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The struggle of even fifteen minutes a day
#2513281 02/21/16 02:56 PM
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I have studied music pretty much all my life and became a high intermediate on one of my instruments with barely any Practise. I had excellent teachers and I follow instruction carefully but at most I would do three days at barely thirty minutes. Now I am 56 and have been studying piano with a great teacher who really inspires me and I don't know if it is my age or the instrument but I am aiming,for now to get to the point where I Practise six days a week at forty-five minutes and up. But it is almost impossible for me to get to the piano for six nights a week. Many people here say,just aim for fifteen minutes at least,if that is all you can do. But I so often come home from work and feel so burned out that I just can't make it to the bench. I almost always have done four nights which is the best in my life,sometimes I even manage five which for me is close to gold based on my past,but six is just undo able..I just can't find the strength. Eventually I hope to reach seven days regularly,but based on my past I have tried to set a fair goal. I have to add I have no children so there is nothing stopping me from the six days except for life fatigue.

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Re: The struggle of even fifteen minutes a day
alans #2513289 02/21/16 03:25 PM
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I agree that some workdays are utterly exhausting, and really I just can't think for awhile after work.
Two alternatives: practice before work or take a nap when you get home from work and then practice.

Mentally, if I just tell myself 'one passage, 15 minutes', it does help combat the work fatigue.
Try a few alternatives and see if something works for you.



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Re: The struggle of even fifteen minutes a day
alans #2513290 02/21/16 03:29 PM
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Something I would consider is going to bed an hour earlier and getting up one hour earlier...and do guess what in the morning?


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Re: The struggle of even fifteen minutes a day
alans #2513298 02/21/16 03:51 PM
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Morning practice for me too. I am way too spent in the evenings.


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Re: The struggle of even fifteen minutes a day
alans #2513334 02/21/16 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by alans
I have studied music pretty much all my life and became a high intermediate on one of my instruments with barely any Practise. I had excellent teachers and I follow instruction carefully but at most I would do three days at barely thirty minutes. Now I am 56 and have been studying piano with a great teacher who really inspires me and I don't know if it is my age or the instrument but I am aiming,for now to get to the point where I Practise six days a week at forty-five minutes and up. But it is almost impossible for me to get to the piano for six nights a week. Many people here say,just aim for fifteen minutes at least,if that is all you can do. But I so often come home from work and feel so burned out that I just can't make it to the bench. I almost always have done four nights which is the best in my life,sometimes I even manage five which for me is close to gold based on my past,but six is just undo able..I just can't find the strength. Eventually I hope to reach seven days regularly,but based on my past I have tried to set a fair goal. I have to add I have no children so there is nothing stopping me from the six days except for life fatigue.


There are some really good points to consider in this post. In another thread, I said that how much one practices depends on how dedicated the person is. However, this thread gives me another perspective to think about.

I retired somewhat early, at 60 two years ago, but am working a few months a year as a contract software engineer so I don't have to draw on my retirement savings. I have much longer stretches of free days than somebody working full time, and as a result, have more time and energy to devote to music on a daily basis. However, next week I am starting a 4 month contract which will be my work for this year, so a thread such as this is timely.

When we get older (and I think 56 would fit in this statement), we tend to run out of energy sooner than when we were younger. It is quite conceivable that a job that is either physically or mentally taxing (or both) would leave a person at or after "middle age" with little energy to practice at the end of a work day.

What I find as a solution to this is to know EXACTLY what it is I am going to work on for each day. If I can eliminate any sort of decision in this regard, it is much easier to get started. Once I start, it seems much easier to continue. It is getting started that is the most difficult, and having to decide at that time what to practice, makes starting a much bigger task than it would otherwise be.

One other thing...it might depend on what style of music you are learning to play, as to how much "work" it would be at the end of a long day of work. I get the impression that those studying classical music seem to express more of the "work" aspect of it than do those of us learning to play other styles. I could be wrong, and it is also possible that it is simply the choice of words in the posts of those studying classical music, but often for me, just reading those posts from the classical music crowd can even make me tired. smile

Tony


Last edited by TonyB; 02/21/16 05:51 PM.

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Re: The struggle of even fifteen minutes a day
alans #2513373 02/21/16 07:32 PM
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IMO we (amateurs) should lighten up on ourselves and not worry if we don't get to the piano every day. For me, it's counter-productive to try to practice if I'm too tired. If I can't concentrate, I'm more likely to foster a bad habit than to learn something constructive.

