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Help - advice required - quit or persevere? #2787239
12/03/18 06:40 AM
12/03/18 06:40 AM
Joined: Jun 2014
Posts: 2
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sluk07 Offline OP
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Never posed on here before so apologies if this is a topic that is often discussed.

I'm an adult student (36). I have been playing for around 3 years. I am at a point where I am wondering whether to stop playing.

However, I wanted to post on this board because I do not know any other adult learners and as such I have no idea if the issues I'm experiencing are just something every adult learner goes through or whether the signs are there that I am essentially 'banging my head against a brick wall' in terms of trying to learn this instrument so that I can play at a competent level.

Goals

My main goal when learning was to work through the grades and get to grade 8 standard. I was prepared for the fact it would take years and a lot of practice. I am total music nut, it's my passion in life and so it seemed natural to want to learn to play something.

I like playing classical/baroque piano pieces and this the genre I would like to develop a repertoire in.

Current situation

I manage 45mins - one hour practice per day, which I think is good considering I have the usual pressures of adult life i.e. a demanding full-time job, mortgage, family commitments etc... I usually do 10 - 15 mins of warm-up exercises/scales and then hit the repertoire practice.

I have had lessons to start with and have had periods of having lessons then having a break from lessons mainly due to the varying quality of teachers I have encountered.

I have a Kawai full-size electronic piano with graded hammer action etc...so a decent-ish piano for my level.

I have recently got my grade 2 and I'm working towards grade 3.

Problems/Issues

Recently I have been questioning whether it is worth carrying on learning to play. I am the kind of person that believes if you do something you should throw yourself into it and get as good at it as possible. I am also not a quitter; I hate giving up on things, but I also realise that, sometimes in life, quitting can be a smart decision if you're working hard at something that is going nowhere.

Why do I feel like this, well, briefly:

- I feel my progress is too slow. I am limited in the time I can put into playing. It takes me months to learn one piece competently. Again, is this normal? I have no idea. My teacher tries to encourage me but, of course, if I stop playing he stops receiving my money, so I'm not convinced his advice is impartial. I try to get everything right, especially the dynamics but it just takes so long and I feel I should be getting through the pieces more quickly for the practice I'm putting in,

I also find it physically draining. My back usually hurts after 20 or so minutes each time and I've tried yoga and various other stretching exercises, but nothing has worked. I just think working 10+ hours a day at desk and then playing the piano afterwards is just too much for my back. But I can't quit my job just so I can play the piano! (however much I would like to do that).

- I don't feel like I will ever get to the level I want to reach. I don't expect to be a maestro but considering I i give up nearly all of my limited free-time practicing, I would like to get to a moderately advanced level. But I have technical limitations that I don't know can be fixed. For example, my teacher suggested Hanon to strengthen my fingers and my left habd is particualry weak and inflexible. I have spent HOURS but I simply can't play any of the exercises except the first one at a higher tempo than 85 - 90 without it all falling apart.

- Finally, I just don't enjoy practicing. This is the big one. I come home from work and then the thought of practicing makes me feel mentally tired. I force myself to do it, but after a practice session usually I feel more frustrated and annoyed than I do pleased/happy/relaxed.

Every now and then I have a mini breakthrough with a piece and feel good, but that will be followed by feeling like I've taken a backwards step for the next few practice sessions, and it generally puts me in a bad mood, is this normal? and is it right to feel like this? does it show that I care and want to get better or should I be getting more out of it. It is, after all, a hobby, which should be a pleasurable activity, no?

I guess what is underlying this is the ultimate question - can anyone reach a decent standard of piano playing just by throwing practice and lessons at it, or are some people just not cut out for the instrument, and if so, how do you know?

I'll stop there because I'm rambling but I would appreciate some (kind) advice as to whether these are problems everyone encounters or whether it sounds like my free time might be best be spent doing/learning something else.

Thanks everyone.

