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Learning To Play Faster
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
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starise
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February 18, 2020 - 9:19 am
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GregW posted this video in another unrelated thread. I think I really Like Kevin Burke's approach. Seems opposite to the approaches some programs tend to take. 

I guess I am looking for experienced opinions for someone who once started out playing faster, was told to slow WAY down and found that playing slower has it's own set of issues as Kevin's video explains. We don't play the same fast as when we play slow. 

There are a few tunes I play that no matter if I play fast or slow I make the same mistakes, I just make the mistakes slower that's all. Slow material usually calls for longer bow strokes. Faster material can concentrate more on one area of the bow.

What I have been attempting to do is play more difficult passages slow at first and then build up speed. This has been successful to a point. It seemed to me though, that if I began to learn a tune faster and only slowed down because I needed to, that was better than starting out slow and then trying to play it faster.

Thoughts? How have you learned to play faster and still play accurately? 

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Mimi Aysha
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February 18, 2020 - 9:43 am
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Yes, I watched this a few times last year, and ran with it, makes sense... seems to speed the process up, and less frustrating - I tried a 1 month pass, loved it...learnt some of the easier tunes, but most were a bit above my level, might go back when I get a bit better...

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starise
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February 18, 2020 - 1:13 pm
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Thanks Mimi!

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GregW
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one thing to keep in mind is I think this video was made for someone trying to get a tune down without any type of bowings already mapped out.  In the other thread you mentioned where I first shared this,  one thing I pointed out was that in my lessons bowings have already been suggested and done with the intention to help play at a faster tempo.  In that case practicing slower like weve always done would be ok since I already have some bowings written out and can incorporate those in practice.  As I speed up, provided I stick to the bowings, then I should be ok.  If nothing was written out then this video would come into play and youd have to pay attention more on what you needed to do.   Thats where having a good instructor helps.  They have some experience playing fast and are able to pass those bowings and such on.  I think maybe this video is made for someone thats trying to do this on their own.  I think the context is important here.

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starise
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February 18, 2020 - 1:29 pm
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Yeah, The whole idea of "mapping out" bowing is another step for me. As I mentioned in the other thread, I seemed to play it ok until I started that....which leads me to believe that possibly there can be different strokes for different folks.

When I look at how the tune is mapped I can see where it makes sense to follow it much of the time. There are other times when something else seems to work just as good or better. If the tune was learned another way a person needs to now "unlearn" it to learn it as "mapped". That's basically what happened to me. I learned a few and could play them pretty well. After remapping...ugh.

Another interesting thought here is that Kevin in some of his videos will say, " They do it like this usually, but I do it like that". He admits to being unorthodox in some of what he does. I like what he does though.

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GregW
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February 18, 2020 - 1:44 pm
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@starise said "..As I mentioned in the other thread, I seemed to play it ok until I started that....which leads me to believe that possibly there can be different strokes for different folks."

very true.  all we can do is share some stuff and take what seems to work for us from others.

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Mimi Aysha
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February 18, 2020 - 2:10 pm
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Yup - for some playing slow just sticks, my buddy just learns slow and plays slow all the time, she cracks me up...I prefer a slightly faster pace (gets me there quicker!) but diff strokes for different folks!

Greg kindly advised me on some that were running specials, and I loved this one - thanks Greg...!

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starise
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February 18, 2020 - 2:44 pm
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GregW said

@starise said "..As I mentioned in the other thread, I seemed to play it ok until I started that....which leads me to believe that possibly there can be different strokes for different folks."

very true.  all we can do is share some stuff and take what seems to work for us from others.

  

GregW if you keep agreeing with me on everything like this we won't have anything to discuss.smilesmilesmilesmile

Mimi I want to do both and I guess I feel as if I'm letting one thing go or maybe I could be doing better. Oh I can do slow....no problem lol. Right now you can't even tell I'm moving.

