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Re: Overwhelmed and need desperate help
Ryanhd #2379393 01/28/15 11:02 PM
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All great replies so far but you did hit the nail on the head. Learning piano is an avalanche of new information and it seems every skill is equally important but requires so much effort it just seems daunting. I have recently completed two years of learning piano but I had so many low points in the first year I can relate with your dilemma. One thing that helped me was simply being organised. I had a written schedule for each days practice session, do some scale work, do some sight reading, learn some more of the piece I would be working on, do some research, and so on. Having a "to do" list each day will give structure where there was none and your list can develope to be as simple or as complex as you wish so that it can even then become a monitoring tool. I have used a spreadsheet since early days and been able to amend it as my needs increased.

Another important issue I found was I needed to use youtube sparingly. While I believe research is of utmost importance and a skill in itself not often talked about, the exposure to child wonders playing perfect Fur Elise at 6 years old has a detrimental effect. As does watching others who have been playing for years play the piece you might be learning. While they serve as a guide, you have to remember as a beginner you cannot possibly match their skills and nor should you try. So you have to give yourself permission to sound bad and just tell yourself you will get better.

With piano you do have to take the long term view. Our expectations never seem to match the reality and indeed the daily practice sessions taken in isolation never seem to be that fruitful. So you do have to have a bit of faith they are working and review progress in much longer periods, (I do quite an in depth review at the end of the year). To this end I often think in terms on an apprenticeship where generally the first two years seem like you are going nowhere and quite mundane. It is only in the years after that things become clearer and you have some skill to tackle the job at hand.

Lastly I think it is important to be part of a piano community such as PW. Piano by nature is a lonely affair and support by like minded people (as you can tell by the replies so far) can be invaluable.


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Re: Overwhelmed and need desperate help
Ryanhd #2379395 01/28/15 11:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Ryanhd
I think 'this is just too much to take in, what's the point?' and I end up feeling terrible.


I'd love to tell you this goes away. If you're susceptible to this, it doesn't.

So I'm going to give a couple pointers:

* teacher (yada yada yada, it's been said). A good teacher helps, particularly with motivation. You must click.

* love the process. Free yourself from your expectations. Then do it the next day. You have to just suck it up. It's okay. Eventually Stockholm Syndrome sets in.

* finding a teacher. If you've no luck, then ABRSM is the main testing authority in the UK and I'm sure they'll be able to recommend teachers in your area. (US: not so big on the testing thing) On the one hand, having testing goals is one way for short-term motivation. It also enforces a certain amount of well-roundedness (that I lack). On the other, I've known folks to go through the curriculum and then drop piano after they finish their final grade. On the whole, I've a bias against testing. But I see some benefits and you might find teachers that way. If you find a teacher that way and the testing doesn't work for you, then as an adult, you can insist on a change in approach or ask for a referral.


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Re: Overwhelmed and need desperate help
Ryanhd #2379398 01/28/15 11:18 PM
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Ryan, the Alfred method book you linked (Alfred's Adult All-in-One Book) is the one that has the ongoing thread here at the ABF. There are three books. Most people go through Books 1 and 2 and a few do Book 3. I self-taught from AAIO Books 1 and 2 and then got a teacher. I was diligent about practicing and enjoyed the process prior to getting a teacher, but I got to a point where a book just wasn't enough.

Feeling overwhelmed is not an unreasonable response to all the things that need to be learned in order to play the piano. However, there are things you can do to make it more manageable. One thing is a getting a teacher--let the teacher worry about all the stuff that needs to be learned, in what order, and when. Yes, you still think about the big picture (have some goals, some idea of what kind of music you ultimately want to play), but on a day to day basis, your teacher has mapped out for you what needs to be done. Another thing is coming to a place like this for encouragement from fellow travelers. Good luck and keep us posted!


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Re: Overwhelmed and need desperate help
Ryanhd #2379438 01/29/15 01:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Ryanhd
. . .

Basically, I need someone to give me a guide plan for things to work on, or even just one thing to practice or learn, something that I'm missing that would allow me to feel more confident on the piano, perhaps a really good website or youtube series that I can trust to take me through what I need to learn.




It's someone, not something:

. . . . Those people are called "piano teachers".

From personal experience and shared experience:

. . . Regular practice is far more effective than occasional practice.

