One thing that I routinely encounter in my studio are students who race through their pieces. Sure, they can play the right notes- sometimes- but they forget rhythms, fly through rests and sometimes even the most well-known song turns into a mess.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

One thing that I routinely encounter in my studio are students who race through their pieces. Sure, they can play the right notes- sometimes- but they forget rhythms, fly through rests and sometimes even the most well-known song turns into a mess.

I think for most of my students they just want to get through their piece; so they do- as quickly as possible with no regard to dynamic, tempo, or articulation markings

While it can be tempting to fly through pieces (perhaps to shorten practice time?) it’s not always beneficial and can lead to students having a hard time later in lessons or if they ever find themselves having to accompany another instrumentalist or vocalist. So what can you do?

1. Use Recordings- use videos and recordings to illustrate the intended tempo for the song. Make the student (or ask for) a play along track for practice time. Record the students speedy performance and let them listen. Kindly point out any stumbles and anything that doesn’t sound “just right”.

2. Partner Work- Play the piece with your student; and make them keep your tempo. If you can’t play along with them- sing along to their playing in a clear, steady voice.

3. Practice Away From the Piano- Make your student tap out the rhythm on their knees or the table. Tell your student to play “pretend” piano on the table using the correct fingers. This will help them re-train any muscle memory established in a “jackrabbit” tempo.

4. Talk about the Music- Talk about the story the music is telling, and what your student is trying to accomplish. Talk about the composer and what he intended for the piece. You can use the words for guidance or create a storyline for the piece if you don’t have lyrics or words to guide you. Encourage your student to tell a story with their playing. Music is so much more than how many notes you can play.

5. Metronome- Lastly, this is a tool that can help your student practice and perform at slower tempos. However, your student needs to understand how to use the metronome effectively so they work with it and not against it. Make sure that your student knows what the clicks stand for and when the clicks should line up with their playing.

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