Tips for Playing Faster Repeated Notes on the Piano

Tips for Playing Fast Repeated Notes on the PianoI spent a lot of time in the practice room refining my fast, repeated notes, and for whatever reason, I would only nail these passages sometimes.

One blurred note in the 16 fast repeated notes, gives my entire passage a failing grade.

Before my piano lesson, I would cross my fingers. After all, having the piano teacher stand beside me always made me play approximately 39.94% worse. Anyone with me here? The “I played better at home” excuse never worked for me.

I’m talking Toccatas, Valse Brilliants, anything with furiously repeating notes.

After some long practice sessions, I finally got to a respectable rate of success with my repeated notes. Here are some tips to improve your repeated notes. This video demonstrates the concepts, and the article below explains in detail!

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How I picked my digital piano

In Seattle, I’ve settled into a cave with slate blue cabinets. I’ve gotten myself a mattress and a bed and a shelf.

Things have fallen into place bit by bit. I appreciate all the Artiden friends who reached out or sent a simple hello.

Here I am, sitting on a silver milk jug thinking about life in front of a plateful of cheese, in Seattle.

Every time I come to the Seattle Pike Market, I visit the handmade cheese factory. I love grilled cheese. I’ve always wanted to try crab pot, but by the time I finish my grilled cheese, I’m always too full. Pan the cheese fanatic drove down to visit me, and we were too busy eating cheese.

In music, I’ve always had a Yamaha acoustic piano, so in my mind, I was getting a Yamaha digital piano. It’s like my handmade grilled cheese. There’s no question.

I went to the music store to play most of the digital pianos they had while Pan looked like he was in pain. (Pan says I have to also say that he drove me there and back while I was asleep with my mouth wide open)

My first criteria was that I wanted the touch to feel like an acoustic. Good luck with that, Grace, most digitals don’t have real hammers inside.

The second was that I wanted it to have good sound quality and some kind of connectivity for recording.

That’s it. That’s all I asked for. If you want to see some of the research I’ve done about travel-sized digital pianos, take a look here.

I dallied at the music store and voted the Yamahas off the island right away. I am looking for THE ONE and as soon as I sat down, I knew it wasn’t a Yamaha.

I went back and forth playing a Casio and Roland, when a wannabe Beethoven started competing with me. I swear he turned up the volume on his digital piano, so I turned up mine too, since I couldn’t hear myself play.

In the end, I got a Roland FP30. It’s the closest to an acoustic in the store that’s in my budget.

Here is what I learned about shopping for pianos / starting your music studio:

  • know what you DON’T want. I used to try pianos and say “I don’t know what I think of this”.
  • watch videos where people sample different pianos and close your eyes – you’ll find that you’ll prefer one over the other, intuitively.
  • be ready to fall in love with an unexpected piano.
  • having a piano won’t motivate you to play piano. it’ll become a piece of furniture unless you’re already motivated to play. so it doesn’t matter how expensive or cheap your piano is, if you’re only looking for a new piano to “get motivated” to play more.

If you’d like to see my behind-the-scenes music / techniques and also be the first to see my music tips videos, I have a Patreon! It’s a way get perks in return for joining a membership each month. You can contribute as much or as little as you like.

While I’ve gotten back on my feet financially, this is a great way to support what I’m doing and I appreciate any amount that you’d like to contribute. I thought about starting this for a long time, and everyone has been beyond supportive.

I’ve gotten a lot of questions, so I’ll answer them below.

FAQ about joining on Patreon

I don’t want my name to be public. Can I donate anonymously?
Yes! Check out this link.

How can I donate?
Go to this link and click “Become a Patron.” Then, you can choose how much you want to donate each month, and you’ll be guided through the process. Here’s a tutorial on how to do this.

What forms of payment does it accept?
It accepts credit/debit card, Paypal, and more. Check out the full list here.

Please note: I don’t get access to your payment information, and you can cancel the membership at any time.

Here’s my Patreon page! Join here.

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Goodbye to a place I love

My friend tells me that border security will punch a hole through my drivers license when I pass the border.

I am aghast when she tells me this, because my license is a piece of my identification as a canadian. It’s silly, it’s a piece of plastic, but it’s my identity.

It’s like I am leaving it behind, in Canada. Have you ever moved countries?

You know how some robots look almost human, but not quite human enough? This is Seattle. It’s still the west coast and it looks almost like Vancouver, with a mountain in the background (in the photo above), but I know better. I have no friends here.

The point of this is that I am now realizing the gravity of what I have to give up, to pursue my next job in the states.

Is it worth it? I don’t know yet.

I will be getting a new ID card, a new identity to define me. I might have to be less nice, in the USA.

I read that I will be considered a minority race and gender in Seattle.

I research the mountains where I can go skiing or mountain biking.

I have been browsing the American news sites for the past month.

This is a chance to start fresh, to make my mark, to not let my past define me. I will always be me inside, and no hole punches can take that away from me.

Goodbye for now, Canada.


I wrote the above when I was expecting to move. Now that I have finalized everything, I wanted to share a bit more about what happened.

