can anyone help me to play fast pieces?

October 26, 2012 at 03:48 AM · when i play a slow beautiful piece everything just goes so fine and the sound is great but as soon as i start playing a fast piece my fingers seem to messed up and my left hand starts moveing and i cant get them under control.i started to work out on this for such long time to keep my fingers close to the string and i spend hours on practicing just technical stuff such as gamma,shradik,etudes,.....but still i got the same problem,can anyone help me on that?(sorry for bad english as its not my first language)

Replies (29)

October 26, 2012 at 04:39 AM · use a metronome and set it at a speed where you can play the piece accurately. then gradually speed up as long as you maintain the accuracy and beautiful sound. eventually you will learn to play it to the desired speed. No shortcuts, just alot of practice.

October 27, 2012 at 12:25 PM · I went through the same thing (or rather I still am). I thought I was somehow defective - but at my summer retreat I learned that for me the issue was finger independence. You can work on that as above but I think its better to use studies that are designed exactly for this so that you fix all the issues at the same time. In one word Schradieck. I bought this book early on and thought it was a waste of time - before learning that its a stage I had to go through. I think you only need the first page for this purpose - indeed, I'm guessing that many violinist never get past that! You have to do all of these studies to the point where you really can do them in one bow - which means pretty fast - and very regularly.

I did this for hours and while I am still not a fast player the effect was amazing.

Edit: I just looked up your bio (should have done that first I guess) and what I wrote is probably too basic for you - but maybe someone else will relate.... OTOH maybe returning to Schradieck might not be such a bad idea.

October 27, 2012 at 01:22 PM · Try this. For a rapid passage, instead of a steady rhythm, for example, with all 16th notes, alternate - a long note and then the next as a quick, short note. Then repeat on the next pair of notes. After you've gone through the passage that way, reverse the process - play a short note and then next one long. etc.

I do hope I've explained that right. Anyway, the advantage is that when you do play it evenly, you've got a lot more physical and mental control.


October 27, 2012 at 03:12 PM · really everything has been said. Most important thing in my thinking is that "there is no shortcut"

Two ways of getting to be able to play a long fast piece or passage:

1. Start slow and speed up (in as small steps as possible and always with sound quality good coordination etc.) Its a law of nature that you will get faster if you practice like this.

2. Start very quick (over the tempo you could play it without fault through) but very small passages, also just 2 or 3 notes. Split the music in those little chunks and speed them up seperately. Then in the end put them together and see what works and wich passage still iss difficult in tempo.

October 27, 2012 at 04:44 PM · The problem may be a basic technical deficiency if the previous posted advice does not help. This could include a hand position which is not based on a fourth finger balance, fingers flying too far from the fingerboard, lack of finger "blocking" (putting fingers down in advance), the wrong type of finger action (lifting and dropping), or a number of other things.

October 27, 2012 at 09:46 PM · Hello and thank you all for nice advices...they are all helpful and i will try to work oneveryone of these...i really hope i can solve this problem that is hurting me the way i am a26 years old violinist that start to play since i was5.such a long time..and teaching violin and playing is my job..!!such a shame..many years of studying music yet i CAN NOT play any Paganini or sarAsati in their real speed!i gave this piece called (The bee) to one of my students in school he is 16 and now only after 2months he can play that 2 times faster than me!!!i been studying violin with the best russian teachers and im just wondering why no one noticed the problem in my fingers or hand position!actually this happened to me since i was about 17 and i still did not have good vibrato so my teacher told me NOT to put all my fingers on the string while i dont need them..well the vibrato came but speed left.i thank my teacher and he is really great but the truth is he just didnt care about my left hands position as long as i could play something good..and if i could not he would scream and thats how i actually learnt staccato cause the more he scream the more i shake and this gives a real good stacato you know? i stop my regular programs and i just focuse on my flying fingers i wnet back to a verry basic books and i work hard to fix guys cant imagine when i play a passage or paganini my fingers become like a crazy horse and there is nothing to stop them!! :( in the orchestra you would know my without seeing my face...everyone is playing ok and there is only one girl with flying fingers..oh and one more thing is I dont have such problem in playing double nots even verry fast..One more time thank you all and i am verry happy that i am in contact with you my violinist friends.

October 27, 2012 at 10:37 PM · 'Flying fingers' but not in double stops... There's a clue there but I have no idea what the answer is - this is where we sit back and wait for the gurus.... :)

[OK, I'm going to guess that you are taking your fingers too far from the string - that would explain why double stops are fast since its very hard to lift the finger high. Diagnosis? I'm in the dark but basic hand position error or training to keep them close would seem the obvious possibilities...]

October 28, 2012 at 01:05 AM · Hello Ava, Please check out my new video called "Roy Sonne teaches Czardas Part 2" where I deal specifically with some ways to develop speed in the fast sixteenth note passages.

