How to Play Piano Faster

Piano Lessons / how to play piano / How to Play Piano Faster

You’ve probably seen pianists gliding all over the keyboard almost effortlessly. It’s amazing to witness their speed and precision – it seems almost impossible. Sadly there is no turn-key solution for playing the piano faster but I will try and give you some tips on how you can improve your speed.

Learning to play fast is something that takes a lot of work and dedication. It’s not something you can master overnight; it’s something that can take years to develop and a lifetime to master. The most important aspects to improving your speed are to develop strength in your fingers and play lightly as you increase speed.

In the video on the top of this page, I use the Mozart K332 Sonata to demonstrate these techniques.

The good news is that if you keep playing the piano you will eventually develop more strength in your fingers. Some people will tell you that practicing scales and arpeggios is a great way to develop strength, and while they are definitely helpful, they aren’t the only solution for developing strength. Playing nearly anything will help you develop strength in your fingers – it’s something that will just develop naturally over time if you spend a great deal of time playing and practicing the piano.

When it comes to playing a particular piece of music with faster sections, often starting slowly and progressing the tempo is a great solution. Take out a metronome and set it to a comfortable tempo. Play the notes in time with the metronome and develop an approach that utilizes appropriate hand positions and finger patterns – everything should be lined up just right. Once you feel comfortable and can play the notes without errors, set the metronome speed up by one notch and start again. Keep working like this until you get the passage up to speed. You might not even notice a difference only setting the metronome up one notch at a time; that’s good! By practicing this way you will gradually build up speed and it won’t be as much of a challenge for you. If you have the patience to practice this way you will develop speed much more quickly.

Another thing to be aware of are techniques you will need to employ to play faster on the piano. It is a lot different from playing slowly and you will need to adjust your playing style. In my video about playing the piano loud, I talk about how to use the arms and mass to get a larger sound. When it comes to playing fast, you will want to use less mass but you don’t want the tone to suffer. In faster sections you should play with your fingers closer to the keys – nearly touching them with minimal arm weight. When playing slowly you can practice with raised fingers but you can’t do that when it comes to faster passages. The general rule is that you want to keep your fingers closer to the keys so you can use the smallest amount of finger strength possible and yet still create a nice sound. The good news is there is a way to practice this technique!

Taking sections of your music – specifically, places where you experience problems – and focusing on them individually is one of the best things you can do correct mistakes in your playing. Make sure you practice at low speeds and figure out which hand positions and finger patterns work for you before moving on. Like many things in life, playing faster on the piano is something you must work for over time. You may find practicing a select number of notes with accents and different rhythms will aid in progressing the speed. There is no simple solution but practicing the techniques illustrated above should help you improve your speed. Thanks again for joining me, Robert Estrin – (949) 244-3729

4 thoughts on “How to Play Piano Faster”


  1. One thing I’ve found helps to build finger strength is to practice on a touch sensitive digital keyboard (Yamaha CP33), and just turn down the headphone volume. That forces me to play harder to get the same sound. Conversely, raising the headphone volume forces me to develop subtlety. And all without driving my wife crazy. Of course I take it to the real piano when I’m done with the drilling.

    Long fast leaps are a different challenge. For instance, in stride you have to move your left hand nearly two octaves for pretty much every chord. I can’t do it yet, but one thing that seems to help is to choose fingerings based on minimizing the distance I have to move the mass of the arm. Not easy to figure out slow what’ll work best fast….

    — J.S.

  2. Hi Robert,
    Those are good tips. Here’s one for improving speed right away: CHANGE YOUR RHYTHMIC CONCEPT. For instance, in a passage of rapid sixteenth notes, instead of thinking “1-e-&-uh, 2-3-&-uh…” look at larger groups. Say in eights, or even larger. When using the metronome, INSTEAD OF MAKING THE CLICK FASTER, SET IT TO A LARGER NOTE VALUE. This puts the rhythmic targets further apart, and allows the muscles to relax more with the phrases. Try it! You’ll see what I mean when you change the target from just four sixteenths (each quarter note) to groups of eight (half-note targets). Group notes-per-click accordingly to get the same effect with different passages, and expand your rhythmic concept.

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