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Dealing with Frustration #2871059
07/20/19 09:39 PM
07/20/19 09:39 PM
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RmntcPianoLvr Offline OP
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Pretty much what the title of the thread implies, how do you deal with frustration and lack of motivation to learn a piece with difficult sections that drive you crazy over weeks on end besides just walking away from the piece and giving up on it completely (assuming the piece isn't too difficult for you of course)?

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Re: Dealing with Frustration [Re: RmntcPianoLvr] #2871075
07/20/19 11:08 PM
07/20/19 11:08 PM
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computerpro3 Offline
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The same way that you deal with lack of motivation with anything difficult - running a marathon, starting a business, a long-distance relationship, etc, etc. Make a decision not to give up and to put in the hard work to be successful despite lack of motivation.

Also make sure to re-evaluate your practice methods to ensure you're not shooting yourself in the foot by practicing mistakes or bad habits that are preventing you from reaching your goal.

Re: Dealing with Frustration [Re: RmntcPianoLvr] #2871082
07/20/19 11:50 PM
07/20/19 11:50 PM
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Peter K. Mose Offline
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Obvious answer: an encouraging teacher can help you through these troughs. That's my job. It's very hard to do this consistently on one's own.

Re: Dealing with Frustration [Re: RmntcPianoLvr] #2871089
07/21/19 12:26 AM
07/21/19 12:26 AM
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Ireland
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If the piece isn't too difficult for you, you shouldn't be struggling all that much.

If it's a particular part I'm having trouble with, I might try and identify what it is about it that I find hard there, and then shelve the piece for a week or so and do an easier short piece that contains this particular issue. Kinda work up to it with a manageable step.

As the previous poster mentioned, a good teacher can help you with all of these, if that's an option for you!


Sibylle


"Not a shred of evidence exists in favour of the idea that life is serious." -Brendan Gill
Re: Dealing with Frustration [Re: Sibylle] #2871094
07/21/19 12:55 AM
07/21/19 12:55 AM
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RmntcPianoLvr Offline OP
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Well, it's not so much I'm struggling to learn it as much as struggling to master it; like I said it isn't too difficult for me, albeit it is by no means easy either. Actually, after this part, which I'm almost done with, I'll be pretty much done with this piece. It's just that the process of learning this hard part over the last week or so has been quite irritating to say the least, and so was just looking for ways not to let it get to me so much in future pieces I work on.

Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Obvious answer: an encouraging teacher can help you through these troughs. That's my job. It's very hard to do this consistently on one's own.


Haven't had a teacher in 6 years and probably won't have one for the next few years as well due to financial and other reasons; the last teacher I did have I pretty much made no progress under (in fact I wanted to challenge myself but she wouldn't let me, even though I was able to eventually do the challenging pieces without her anyways). It's been rough figuring things out, but I'm way better than I was back then so surely I'm doing something right wink

Last edited by RmntcPianoLvr; 07/21/19 12:57 AM.
Re: Dealing with Frustration [Re: RmntcPianoLvr] #2871102
07/21/19 02:17 AM
07/21/19 02:17 AM
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Tallahassee, FL
Chopin Acolyte Offline
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If I can chime in...I know that feeling. After a long, long time practicing something I can end up fed up with a piece (my momentary "Nemesis"). Sometimes, the solution is to simply put the piece aside for a while.

If a passage from a piece feels strange to you, if you struggled to learn it (read the notes from the page in the first place, struggling to find patterns, and subsequently getting it into your muscle memory) and even after that, after all rhythmization exercises, practicing meticulously with the metronome and slowly rising the tempo, if it still fails after so much effort, there might be something lacking in technique, that needs to be explored first. John Mortensen mentions a pretty funny parallel in one of his videos...

What he basically says is that practicing a piece that feels like a gorge should be more like building a bridge over the gorge, rather than mindlessly get wet and dirty every day trying to swim through it to get to the other side.

For me, this means even putting aside pieces that simply wouldn't budge, no matter how much I try, and perhaps consider the same concepts (Arpeggios? Trills? Thirds? Octaves? ...) however in a somewhat simpler setting (etude, or an exercised taylored to you by your music teacher).

In no way I'm trying to discourage you from practicing whatever you're practicing, however, I always benefited from putting aside a piece that made me felt miserable until I attacked a certain concept from that piece that was particularly troubling for me and when I revisited the piece, I felt much more comfortable (not only in terms of technique, but also with reading the passages from the sheet music quicker and with more confidence). On the other hand, when I don't do that, when I try to fight through the proverbial gorge every day, somehow "surviving" the piece, I found myself sinking incorrect patterns and movements into my muscle memory, which I would have to rebuild from scratch at a later time, when I have a better understanding of correct motions and ideas at the piano. Though I assume that having a teacher kind of prevents that, a good teacher wouldn't let you sink in incorrect motions.

