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Hello from a newbie #2867539
07/09/19 02:23 AM
07/09/19 02:23 AM
Joined: Jul 2019
Posts: 9
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Veve87 Offline OP
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Hi everyone!
I'm a 31yo complete beginner. I know getting a teacher would be best, but for the time being I'll have to be without one. I've ordered Alfred's adult beginner all in one self teaching book. I've already printed the first few pages from the pdf I found online. But I have prefer to have a real book :-) Other two books are Alfred's Scales and chords and The joy of first year piano.

My goal is to just play simple pop and folk songs. I work with children so I may learn children's songs, as well :-) it's not my goal to play complex classics. Just practice for fun and enjoyment.

I'll share my plan here and maybe you could tell me if it's OK and possibly suggest something else? I'd be truly grateful!

So I will practice 30-60 min at least 5 times a week. I'll split it into two sessions. When I learn a new song in the morning, I'll revise it in the evening. I hope this will help with memorising. Every day, I'll spend 10 min on scales and exercises and will play at least 3 songs that I'd learned previously. When I learn new songs I'll listen to the textbook CD and watch videos. I'll record myself and compare.

I hope to eventually do all 3 levels of Alfred (although I don't even know what kind of music is in level 3).

At the moment I only have a cheap 80€ Yamaha keyboard. In case I play regularly and show some progress, I'll get a better keyboard for Christmas. I don't want to Invest now because I tend to get excited about things, buy expensive equipment and then not use it.

What do you think? Will this work for my purpose? I guess it's always better to set achievable goals than have unrealistic expectations. Do you have any suggestions, tips and tricks for me?

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Re: Hello from a newbie [Re: Veve87] #2867548
07/09/19 03:31 AM
07/09/19 03:31 AM
Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 630
Sweden
Animisha Online content
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Animisha  Online Content
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Hi Veve and welcome! Personally, I would wait a bit with the scales.

Originally Posted by Veve87
I'll record myself and compare.

It is a good idea, and I have done that as well. However, before I had gotten some very good feedback, I was always shocked to see my horrendous claw fingers moving around on the keyboard. And no matter how hard I tried to imitate the teacher, it just didn't work. Then a friend from Piano World put me on the right track - he saw that there was something basically lacking in my technique, and he knew what it was, and which exercise I needed to do.
I still record myself and compare, but now I know much better what to look for, and I get regular feedback by a teacher.

So if you find yourself in a similar position as I was, record yourself, be brave, and upload it to this forum - you might get just the advice that you need.

Good luck!


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
Re: Hello from a newbie [Re: Animisha] #2867562
07/09/19 05:01 AM
07/09/19 05:01 AM
Joined: Jul 2019
Posts: 9
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Veve87 Offline OP
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Thank you so much for the advice! Where can I upload the recordings? Start my own thread or is there a section for that? Sorry, this is first day here :-)

Re: Hello from a newbie [Re: Veve87] #2867564
07/09/19 05:15 AM
07/09/19 05:15 AM
Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 630
Sweden
Animisha Online content
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"Upload on this forum" was completely wrong of me to say. You can upload on youtube, and then show the video here.


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
Re: Hello from a newbie [Re: Veve87] #2867577
07/09/19 06:10 AM
07/09/19 06:10 AM
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 3,401
Australia
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earlofmar Offline
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Welcome Veve87, I would also advise to hold off on scales as a regime for a bit, but of course tinkering away at them and understanding them is worthwhile. I really like this site for its easy to understand approach.


Following Trying to follow the Ling Ling 40 hour method

Kawai K8 & Kawai Novus NV10


13x[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
Re: Hello from a newbie [Re: Veve87] #2867589
07/09/19 07:48 AM
07/09/19 07:48 AM
Joined: Feb 2018
Posts: 251
Chiltern Hills, England.
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gwing Offline
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Originally Posted by Veve87
Hi everyone!
What do you think? Will this work for my purpose? I guess it's always better to set achievable goals than have unrealistic expectations. Do you have any suggestions, tips and tricks for me?


Hey, welcome to the forum.

