FAQ: How can I play this passage faster?

It’s surprising how often I am asked over email or in a Facebook thread to give advice on how to play a passage faster. This is almost impossible to diagnose over text, without seeing the person interact with that particular moment in the music.

The short answer is that there could be all kinds of things getting in the way of speed, including stretching, curling, twisting, awkward or last minute adjustments, or inefficient movements. The body may not be in quite the right place, the arm might be a few centimetres (or sometimes millimetres) from where it needs to be, etc. As it happens, the tools for playing faster are also the tools and understanding for an increasingly healthy technique.

A common assumption is that the fingering is the magic bullet to instant speed. While fingering is critical, fingering alone is not enough to make the passage flawless. It is the combination of logical, smooth, comfortable fingering with the relevant choreography of in and out movements, walking hand and arm adjustments, shaping, grouping, “let gos” or “lighter legatos” that make a good fingering work. This is one reason why Taubman-annotated scores have not been released to date. Without the understanding of the accompanying movements and how much to apply each element, an incredible fingering could potentially not make much sense. Hopefully one day, there will be Taubman scores with accompanying DVDs to bridge the gap between the notations on the score and the effortless experience of carefully considered choreography fitting your hand like a glove. It’s an amazing feeling, and one well worth booking a lesson or two to discover. 

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