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Distraction
#2799304 01/07/19 07:54 AM
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Does anyone have any suggestions got help?

I seem to get too often distracted.

Normally when practicing means picking up lots of pieces and playing bits.

If a piece is boring, if I don’t get it or if I prefer another piece I find it hard not to jump on.

I also starting noticing this I do a lot in everyday life (especially with iPhone / email at work / websites etc.) so probably very common.

I’ll try to moderate checking so will try not to check the thread until tomorrow ! Haha

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Re: Distraction
Moo :) #2799315 01/07/19 08:48 AM
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I'll engage in the thread, but I don't think I'll be of any help...

I'm distracted by ANYTHING. I can only play when I can concentrate 100% on playing. It's a nightmare. I don't understand it.

I found it hard not to skip songs but my teacher wouldn't have it. It's really hard for me to work on material I don't like. Alfred's nearly killed me. I bought the equivalent Faber book and I really wish that would have been an option. Anyway, I can certainly see how someone wanting to make a living at piano needs to learn to play whatever they sit in front of him but I'm not convinced that it's a great idea for me.

Re: Distraction
Moo :) #2799328 01/07/19 09:48 AM
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I just had an epiphany.

When I practice, or play the piano, is about the only time I'm *not* distracted. I believe that's why I love it so much. I'm usually terrible for going from one thing to the next and get distracted by absolutely everything along the way, including my own overactive brain. But when I'm at the piano, my mind shuts up and it's just me and the music. Bliss.


Sibylle


"Not a shred of evidence exists in favour of the idea that life is serious." -Brendan Gill
Re: Distraction
Moo :) #2799329 01/07/19 09:52 AM
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I think it is very common to be distracted, especially when we have things like email and social media to distract us! It can be hard to buckle down and concentrate on something, especially when the going gets tough. It was bad enough when it was just computers, but now we have phones...

I find my ability to focus is inversely proportional to frustration level - if something is going well, and I'm making progress, I can stick with it for some time. However, if I'm struggling with something, and just can't seem to break through, then I just want to stop and do something else - anything else, wash the dishes will do!

One thing that sometimes helps me is to set mini-goals - things like, learn these four bars hands together, or drill this tricky bit until I can play it slowly without mistakes. You could also try setting a time limit for working on each piece - if you know you only have 10 minutes (or 15, or whatever) to work on it, it might help focus the mind a bit.

While I was writing that, I thought of a technique I learned during my IT days that might be good applied to practicing. It's called Pomodoro, because the guy that developed it used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_Technique

Basically, you use a timer to set a work period - the original is 25 minutes, but I would prefer 10-15 minutes for piano practice. That time period is called a pomodoro. You decide what needs to be done, work on it until the timer goes off, take a short break, and then decide if you're going to keep working on that task or switch to another one for the next pomodoro. It's supposed to help you keep focused and avoid distractions.


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Re: Distraction
elenmirie #2799331 01/07/19 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by elenmirie
While I was writing that, I thought of a technique I learned during my IT days that might be good applied to practicing. It's called Pomodoro, because the guy that developed it used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_Technique

Basically, you use a timer to set a work period - the original is 25 minutes, but I would prefer 10-15 minutes for piano practice. That time period is called a pomodoro. You decide what needs to be done, work on it until the timer goes off, take a short break, and then decide if you're going to keep working on that task or switch to another one for the next pomodoro. It's supposed to help you keep focused and avoid distractions.

Interesting. I think this is the thing Sam S mentioned a few days ago on PW.


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Re: Distraction
Tyrone Slothrop #2799333 01/07/19 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop

Interesting. I think this is the thing Sam S mentioned a few days ago on PW.


Yes, it is! Great minds... laugh


Q: Am I late beginner, or early intermediate? A: Yes!

Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best. ~ Henry Van Dyke
Re: Distraction
elenmirie #2799353 01/07/19 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by elenmirie
I think it is very common to be distracted, especially when we have things like email and social media to distract us! It can be hard to buckle down and concentrate on something, especially when the going gets tough. It was bad enough when it was just computers, but now we have phones...
[...]


Social media and phones are only distractions if one lets them become distractions. Don't blame the media or the device.

Regards,


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Re: Distraction
BruceD #2799417 01/07/19 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Social media and phones are only distractions if one lets them become distractions. Don't blame the media or the device.



To soften this a bit: phones are a slippery slope, and apps are designed to be as seductive and addictive as possible. Like potato chips and their perfect balance of crisp lightness, saltiness, and lack of satiety, it's easy to continue to scroll through these infinite apps that provide tiny dopamine hits here and there. However, blaming them is an easy way to avoid taking responsibility for our actions, so I agree with BruceD's statement, if maybe not the terse way it was stated.

So how do we fight back? Lots of ways. You can leave your phone in another room. You can uninstall the apps that are distracting you and only access those sites via a PC during a designated time. You can run the RescueTime app (using apps to fight apps? why not?!) to see how long you're actually spending on these apps in order to motivate yourself to stop.

The biggest bang for your buck, however, might be mindfulness meditation. For a while I was spending 10 minutes meditating before my practice sessions, and it was a great way to clear my head so that I could spend my energy on improving, not on struggling to focus. And to help show that it's not just me, I found a study specifically tailored to determine if meditation impacts sustained attention. You can read it here.


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Re: Distraction
Sibylle #2799427 01/07/19 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Sibylle
I just had an epiphany.

When I practice, or play the piano, is about the only time I'm *not* distracted. I believe that's why I love it so much. I'm usually terrible for going from one thing to the next and get distracted by absolutely everything along the way, including my own overactive brain. But when I'm at the piano, my mind shuts up and it's just me and the music. Bliss.


