Slow Practice

How and When to Use Slow Practice

I have noticed some folk think they are beyond slow practice – that’s something only beginners do. Far from it! One of the twentieth century’s great pianists, Sergei Rachmaninov practised so slowly that even his colleagues didn’t recognise the piece. This was not music he was learning from scratch, but something he had performed many times and was practising slowly in order to keep it in good shape.

If you’re serious about playing the piano, there’s no getting away from slow practice. It is a cornerstone of our work from the beginner stages right through to the advanced level, and a practice tool also used by professional pianists and seasoned virtuosos all the time.

Slow practice is actually quite hard to do well, as it takes a lot of concentration and very careful listening. In this video, I show you how to approach this careful, accurate slow work but also to enjoy it fully!

So when do we use this sort of ultra-slow practice?

  • Use it when learning new pieces, in order for the brain to move faster than the fingers.
  • Use it for passages requiring fine motor skills that are uneven or that lack control.
  • Use it for places that sound dull and mechanical, exaggerating the dynamics, hairpins and balances.
  • Use it to maintain accuracy and finesse in pieces you already know.
  • Use it to command control of every single note, inflection, dynamic and expression mark, and pedal.
  • Use it for memory work (if you can play ultra slowly from memory, you know every atom and molecule of the musical structure).
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