Everybody wants to play piano faster. It’s one of the most commonly requested topics I get for lessons and tips.
And it’s easy to understand why…
Playing fast is super FUN!
But getting faster ends up tripping many piano players up because they try to get faster the wrong way.
So in this lesson, I’m going to show you how to practice to get faster. We’ll be running through ONE exercise at 3 different tempos to demonstrate how to increase your speed.
If you can’t play this exercise at all 3 tempos right away that’s ok. It will give you something to aim for, and when you do reach it, it will feel amazing.
But first, the most important rule…
I know, this seems wrong.
It makes logical sense that to play fast you have to practice fast, but that’s not how you should start.
The best (and quickest) way to increase your speed is to start SLOW. At a tempo you can play comfortably, and then build your speed gradually.
The reason why it’s so important is that it helps you build a better foundation of finger strength, control, and dexterity so that when you do increase the speed, you’ll be able to handle it.
Because if you don’t, you’ll be inconsistent, sloppy, and you just won’t sound good.
We’ll be using Hanon No. 1 as our exercise today. It’s an old favorite of mine and it’s a killer way to boost your speed and dexterity.
It’s also a great warmup.
The biggest thing to focus on with this exercise is the pattern. It’s mostly simple, but there is a skip at the start of each bar. Take a look at the first line:
The first 2 notes of each measure are a skip. That’s how we’re able to walk up the keyboard using this pattern.
I’ve already told you my #1 Rule to play piano faster: Start Slow.
But there are other practical things you can do to ensure you’ll see results and build your speed.
When you’re starting at a slow tempo, make sure you can play the music comfortably and confidently. That means no mistakes and no stress about the difficulty of the piece. It should be easy.
Once you can do that, increase your tempo slightly (about 3 – 5 bpm) and practice until that becomes your new comfortable tempo. This is the process you’ll repeat over and over again as you build your speed.
It might sound like that will take a long time but it really won’t. Small increases in speed allow you to master the new tempo quickly.
And speaking of time, you don’t have to spend hours practicing these speed exercises. Only 5 – 10 minutes a day should be plenty. Any more than that and you risk overdoing it. That leads to frustration and possible injury.
And finally, as you do get faster, the notes your playing should be more familiar. So shift your focus from playing the correct notes onto how you play them. That means keeping even pressure between your hands and fingers. Many players find their ring finger and pinky finger want to stick together. For a great way to books your finger independence, try our Finger Independence Challenge.
Learning to play piano faster takes time and practice. But remember, Mt Everest is climbed by taking one step after another. Playing faster might feel like summiting a mountain right now, but if you focus on the single steps you’ll be standing on the peak in no time.
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