I am exactly the same way.



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Re: Distraction
Downhill_Fast #2799428 01/07/19 03:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Downhill_Fast
You can run the RescueTime app (using apps to fight apps? why not?!) to see how long you're actually spending on these apps in order to motivate yourself to stop.

I swear by this app here for piano - it's my mindfulness app.


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"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: Distraction
Moo :) #2799455 01/07/19 04:54 PM
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When in music school we all had to have timers with us most used small kitchen timers. Many of our assignment had a timing on them for how long to work on the assignment over the next few days. We were told had to stop even if not finished when the time was up. Each day the time got shorter.

Basically the frustration of not finishing forced us when practicing to block out distractions and control our ability to focus on something. Over time it builds the ability in not only music but other areas to control focus to get things done. I know when I really learned to focus when sight reading it was like I was slowing down time and had plenty of time to look at the music start reading ahead of where I was playing.

Another thing we were told when practicing to take a break every hour say 10-15 minutes. On the break get away from the instrument and drink water or something (yes, just like Pavlov's dog). Doing this could practice all day and actually get a lot done and not just end up noodling around and calling it practice. And like that dog we like oral gratification so drinking something, smoke, eat something.

Last since on the topic in school we were told to not working on something more than 21 days, that at end of 21 day let it go for awhile. That after you let it go you will notice yourself suddenly thinking about what it was and mentally quizzing yourself. They said that is your subconscious going over what your learn and telling you to think about something that isn't clear to your brain.

Re: Distraction
Moo :) #2799477 01/07/19 05:49 PM
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Emails I'll limit to checking twice a day unless I'm expecting an important Email where someone is sending an important document. Any online chats I'll limit to very early in the morning or late in the day before going to bed.

The most active time of the day can be used productively for music practice. For phones, I'll mute the ringer for an hour unless I'm expecting an important call. I treat all calls as telemarketing. If the call is important enough, the caller would leave a message.

The only distraction is looking up versions of a song online and listening to them which is considered part of learning.

Re: Distraction
Downhill_Fast #2799490 01/07/19 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Moo :)
Normally when practicing means picking up lots of pieces and playing bits.

If a piece is boring, if I don’t get it or if I prefer another piece I find it hard not to jump on.


I think it's good to limit the number of new pieces you work on daily. I used to do it for a long time. Just say to yourself, 'today I'll work on this, this and this piece'. If you don't want to work on one of the selected pieces after having it sight read, just drop it, but don't replace it with another piece, your practice session will shorten. After several 'shortened' sessions you'll probably feel some dissatisfaction, like I did, and you'll work on the selected pieces more.

And probably more diversity of pieces is required.

Originally Posted by Downhill_Fast
The biggest bang for your buck, however, might be mindfulness meditation. For a while I was spending 10 minutes meditating before my practice sessions, and it was a great way to clear my head so that I could spend my energy on improving, not on struggling to focus. And to help show that it's not just me, I found a study specifically tailored to determine if meditation impacts sustained attention. You can read it here.


I could not learn meditation despite many attempts, my mind just did not cease wandering no matter how many times I returned my attention to the breath. But then at some point I discovered works of George Gurdjieff and I was fascinated. He doesn't call his method of increasing mindfulness a meditation, but essentially it is, and I'm sure there is no other so detailed and well-thought-out system to obtain mindfulness and develop some other consciousness-related skills. Some of his ideas are ingenious, I would say, and they are yet to be recognized and appreciated. For those who have problems learning to meditate I recommend his works very highly.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Gurdjieff
(don't be scared by his photo smile )

Re: Distraction
Docbop #2799528 01/07/19 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Docbop
[...] drinking something, smoke, eat something [...]


Smoke? Never!


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Re: Distraction
Moo :) #2799593 01/08/19 03:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Moo :)
Does anyone have any suggestions got help?

Hi Moo smile and others who are easily distracted. You can train concentration in pretty much the same way as you practise the piano.
First you have to decide that you really want to train concentration. Now, let's say you have a boring piece or fragment, for how long do you think you can practise this without getting distracted? One minute, five minutes, ten minutes? Whatever number you come up with, subtract it with one (unless, of course, you think you can only concentrate for one minute.... smile ), set your timer on your telephone for those minutes, and practise until your timer rings. It is really important that you just practise this piece or fragment and do nothing else. But hey, you thought you could practise even a minute more, so that shouldn't be too difficult. When the alarm rings, you stop.

The next time you practise the boring piece or fragment, you add one minute. You set your timer again and practise until it rings.

The next time, if you feel you are up to it, you add one more minute. But if you feel it is unsure if you will make it, you keep your timer on the previous number of minutes.

Continue like this until you can practise the amount of minutes that you want to.


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Re: Distraction
Moo :) #2799636 01/08/19 07:21 AM
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Thank you for the interesting replies. I was experimenting today and yesterday.

In piano yesterday I played only my lesson piece. Brahms 117.2. The start is really nice and flowing. Then it gets harder. Then hands separately at snail pace. Yes it was very boring and hard to keep at it !

I also tried on way to work on radio not changing channels. I normally keep changing and changing channels. Again I listen some mundane discussion and mediorcre music. so again a bit bored.

I also didn’t check this forum until today. This was harder. I can’t say I was bored this time. Just wanted to find out. It was a bit silly.

So results from experiment 🧪

Distraction distracts from boredom.
Need to tolerate boredom if want to not be ditracted.

Urge to check internet can be controlled.
But need to tolerate waiting for answer.
Checking may be about patience.

smile

Re: Distraction
BruceD #2799641 01/08/19 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by Docbop
[...] drinking something, smoke, eat something [...]


Smoke? Never!


You got that right!!



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