Technique: ‘Speedrunning’

SamSuggs

How to use a competitive video gaming approach to plan out your practice, maximise your technical efficiency and play consistently accurately on stage

The first time I saw someone ‘speedrunning’ to complete Super Mario on the Nintendo in four minutes instead of four weeks, I remember thinking, ‘Wow’. It was like watching an Olympics of video games and it gave me the same sense of aspiration that I get when I see someone give a virtuoso performance on the bass: it was something that I could kind of do, but at the same time it was out of reach.

In video games, speedrunning is all about completing a game in the shortest time, by performing in a very targeted way. I use the same ideas to help my students do their best in music. That doesn’t mean I want them to get a Flight of the Bumblebee speed record – to paraphrase Bartók, races are for horses, not artists! I just want them to optimise their performance, by maximising their knowledge of the music and their instrument…

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