. Charles


. Charles
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Re: Overwhelmed and need desperate help
Ryanhd #2379446 01/29/15 02:07 AM
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Hi Ryan,

Plenty of good advice here. A structured program always helps. When I'm trying to form a new habit, I set a goal to do the tiniest thing possible to form that habit (e.g., I will just sit down at the piano and play for 5 minutes). This creates a snowball effect.

1) It sounds like you'd rather learn to play by ear rather than read music?
2) Would your ideal solution be a course that primarily teaches you tactics to learn by ear with a bit of theory mixed in so that it doesn't get so overwhelming / boring?

Re: Overwhelmed and need desperate help
earlofmar #2379506 01/29/15 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by earlofmar
Another important issue I found was I needed to use youtube sparingly. While I believe research is of utmost importance and a skill in itself not often talked about, the exposure to child wonders playing perfect Fur Elise at 6 years old has a detrimental effect. As does watching others who have been playing for years play the piece you might be learning. While they serve as a guide, you have to remember as a beginner you cannot possibly match their skills and nor should you try.

This CANNOT be stressed enough. I have long stopped seeking these types of videos as I can find no positive effect in watching them.

Now I will once in a while check out famous concert performers, as these folks are in a different stratosphere, and I enjoy hearing how it is "really done".


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Re: Overwhelmed and need desperate help
Ryanhd #2379587 01/29/15 11:51 AM
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I felt the same way you feel now, about a month ago- as far as quitting practicing, it sometimes seems unrewarding? Too detailish …all that stuff.
It is a mental hurdle to learn songs, but there are many benefits on the mental and neuro side. Check the internet.
Also, a way to express yourself in a different way.
For myself, every new piece is a challenge and it falls together with practice.
I guess a mountain climber never really understands why he climbs.
And sometimes learning some parts of a song is “like that….”
I think I’ll just learn and “Do it” while I can.

BTW:
1. Mel bay has self instruction books on piano that were valuable in my learning.
2. Stick with a song until you play it well, and move on, one step at a time.
3. A teacher is likely invaluable if you can afford one.
But I wouldn’t let not having one keep me from learning piano music/playing.


Many words of encouragement and helpful people are found on this site, so browse it often … smile




Re: Overwhelmed and need desperate help
Ryanhd #2379604 01/29/15 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Ryanhd
I started about 7 or so months ago and have been progressing very slowly.


The biggest single lesson I learned, and it came from my teacher, is that what we are doing is hard, and progress is slow. There's no fast track. Once I realised that this is true, and that it's true for everyone, I found the frustrations and sense of disillusionment faded completely, and I was able to concentrate on the next greatest lesson I learned, that of perseverance.

I can see, feel, and hear the progress made since this month last year. Sight-reading is improving, and I'm beginning to recognise chord patterns on the page and know where I need to put my hands and fingers. I'm getting a more instinctive (but not yet faultless) sense of fingering.

At the risk of being as repetitive as most others, if you can arrange for a good teacher, you'll never look back. You already know you need structure in your approach, and you already know there's more skills behind piano than just knowing which keys to press. There's also a whole load of 'background skills' that a good teacher can give you, providing layer upon layer on top of the primary skills, and a teacher will 'round out' your whole piano experience.

Like Earlofmar and BrianDX, I also caution against immersing yourself too much in video clips on YouTube and the like. In addition to their pertinent observations, it can deny you your own voice, playing as you are capable, even if only slowly and fitfully, instead of trying to emulate someone who's had years more practice than we have.

Only one thing is certain : that if you give up, you will come to regret it.

Re: Overwhelmed and need desperate help
Ryanhd #2379643 01/29/15 01:59 PM
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Ryan we have some things in common. I too utubed my favorite video game music and got pianist envy at how well the youngins could play those midi classics. So I started teaching myself how to play them with only online sources to draw from.

It's doubtful we progress very far without mastering the basics. I sort of imagined I'd try for a 50:50 split between learning the fun songs that inspired me and working on Frere Jacques type exercises for children who learned properly. Lately it's been more like 80:20.

Last edited by tbonesays; 01/29/15 02:00 PM.

"Motivation is simple, you eliminate anyone who isn't motivated." - Lou Holtz.
Re: Overwhelmed and need desperate help
Ryanhd #2380727 02/01/15 01:43 AM
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Crucial to my progress were these things:

1. Learning to read music. This was really important, because it set me free to learn anything I wanted without limits or relying on silly method books.

2. Learning some popular music such as movie themes or pop themes. This really got me through my beginning years when the boring beginner repertoire just wasn't keeping my interest.