You may find that playing for much more than ten minutes at a go is initially too tiring, both for the fingers and the brain, and that multiple short sessions per day are more suitable at first. Later on you may well reach a point where you sit down for ten minutes practice and find that most of an hour has gone by unnoticed when you get up but that isn't how it starts.

Likewise I wouldn't want to tie myself down to a schedule of X hours a day unless I was studying for exams against a timetable. Everyone is different but for me the important thing is to make sure I enjoy my time playing and that keeps me returning to the keyboard - imposing a schedule would make it work not enjoyment and that wouldn't keep me learning or playing. You may be better disciplined than me though :-)

Re: Hello from a newbie [Re: Veve87] #2867675
07/09/19 12:32 PM
07/09/19 12:32 PM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 10
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Lazarus Offline
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Hi Veve and welcome!

Feel free to join us and post your progress in the gigantic Alfred's thread!

Re: Hello from a newbie [Re: Veve87] #2867716
07/09/19 02:57 PM
07/09/19 02:57 PM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 131
Connecticut, USA
MichaelJK Offline

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Connecticut, USA
Originally Posted by Veve87
Hi everyone!
I'm a 31yo complete beginner. I know getting a teacher would be best, but for the time being I'll have to be without one. I've ordered Alfred's adult beginner all in one self teaching book. I've already printed the first few pages from the pdf I found online. But I have prefer to have a real book :-) Other two books are Alfred's Scales and chords and The joy of first year piano.

My goal is to just play simple pop and folk songs. I work with children so I may learn children's songs, as well :-) it's not my goal to play complex classics. Just practice for fun and enjoyment.

I'll share my plan here and maybe you could tell me if it's OK and possibly suggest something else? I'd be truly grateful!

So I will practice 30-60 min at least 5 times a week. I'll split it into two sessions. When I learn a new song in the morning, I'll revise it in the evening. I hope this will help with memorising. Every day, I'll spend 10 min on scales and exercises and will play at least 3 songs that I'd learned previously. When I learn new songs I'll listen to the textbook CD and watch videos. I'll record myself and compare.

I hope to eventually do all 3 levels of Alfred (although I don't even know what kind of music is in level 3).

At the moment I only have a cheap 80€ Yamaha keyboard. In case I play regularly and show some progress, I'll get a better keyboard for Christmas. I don't want to Invest now because I tend to get excited about things, buy expensive equipment and then not use it.

What do you think? Will this work for my purpose? I guess it's always better to set achievable goals than have unrealistic expectations. Do you have any suggestions, tips and tricks for me?


It sounds like you have a history of starting exciting projects and then abandoning them. Me too...

Yes, it's good to set achievable goals. But, it's also natural that you will have unrealistic expectations. No one starts learning the piano because they want to play the beginning pieces in Alfred's Adult All-in-One book, right??? So, forgive yourself for wanting more than you have.

The important thing is that you are learning something new, and growing as a person. Remember that it will take time to learn how to learn piano. You will make mistakes here, and get demotivated. Expect that this will happen from the beginning. Think more in terms of which habits you want to develop, instead of what results you want.

If you are practicing in a way that you find enjoyable, you will be motivated to practice, and you will improve. So, experiment with different ways of practicing. Try the plan you outlined, and see how well it works for you. If doesn't work as well as you hoped, be happy that you learned something about practicing, and adjust accordingly.

Adult beginners always expect way too much way too quickly, and don't understand how hard music is. If there's something in the book that confuses you, do your best to understand it, and then move on. Things will start to make sense over time.