I hope this is at least a bit helpful.


Re: Dealing with Frustration [Re: RmntcPianoLvr] #2871109
07/21/19 04:16 AM
07/21/19 04:16 AM
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A piece can be at your level overall and still have a couple of segments which are more difficult than you can handle. That seems to be the case. Also everybody has specific weak areas that no matter the level of the piece would be a trouble area.

The way i see it is if one has difficulty to master a passage, that is a good sign. It means you are working to improve a weak spot. After all if you could master easily the whole piece, it would probably mean you are not learning that much.

My personal way to handle it is twofolds. One I break down the difficulty into basic small moves. I work on them and record myself everyday or several times a day. If i see progress it means i am on the right way and it helps to keep going. Two, i identify what are the technical components which i may be missing to be able to play that part and work on them separately. I do not attempt to play the whole part.

Like the previous post said, it may be that the particular part is technically too difficult, for whatever reason, in which case it will take time to master it and there is no point hammering it day after day and getting mad at it. It wont help. What you need is time. So in that case there is no shame to put it on the backburner for a while until you have developped the required skills. Learning to play the piano is not about mastering a piece after another (though thats the end result) it is about acquiring the technical (and artistic) skills through the process of working out pieces.

Piano learning is all about being lucid to identify what is preventing your progress and finding the right tactical approch to deal with it. Frustration is simply coming from the fact that one does not have a clear understanding of the blocking points. You can be frustrated that you do not progress any faster, but thats the main issue for all the students who learn to play, and it is a different issue than being frustrated because you do not understand what the issues are.

Your next pieces can be just as painfull, it all depends on the delta between your current skillset and the technical skillset required by the piece.

Re: Dealing with Frustration [Re: RmntcPianoLvr] #2871119
07/21/19 05:48 AM
07/21/19 05:48 AM
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My solution, as others have already said, is time.

Many advanced/virtuosic pieces have sections that challenge mere mortals (those not equipped with transcendental techniques, such that Transcendental Etudes are mere bagatelles) which require dedicated practicing over a period of time. And putting it away to work on something else, before returning to it afresh weeks or even months later works wonders.

I did that frequently when I was a student, with pieces I wanted to learn for my own pleasure, of which many were way beyond my technical skills at the time. My teacher never gave me such pieces to learn, and she never knew about them. I never put pressure on myself: if I hit a brick wall, I simply put it on the back burner for a few months, then tried the piece again. Invariably, things were easier second time round, even more so third time. And so on - because I was improving all the time while working on other stuff with my teacher.

These days, I still adopt the same principle, though I don't have a teacher. There are pieces I'm performing now that I first started learning a few years ago, then put away for a while because I wasn't satisfied with the way certain sections went, then returned to them after a few weeks or months, more than once. And each time, I got closer to the way I wanted to be able to play them......until everything clicked. Of course, I'm not learning pieces that are technically beyond me now (nothing I want to play comes into that category smirk ), but I'm also setting a much higher standard for myself, as I'll be performing them eventually (which I never did when I was a student). But I have time on my side. Time for the notes to assimilate and get 'into my fingers'.

Incidentally, I remember a certain virtuoso talking (in a radio interview) about learning Gaspard a few years ago, and he did something similar to what I do, eventually finding an unorthodox fingering that solved a big problem for him, and has since recorded the complete Ravel solo piano music. That's the advantage of returning to pieces afresh after a break - new ideas, new ways of looking at old problems etc. Sometimes, just something as 'simple' as changing the fingering or redistributing the notes between the hands, or just practicing a certain passage with deliberate accents on certain notes.

That of course, is predicated on the assumption that nothing in the piece is technically beyond you.......


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Dealing with Frustration [Re: RmntcPianoLvr] #2871196
07/21/19 02:32 PM
07/21/19 02:32 PM
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Opus_Maximus Offline
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Re-evaluate the ways in which you are practicing. Try different methods, tempos, sizes of material, skeletal outlines, etc. In the last five years, the internet has exploded with an abundance of piano tutorials in which one can take particular advantage (People like Graham Fitch, Josh Wright, Paul Barton, John Mortensen, etc -- all full of valuable advice and new ideas).