I would love to practice more, but realistically, I don't think I average more than 30 minutes a day in a typical week. I'm still able to make clear progress, so it's all good. My teacher hasn't gotten tired of me yet. smile


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Re: The struggle of even fifteen minutes a day
alans #2513374 02/21/16 07:33 PM
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PS, a day off from practicing can even be good for you!


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Re: The struggle of even fifteen minutes a day
alans #2513378 02/21/16 07:40 PM
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During the work week, I take a 15-20 minute nap before practicing each night, which helps, especially in the second half of the week.

In a lot of ways, you just have to do the best you can with the fatigue, and practice as best as possible. On Thursdays and Fridays, my ability to memorize is close to non-existent, and my focus isn't anywhere near where it is on the weekend. So I often use those days for "fun days" - like just playing known pieces in my repertoire, or spending almost the whole practice session sight reading new things.










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Re: The struggle of even fifteen minutes a day
alans #2513400 02/21/16 08:39 PM
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I'm wasted at the end of the day, and often so tired that any practice seems of no benefit. I had to change things up. Instead of getting in my 30 min. morning walk, I play the piano instead, and moved my walk till later (which actually energises me, surprisingly). I squeak in another 20 min. or so on technical stuff and that seems to work well.

Carlos88, I love the idea of a nap before playing. I actually did this today (a Sunday) and am practicing right now (taking a break, LOL) and feel great! So I've definitely learned something about playing the piano: you need more energy than you think to practice well!

Last edited by ebonykawai; 02/21/16 08:40 PM.

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Re: The struggle of even fifteen minutes a day
alans #2513415 02/21/16 09:18 PM
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Carving out space for exercise has been tricky for me, because I like piano time better than exercise time, but without exercise I will slide quickly into decrepitude, and then I won't even be able to sit on the bench for 5 minutes.

So now the alarm goes off at 5:30 for my date with the stationary bike, which gives me enough time for practice before arriving fashionably late for work.


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Re: The struggle of even fifteen minutes a day
alans #2513442 02/21/16 10:26 PM
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Maybe 15 minutes is too much to aim for.

My daily commitment (via the MOYD thread) is simply to sit at the piano every day and play some notes. It might be one minute, or it might go longer. These days it usually goes longer, but if it's just very brief, I accept that. I like being at the piano everyday, even if it's only a very little bit.

There are lots of things to do at the piano in brief amounts of time. For example,today I spent a few minutes working on small improvements to the last eight measures of a simple piece I'm learning: getting the timing right in one measure, and getting into the 2nd 2-measure phrase without hesitation.

If I'm really tired, I might just play some notes together and listen to them, and then move some of the notes around and listen to the result. (This is part of a very long-term project I have to explore what I actually hear in musical sound.).


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Re: The struggle of even fifteen minutes a day
alans #2513466 02/22/16 12:41 AM
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Morning practice is the only option for me too on most work days. Even if I only have time for 15 minutes, I am always able to solve one problem or learn one phrase because my mind is fresh. I was never a morning person, but for piano I changed into someone who wakes up much earlier. I do everything necessary and then practice as long as I have before I absolutely must leave for work.

Re: The struggle of even fifteen minutes a day
alans #2513598 02/22/16 11:46 AM
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Practice in the morning before work and exercise after work was what I did. I had to self-enforce getting to bed on time, but after adjusting to getting up 30 min earlier in the morning, I actually started to look forward to it.


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Re: The struggle of even fifteen minutes a day
alans #2513599 02/22/16 11:46 AM
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sounds to me like the problem is lack of ENERGY rather than lack of time.

I'm 50 and notice this, too.

I'm not willing to practice in the morning, so that means I need to keep my energy level up for the evening. The only way to do that is by a siesta AND exercise.

Take a 20 minute catnap RIGHT after work. 20 minutes MAX. Just to calm down. No need to fall asleep. You just need to be fully relaxed to the point where you get 3 minutes of "whoa i was out there!". Even if that never comes, the 20 minutes of relaxation will let your BRAIN recover from the workday and reset a bit.

You also need exercise. But you can get by just fine with under a half hour. Just walk around the neighborhood for 20 minutes after lunch, or after dinner. (Don't stuff yourself during dinner.)

siesta and exercise are especially effective when done back to back, 20 mins each.

