An adult student is working on the scherzo of Haydn’s piano sonata in F major Hob.XVI:9 A fun work from RCM level 4. It goes fast, it’s light, it’s fun under the fingers. It reminds me of joyful summer memories as a kid riding our bikes as fast as we can go, just celebrating the joy of movement and being alive.
How does one play like that?
Can I ever go as fast?
Another story. I’ve a young teenage student preparing to sit for her level 8 exam later this month. One of her pieces is Solfeggio in C minor by CPE Bach an extremely fast and demanding piece of music. She runs like the wind through it. The power of youth. Can my 61-year fingers play that fast? Nope. Period. It’s as absurd as looking on while high schoolers compete in the 100-yard dash. Yeah, I can still run fast, but not like that.
Moral of the story. Be at peace with it.
Now can we learn to play faster. Of course. Can we ever go as fast? Maybe, maybe not.
Now back to Haydn. Pianists who play well, including fast, have worked patiently in the following areas.
- Repertoire is developed in a thoughtful and methodical manner over many years.
- They learn theory to understand the music they are playing: patterns and relationships.
- They have developed their aural skills to fine degree. Ultimately all playing is playing by ear.
- They learn something about the history of the music they play Classical, Jazz, Blues, Folk, or Americana. Whatever it is, it has a tradition, a history, a story to tell. They are wanting a piece this story in their lives. They enthusiastically seek out experiences to get it.
- They carefully learn to sight read well.
- They cheerfully deal with their etudes and exercises.
- They take their growing knowledge, experiences, and skills to understand the nuances of great performances.
- They can answer the question, “who are your favourite pianists?” And tell you why? The sophistication of their answers will evolve as they develop as musicians.
- They are emotionally committed to the project of learning the piano. And have the maturity to understand it is a journey of learning.
- They love the music.
- They have studied how to practice the piano through different sources of reliable information. They avoid the pitfalls of seeking a work around, a hack, or quick fix. And the huskers selling shortcuts to expertise.
- They make the time to practice.
If I can help you on your journey, please give me a call.