Re: Hello from a newbie [Re: Veve87] #2867844
07/10/19 01:54 AM
07/10/19 01:54 AM
Joined: Jul 2019
Posts: 9
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Veve87 Offline OP
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Wow thank you for the warm welcome everyone! I appreciate your suggestions! MichaelJK, thank you for explaining the psychological aspect so well! Your insight is valuable and I'll try to think about what you said. I think the good thing is that I accrually like playing even the simplest songs in Alfred.
I find playing ode to joy or Aura Lee fun, because I recognize those tunes and they are connected to memories. Only yesterday I found it very difficult to play the song called Aunt... Can't remember her name. I didn't know that song. Maybe it's a well known folk song in the USA but being from Slovakia, I didn't know what it's supposed to sound like. So I had a hard time playing it. But I listened to the video over and over until I remembered it. Then I played it a little better but I'll return to it today.
Well my point was I have no specific hopes of higher goals. I'm not a musical person. I practically never listen to music except radio in the background. I've decided to try the piano as a part of my therapy for mental issues. To be honest, I didn't expect to actually like playing at all. I'm more interested in the effect of playing on my brain than actual music. That's why I'm quite happy with playing simple melodies in Alfred 1. It serves its purpose for me (managing mood, being mindful and getting in the flow). Maybe it will change as I continue practicing. I hope so.

Re: Hello from a newbie [Re: Veve87] #2868001
07/10/19 01:23 PM
07/10/19 01:23 PM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 131
Connecticut, USA
MichaelJK Offline

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Originally Posted by Veve87

Well my point was I have no specific hopes of higher goals. I'm not a musical person. I practically never listen to music except radio in the background. I've decided to try the piano as a part of my therapy for mental issues. To be honest, I didn't expect to actually like playing at all. I'm more interested in the effect of playing on my brain than actual music. That's why I'm quite happy with playing simple melodies in Alfred 1. It serves its purpose for me (managing mood, being mindful and getting in the flow). Maybe it will change as I continue practicing. I hope so.


Music can be a great way to practice mindfulness. Playing the piano is physically a very interesting experience. Pay attention to what it feels like to touch the keys. To move your body. To be "in the flow", and also "not in the flow". You can learn a lot about yourself this way.

Re: Hello from a newbie [Re: MichaelJK] #2868259
07/11/19 06:22 AM
07/11/19 06:22 AM
Joined: Jul 2019
Posts: 9
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Veve87 Offline OP
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Veve87  Offline OP
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Loop
Originally Posted by MichaelJK
Originally Posted by Veve87

Well my point was I have no specific hopes of higher goals. I'm not a musical person. I practically never listen to music except radio in the background. I've decided to try the piano as a part of my therapy for mental issues. To be honest, I didn't expect to actually like playing at all. I'm more interested in the effect of playing on my brain than actual music. That's why I'm quite happy with playing simple melodies in Alfred 1. It serves its purpose for me (managing mood, being mindful and getting in the flow). Maybe it will change as I continue practicing. I hope so.


Music can be a great way to practice mindfulness. Playing the piano is physically a very interesting experience. Pay attention to what it feels like to touch the keys. To move your body. To be "in the flow", and also "not in the flow". You can learn a lot about yourself this way.


Exactly! That's what I'm mainly interested in. And keeping my hands relaxed, watching my body posture... I know I'll never be a good player, but I can play anyway. If I'm asked about my goal, then probably grade 1 or 2.if I get there in next 5 years I'll consider it a success.

Re: Hello from a newbie [Re: Veve87] #2868542
07/11/19 10:30 PM
07/11/19 10:30 PM
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 4,921
Richmond, BC, Canada
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Charles Cohen Offline
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Joined: Dec 2012
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Richmond, BC, Canada
Originally Posted by Veve87
Loop
Originally Posted by MichaelJK
Originally Posted by Veve87

Well my point was I have no specific hopes of higher goals. I'm not a musical person. I practically never listen to music except radio in the background. I've decided to try the piano as a part of my therapy for mental issues. To be honest, I didn't expect to actually like playing at all. I'm more interested in the effect of playing on my brain than actual music. That's why I'm quite happy with playing simple melodies in Alfred 1. It serves its purpose for me (managing mood, being mindful and getting in the flow). Maybe it will change as I continue practicing. I hope so.


Music can be a great way to practice mindfulness. Playing the piano is physically a very interesting experience. Pay attention to what it feels like to touch the keys. To move your body. To be "in the flow", and also "not in the flow". You can learn a lot about yourself this way.


Exactly! That's what I'm mainly interested in. And keeping my hands relaxed, watching my body posture... I know I'll never be a good player, but I can play anyway. If I'm asked about my goal, then probably grade 1 or 2.if I get there in next 5 years I'll consider it a success.