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Re: Help - advice required - quit or persevere? [Re: sluk07] #2787242
12/03/18 07:11 AM
12/03/18 07:11 AM
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 3,176
Florida
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Finally, a nice, well articulated post with clearly defined issues and goals! Thank you!

I experienced similar frustrations at around the same level. I’m now at year five and beyond them. First, it might help if you could post a sample of your playing on YouTube or Instagram. Second, can you give a specific example of the pieces you’re playing that frustrate you?

Importantly, I had a similar issue at this level and I now believe it to have stemmed from a bad teacher. I had a teacher that insisted I learn something perfectly, faster and faster, up to a certain speed. In classical music and baroque, this can become frustrating. Specifically I had trouble with sonatinas. Are the pieces you’re frustrated with grade appropriate? If not, no matter how much time you put in, you won’t be able to bring them to perfection.

Next, why does practice seem like a chore? When I had these issues, I found it very frustrating also. When I began to play pieces I loved and was able to learn, it became something I live for, rather than something I dreaded.

Where do you live? I found a music department at a small university that has young, enthusiastic teachers. Maybe that’s an option. And finally regarding the physical issues, a video might help there also. I wonder if it’s a posture or position issue. Bench height? Tension? Are you otherwise fit and healthy? It shouldn’t hurt. How are your ergonomics at work?

Good luck! You’ll find a lot of support here. Oh and finally, this forum is littered with success stories. You can become one too.


Steinway A3
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Re: Help - advice required - quit or persevere? [Re: sluk07] #2787243
12/03/18 07:18 AM
12/03/18 07:18 AM
Joined: Sep 2015
Posts: 2,322
Dublin
johnstaf Offline
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Do not stop playing.

What you're feeling is normal. If you are focussed on a long term goal that is very far away, and that is your only motivation, you will naturally feel tired at the thought of practising. You also need to look at your posture -your back shouldn't hurt at the piano unless you have a back problem, but it's usually posture.

The best way to get out of a slump is to take on something you can manage and try to make progress with it. For example, spend a few days on half (or less) of the music you normally practise. First, just take a couple of bars and concentrate on them. If you feel good, you will want to move on. The next day try another part of the music, but don't go over the previous days work. I think a problem many people have is that they try to cover too much in a practise session. If you practise a section today and progress, and do the same tomorrow with a different section, you will have covered a lot by the end of the week. You can get a lot done in 45 minutes per day, but you have to manage your time carefully.


If you find the practise routine that suits you, you will look forward to it.

Re: Help - advice required - quit or persevere? [Re: sluk07] #2787248
12/03/18 07:48 AM
12/03/18 07:48 AM
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barbaram Offline

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You are doing this for *you*. It sounds like you and I play for very different reasons. Your reasons are valid for you though, and only you can decide if you want to continue.
Here are my thoughts on some of the points you raised:

Originally Posted by sluk07
My main goal when learning was to work through the grades and get to grade 8 standard.

It's important to have goals in mind, of course, but a hobby is all about the journey, and it is perfectly fine to change your mind about the destination.

Quote
I was prepared for the fact it would take years and a lot of practice.

Great.Now that you are 3 years in, and have a better idea of how much practice and over how long this is likely to take, are you still prepared for it? Do you still want it?


Quote
I manage 45mins - one hour practice per day, which I think is good considering I have the usual pressures of adult life

That's about all I can manage too, it's very reasonable when combining with work, family and other commitments. That said, I feel pretty sure that those who manage the journey to Grade 8 in the textbook 8 or so years need to put in quite a lot more as they progress through the grades. So if you want to reach grade 8 and this is all the practice time that is reasonable, then maybe you need to anticipate it taking more years. Or maybe you could reconsider whether reaching Grade 8 is so important. There is loads of wonderful music at easier levels. It's already opening up to you at the Gr2/Gr 3 stage, but by the time you reach Gr 5 or 6 there is an enormous range of fabulous music.

Quote
I have had lessons to start with and have had periods of having lessons then having a break from lessons mainly due to the varying quality of teachers I have encountered.

