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Usually I have to perfect a piece at Allegro and then slowly get it to Presto starting with single beats, and then merging every 2 groups of beats until I can play the whole piece Presto nonstop.

Well I was practicing Chopin's Grande Valse Brilliante for the first time today. I tried practicing it years before. I was in my second year of piano and I figured "I can do Chopin now because I am a fast learner". Well that turned against me and I wasn't able to do it. I clearly needed to learn a technique for fast piano playing.

About a year later and I am able to play notes very fast. But I still did not go after Presto pieces for years. It seemed intimidating. Finally I plucked up the courage and practiced the Solfeggio in C minor. That is when I realized the speed up to Presto had to be done differently than the previous speed up to Allegro.

And now today I am able to play the right hand of Grande Valse Brilliante for the most part correct at speed with only a few wrong note errors that are inevitably going to happen when you play super fast. It just exhausts my hand though to play that fast. I can feel the burn. The same thing happens when I do a continuous Alberti bass at Allegro.

But why am I able to play the right hand at Presto with no previous practice of that piece? Does it have to do with the fact that I have listened to Grande Valse Brilliante a lot and thus the notes and tempo have been ingrained into my memory and that I am playing my right hand that fast only because I have great memory of things I listen to?

My left hand isn't up to speed yet. With all those leaps I have to slow down my left hand for accuracy.

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The simple fact is that some piano music fits our hands much better than other piano music.

When we play piano, we're repurposing our hands and fingers to do tasks that are slightly different than those for which they evolved. This means that, usually—especially when you're dealing with virtuosic music from the likes of Chopin, Liszt, etc.—it takes some time to get the music under our fingers. But every once in a while, something really terrific happens: we play something, and it almost seems like it was made for our hands.

I think that's all that's happening here, and I'll urge you not to overthink it. Some music fits our hands more naturally than others, but other (most?) music—like the leapy music you mentioned—doesn't, and thus it requires extra work.

I recommend you view the latter as the default position. Instead of becoming frustrated that all music doesn't come to you so easily, I recommend you just enjoy the few moments where it does come more easily!


With that said, I guess it might be possible to engineer your repertoire based on what music is easier for you. Look at the pieces that come more naturally; are there common traits in that music that aren't in the more difficult music? If so, perhaps you could use that to your advantage: if you need to learn a new piece quickly, try to find one similar to the "easier" pieces. Then again, if you want to continue improving the skills necessary for these "harder" pieces, then stray away from the easier ones.

  • could this have more to the practice and training the player has and less to do with hands? what I mean is there are times when i am practicing exercises or simpler songs that are working toward the skills i need to play something more complex and then amazingly i can just play the harder stuff. its almost as if practice and skill building has improved my playing ability. – b3ko Jul 24 '18 at 13:07
  • @bk3o So you think that me having practiced the Solfeggio in C minor to where I can play it at Presto might be why I can play the right hand of Grande Valse Brilliante with no previous practice of that piece? That maybe I perfected my fast fingers technique needed for that piece by practicing the Solfeggio in C minor first. – Caters Jul 24 '18 at 16:01
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There are several proper movements to play the piano and several improper ones. All you need to to is find a teacher who knows both. You could very well have all the proper movements down but one or two improper ones are hindering you.

The fact that you feel a burn or can't play as fast as you like implies you are doing something wrong (most likely not playing from the elbow). Please keep in mind, nobody knows this so don't tell, MORE practice or slower metronomic practice is not what you need. You need PROPER practice, not more. Practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice does. Five minutes of proper movement is far better than two hours of improper practice. Far worse is that five minutes of improper movement gets hardwired into our brains and is there for forever. So . . .

I would need to see and hear you play to diagnose but here are some of the most common technique hindering movements: Crossing the thumb under the palm. Flexing and abducting at the same time (most every pianist does this - virtuosos don't). Twisting your wrist in ulnar or radial deviation which goes along with not re-aligning the forearm behind each finger. Playing from the flexors and not the weight of the arm (up/down). Playing from the flexors and not the pronator or supinator (rotation). Improper or no grouping. Trying to play with a "still and quiet hand."

There are many other movements you may be missing such as in/out to accommodate the fact every finger is a different length and, because the fulcrum of the key is lightest on the outside. In places you have to play in, you can add pronator and supinator motions or forward shifts.

Playing is a mechanical science and your arms must obey the laws of physics. If you try to ignore them and beat the piano into submission, you will eventually lose.

If your body is out of alignment with itself, all your plaints will come to fruition. Proper movement is the only cure. Like a car that is out of alignment and eating up your tires. Driving it more won't fix the problem. Fixing the alignment will.

A friend poo-poos my training and sticks to his Russian training. Well, he just developed thumb problems. Survival of the fittest.

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