This intrigues me. I know that shakuhachi "blowing practice" has been used as a mindfulness technique (the Japanese wouldn't use those words), and there's one drum / yoga teacher in Vancouver who's been developing a mindfulness program with drumming as a part of it:

https://rhythmbliss.com/

But I've never heard of anyone doing it with piano as the "target instrument".

I'm also intrigued that you've chosen an activity that (according to you) you don't really enjoy much. That may change as your skills and understanding grow. It's not something that I would do.

I do have a suggestion about hardware:

. . . If you has a keyboard that isn't "touch-sensitive" (that is, if the notes play at the same volume, no matter if you strike the key gently or hard),

. . . and you become interested in the _sound of the music_ you're playing (as opposed to your sensations, thoughts, movements, etc):

. . . . I'd suggest buying a keyboard with "touch-sensitive" keys.

The Yamaha PSR-3xx or 4xx models will do, and they're not very expensive (depending on how much money you have, of course!).

The next step up, in the keyboard marketplace, is a keyboard with "fully-weighted" or "hammer-action" keys, which simulate an acoustic piano. But those are more costly, heavier, and bulkier than the Yamaha PSR-3xx and 4xx models.

I wish you well on your journey. Keep in touch, let us know how things are going.


. Charles
---------------------------
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / Korg Wavedrum / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: Hello from a newbie [Re: Veve87] #2868568
07/12/19 12:18 AM
07/12/19 12:18 AM
Joined: Jun 2018
Posts: 630
Sweden
Animisha Online content
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Originally Posted by Veve87
Originally Posted by MichaelJK
Music can be a great way to practice mindfulness. Playing the piano is physically a very interesting experience. Pay attention to what it feels like to touch the keys. To move your body. To be "in the flow", and also "not in the flow". You can learn a lot about yourself this way.


Exactly! That's what I'm mainly interested in. And keeping my hands relaxed, watching my body posture... [...] If I'm asked about my goal, then probably grade 1 or 2.if I get there in next 5 years I'll consider it a success.

In that case, my advice would be to drop achievement goals directed towards the future, and stay here and now, and have as a goal to enjoy each practice session. And if the enjoyment is not there, to be patient and willing to just accept feelings of frustration, boredom, or whatever it is that is keeping you from enjoying your practice right now. Also, besides being aware of your body, naturally, be aware of the sounds you are creating. Learn to listen!

And finally:
Originally Posted by Veve87
I know I'll never be a good player, but I can play anyway.

Let go of ideas of good and bad!

Good luck Veve!


Playing the piano is learning to create, playfully and deeply seriously, our own music in the world.
Re: Hello from a newbie [Re: Veve87] #2868634
07/12/19 06:41 AM
07/12/19 06:41 AM
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Op125 Offline
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A suggestion is to revise pieces in the following day. A night's sleep works wonders for learning. Don't be discouraged if you find that the piece is forgotten in the following day - this is part of the learning process! Eventually (few days time) it should stick, and sometimes it does right away.

Another useful principle is to practice in short sections. These will then add up to the full piece.

Daily practice is the key to progress, and if you stick with it you will be seeing positive results.

Re: Hello from a newbie [Re: Charles Cohen] #2868782
07/12/19 02:04 PM
07/12/19 02:04 PM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 131
Connecticut, USA
MichaelJK Offline

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Originally Posted by Charles Cohen


This intrigues me. I know that shakuhachi "blowing practice" has been used as a mindfulness technique (the Japanese wouldn't use those words), and there's one drum / yoga teacher in Vancouver who's been developing a mindfulness program with drumming as a part of it:

https://rhythmbliss.com/

But I've never heard of anyone doing it with piano as the "target instrument".


I'm hoping you could elaborate a bit on this. When you say this "intrigues" you, are you saying that you are skeptical about using piano for this purpose? Or, are you saying that you are interested in knowing more about it?

Mindfulness has totally changed the way I practice the piano (and music practice has totally changed the way I meditate), so this is a topic I love to talk about.

