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Piano Speed Drills: How to Play Faster with Accuracy

Lisa Witt - Feb 19, 2019

 

Playing fast is so fun. It will make you sound like a total pro, but only if you are staying in control as you play. If you aren’t playing accurately while you are playing fast, you're going to sound like a disaster.

 

So how can you develop speed AND accuracy? Well, the first rule is to start slow. This is so simple but it is the most important part of developing speed. If you don’t start slow and take the time your body needs to really memorize and build muscle memory around what you are playing, you won't do well.

 

Here are some tips to help you build your speed without sacrificing accuracy:

 

1) Set up your fingering

 

Get ahead of the game by premeditating any finger changes. This goes for scales especially. You have to tuck your thumb and you need to be able to do this without losing momentum. Practice the pivot points in your scales and exercises so you can play the rest of the exercise without any hindrances.

 

2) Use your wrists

 

Allow your wrist to rotate as you play. This will help you to avoid strain in your fingers so that you can play for longer. It will also help you to play faster as it will increase your momentum.

 

3) Find the down beat within your speed exercises

 

This will help you to track when you are within each measure. Focusing on the 1 beat will help you negotiate how much time you have to get all the notes into each measure. This will help you stay consistent in your timing which is critical for playing quickly. If your rhythm is inconsistent, it all falls apart. So no cheating here!

 

4) Be deliberate and commit to each note

 

This goes right along with starting slow. Before you begin to play an exercise at top speed, think about each and every note. Allow your fingers to sink into each key with intention. This will lay the groundwork needed to take the exercise from something you have to think about step by step, to something that you can do with your eyes closed!

 

For some exercises that put these points into practice, watch the above lesson. Remember, speed takes time to build. The last exercise I show in the video took me a couple of weeks to bring to top speed. Don’t rush yourself. Take time, enjoy the process and remember to breathe!

 

#Learn Piano

#Playing Fast

#Speed Exercises

#Piano Speed Exercises

How To Play A Piano Solo

Lisa Witt - Feb 15, 2019

 

Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve had to play a piano solo and not known how or what to play? I know I have! Playing a solo used to be one of my greatest fears when I was in a band. I could play by ear no problem, but ask me to solo? NO WAY!

 

Guess what? Playing a piano solo doesn’t have to be difficult or scary, and it certainly isn’t reserved only for the “gifted” players out there. You just need to know some fun scales and how to apply them in a way so the notes compliment one another.


To help you get started, we’ve got this lesson on how to play a piano solo which uses the blues scale as a template for your solos. This is my favorite scale to use for soloing because it sounds good with most genres AND once you’ve got the formula memorized, you can play a solo in any key.

 

Let’s look at this in the key of D minor. In the key of D minor we have:

 

D-E-F-G-A-Bb-C-D

 

Let’s assign each scale degree a number:

 

D-E-F-G-A-Bb-C-D

1-2-3-4-5-6-7-1

 

The blues scale uses certain notes or degrees from the scale. It uses the 1-3-4-5-7 progression. It has one bonus note which is the flat 5. This means that you take the 5 (A in this case) and flatten it giving you scale that uses 1-3-4-flat5-5-7. If you were to play the blues scale in the key of D minor you would play D-F-G-Ab-A-C. Now here is the fun part. Take any of those blues scale notes and play them in any order or pattern and you’ve got yourself a solo!

 

Watch the video to see how it all comes together. Have fun soloing!

#Soloing

#Blues Scale

#Piano Solo

Understanding Intervals On The Piano

Lisa Witt - Feb 12, 2019

 

The longer I study, teach, and play the piano, the more I realize just how important intervals are. If you want to sight read quickly, create mood with your improvisations and compositions, and play anything you hear by ear, you need to begin to understand intervals.

 

I see intervals in two different ways. The first is by how they sound and make us feel because each interval has a unique sound. The easiest way to explain this is to connect certain intervals to the beginnings of popular songs. A perfect 4th brings to mind the song “Here Comes the Bride", a perfect 5th "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", and so on. This can be a very helpful way to begin memorizing the sounds of different intervals. To take this deeper, you want to begin to connect feelings or imagery to how each interval sounds. What do you think of when you hear a minor 3rd or how do you feel when you hear a major 6th? You won’t develop this overnight, but the sooner you begin to think of intervals this way, the sooner you will master them! The sharper your ear becomes, the easier it will be to hear a melody and simply play it.

 

The second way to think about intervals is spatially. This is key to sight reading quickly. You want to internalize and connect how intervals appear on the staff to how they are played on the piano. When you look at piece of sheet music and can identify immediately the space between two notes (the interval), you can play so much faster than if you are reading each individual note.

 

In this video I will be showing you how different intervals sound as well and appear on the staff. We will begin with the more common intervals and work our way up to some more complex sounds and concepts.

 

What is your favorite interval?

 

Happy practicing!

#Intervals

#Understanding Intervals

#Piano Intervals

#Theory

#Music Theory