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I am 50 and started playing some 6-7 months back. Had around 24 lessons so far. Bought Hanon's Virtuoso Pianist a few months back on my own initiative but didn't try to play. Was trying it out this morning but was stumped by the recommended tempo. Thus seeking clarification. It seems that the music is in a series of semi-quavers. So if the metronome tempo is 60 bpm of crotchets (at the slowest), it means 240 semi-quaver notes per minute. Am I right?!! How is that "beginner" stuff? Playing 240 notes per minute!!

Or am I getting it all wrong?

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One crotchet lasts for one second, at 60bpm, no matter how many beats in the bar. so, if you set the metronome at 60, you'll play 4 semis per click. Put another way, set it for 120, and play two notes for each click.

It may seem fast at the moment, but your hands are hardly moving laterally, it's your fingers doing the work, and they hardly need to move, apart from up and down! If your metronome goes to 240, then set it at maybe 200, and try playing a note per click. Speed is not so important as accuracy, both in the right notes, but also in the right timing, relatively speaking. Why try to run when you're trying to learn how to walk...

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actually I think it's pretty easy for you, don't bother with the mathematics much.... the time signature is 2/4, therefore one crochet for every beat or 4 semi-quaver for every beat. 60 bpm means 1 beat for every second so it's slow. so try it and If you're unable to perform with the metronome, practice the notes one by one till you get comfortable with it, then start with the metronome. best wishes.

  • "the time signature is 2/4, therefore one crochet for every beat or 4 semi-quaver for every beat. 60 bpm means 1 beat for every second so it's slow." It's ultimately 240 notes per minute, right? My fingers have to hit the keys 240 times a minute. That, IMHO, is not slow for a beginner. I play C G D A flawlessly at 180 notes per minute and kind of jerky at 220. Is Hannon at all for beginners? – Subir Nag Jun 5 '17 at 4:14
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Personally I wouldn't recommend Hanon to anybody, but that's your choice not mine.

Are you practicing scales and arpeggios regularly? How fast can you play a C major scale smoothly and accurately? It doesn't make much sense to attempt the Hanon exercises faster than that.

FWIW a genuine "virtuoso" player 240 notes per minute isn't particularly fast - they would probably be able to play 700 or 800 notes per minute for a short time at least. But as an adult beginner who started just 6 months ago, that's as unrealistic as expecting to run a marathon in 2 hours 30 minutes after only 6 months training, starting from "couch potato" level.

The start of this is what "fast playing" really means. The whole video is a good tutorial, but probably too advanced for your current level.

Or if you prefer something classical:

  • Thanks for your comment. Useful insight! I play C G D A Major flawlessly around 180 (C major a bit faster) and a bit jerkily around 220-240. I doubt if I will be going higher anytime soon. BTW, is Hannon really for beginners? My tutor kind of ignored my inspired purchase of the book :-) – Subir Nag Jun 5 '17 at 4:21

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