be patient and keeping working at your mistakes - you'll always get there!

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