Some people on this forum progress well without a teacher. Personally, I enjoy the freedom for a short while and then I start to stagnate, get frustrated and start to lose motivation.
Given some of the other points you make I think working with a teacher sounds like the better option for you, but I agree that finding the right teacher is important.

Quote
I am the kind of person that believes if you do something you should throw yourself into it and get as good at it as possible.

Fair enough. I on the other hand am the kind of person that believes if you are doing a hobby for pleasure, it should give you pleasure.
That doesn't mean don't work at it, or don't have ambitions. And I'm certainly not saying that you should drop it at the first frustrations.
But focus on the journey, not the destination.

Quote
I am also not a quitter; I hate giving up on things, but I also realise that, sometimes in life, quitting can be a smart decision if you're working hard at something that is going nowhere.

And I think life is too short to engage in hobbies that you don't enjoy. That misses the point of what hobbies are for.
So for me, if a hobby is not giving me joy or enriching my life, then I would swap it for something that does.
But timeframe and context is important here - I go through stages of "piano blahs" too, where I don't have a lot of motivation, but I've never hit the point of wanting to give up. For me it's been more a case of figuring out what to change about what I am doing to make it enjoyable again. And in the short term, it's often about intentionally focusing my piano time on what I *want* to do rather than what I feel I *should* do, even if this is sub-optimal from a learning perspective.

Quote
I feel my progress is too slow.

Same, this is common.
It takes me months to learn a piece at the edge of my ability well. I have made the mistake in recent years of having all my pieces at (or beyond) this level. The result is very few pieces, almost none of which get to a really good performance standard.
At the moment I am intentionally working on much easier pieces (for me this means I was doing pieces around Gr 6/Gr 7 and at the moment I am doing a bunch of Gr 1-3 pieces, working with a new teacher).
It's quite common among very exam focused students and teachers to focus just on the exam pieces and getting them perfect. Spend ages on a few pieces, pass the exam, and then spend ages on a few pieces at the next level. I don't think it's a great approach, and I think the lack of more rounded experience and wider repertoire catches up on you later. At least it did with me.

Quote
I also find it physically draining. My back usually hurts after 20 or so minutes each time

This doesn't sound right, and would suggest to me that you have posture and/or tension issues when you are at the piano. This is something you should be able to address with the right help

Quote
I don't feel like I will ever get to the level I want to reach.I don't expect to be a maestro but considering I i give up nearly all of my limited free-time practicing, I would like to get to a moderately advanced level

Journey, not destination

Quote
But I have technical limitations that I don't know can be fixed. For example, my teacher suggested Hanon to strengthen my fingers and my left habd is particualry weak and inflexible. I have spent HOURS but I simply can't play any of the exercises except the first one at a higher tempo than 85 - 90 without it all falling apart.

If you must do Hanon, focus on getting absolute control and evenness at a lower tempo, worry about the tempo later.
I'm open to correction but your idea of what you "should" be able to achieve here sounds like it might be overly ambitious for Gr2?

Quote
Finally, I just don't enjoy practicing. This is the big one. I come home from work and then the thought of practicing makes me feel mentally tired. I force myself to do it, but after a practice session usually I feel more frustrated and annoyed than I do pleased/happy/relaxed.

This is the main thing for me.
If you don't enjoy practicing, then why are you doing it? I think most of us sometimes experience this, but if it is your normal situation then it's time to look hard at it.
What about it don't you enjoy? What do you enjoy? Are you spending all your piano time doing the things you feel you "should" do and little or none just doing the things you want to do, for fun?

Ultimately only you can decide the right course for you. However I'm not sure you will stick (or that you should stick it) unless you can adjust your piano routine so that you enjoy it more. That's the point, after all.

Re: Help - advice required - quit or persevere? [Re: sluk07] #2787252
12/03/18 08:16 AM
12/03/18 08:16 AM
Joined: Jun 2017
Posts: 178
England
Lillith Offline
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Some good advice there.

All I can add is that imo you're playing the wrong music.