3. Keep looking for the right teacher, one that excites you and makes it FUN.

Hope this helps!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Last edited by Tony Romo; 02/01/15 01:46 AM.
Re: Overwhelmed and need desperate help
Tony Romo #2380784 02/01/15 06:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Tony Romo
Crucial to my progress were these things:

1. Learning to read music. This was really important, because it set me free to learn anything I wanted without limits or relying on silly method books.

2. Learning some popular music such as movie themes or pop themes. This really got me through my beginning years when the boring beginner repertoire just wasn't keeping my interest.

3. Keep looking for the right teacher, one that excites you and makes it FUN.

Hope this helps!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


4. Having the off-season start well before February.


"Motivation is simple, you eliminate anyone who isn't motivated." - Lou Holtz.
Re: Overwhelmed and need desperate help
Purkoy #2382106 02/04/15 12:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Purkoy
Like Earlofmar and BrianDX, I also caution against immersing yourself too much in video clips on YouTube and the like. In addition to their pertinent observations, it can deny you your own voice, playing as you are capable, even if only slowly and fitfully, instead of trying to emulate someone who's had years more practice than we have.


I learned this the HARD way. It left me in a state of paralysis as I could not decide whether I wanted to sight read or play by ear. Some (and I say some) of these gurus know that A) an actual instructor is not cheap and B) you won't be able to play all that well in "6 months or less". BUT they will make these bogus claims to fondle needs for instant gratification and thus to get at your wallet (by leaving a link to website under the clip). All beginners have to think long term. If great piano playing was easy, it simply wouldn't sound as good.

So, with prices for lessons three to six times what they were decades ago when more homes had pianos, I've budgeted the year out for a teacher. Gotta bite the bullet and keep at it.


Happy 2 B Back.
Re: Overwhelmed and need desperate help
Ryanhd #2382229 02/04/15 09:38 AM
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I have had a teacher once a week for about 4 months. It has been great, my teacher guides me through a book adn we cover a few pages and a few chords for that week and it is my job to practise these before the next week. I think this breaks it down and makes it more manageable so that I don't get overwhelmed.

A few times I have skipped ahead in my book and when I play it in front of my teacher she points out mistakes I am making which I wasn't even aware I was doing. I think it is important to get a teacher as already, mine has pointed out bad mistakes and habits which I am getting into and stopped them in their tracks which makes moving forward a lot easier!


Piano beginner since november 2014, taking it slowly, one step at a time. Working towards grade 1 exams.
Completed grade 1 - June 2015. Onwards to grade 2
Completed grade 2 - June 2016. Let go for grade 3...
Completed Grade 3 - December 2017. Let's be having you grade 4
Re: Overwhelmed and need desperate help
Ryanhd #2389041 02/21/15 09:09 AM
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This has been one of the most enjoyable threads I've read thus far, I also feel overwhelmed especially after yesterdays practice time - nothing and I mean nothing I was doing seemed to work, come natural or sound even remotely like a good beginner..

But today is a new day, I'll have the house to myself for a few hours and plan on getting it on again!

Thank you all for a good read.


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Re: Overwhelmed and need desperate help
Tony Romo #2389120 02/21/15 12:42 PM
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I've quit piano five times - once every decade of my life starting from the first time I quit in my teen years.

This time around I'm in my third year of lessons with a very good teacher, and I feel that it's going great, and doubt I'll ever quit again. I'm really getting somewhere this time.

What has made the difference for me? Having a good teacher.

My suggestions for you:

1) Dump the youtube learning-by-watching approach

2) Learn to read music. You can play by ear too as well as read music. Why limit yourself?

3) Get yourself a teacher. If it turns out you are not happy with the teacher find a different one.

4) Play piano every day. It is not a chore. In time it will pay off because you will start to feel natural at the piano by regularly playing. Just give it time.

5) Be patient and don't set expectations according to a time line

6) Theory is actually interesting, not boring. It will help you play music.

7) Having a teacher gives more benefit than just the lesson guidance. It forces you mentally to try to accomplish something each day so you will do well at the next lesson. In other words it motivates you.

8) If you have trouble with the money a teacher costs then have a look at where else you spend money and see what else could be cut out.

9) Enjoy the journey along the way rather than look for some goal at the end.

Good luck


"There is more to this piano playing malarkey than meets the eye" - adultpianist
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