How to increase speed on runs of notes.

January 16, 2018, 1:22 AM · The title says it all. I've heard dotted rhythms and just chugging away with a metronome and gradually increasing the tempo, but I was wondering if anyone had any other methods of practicing this.

Replies (13)

Edited: January 16, 2018, 4:00 AM · Slow "moonwalk" practice (two thirds of technique is before and between the notes); alternating with slow "robotic" practice (where notes and transtions are real, but separated).
Then faster in "chunks" of four or five notes.
Then assemble chunks less fast.

Note that at least two thirds of the time is spent on slow practice...

Works for me!

Edited: January 16, 2018, 4:33 AM · what works really well too (and is a well known practicing technique) is practicing fast but pausing on every 4th note, can also be pausing on every 3rd note, or pausing on every 5th note. observe that pausing on every other note is the same as dotted rhythm practice. so this is just an extension of this idea. like with dotted rhythms you also change the starting point regularly, so that you don't always pause on the same notes.
January 16, 2018, 7:38 AM · Jean's technique works well if you also do three-note and four-note groupings, but then start on the 2nd or 3rd note. So you cover all the bases that way. Another good way is to put your pause before every string change.
Edited: January 18, 2018, 5:38 AM · First, let's step back a little and consider what we're aiming for. If we play each not as an individual entity, we are going to be slow. So the basic idea is to train our central nervous system to cluster movements together and execute them as a single unit.

The appropriate size of each unit will be determined by the rhythm and by the mechanics of fingering, string crossings etc. But at an early stage we should decide on what chunking we are going to use.

Then we should change it up and practice those chunks in different ways.

The most common technique is dotted rhythms, but remember to dot both ways - LONG-short and SHORT-long. For any passage I usually find that one is harder than the other, and I suspect that the most learning takes place with the harder option.

The other technique I tend to use it practicing throwing my fingers down in the cluster. So I'll pause for a moment, prepare the frame of my left hand and visualise the sequence, then throw the fingers down as close to tempo as I can with decent intonation. You can practice this with and without the bow. Then you practice stitching the clusters together, as others have said.

If all goes well, you will reach a point when a single mental command will trigger a cluster of automatic movements without farther need for thought.

January 18, 2018, 2:22 PM · "Groupings" is a technique I learned from my teacher in college, and it works very well for any fast note runs, IMO. Some of the things mentioned above describe it. For 16th, you would play in groups of 4, with a slow metronome setting, say, 60. Play 1234 1234 1234 1234, etc. Then, 1 2341 2341 2341 2341, etc. Then, 12 3412 3412 3412 followed by 123 4123 4123 4123. The idea is to have enough of a pause between each grouping to think ahead and prepare the hand. This takes a lot of concentration. The groupings themselves should be played only at a speed where you can cleanly play them. Gradually, speed up the groupings, while keeping the metronome at the same tempo. This means the pauses between groupings are longer.
January 19, 2018, 10:09 PM · This is a great question, and every violinist I know has to work on it. Here are some ideas that I put on your youtube channel - essentially different ways to work on speed.....there is a playlist called "13 ways to work on fast playing" . The channel is January 19, 2018, 10:12 PM · oops, struggling with the link insertion.
January 19, 2018, 10:14 PM · https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCR4pA_d2dYObAZKBLyL4ArA

Also look up Max Baille's videos focusing on the left hand. Very helpful! Good luck.

January 24, 2018, 3:58 AM · Apart from rhythmical practice which is very good another way to speed up runs is by adding notes one by one. Play the first two notes as fast as you can. Do that until you are satisfied and it feels easy. Then play the first three notes as fast as you can. Again do that until it sound as you want it to sound and feels easy. Continue with playing the first four notes the same way. Then 5, 6, 7, etc until you have the whole run. Then you do the same starting at the end of the run. Start with the last two notes of the run. The before-last note and the last note. Then the last three notes, the last four notes etc until you have the whole run again. That usually helps speed up a run especially if you have worked at rhythmical practice before. The good thing about this practice method is that you are starting with something easy and adding difficulty in very small steps.
Edited: January 24, 2018, 7:28 AM · @Susanna: your editor inserted curly quotes (”) rather than straight quotes (") in the link code. Maybe you can go back into your post and repair it? The entire page layout is rather messed up now.
January 24, 2018, 6:46 PM · Why do people feel they need to put in active links? Surely we can copy and paste a URL easily enough.
January 25, 2018, 9:35 AM · I think the OP should post a video playing at his maximum tempo. Sometimes the answer lies not in "what should I do to play faster" (which has been adequately covered) but "what is keeping me from playing faster even though I'm doing all these practice rhythms and everything else?"

There are many aspects of our technique that prevent us, regardless of practice routine, which will GUARANTEE an upper speed limit. It could be bow hold, poor left hand or left elbow position, inability to anticipate upcoming fingerings or string crossings, etc. Since there's no education info about Christopher, we don't know what kind of training or level he's at. Maybe he's set up perfectly...or maybe not. That's why we need a video.

January 26, 2018, 4:02 AM · It takes me much longer to get a rapid descending sequence to sound good than an ascending sequence.

To get the notes to sound cleanly on a descending passage, it seems the lifting of a finger off the string while already having the finger for the next note on the string is needed, as opposed to just rapidly dropping a finger on a string fort ascending passages. So there is a fundamental difference in the timing of the finger movements.

This is especially problematic when I need to cross a string during the descending sequence as all the fingers must now rapidly find their place.

Can anyone recommend exercises where the entire hand is shaped and then dropped on the string? I cannot get beyond prepping the next descending finger before the current note duration is done and I feel that is limiting the speed at which I can play descending passages.

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