Re: Hello from a newbie [Re: Veve87] #2868885
07/12/19 11:36 PM
07/12/19 11:36 PM
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 4,921
Richmond, BC, Canada
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Charles Cohen Offline
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Quote
. . .I'm hoping you could elaborate a bit on this. When you say this "intrigues" you, are you saying that you are skeptical about using piano for this purpose? Or, are you saying that you are interested in knowing more about it? . . .


Both. I'm skeptical because (as I understand it) if you want to "develop mindfulness" through some activity, it's best if the activity isn't too complex:

. . . the cockpit of a racecar, or an airplane, is a poor place to meditate.

A piano isn't a racecar, but it's more complex than a drum or a shakuhachi. Rhythm, dynamics, right fingering -- getting those right would be OK if you meditated to Hanon, but not so much if you meditated to Chopin.


And I'm interested in knowing more about it. Just because _I_ think it's a strange approach (without having tried it!), doesn't mean that it doesn't work for you:

. . . or that it won't work for me.

So please, explain away . . .

I play drum(s), occasionally synth, and sing in a religious-chant band. Even in that framework, I find that keyboard work tends to detract from my concentration, not improve it. And I find it difficult to do two things at the same time -- if I drum, my singing suffers, and vice versa.

PS -- this may be a lot of "thread drift" . . . but it _is_ relevant to the OP's question.




Last edited by Charles Cohen; 07/12/19 11:38 PM.

. Charles
---------------------------
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / Korg Wavedrum / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: Hello from a newbie [Re: Veve87] #2868907
07/13/19 05:02 AM
07/13/19 05:02 AM
Joined: Jul 2019
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Veve87 Offline OP
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What I meant by mindfulness in this context was that playing puts me fully in the present moment. When I play I forget about my problems and all I focus on is pressing the correct keys. It requires all my focus. So I'm forced to be mindful of what I'm doing and I'm not lost in rumination or worry about the future. I'm there, playing. When I stop I usually feel "refreshed" and in a better mood.
For "real" mindfulness I do body scan meditation. I can't do meditations involving visualisation or absolutely anything with energy or chakras - it tends to have very negative impact on me. The best meditation for me is body work and grounding to real physical environment.

Also thanks to the person who recommended keyboard brands. In case I buy a better one for Christmas, I'll definitely consider those models.

Re: Hello from a newbie [Re: Veve87] #2868948
07/13/19 11:13 AM
07/13/19 11:13 AM
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Southeast USA
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Originally Posted by Veve87
What I meant by mindfulness in this context was that playing puts me fully in the present moment. When I play I forget about my problems and all I focus on is pressing the correct keys. It requires all my focus. So I'm forced to be mindful of what I'm doing and I'm not lost in rumination or worry about the future. I'm there, playing. When I stop I usually feel "refreshed" and in a better mood.


That's how it is to me - totally focused on the activity. I remember when I started I could not practice for more than 10 minutes the first few times because it was so taxing on my brain. After a month or so I was practicing 1 hour straight per day. During those first months, I became aware of muscle tension while playing. It was in my hands and forearms first, Then I began to feel it in my shoulders, hips and thighs....how does that happen? How do I all of a sudden become aware of all my tight muscles - I can actually feel it just walking around!

The golden rule I have found is that when I become aware of something I can fix it. For example, my pointer fingers wanted to go straight while playing - I became aware of it from my teacher - so every time I noticed it I just put them back in home position while playing. It ends up in my sub-conscience after some time so I don't have to think about it any more.

Well, I have been working on my muscles for 8 months and made a lot of progress - the muscle thing is actually a normal human aging thing (I'm 60), But the point is, it was piano practice that has now changed another part of life for me.

I guess when we start more intensive use of our brains, we can expect there will be effects in other parts of our life because the brain is a big deal. I will admit here that something fairly astounding happened about 2 months ago related to my brain. I was driving along and I became aware of a specific negative thought that had nothing to do with the task at hand. Totally irrational and totally negative thought. In my brain. Now where did that come from? I knew almost instantly that this is something I have been doing all my life, but until now, I was not aware of it.

