Piano Speed Drills: How to Play Faster with Accuracy

Lisa Witt  /  Play Faster / Feb 19

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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.

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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!

Lisa Witt has been teaching piano for 19 years and in that time has helped hundreds of students learn to play the songs they love. Lisa received classical piano training through the Royal Conservatory of Music, but she has since embraced popular music and playing by ear in order to accompany herself and others.

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