I have noticed that even after months of practicing C.P.E. Bach's Solfeggio in C minor, I still can't get past Molto Allegro. I have tried thinking of it as an eighth note rhythm and that actually helped me get past the Allegro roadblock but I immediately hit another one after getting up to Molto Allegro.

And I am still not near full speed because full speed is prestissimo.

But this has prevented me from practicing a lot of Chopin's pieces including his minute waltz. I am scared I will hit the same roadblock with anything at presto or prestissimo as the one I hit with Solfeggio in C minor, no matter how much time I perfect it at Allegro. Even the Toccata and Fugue in D minor sounds like it would trip me up because a section of the toccata is at prestissimo.

I am advanced enough to practice the Liszt transcription of Beethoven's 5th Symphony. So Presto should be a breeze but no, I can only seem to reach it with my own compositions. Trilling at Allegro for multiple measures is way easier for me than Presto even though the note speed in the trill and in a Presto piece is the same.

So why do I have this roadblock at Presto(like always getting mistakes except for a few lucky times if I try) and how can I eliminate this roadblock if lots of practice at Allegro and eighth note rhythms aren't going to do it?

2 Answers 2


Are you reading 'presto' etc. off a scale on a metronome? The speed range marked 'presto' is only a guide.

Go back to a (much) slower speed. Make sure your fingering is absolutely 'clean' - no fumbles at all. Then practice at a higher speed - but one at which you still play perfectly. There is no point at all in 'taking a run at it' too fast and making mistakes. Your perfect speed will gradually increase.

All pianists KNOW this is how to practice. Few actually do it!

  • I have gotten down to Allegro and I am perfect at the Solfeggio in C minor. That is the fastest speed I am perfect at so it makes sense that I would want to speed up. I wonder if I am thinking of this all wrong. I wonder if thinking of the sixteenth notes as trills and connecting them will help more than trying to speed up the whole thing. Maybe I only hit this roadblock because I am trying to speed up the whole thing and wouldn't hit it if I thought of it as trilling throughout.
    – Caters
    Jan 31, 2018 at 17:30
  • My teacher taught me to speed up sections of a piece by doing 'metronome drills'. Start at a very slow tempo, play it perfectly then put the metronome up 4 bpm. Play again, put the metronome down 2 bpm, up 4 etc. until you get to your desired tempo. It takes time but I have found it to be very effective. Feb 1, 2018 at 15:50
  • Yep. I have only once actually used this method (it can be tedious!), and was surprised to be able to play the third movement of the Moonlight Sonata at the written tempo for long passages. By slowly ratcheting the speed, I actually got to a point where my perception of time changed and the metronome didn't sound that fast. Jun 9, 2021 at 11:14

The character indication is the last thing you should worry about when you learn pieces. I'm not saying don't worry about it, just worry about it last. If you are playing a concert at Carnegie Hall then you should keep the character indication in mind.

On the other hand, if this is just some sort of regular performance and especially if the candidate is still in a foundation phase then playing in time with the correct notes and with reasonable articulation would be sufficient.

The character indication is only that last 3 percent that makes a good performance a great one. You may not get full marks for your piece when the character indication is lacking but you may still get 16 / 20.

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