Going slow is both the best tool a music student can have, and a student’s worst nightmare. Every student wants to play at lightning speed. Like the rest of us, little piano students want to get right into the fun and exciting parts, without having prepared correctly first. However, as the music gets progressively harder, they are quickly met with the frustration that their fingers can’t coordinate their rhythm and notes at their usual fast speed.
At this point, every teacher would suggest for their students to play slowly to adjust to all the difficult passages; just like how our driving instructor asked us to drive slowly when we first were learning. Or when our parents told us to slow down when we talk, because they can not understand what we are saying.
Slowing down allows the students to take in the information and examine the details of the music. By reducing their speed, they become more aware of what each finger is doing, therefore building a stronger understanding on how to execute the passage.
Here are 3 tips for parents to help piano students slow down!
- Don’t equate slow with bad, and fast with good. All music can sped up or slowed down for a variety of effects. Let the student know that playing fast can be great, but let them know that playing slow sounds great too. Don’t make playing fast the ultimate goal.
- Ask them to count out loud. Most students will have to adjust to being able to count out loud, and play at the same time. This is a terribly tricky skill but incredibly valuable. Once they can count out loud, and play at the same time, it means they have truly understood the rhythm of the passage we’re working on. Count with them!
- Play along with them. Students (especially young students) can have a skewed sense of time (Don’t we all!). 30 seconds of playing can feel like 5 minutes to them. It is very common for the students to play at lightning speed and think that they played slower than usual. Play along with them in the low or high register to keep them on track. If you are not a piano player yourself, simply play a C in a steady beat with them to act as a metronome.