If whatever you're practising doesn't make you look forward to it, then choose something that does.
There are squillions of pieces of music out there for all levels so there will be loads you will actually like playing.
And remember that practising = playing, so you should enjoy your practising too.

I got a bit like you, so had a go at some jazz, rags and blues (easy) as a change from classical, and am loving it.

Giving up piano, from the info you give, is a bit like giving up reading because you're not enjoying War and Peace smile

Good luck smile


Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you? Did she die in vain?
Roland FP30 in white
Re: Help - advice required - quit or persevere? [Re: sluk07] #2787254
12/03/18 08:26 AM
12/03/18 08:26 AM
Joined: May 2018
Posts: 383
Denmark
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First off: no one here will tell you to quit. Ain't gonna happen. We love playing music (even though the going may be tough at times), so suggesting that somebody quit would be nearly unthinkable.

What you should do, I can't tell you. But I can illustrate the path I'm taking. Maybe it contains something that you could use.

My path:

  • Self-teaching, and I don't want a teacher.
  • Not aiming at taking examns but at becoming able to play any music I want to play.
  • I play ONLY music I already know well, and love dearly.
  • I aim at picking music that is at "my level", as best I perceive that. Not too easy, and not too difficult.
  • Typical pieces are around 20-40 bars long, I start another one at the beginning of every month, and sometimes in addition shorter pieces around the middle of the month, if progress is really good on the longer pieces.
  • I have never yet played anything to perfection. I also believe no professional pianist ever did so. Everything can be improved, but whenever I am able to play a piece entirely from memory, I do consider that a landmark of progress, and mentally I keep track of my improving skills all the time.
  • Some days I play two or even three sessions, but those are exceptions. Typically I get 30-60 minutes per day. There are days where I lack the energy to play, so I skip those days.


Just a single point on your back pain: try breaking your sessions up into smaller sessions with resonable pauses in between during which your muscles will relax again. Also, consider doing what sports people do in order to avoid muscle issues: stretching, and warming lotions.


Roland FP-30, Roland E-28, Pianoteq 6.5 (Bechstein DG, Grotrian, Steinway D, K2), Garritan CFX Lite
Re: Help - advice required - quit or persevere? [Re: sluk07] #2787255
12/03/18 08:28 AM
12/03/18 08:28 AM
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Chiltern Hills, England.
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What a lovely and well considered reply Barbaram. For the first time in my life on a forum I think I'm going to break a principle and just say ...

Me too :-)

Re: Help - advice required - quit or persevere? [Re: sluk07] #2787276
12/03/18 09:26 AM
12/03/18 09:26 AM
Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 461
Brittany, France
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Lots of excellent advice already.
another +1 for Barbaram's comment. Covers what I had in mind when I read the OP.

I have a few comments, but the main one is, of course, don't give up because playing the piano is such a wonderful thing to do - importantly, though, at any level of proficiency as long as you can get to enjoy it. Unless you have reason to believe otherwise, by the way, I expect (well, hope) that your teacher doesn't want you to give up for similar reasons to ours.
Aching back is not good and I used to experience this. Without being an expert I can't advise, but in my case I bought a book on the 'Alexander Technique' and used that. As no doubt you are aware, it isn't just how you sit at the piano (but look at you-tube videos of good pianist to see how they sit, not all will suit you, but a general view and look at those with similar build to yourself, for example) but how you sit at the office as well and move in general. I used to do a lot of wallking around when I had an office job, any excuse and up I'd get - and posture is important. One excercise I found really useful was really just lying flat on my back on the floor (head supported) and relaxing, others such as the arm excercises help relax shoulders. An example of a book (mine is long out of print) https://www.amazon.com/How-You-Stand-Move-Live/dp/1600940064/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8
The goal of reaching Grade 8 is good, but not reaching it will not destroy your chances of enjoying the piano. As has been mentioned, the amount of music at intermediate level is amazing and it is very satisfying. My goal was to enjoy playing the piano, have done no grades (time, work, life pressure etc.) but I enjoy playing and it's far nicer to be involved with the music than just to listen to it. Not everybody can actually reach the highest level, but that does not stop them from playing, just like every painter doesn't end up as a Rubens, Picasso or what have you. Not everybody plays just classical music, btw, I certainly don't, and I find popular and 'easy listening' pieces relaxing fun to play - often with very simple arrangements
Slowish progress with limited time is not unusual, and some people learn faster than others. Learning has its ups and downs, and it will help to play pieces you enjoy mixed in with the practice. Mix in pleasure with the hard work - so the piano becomes your friend rather than just a work-place.
I do a few Hanon excercises myself, but I do them slowly - for me they help the fingers but are just a part of the warm-up routine which is rarely fast. There are many pianist who will tell you that Hanon is not good etc. so treat with caution. Fluidity increases over time, don't push it.
Stick with this group - discuss how things are going, join in when you want. In my opinion there's not a lot to beat swapping yarns about a subject with others who have similar interests to help when enthusiasm flags - I know mine does at times occasionally when things aren't going right.


