Fast Versus Loud Piano Playing

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This is and I’m Robert Estrin with a really interesting subject today: Fast Versus Loud Piano Playing. Some of you may be thinking that I’m talking about contest winning pianists. Some of them play faster than anybody, some play louder than anyone. Often times, that is sadly what it comes down to in competitions because when you have dozens of pianists who all play at such a high level, how do you quantify who is the best? Artistic expression is such a personal opinion after all. This article is not about any of that.

Today’s subject is about how oftentimes students will confuse fast and loud! I was just teaching Clementi Sonatina Opus 36 No. 1 to a student, and wouldn’t you know it, at the point when the music gets louder in the first movement, he started speeding up his playing! It is such a natural tendency. I talked to him about it and he said, “When the music gets exciting and louder you just want to play faster!” This piece starts out forte, then comes down to piano, and then when it crescendos there is such a temptation to get faster.

What is the Secret to Avoiding this Problem?

As with so many rhythm problems, solutions come down to working with the metronome. Have the metronome ticking so you can keep an absolutely precise speed. You will be able to play more evenly and not succumb to the excitement of getting faster when it gets louder.

By maintaining tempo when you get louder you will serve the music better. This is something you have to train yourself to do. It is not a natural thing. You will naturally want to rush the parts that get louder. The metronome is such a handy tool to measure your music until you have it really locked in and you can maintain tempo without the metronome ticking. Interestingly, by avoiding rushing the louder parts, the music is more exciting instead of feeling frantic.

That’s the long and short of loud vs fast. They are two different concepts that you should not confuse in your music. Occasionally they do coincide and that’s fine. But if they don’t, maintain the integrity of your tempo and you will be richly rewarded with a more satisfying musical performance. Thanks so much for joining me, Robert Estrin here at Your Online Piano Store.