Last night in rehearsal with my community orchestra I completely derailed in the last movement of the Mozart Symphony No. 40 (Allegro assai), when the tempo felt like in the vicinity of 170-200bpm to the quarter note. The movement is mostly 1/8 notes with several string crossing. Couldn't read the notes fast enough, never mind playing them! So this prompted me to wonder, how fast can I play theoretically.
In my mid 50's I started learning violin 6 yrs ago. Curious about my own physical limitations, I took a Reaction Time test at humanbenchmark.com, which measure the time between visually recognizing a change of color and triggering a finger (similar to sight reading a note, recognizing it and then playing it). The human average is between 200-250ms, and I scored right in the middle not surprisingly. This translates into an average human playing a maximum of 240-300 different notes per min if sight reading the music. Playing the 1/8 notes at a tempo of approximately 340-400npm it is no wonder that I derailed! Surely there is more to it, but I also wonder how a seasoned player who can play at this speed sight reading with ease would score.
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