One Simple Practice Hack for Playing Fast – Peter Martin | 2-Minute Jazz

Peter Martin shows you some tips for playing quickly on the piano.


Peter Martin here for 2 Minute Jazz.

Let’s talk about playing fast.

Now, the notes that you play, the execution, the speed of your fingers, of course all that’s very important, but I’m going to give you something more important today.

One practice hack for you to work on, and I want you especially working on this when you’re practicing slow, practicing medium, and when you’re practicing fast. Because anything that we want to be able to execute fast, we have to be able to do slow. 

So this hack is that we’re use the wrist as our barometer for economy of motion of our arms and hands. Concentrate on the wrist. 

Now you’ll notice, I’m not doing a lot of up and down with the wrist, or a lot of movement in and out of the key bed. I’m looking at the wrist–and that’s why in the demonstration I went down low and up high–it’s going to be the same thing. You want to keep the same distance, as much as possible (we always have to make some adjustments), and we don’t want a lot of up and down. Practicing slow is a great time to do this. 

The reason is that when we’re playing fast (yes, finger speed is important) we want to be able to execute everything with the kind of phrasing, speed, tempo and groove we want but with as little extraneous motion as possible.

Economy of motion: we just want to make the movements that we have to. 

When we get in the heat of the moment, we’re going to make some extra movements. But when you’re playing fast it’s a time to be really focused. Think about a great drummer on the ride cymbal; it’s very concentrated economy of motion. 

I see a lot of pianist having trouble playing fast, and then they’re coming to me saying, “How do you play fast? What’s the secret in your fingers?”

The secret’s in your wrist–no up and down, and no in and out.

Scroll to Top