October 28, 2012 at 08:22 AM · Whenever I hear someone have trouble playing fast passagework it usually comes down to one or more of the following problems with the left hand:

Fingers are coming up too high, lower fingers aren't being used to reserve notes or fingers aren't being placed before the bow. I've heard of some bad teachers telling their students to make the bow and the fingers go at the same time. This is not correct. You have to practice it slowly to make sure that the bow is only moving when the finger is ready. When you speed it back up using a metronome, it will appear to everyone else that your hands are perfectly synchronized but actually your left hand is always planning slightly ahead.

This is not a solution to every conceivable problem with playing fast notes but these are very common issues and they are things that I spent a lot of time working on in my own playing.

October 28, 2012 at 10:49 AM · "This is not a solution to every conceivable problem with playing fast notes but these are very common issues and they are things that I spent a lot of time working on in my own playing."

But overlapping fingers and finger anticipation gives you a lot of security and freedom. First it may feel totally unnatural but once you developed a way to practice it, for example playing double stops or chords instead of fast string crossings so that the left hand learns to place the whole chord instead of note by note when playing it seperate, then you are able to see quickly where the finger overlapping is helpful.

When playing fast it doesn't necessarily mean you are thinking about the left hand too much, but in practice and preparation its really a shortcut and also helps the left hand position, because you sometimes play double stops and chords and cannot lift the fingers unneccessarily (funny word, I think I got it wrong :D) high.

If you practice Schradieck you obviously have to practice a good hand position too. You also should practice keeping all the lower fingers down. Its a common mistake to lift the first finger when playing the second, third or fourth. It maybe has anatomical reasons, that the hand wants to "lean" on to the fourth finger because of its weakness, while some teachers actually advice this, I think its unpractical and that the left hand should never really lean into any direction too much only if you play fingered octaves or decimes, where sometimes is a special wrist position needed.

I really wonder that you feel that way while being from a russian school. For me it was my russian teacher who told me all this exercises (not necessarily much about hand position, but about finger overlapping/anticipation, practicing in different ways to get speed, not lifting the fingers too high, but moving them quick in slow practice too and much more.

One more thing is important when playing fast, wich just came to my mind its "thinking in sets of fingers", that means having the lefthand fingers ready over the exact place as a fully formed set. To me this feels like a grip. prepare the set with the right half and fullsteps between your fingers immediately when you cross a string, then you just have to drop the fingers.

Along with this also comes the rule to exactly know what notes you are playing. Especially for people with a strong musical memory it is not easy to remember the notes, but they remember the melody. But knowing exactly every note and being able to see the score in mind also when playing fast, gives you a lot of security and coolness, wich is helpful for playing fast too.

I have seen many violinists in my study and I had the Feeling, that there are some who have problems with playing fast and mostly they were the ones with a good musicality and sound.

One of my teachers students, who is actually a world class player, once jokingly told me she loves to practice fast passages, because its so clear, what you have to do and if you know the way, you just cannot fail to success. It is easier because its not a complex task.

Still its training and thinking. Like a ballett dancer or a boxer who has to get the form and technique first and then has to combine the techniques. In violin playing you have to get the right form in slow tempo, but not with much bow and big lefthandmovements, but with the really SAME movement like playing fast: little bot, fast fingermovements and not leaving the strings too far

October 28, 2012 at 01:21 PM · Simon - very interesting, in particular the last part about musical/tone players (as you put it). From what Ava writes it seems she is squarely in that catagory - and I would put myself there too. One 'hazzard' of being a musical/tone violinistis that your sound can be way better than your technical ability - and a not very careful teacher may well just avoid the weak aspects of your playing so as to not interfere with the strong ones.

I 'hit the wall' as it were this summer where the expert (and uncompromizing) teacher put me back to violin 101 to start to clean up the technical limitations - obviously an ongoing journey.

October 28, 2012 at 02:14 PM · you said: "i was about 17 and i still did not have good vibrato so my teacher told me NOT to put all my fingers on the string while i dont need them..well the vibrato came but speed left."

this answers the question. Practice on the first 2 pages of Schradieck book 1. Play one measure of each excercise slowly and keep as many fingers down as possible. Then play at a moderate tempo, then as fast as possible.Also, for example in #3 put first finger down with 2. In #7 make sure all fingers are down when you have a fourth finger.

Slow technique is different from fast technique. In slow lyrical playing you should not necessarily have fingers down. This frees up the vibrato.

October 28, 2012 at 04:11 PM · It should be completely reasonable to get a good vibrato with most or all of the fingers down, as long as they're not clamped into the fingerboard. Sometimes having the finger "down" can mean anything from resting on the string to being placed at around 50 percent of the depth between the string and the fingerboard. This may not apply necessarily to fast 16th note passage-work but I thought it would be worth pointing out. Keeping the fingers low to the string eliminates the perceived need to press hard anyway.