regards
Pete
Re: Help - advice required - quit or persevere? [Re: sluk07] #2787285
12/03/18 10:03 AM
12/03/18 10:03 AM
Joined: Nov 2018
Posts: 45
Manchester, UK
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I used to play many years ago and bought a piano two years ago to get back in to it. I'm about to start again with regular practice with a view to reaching a competent standard and being able to play many of the pieces I enjoy listening to on a daily basis, I'm 36 also.

Like you I've committed to becoming a better player and see this as a long term project. For me it's all about the journey and learning the pieces I enjoy. It won't be practice so much as just playing and enjoying my hobby. I think it is very much about what you play and how much of a perfectionist you are. I have no interest in learning a piece that doesn't mean anything to me which is why I would probably be no good with a teacher suggesting what I play. A hobby shouldn't be about grinding through the exercises, you have to enjoy the here and now. I very much think your enjoyment will be based on the pieces you play and whether you feel connected to them.

The only thing holding me back from playing is works being done on my house, now delayed until next week (grrrr). However I already have a playlist of the songs I want to learn. I've simply called it "The 50" which is my ultimate repertoire goal. Some are out of my reach at present, others I can play half through already. I'll add and remove pieces as I see fit but will keep it at 50 maximum as a long term goal. There are currently 35 pieces on the list and only 3 are more than about 10 years old (Nocturne in E-Flat Major, Clair de Lune and Ave Maria).

For me, when I play a piece (or even part of a piece) I know well and love to listen to it, it's a great feeling that I can play it. Hearing the music I love and knowing I made it happen is enough to motivate me. If you don't have that same passion then perhaps you are playing the wrong music or it's not for you.

Just a little example of some pieces on my list with beautiful melodies:

I Love You - Riopy
Moments - Florian Christl
Song of the Evening - Alexander Chapman Cambell
Tears of a Tiger - Ilya Beshevli
Pippa's Theme - Joep Beving

I'd be all for having a group of us at similar stages/ages that can bounce off each other.

Re: Help - advice required - quit or persevere? [Re: sluk07] #2787291
12/03/18 10:22 AM
12/03/18 10:22 AM
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sluk07 Offline OP
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Everyone - thank you so much for your positive words of encouragement. It means a great deal and also shows that this forum is a supportive environment with some wonderful people on it. Thanks again; I have genuinely taken on board all that you have said smile

Re: Help - advice required - quit or persevere? [Re: sluk07] #2787292
12/03/18 10:23 AM
12/03/18 10:23 AM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 7,107
Tyrone Slothrop Online content
Tyrone Slothrop  Online Content

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Originally Posted by sluk07
I also find it physically draining. My back usually hurts after 20 or so minutes each time and I've tried yoga and various other stretching exercises, but nothing has worked. I just think working 10+ hours a day at desk and then playing the piano afterwards is just too much for my back. But I can't quit my job just so I can play the piano! (however much I would like to do that).