I view 14 apartments in 2 days. I arrange the appointments so I tour the city in a circular shape and leave 15 mins between each one.

However, I drive into Seattle by accident and wait in 45 mins traffic on a highway to drive back to Bellevue (a small city to the north).

I put in so much work to optimize my route and did not account for human error. But, Bellevue is such a small town that I complete all the Bellevue viewings in one day, so I only had 4 viewings the next day.

There is nothing in Bellevue. There’s no nature, no interesting restaurants, nothing but highway and houses.

I end the day satisfied with myself, and disappointed in the plain city.

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New Ways to Learn Piano Online / Sydney (Smart Game Piano)

We don’t talk about learning music in new ways very often, but rote / learning online has gotten popular in the past year. Technology has improved enough to let people learn online, and online learners can become fairly skilled!

Today, we have an interview with my new friend Sydney from Smart Game Piano, who’s teaching videogame music online, by rote!

From easy pop songs to advanced videogame music, it’s quite simple to start picking up the basics of piano by playing by rote–I suspect that’s why a lot of teachers are using this in their teaching!

We talk about how to take advantage of teaching/learning by rote, using videogame music to improve mental health, and how she got started teaching online. I teach online as well, but by different means, and it was interesting to hear about her methods!

Take a look at my interview with Sydney below. I had a lot of fun!

Check out Sydney’s website, Instagram, and Youtube! This is the Smart Game Piano Facebook group we were talking about in the interview.

Sydney and I played this mashup together.

How did you learn music? Have you ever taken online lessons?

P.S. If you’re new here, get my best music tips/stories by signing up for my FREE weekly email newsletter! I talk about practicing efficiently, learning faster, and other ways to succeed in piano.

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How to play a piano mashup (Overcooked & Rachmaninoff)

Wouldn’t it be fun to combine two unlikely pieces of catchy music, especially a modern piano piece with a classical piece?

What if we combined music from Overcooked (a videogame) with… Rachmaninoff?

My new friend Sydney joined me on this adventure. She runs Smart Game Piano where she teaches people how to play cool video game music by rote! Check out her website, Instagram, and Youtube!

This is our mashup! I explain the behind-the-scenes on how we mashed the pieces with a little improv in the article below…


a. Pick proper music

How to play a song mashup (rachmaninoff & overcooked video game)

I’ve started playing Rachmaninoff’s Prelude No 6 again, and it seems challenging to mash with Overcooked, so here we go!

Sydney had the Overcooked menu theme sheet music, and it turns out it’s in the same key as the Prelude, E flat major.

The major difference is the rhythm, as the Overcooked theme is more waltz-like with the jumpy left hand.

I wanted to improvise on this mashup, so I didn’t write anything down. Sydney and I played our own parts separately, but we would send our playing to each other so we could start off where the other person ended, to get a cohesive piece.

The Prelude has a lot of flowy left hand action and big chords in the right hand, whereas Overcooked has more block chords, like a waltz.

When I transition from Overcooked to Prelude, I keep the waltz-y left hand for a few bars (more on this later).

That’s a good rule of thumb for mashing: when you’re transitioning from one piece to the other, keep one element consistent from the old piece for a few bars, so it doesn’t sound like you completely switched to a new piece.

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Chunking for Better Music Practice

Chunking is a specific way of grouping small “chunks” of music together for zoomed in practice. It helps you save time and frustration in the practice session!

Chunking is zooming in on tiny sections of music you’re having trouble with, so that you don’t spend an hour playing through mistakes when you could be targeting trouble spots with laser precision, in less time.

I’ve described the chunking technique in different articles over the years, but I think it’s time for me to create a definitive guide on it. 

So, here’s the definitive article about chunking, to help you learn music more quickly.

I’ve created a video to show the technique where you can practice with me! The article below describes the details.

Pinpoint your trouble spot

Divide the music that you’re having trouble with into bars. Play the bars separately; are you still having trouble? Which bars? Highlight them.

What’s the smallest measure of time that you could divide the bar into, that would still make sense? This can be per beat, or per two beats, or whatever makes sense for that part (if it ends in a strange spot, include the end of the triad or whatever).

This is from a piece I was working on, Un Sospiro. I’ve divided the passage into larger chunks that make sense, using the long lines. Then, I used brackets to denote smaller chunks of one beat, or one run of the pattern.

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How to be remembered

You probably know a song that makes you think of someone sweet or important in your life. Unless you’re tone deaf. But, if you’re tone deaf, then you wouldn’t be reading a music blog.

Well, except my dad. He was probably tone deaf, and he still read my blog.

My dad had helped plant a tree beside my grandma’s house when he was in his teens, and in recent years, it had grown taller than the house itself and the leaves had gotten a little unruly.

The last time I went to my grandma’s house, the tree was gone. It was chopped into tiny logs to heat my cousin’s house. It’s an important task, and I got to stay in her basement without freezing, because of the mighty tree.

It doesn’t affect me as much as a piece of music that would remind me of my dad.

The other day, I wanted to learn a song that my dad used to like, but after listening to it on the piano, I sat there and simply couldn’t play piano at all.

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