Don’t Submit to Tempo Suggestions

At the top of your music, and sometimes during, you’ll often see a suggestion on the tempo you should be playing at. For example, crotchet=120 or minim=80. Something along those lines.

For anyone who’s not sure what that means, it just tells you how many beats there are per minute. The simplest way to think of this is a clock. There are 60 seconds in a minute. Therefore, in musical terms this would be 60bpm. If you wanted to go twice as fast then you would play at 120bpm.

Anyway, the question is, do you stick rigidly to the suggested tempo?

I often find that the tempo is as I’ve mentioned, a suggestion. It can give you an approximate idea the speed at which the music should be played. You’re not going to struck down if you’re not bang on the tempo button.

As you start to play for a few years and managed to spread your reportoire across multiple eras, tempos and different styles of music, you’ll start to get a feel for how you would like the music to sound. Your own interpretation as such.

Musical interpretation is such a personal thing and it’s difficult to tell someone they’re wrong. It’s like saying someone’s opinion is wrong.

When you start applying your own tempo to music you’ll often find your choices aren’t far away from the suggested tempos. Your inner musician will find a way just by listening to what you’re playing. Ask yourself if the music flows or is it stodgy? Is it too fast? (this can often happen when you get the know repertoire really well). The main thing is to experiment. Try different speeds and listen. You’ll find something that suits.

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