How You Make Fast Piano Playing Feel Slow

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Welcome to, I’m Robert Estrin. Today’s subject is about how you can make fast playing feel slow. There’s nothing worse than feeling rushed, whether it’s in your music or even in life! When you’re going through your day and you can’t quite get caught up with things, it can drive you nuts! You’re supposed to be able to relax with your music. So many people say classical music is relaxing. Music is more than just relaxing, there’s a whole range of emotions. But when you sit down to play the piano, you want to feel that you’re in the zone. You don’t want to feel like you’re constantly rushing.

When you play in a hurried manner, it’s just not good piano playing.

The problem with playing in a hurried manner is that the notes are compressed. Even playing at the same tempo, but playing all the notes as long as possible within the beat, it provides a more relaxed feeling for the listener and for the player. How do you achieve such a thing? You want to work at a very slow tempo, filling up all the notes for their full value. I recommend working with the metronome doing this. You’ll find that if you’re not really in the zone, even at the slowest tempo, you’ll be rushing no matter what tempo you play.

It’s a matter of filling up all the notes for their fullest possible value.

Wind players understand this in an intrinsic way. I’ve played the French horn almost as long as I’ve played the piano. I haven’t done much with it in the last few years because I’m so immersed in Living Pianos. But the point is, a wind player knows that you must fill up each note with air in order to produce a good tone. This allows for the playing to be fluid, and to create a musical line. Well, the piano is no different! It’s not air that is producing the sound on the piano. The analog of the air is the continuous weight of the arm transferring from finger to finger in slower playing. And in faster playing, filling up all the notes for their full value.

So, practice slowly at first. If you find that you’re not quite with the metronome, find a tempo at which you can play precisely with the metronome and work from there progressively speeding up. This way you can achieve comfort in your playing where you don’t feel hurried, and the audience will be rewarded with a performance that feels more relaxed.

I’m Robert Estrin here at, Your Online Piano Resource.

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5 thoughts on “How You Make Fast Piano Playing Feel Slow”


  1. Here is the peculiar thing. i have NEVER been able to synchronize with a metronome. Ever. I finally gave up. I can control the speed of my playing, keeping a constant tempo, and change that speed at will, even by small increments. I’ve never missed working with a metronome. The best hints for me are centered around other recommendations.

  2. You know, your two performances of the Clementi were truly amazing. The amount of control you exerted is mind-boggling! I felt really tense with your first performance, but the second made me feel smooth. I could scarcely tell the difference in a technical sense, yet it felt totally different. So if I can’t even consciously perceive the difference, that means it would be impossible for me to reproduce it! I have to say that when I practice, I don’t feel rushed. I think I naturally tend to play the way you recommend. It’s certainly something to think about.

    1. If you enjoy playing without being able to play with a metronome, that’s great! However, if you ever do want to be able to keep a steady enough rhythm to match a consistent beat, try playing something simple with the metronome at a slow speed. The security you will gain will be worth the effort. It will also make playing with other musicians even easier!

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