I remember one morning when I was about 15 or 16 years old. I was getting ready for school when my mom called me downstairs. James Galway was playing on Good Morning America. She had the VCR set to record and after a brief interview "The Man with the Golden Flute" played.
I was entranced by his sound, his effortless playing... and at HOW FAST he could play!
I became close to obsessed with playing fast. I practiced fast. I played things three notches faster than I could play. I tried to mimic him! Admittedly, I sounded pretty bad for awhile.
Thank heavens for good teachers. My first private lessons with my flute and piano teachers were all in slow motion. My fingers were slow to match my tongue. My hands moved in time over the keyboard to train them to move together. My finger exercises were a practice in slow-motion torture!
My teachers told me about aural illusions.
Just like optical illusions, we can trick our ears into hearing things. For instance, slightly slower, EVEN playing will result in the technical passage sounding faster.
You don't believe me? Try it! Find a technically challenging passage and play it fast. Now, set your metronome a little slower and play it evenly. The time that you played it evenly and a little slower will sound faster than the messy passage. Play it for a friend. Play it for your mom or teacher. They will agree!
So the moral to this blog is "slow and steady wins the race"... or "even Steven gets the cake"... or something like that...