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GregW
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February 18, 2020 - 3:10 pm
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starise said

GregW said

@starise said "..As I mentioned in the other thread, I seemed to play it ok until I started that....which leads me to believe that possibly there can be different strokes for different folks."

very true.  all we can do is share some stuff and take what seems to work for us from others.

  

GregW if you keep agreeing with me on everything like this we won't have anything to discuss.smilesmilesmilesmile......

 

  

HA..ok..I'll let you know if you're ever wrong then. hats_off  so far all good. roflol

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Mimi Aysha
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February 18, 2020 - 3:39 pm
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Ah yes, I used your diff strokes for diff....sorry guys...didn't mean to repeat

I'm with ya, get speedy - mess up the notes, get the tune - not the right bowing - arhgghg!...I'm just sticking with what seems more fun for me...keeps me going!

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AndrewH
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It helps a lot to practice playing slowly, as close as possible to the same way you will play it when you speed it up. That is to say: use the same bowing and articulation, and resist the temptation to use more bow or use more vibrato.

Another thing I do often is break a fast passage into segments of just one or two beats to practice, work the segments up to speed, and finally connect the segments by making the pauses between them shorter and shorter. Example: these practice clips.

View this post on Instagram

Practice posts will not be as frequent now that the #100daysofpractice challenge is over. But I'm still practicing. Woodshedding some Ginastera -- this is from his Piano Concerto No. 1, which is completely atonal. These are running 16th notes. Putting it together by playing single bows and solidifying it in 6-note blocks, then putting it together. Am now (after this video clip) having some success pausing between bows and reducing the pauses gradually to nothing. The fastest I play the 6-note segments in the clip is close to performance tempo, and I'm hitting most of them now. But as of now I still fall apart if I try to play it all in tempo without pausing. #violapractice #violanation #playhomieplay #practicenotperfection #orchestrarep

A post shared by Andrew H. (@andrewhcit) on

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GregW
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February 18, 2020 - 7:42 pm
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@AndrewH the 2nd video on top was intense!  Have you performed this one yet?  I mean with your orchestra.  

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AndrewH
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Both Instagram posts were from last season. The top post was the Star Wars Symphonic Suite (this is the last two lines of the Imperial March, viola part) which we performed in May 2019, the bottom was from Alberto Ginastera's Piano Concerto No. 1 which we performed in November 2018. The clips were essentially unfiltered practice at home -- see captions for descriptions, including a little discussion of why I was doing what I was doing.

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AndrewH
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GregW said
one thing to keep in mind is I think this video was made for someone trying to get a tune down without any type of bowings already mapped out.  In the other thread you mentioned where I first shared this,  one thing I pointed out was that in my lessons bowings have already been suggested and done with the intention to help play at a faster tempo.  In that case practicing slower like weve always done would be ok since I already have some bowings written out and can incorporate those in practice.  As I speed up, provided I stick to the bowings, then I should be ok.  If nothing was written out then this video would come into play and youd have to pay attention more on what you needed to do.   Thats where having a good instructor helps.  They have some experience playing fast and are able to pass those bowings and such on.  I think maybe this video is made for someone thats trying to do this on their own.  I think the context is important here.

  

What I like to do with solo repertoire is:

1) Read through the music without my viola, and just use a pencil to mark bowings and fingerings that I think will work;

2) Try to sight-read tricky parts as fast as I can, just to make sure the bowings and fingerings aren't terrible, and revise if needed;

3) Start practicing at slow tempo and gradually speed up.

I might still revise the bowings and fingerings after slow practice, but having tested them at speed first means I'm less likely to need to make changes later. Of course, I don't routinely practice at full speed until later in the learning process, it's just a few run-throughs of spots where I think my bowings and fingerings need testing.

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Sasha
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February 19, 2020 - 10:57 am
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If you can play it slow, you can play it fast!   (For TwoSet fans)

I use slow practice a lot, but not for everything.  I switch to slow pretty much immediately if I hit something I cannot play correctly technically, or if it feels tense to play it.