October 28, 2012 at 05:53 PM · Has anybody else here found it useful to play the passage without the bow, just training the finger movements, as shown in my video above? I have found it really valuable for myself and my students.

October 28, 2012 at 06:33 PM · "Has anybody else here found it useful to play the passage without the bow, just training the finger movements, as shown in my video above?"

Yes, I totally agree. For two reasons: First it clarifies things and second its harder as one thinks (especially in tempo), one cannot cheat there. Everything, wich challenges the brain and seperates difficulties is a very good exercise!

October 28, 2012 at 07:10 PM · this 'challenging the brain' or at least serving it up in a variety of methods (lots summarized in Basics) is fascinating. The most awesome I think is playing hte passage backwards. I suppose it forces the brain to reconsider all the notes afresh - but its not intuitively obvious why that should help (though it invariably does).

October 28, 2012 at 08:54 PM · Elise, above you refer to "the first page of Schradieck", are you referring to the first page of Book 1 of his School of Violin Technique? Or rather Book 2? Because it is the first page of book 2 that indeed is very good for finger independence. Just wanted to clarify, thanks, -Jan.

October 29, 2012 at 12:42 AM · Jean: I meant Book 1 (I don't think I ever looked at book 2). You do each excercise in section one on each string.

Is the first excercise in Bk 2 broken chords by any chance (just a guess since the book is on double stops...)

October 29, 2012 at 12:50 AM · I would recommend the first page of book one because you can learn a lot just from that page and its not complicated at all. But it sure is important HOW you work and not what page. Probably any page is ok ;) and of course everything what schradieck has written down has its place.

Elise, plaing backwards is a good but strange idea :) I like to begin practicing from behind and adding one note after the other because thats the opposite of how one "usually" (mindlessly) practices. Wich is beginning from the front and repeating it and repeating more and more once reached the end, the end only got one repetition.

The possibilities of variations are really endless and different places require different practicing methods. One thing wich works amazing for fast detache or spiccato is turning the bowstrokes around starting with upbow instead of downbow or the other way around. Ruggiero Ricci used to practice Paganini 5. like that.

October 29, 2012 at 01:30 AM · Yes, Schradieck book one pages 1-2 are great for developing velocity. The simplest material is best with lots of repeating patterns that lie well under the fingers. Also Simon is right on the mark about finding groups of notes that form a unit physically and that you can play with one impulse of the hand. Once you get the hang of it, velocity playing becomes natural and you can apply it to more difficult passages, always searching for ways to divide the music into groups -- musical groups and physical (violinistic) groups.

October 29, 2012 at 01:52 AM · That video was most well-timed for me, Roy. I had to play Czardas this afternoon. I had it pretty well in hand, but several things you said stuck nicely in mind, and turned up when needed. Thanks.

October 29, 2012 at 10:52 AM · Elise, no, first page of book 2 is for finger independence (rather than velocity), so these are exercises where you fix some of the fingers and have to move the other fingers. This is then played in the form of double stops. Actually hard to explain in writing, just have a look on IMSLP.

October 29, 2012 at 02:07 PM · Well...........I took another look at Schradieck book 1 and I changed my mind. Only a few of the exercises are really suitable for velocity. Most are too difficult with too many string crossings and difficult finger patterns. The Dancla School of Velocity has some good material, but again, not all of it is suitable for maximum velocity. Some of the Kayser Etudes are very suitable, and then the Bee by Schubert and Sicilienne and Rigaudon by Kreisler.

So I'm wondering what y'all think. What is your favorite material for developing velocity?

October 29, 2012 at 03:06 PM · Roy??

Did you look at page 1 :D There are no string crossings - the excercises are lauded for developing finger independence. You do each on each string..

October 29, 2012 at 03:16 PM · Independence yes. Velocity, no. The two are related but not the same. Yes I use these often in my teaching. :-)

October 29, 2012 at 04:16 PM · well, working on one sure helped me with the other! Perhaps it was particular to my needs..

October 29, 2012 at 04:23 PM · Roy sonne great video thank you

October 29, 2012 at 05:19 PM · well, working on one sure helped me with the other! Perhaps it was particular to my needs..

That's great! I'll remember that for future reference:-)Thanks

October 29, 2012 at 10:44 PM · My old teacher gave me Schradieck first page, working on it a certain way. Schubert "the bee" and Kreutzer 9.

This combined with Galamian acceleration scales are my finger food when I feel in need until today.

All those don't only train velocity, its also important to focus on intonation. Especially with the Schradieck one can learn a lot from this first page its just so pure. The reason why its good for developing speed is, that it works out all fingers and trains the weak fourth finger.

Still there are more things wich can cause problems in playing quick, like shifting and string crossing. But if there are fundamental technical problems with those, they should be threated seperately.

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