Not going to address the other issues since I play for the "wrong reason" myself and so I shouldn't be giving advice. But I was in a near-fatal motorcycle accident in late 2011 and got tore up pretty badly including spinal injuries and permanent nerve damage in right arm. I also work a 50-60 hr/wk desk job. When I first got my digital piano, I could barely sit 15 mins without being in back agony/spasms. I adopted two things which have miraculously fixed this for me. One, I got this memory foam cushion. The second is I sucked it up and wore a back brace and this one when I practice. This combo of 3 items has total banished my back pain and although I am usually too busy to practice for more than 60 mins in a day, I'd be able to sit for 2 hours if I had to without the debilitating pain I was experiencing when I first started learning piano back in February of this year.


across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
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Re: Help - advice required - quit or persevere? [Re: sluk07] #2787294
12/03/18 10:33 AM
12/03/18 10:33 AM
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Posts: 4,708
Pennsylvania
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dmd Offline
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sluk07:


I think you may wish to "start over" after taking a break (month or 2).

And when you start over …..

Work with a teacher and a method book …. page by page …. and do not go too fast.

You need to experience success and build on that success instead of (as it appears) focusing on failure.

Ignore how long things take and just focus on success.

And try to begin building a repertoire of pieces that you can play well and play them for "folks" now and then.

Let me emphasize .... you need to experience success and build on that success.

No-one said it was going to be easy or fast but it should be enjoyable.


Good Luck


Don

Kawai MP11SE, Edifier R1850DB Active Bookshelf Speakers, Yamaha HS8S Powered Subwoofer, SennHeiser HD 559 Headphones, Pianoteq and numerous other VSTs
Re: Help - advice required - quit or persevere? [Re: sluk07] #2787295
12/03/18 10:33 AM
12/03/18 10:33 AM
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Richrf Offline
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You are playing to reach a goal. Learn to enjoy the act of creating music. There is no frustration if there are no goals. Rather, there is enjoyment for every sound you create. Switching perspective is not easy, but it is worthwhile.

Millions upon millions quit for the same reason you are contemplating it. They were trying to achieve a goal rather than enjoy the music.

Re: Help - advice required - quit or persevere? [Re: sluk07] #2787309
12/03/18 11:23 AM
12/03/18 11:23 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 25,805
New York City
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I think one of the most important points made so far is to try and work on pieces you really love. I don't know what pieces are available at your level but you should reach very soon (if you're not already there) a level where there are pieces available by the the greatest composers. I'm talking about classical composers. If classical isn't your interest then if you look carefully there are terrific arrangements of non classical pieces available at a non advanced level. Check out some arrangements by Nikki Iles, for example.

Re: Help - advice required - quit or persevere? [Re: Richrf] #2787319
12/03/18 12:09 PM
12/03/18 12:09 PM
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Posts: 4,468
Southwestern Ontario
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prout Offline
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Southwestern Ontario
Originally Posted by Richrf
You are playing to reach a goal. Learn to enjoy the act of creating music. There is no frustration if there are no goals. Rather, there is enjoyment for every sound you create. Switching perspective is not easy, but it is worthwhile.

Millions upon millions quit for the same reason you are contemplating it. They were trying to achieve a goal rather than enjoy the music.

Best post by far! thumb

Learning is its own reward. Making music is why we play.

I find practicing the most enjoyable thing I do every day. I have been doing it for 63 years and have yet to reach the ‘goal’ of playing any piece of music ‘correctly’, whatever that means. The day I do achieve that ‘goal’ is the day I quit playing the piano.

Re: Help - advice required - quit or persevere? [Re: sluk07] #2787324
12/03/18 12:30 PM
12/03/18 12:30 PM
Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 280
48-49 High Street (WI, USA)
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TheophilusCarter Offline
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Posts: 280
48-49 High Street (WI, USA)
A lot of really good advice here, and I tend to agree with it. However, I do think it's important to take the alternatives seriously, so I'll share a personal experience.

