- hear more detail
- look ahead more easily
- think ahead effectively
- play the correct fingering
By contrast, faster playing invites more mistakes unless the music is ready for performance. Taken to its extreme, when you make enough mistakes in one practice session, you can start thinking that you’re a bad musician or have inadequate technique. (“I’ll never be able to play this [expletive here] piece!”)
Today I discovered, by slow practice, that an entire section of a Liszt piece has a big gap in sound at the end of every measure. That didn’t sound like the composer’s intention. So I moved the pedal change to a later point, by about a 16th note. (Pedal markings* are often as close as they can get. It’s listening to the sound that makes the decision.)
The most significant benefit I’m finding from slow practice is that the progress I make today “sticks!” It’s there the next time. Eliminating the hit-or-miss quality of some practicing is well worth the effort.
My practice today included 1 Liszt piece, 1 Stravinsky (the metronome helped!), 2 Messiaen, 2 Charles Turner, & 1 Bach fugue. Total time: 1 hrs. (Yesterday was a bust ~ too humid. I lasted 45 min.)
*Pedal is sometimes indicated as “Ped.” for a line or two, with no ” * ” (lift pedal) marking at all. Only rarely would that mean to leave the pedal depressed the entire time! More likely, it would indicate to play “with pedal,” assuming that you will listen & pedal accordingly.