Does Loud Also Mean Fast?

It is natural to play specific music passages that are marked forte with lots of excitement. My piano students get pretty involved with a piece and begin playing without noticing that they have turned up the volume and increased their speed.

Does loud music also mean fast?

Remember that loud piano playing is not the same as fast playing. At the same token, soft playing should also never be confused with slow playing. There are many fast pieces that are played softly and slow pieces played forte.

Keep in mind that composers often use Italian (sometimes English, German, or French) terms to indicate the approximate speed and character of their music, such as Presto, Allegro or Andante and Largo, to name a few. These words do not indicate the precise speed of a song because this can only be done with the use of a metronome. Overall, when you see forte (loud) written in your music, this does not mean to play allegro (fast).

With piano instructions, you now learn that forte does not mean allegro and that piano does not mean adagio. Hopefully, you are discovering what these many Italian terms mean. You might find the definition in the back of your music books and especially the dynamic and tempo signs are listed in a music dictionary.

How do I keep from falling into this trap?

To make sure you are not speeding up during crescendo or forte passages or slowing down during soft sections, practice your songs with a metronome. You can also record or videotape your playing to check for a steady tempo.

To practice your speed control, play a particular passage of music four times or so by observing different dynamics and setting the metronome to one set speed.

Next, play a piece of music that you know very well, one of your favorites, observing different dynamics. Use the metronome to make sure that you play the piece at the same speed no matter how loud or soft you are playing the song. When I play a certain composition loud, I am using my body weight and pushing into the keys but not banging on them.

The solution to not pushing your speed during a loud passage is to keep counting the rhythm beats to yourself as if you’re hearing within yourself the tick-tock beats of the metronome you have been practicing along with for quite sometime.

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