I've played a number of instruments over the years. Saxophone was my earliest one, then upright bass (which I still play). I too went through periods of doubt, frustration, etc., but generally speaking, it felt worthwhile and enjoyable, and I felt like I made progress as long as I worked at it.

I also tried to learn classical guitar at one point, and got very serious about it, even putting in two hours a day for the last couple of years. I. SUCKED. AT. CLASSICAL. GUITAR. smile No matter what I did, I really just didn't make any progress. Worse, it was no freakin' fun. I felt and thought a lot of the things that the OP mentions, and at a certain point, I just decided that it wasn't the instrument for me, so I quit. Best decision I ever made, because ...

Eventually I found my way to piano, and I'm having a blast. To be clear: I am NOT a natural. I have to work VERY hard, and my progress is VERY slow. I also have periods of doubt and frustration. But on the whole, I do see progress, and more importantly, I am having fun with it.

I'll say again I agree with a lot of the advice and encouragement here. But at the end of the day, the OP has to make a decision that works for them. Quitting is one option, and it's not a failure of any kind; it's simply a decision to use one's precious free time in a more rewarding way.

Good luck!


Decent upright bassist, aspiring decent pianist
Casio PX-160, Casio CDP-130
Roland KC-80
Pianoteq 6 Stage (used with Pearl MalletStation)
Re: Help - advice required - quit or persevere? [Re: sluk07] #2787330
12/03/18 12:53 PM
12/03/18 12:53 PM
Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 311
UK, EU
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precise Offline
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Yes, some interesting points above.

But, it seems to me, that you're bored and unmotivated. That's not a reason to give up - it's a reason to re-assess things, which you're doing.

You say you want to become grade 8 standard. That's great. But being that standard does NOT mean having to go through the process of doing the grade exams.

If, as I suspect, you are working on three exam pieces ad nauseum until you do the exam - only to then repeat the process with three more 'exam' pieces, then I would, frankly, expect you to be very bored and unmotivated. There is no rule to say you have to do exams and, probably, very little benefit to you if you actually do so. IMO, ditch the exams.

Why not work with a teacher who is willing to explore the non-exam route? Play lots of pieces, work on different repertoire, don't feel confined to 'exam' pieces. Work for, and on, an approach that works for you - that motivates you and makes you want to sit and play.

To be honest, any teacher who is recommending Hanon as a way of strengthening fingers is in serious need of research and a change in teaching method. Hanon will not strengthen your fingers like some magic pill. It is from an 'old school' way of teaching that teachers just haven't grown out of. I know of no regarded teachers who would prescribe Hanon. It's an unimaginative approach at a cheap fix unless taught, and done, extremely well.

Pain and discomfort are probably due to sitting incorrectly and not using your body correctly when playing. Again, I suggest that a good teacher should be aware of all these things and it is essential that they work with you on this, as it is very important.

You need a good teacher, one experienced in working with adults, one with whom you can explain your musical aspirations etc. There are many good ones around - and, of course, some real horrors.


Don't give up. You love music. You need to be, and feel, motivated.




Re: Help - advice required - quit or persevere? [Re: sluk07] #2787332
12/03/18 12:55 PM
12/03/18 12:55 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 3,240
Georgia, USA
Sam S Offline

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Posts: 3,240
Georgia, USA
If you stop now and regret your decision in a few years, you will probably have to start over from the beginning.

But if you continue to play, in a few years where will you be? And you will have the enjoyment of playing for those years.

Its about the journey, not the destination! Back in 2014 I did a thru-hike of the Appalachian trail - 2100+ miles in 5 months, from Maine to Georgia. Many times I felt like quitting, just calling up someone to meet me at the next town and take me home. But I stuck it out, because I really was enjoying the journey as a whole, even though there were many bad days.

Sam

Re: Help - advice required - quit or persevere? [Re: sluk07] #2787334
12/03/18 01:03 PM
12/03/18 01:03 PM
Joined: Nov 2016
Posts: 604
The Sierras
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David B Offline
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The Sierras
If you're not happy learning to play the piano and it puts you in a bad or discouraged mood on a fairly regular basis, then you really should consider something else. Life is too short to engage in a hobby that you find more frustration than pleasure in.