Otherwise I play through at tempo or close to tempo.

A good example for me would be when I was learning song of the wind.  Most of it I would play at tempo, or just slightly slower to get the feel of it under my bow, but I really slowed down for the 3rd and 5th measure for the string crossings, especially where the fingering was the same string to string.

For me that gives a pretty good balance, as well as putting more focus in to the areas that need more work, which ends up being a more efficient use of my practice time for me.

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Gordon Shumway
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AndrewH said
It helps a lot to practice playing slowly, as close as possible to the same way you will play it when you speed it up. That is to say: use the same bowing and articulation, and resist the temptation to use more bow or use more vibrato. 

I think Andrew's proviso is very important, and I hope people noted it.

But, as it happens, my teacher doesn't seem to be in favour of slow practice, not all the time, anyway, possibly because it is so difficult not to alter aspects of your technique when playing slower, resulting in technique that is useless for when it is played fast. Her preferred approach is to break the music up into small fragments, sometimes only 2 or 3 notes, that can be managed at full speed and then gradually to string them together into a whole.

I noticed recently when looking at some Albinoni with its typical two fast movements. The fingerings and bowings I worked out during slow practice were totally unsuitable for playing it fast.

Andrew

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starise
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February 19, 2020 - 11:59 am
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Thanks Andrew for showing us a brief glance into your practice process. That sure is one large violin you have there wink You play quite well and are a great addition to this forum. Thanks for sharing. It all looks very "intense".

Gordon thanks for reiterating what Andrew said.Thanks Andrew for pointing out that   It might be at least possible to play some things similar slow as when we play faster.This is the thing for me. I can't often seem to practice slow in the same way I would play it faster. I liked Kevin's example of walking .vs running. If I'm walking everything is just relaxed. If I run things begin to bounce around and flop up and down.......ok that was TMI but you get the idea.

ALSO- Gordon, I wish I could have made the point as well as you made it here in this last post. Learning some things slow are not helpful.

"The fingerings and bowings I worked out during slow practice were totally unsuitable for playing it fast." Exactly !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Gordon Shumway
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Whereas on the piano of course, and wind instruments, slow practice is the norm, the techniques not resembling violin techniques at all.

Andrew

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starise
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Sasha said
If you can play it slow, you can play it fast!   (For TwoSet fans)

I use slow practice a lot, but not for everything.  I switch to slow pretty much immediately if I hit something I cannot play correctly technically, or if it feels tense to play it.

Otherwise I play through at tempo or close to tempo.

A good example for me would be when I was learning song of the wind.  Most of it I would play at tempo, or just slightly slower to get the feel of it under my bow, but I really slowed down for the 3rd and 5th measure for the string crossings, especially where the fingering was the same string to string.

For me that gives a pretty good balance, as well as putting more focus in to the areas that need more work, which ends up being a more efficient use of my practice time for me.

  

I like the concept of playing at tempo until  there is reason not to do so. Some songs I play I come to a tricky place and sort of gloss over it. It isn't really the fingering but it's close. I still keep working on those places to improve.

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AndrewH
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To be perfectly clear, I tend to mainly do slow practice and gradually speed it up, as is the conventional wisdom; I just run spots at full speed to test bowings and fingerings. The purpose of the practice videos was to demonstrate the value of practicing very short segments of 2-3 beats at a time, at or near full speed.

Breaking into short segments is also good for working on the internal sense of pulse. When I was practicing the passage from Star Wars (first Instagram post), I had been rehearsing it at full speed for two weeks, but went back and broke it down because I had been sometimes dragging and sometimes rushing in rehearsals.

I do think there's such a thing as slowing down too much, though. When working on learning the notes, I tend to start no slower than half-speed. Any slower than that, and it can get hard to play it the same way as I would when playing in tempo.

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