Coming at piano right after that will get you through a good practice session.

And a session doesn't need to be long. 30 mins can tackle plenty of issues if you've thought them through during the day. "There's THAT part and THAT part. If I can just get past those 2 things, I'm golden for today".

But you should have a practice session on as MANY days as you possibly can.

I'm no piano teacher or expert. But that's what works for me.


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Re: The struggle of even fifteen minutes a day
alans #2513603 02/22/16 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by alans
But I so often come home from work and feel so burned out that I just can't make it to the bench.


You could have been writing about me it seems. My first 2-3 years, I literally fell asleep at the bench in the evenings. I realize I was too tired and exhausted to learn anything new, so I decided to do the learning on weekends.

I am able to practice 2-3 hours each on Saturday and Sunday, plus whatever I could get in on weekdays, some days zero, some days 20 minutes, enough to not forget what I learned over the weekend. It's better than 1-hour every night at the bench 70% of the time passed out from exhaustion. I try to do the hard work of learning new materials, memorizing difficult passages, figure out difficult fingering, drill in those tough runs, during those long sessions over the weekends, then during the week just try to maintain.

What that means is if I only managed to learn 4-6 measures over the weekend, I don't even look at measure 7 on the weekdays, just practice the few measures I learned over the weekend. As materials gets harder, progress is slower, but progress is progress, however slow.

My teacher gave me permission to put away another piece of music at this week's lesson, and that was about 4-5 weeks from putting away the previous one. Yay! Progress is possible even at 0-20 minutes a day Mon-Fri for me, but making the time on the weekends is crucial. My goal this year is to learn every etude in RCM 6 (long story), and I'm doing it, even at 15-20 minutes a day 3-5 times a week.

Re: The struggle of even fifteen minutes a day
TonyB #2513613 02/22/16 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by TonyB
When we get older (and I think 56 would fit in this statement), we tend to run out of energy sooner than when we were younger. It is quite conceivable that a job that is either physically or mentally taxing (or both) would leave a person at or after "middle age" with little energy to practice at the end of a work day.


Completely agree, and software development and related careers tend to drive us hard, often with no work-life boundaries if we allow it, so burn out is easy, and I've seen it happen to many colleagues, and have been on the brink several times myself.

Having the same practice routine everyday is great, but if life does not allow it, we should be flexible. I had several loooong talks with my teacher about my career + my piano goals, and it is really important to have that understanding and support from my teacher. The last thing we need is the additional burden of guilt when walking into a lesson.

Re: The struggle of even fifteen minutes a day
alans #2513627 02/22/16 12:43 PM
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I had a similar problem at a much younger age - motivating myself after a long hard day at work.

My solution was a strange one: I just watch TV while practicing! (Well, mostly streams and YT, but it's really the same). The idea is to naturally move the relaxation after work to the piano, and while you're there, to start practicing some easy stuff, like endlessly repeating some troublesome measures.

Pretty soon, you're "in the zone" and start to ignore the TV, and at some point you will want to turn off the TV completely because the musicality and nuances of what you're doing start to matter.

It sounds really weird, but it really has doubled the amount of time I spend practicing between my weekly lessons - and even more strangely, the quality of my practice has improved as well, because I just don't get frustrated anymore.

Might be worth a try!

Last edited by Bunneh; 02/22/16 12:44 PM.

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Re: The struggle of even fifteen minutes a day
alans #2513805 02/22/16 07:03 PM
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Thank-you all for your great advise. I was telling my teacher today that sometimes the hardest part is just getting to the bench. Once I am there the amount put in is no problem.

Re: The struggle of even fifteen minutes a day
alans #2513810 02/22/16 07:21 PM
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So do most of you successfully get to practise seven days every week?

8 Octaves I have especially been interested in your posts because I know you are working on the RCM repertory which I did years ago up to grade nine on a completely different instrument. How long has it been since you did grade five and how difficult is the transition? My teacher told me today that after six months I am now ready to start RCM prep one. My dream is to achieve an Arct one day but at my age I will be in my seventies by then . Still it has become my life dream.

Re: The struggle of even fifteen minutes a day
alans #2513858 02/22/16 09:40 PM
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Originally Posted by alans
My dream is to achieve an Arct one day but at my age I will be in my seventies by then .


Well, the truth is ... even if you do not achieve an Arct ... you will still be in your seventies by then.

Go for it.



Don

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