So.....what I have going on.....

Learning Piano - check!

Improving my body - check!

Improving my mind - check!


Progman
Baldwin Console + Kawai ES100
Alfreds bk 1 + Teacher
Long Live ELP
Re: Hello from a newbie [Re: Veve87] #2868954
07/13/19 11:33 AM
07/13/19 11:33 AM
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Sheffield, UK
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KevinM Offline
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Originally Posted by Veve87
What I meant by mindfulness in this context was that playing puts me fully in the present moment. When I play I forget about my problems and all I focus on is pressing the correct keys. It requires all my focus. So I'm forced to be mindful of what I'm doing and I'm not lost in rumination or worry about the future. I'm there, playing. When I stop I usually feel "refreshed" and in a better mood.
For "real" mindfulness I do body scan meditation. I can't do meditations involving visualisation or absolutely anything with energy or chakras - it tends to have very negative impact on me. The best meditation for me is body work and grounding to real physical environment.

Also thanks to the person who recommended keyboard brands. In case I buy a better one for Christmas, I'll definitely consider those models.


This was exactly my thinking Veve87 and it has worked for me. I would not be surprised that you improve more than you expect. But Animisha is 100% correct, don't have achievement goals.

Unlike you I suspected I would enjoy playing the piano, I learnt as a child over 40 years ago and I do remember that once my parents could get me in front of the piano I did actually enjoy the practising and the playing.

It isn't about meditation, it is about bringing yourself completely into the moment, pulling your mind away from less healthy thoughts. The focus needed for playing does that. I do have to be aware to not compare myself to others, to how I played as a child and not setting goals which are so tempting to do, as those thoughts take you away from being in the moment. That is the discipline I need to keep up to keep the purpose of me starting to play on track.


Learning Mendelssohn Song without Words Op. 19 No. 2, Schumann Bunte Blätter Stücklein Op. 99 No. 1. Jensen Sehnsucht Op. 8 No. 5. Schumann Kinderszenen Op15 No1, Von Fremden Ländern und Menschen.
Digital piano: Casio Celviano AP-470. Headphones: Superlux HD681 EVO
Re: Hello from a newbie [Re: Charles Cohen] #2869627
07/15/19 07:26 PM
07/15/19 07:26 PM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 131
Connecticut, USA
MichaelJK Offline

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Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
Quote
. . .I'm hoping you could elaborate a bit on this. When you say this "intrigues" you, are you saying that you are skeptical about using piano for this purpose? Or, are you saying that you are interested in knowing more about it? . . .


Both. I'm skeptical because (as I understand it) if you want to "develop mindfulness" through some activity, it's best if the activity isn't too complex:

. . . the cockpit of a racecar, or an airplane, is a poor place to meditate.

A piano isn't a racecar, but it's more complex than a drum or a shakuhachi. Rhythm, dynamics, right fingering -- getting those right would be OK if you meditated to Hanon, but not so much if you meditated to Chopin.


OK, I think I see what you are concerned about.

Here's the basic idea: stop trying to do more than one thing at a time.

Piano playing is not a complex activity. You are making it complex. It is no more complex than a drum, in fact. Who told you to focus on rhythm, dynamics, and fingering all at once? That's a rhetorical question...I know that almost every teacher on the planet tells their students to do exactly this. Hence the problem. We start to believe that piano playing is this complex activity.

You can learn anything if you simply break it down in its basic parts, and practice them individually. At no point will you ever be trying to do more than one simple thing at a time.

It's like meditation, where you try to focus on the breath for an extended period of time. Yeah, it takes practice, but if you think it's "too complicated", you're probably going about it the wrong way.

Piano practice should never feel like you're attempting something more difficult than that.

Here's an example: If you have trouble sight-reading fluently, try sight-reading a piece from beginning to end without stopping. That's the only requirement. You can make as many mistakes as you want, but you can't stop. Then, when you reach the end, start over and do it again. Set a timer and do this for 15 minutes.

This is a 15-minute meditation. It is not "piano practice". And yet, it will teach you how to sight-read without stopping, something many piano students simply can't do.

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