My brother started golfing latter in life and would get so upset at his performance he would break his clubs. Eventually he stopped playing which was good because he probably would have had a heart attack on the golf course.

Our ability in life to cope with stress must be greater than the stress we experience or else our quality of life will be diminished and possibly our life expectancy shortened.

It's good you're getting counsel here from others and hopefully it will help to shape a better experience, but if it doesn't, it's better to walk away.

That's my general counsel. Here is my specific counsel to piano the playing.

As others have said, try learning songs that you really enjoy. The biggest challenge I have as an adult beginner in the specific learning course I'm involved in, is that the song selection is mostly uninspiring for me. It decreases my motivation to practice. However, I manage that frustration with the enjoyment that comes from learning and improving my skills that will later be used in the type of music l look forward to playing.

However, the music I long to play isn't that technically challenging. If the only music that you want to learn - the music that speaks to your heart - is the most advanced classical music written (I don't know what grade 8 means) then you might have an unrealistic expectation. In that case you need to determine if you can be satisfied with a lower expectation.

Either change your attitude and expectations so that enjoyment instead of frustration is the norm or seriously consider doing something else. I wish you the best in your journey whatever you decide to do.

God Bless,
David


Yamaha AdvantGrand N1X
Mac mini 2018/Focusrite Scarlett 2i4/KRK Rokit 6 G3 Studio Monitors
Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course; Lessons 1-39 Completed
Re: Help - advice required - quit or persevere? [Re: precise] #2787337
12/03/18 01:11 PM
12/03/18 01:11 PM
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 1,885
Philadelphia, PA
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jdw Offline
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Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 1,885
Philadelphia, PA
Originally Posted by precise
Yes, some interesting points above.

But, it seems to me, that you're bored and unmotivated. That's not a reason to give up - it's a reason to re-assess things, which you're doing.

You say you want to become grade 8 standard. That's great. But being that standard does NOT mean having to go through the process of doing the grade exams.

If, as I suspect, you are working on three exam pieces ad nauseum until you do the exam - only to then repeat the process with three more 'exam' pieces, then I would, frankly, expect you to be very bored and unmotivated. There is no rule to say you have to do exams and, probably, very little benefit to you if you actually do so. IMO, ditch the exams.

Why not work with a teacher who is willing to explore the non-exam route? Play lots of pieces, work on different repertoire, don't feel confined to 'exam' pieces. Work for, and on, an approach that works for you - that motivates you and makes you want to sit and play.

To be honest, any teacher who is recommending Hanon as a way of strengthening fingers is in serious need of research and a change in teaching method. Hanon will not strengthen your fingers like some magic pill. It is from an 'old school' way of teaching that teachers just haven't grown out of. I know of no regarded teachers who would prescribe Hanon. It's an unimaginative approach at a cheap fix unless taught, and done, extremely well.

Pain and discomfort are probably due to sitting incorrectly and not using your body correctly when playing. Again, I suggest that a good teacher should be aware of all these things and it is essential that they work with you on this, as it is very important.

You need a good teacher, one experienced in working with adults, one with whom you can explain your musical aspirations etc. There are many good ones around - and, of course, some real horrors.


Don't give up. You love music. You need to be, and feel, motivated.





Really good points here.

I'm especially struck by the issue of discomfort, since I have a history of RSI myself. If practicing makes you hurt, it's not surprising that it's hard to keep up enthusiasm and pleasure in it. You need a teacher with better understanding of how body and piano interact. As Precise says, the recommendation of Hanon to "strengthen fingers" is a sign that this teacher is not well equipped to help you.


1989 Baldwin R
Currently working on:​
Schubert, Op. 90 no. 2
Sinding, Frühlingsrauschen (Rustle of Spring)
Beethoven, Sonata no. 14 in C# minor (Moonlight)
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