Also, going off of Peter Mose's comment - a (Good) teacher can be a HUGE force in pulling yourself out of a rut and dispelling negative emotions. You can't do this alone. If you can't afford a regular teacher, even a few lessons can go a long way. A bad experience with one does not mean you will have with another. Even if you don't necessarily agree with what they say, the very act of hearing another viewpoint or another way of approaching a difficult passage may unlock or re-frame your own perceptions about your struggles.

Last edited by Opus_Maximus; 07/21/19 02:33 PM.
Re: Dealing with Frustration [Re: Opus_Maximus] #2871201
07/21/19 02:44 PM
07/21/19 02:44 PM
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 302
Tallahassee, FL
Chopin Acolyte Offline
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Originally Posted by Opus_Maximus

Also, going off of Peter Mose's comment - a (Good) teacher can be a HUGE force in pulling yourself out of a rut and dispelling negative emotions. You can't do this alone. If you can't afford a regular teacher, even a few lessons can go a long way. A bad experience with one does not mean you will have with another. Even if you don't necessarily agree with what they say, the very act of hearing another viewpoint or another way of approaching a difficult passage may unlock or re-frame your own perceptions about your struggles.


Though is there any teacher willing to teach on the "a few lessons" basis? I feel like such request bears some amount of disrespect...some teachers do bill per lesson, but much more commonly, per month, or semester.

If you get a teacher billing per lesson, but go on and off, eventually, they might stop giving you lessons (if they insist on weekly lessons).

If you get a teacher billing per month, if you quit after a month because "that's enough for now" or something and then get back to them after a few months, they might question how long you're gonna stick around this time.

Per-semester basis is obviously out of question in the OP's case, since he can't afford it right now.

Re: Dealing with Frustration [Re: RmntcPianoLvr] #2871216
07/21/19 03:30 PM
07/21/19 03:30 PM
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Dear Acolyte
You are correct in that all teachers would not be set up to just teach for a few lessons, but some will. What we would need to do as a student is to let the potential teacher know immediately that is what we can afford. I suspect my current teacher would agree to this, as she is semi-retired and is only teaching a small number of students snd would enjoy the. challenge of helping a student get over a hump. When she had a full studio, this would have been impossible.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
" I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

It’s ok to be a Work In Progress
Re: Dealing with Frustration [Re: dogperson] #2871231
07/21/19 04:15 PM
07/21/19 04:15 PM
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Tallahassee, FL
Chopin Acolyte Offline
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Originally Posted by dogperson
Dear Acolyte
You are correct in that all teachers would not be set up to just teach for a few lessons, but some will. What we would need to do as a student is to let the potential teacher know immediately that is what we can afford. I suspect my current teacher would agree to this, as she is semi-retired and is only teaching a small number of students snd would enjoy the. challenge of helping a student get over a hump. When she had a full studio, this would have been impossible.


I don't quite see how it would be impossible with a full studio: as long as the spots are filled with students (no matter whether a particular student comes for the next lesson in a week or a month), the source of income is established...right?

Re: Dealing with Frustration [Re: Chopin Acolyte] #2871238
07/21/19 04:41 PM
07/21/19 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Chopin Acolyte


Though is there any teacher willing to teach on the "a few lessons" basis? I feel like such request bears some amount of disrespect...some teachers do bill per lesson, but much more commonly, per month, or semester.

If you get a teacher billing per lesson, but go on and off, eventually, they might stop giving you lessons (if they insist on weekly lessons).

If you get a teacher billing per month, if you quit after a month because "that's enough for now" or something and then get back to them after a few months, they might question how long you're gonna stick around this time.

Per-semester basis is obviously out of question in the OP's case, since he can't afford it right now.



There are tons of teachers willing to do this. I do this myself to some adults, and am currently taking a series of 4 lessons with somebody. Granted - I charge more for a per-lesson basis, as is only fair.

Re: Dealing with Frustration [Re: Chopin Acolyte] #2871241
07/21/19 04:50 PM
07/21/19 04:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Chopin Acolyte
Originally Posted by dogperson
Dear Acolyte
You are correct in that all teachers would not be set up to just teach for a few lessons, but some will. What we would need to do as a student is to let the potential teacher know immediately that is what we can afford. I suspect my current teacher would agree to this, as she is semi-retired and is only teaching a small number of students snd would enjoy the. challenge of helping a student get over a hump. When she had a full studio, this would have been impossible.


I don't quite see how it would be impossible with a full studio: as long as the spots are filled with students (no matter whether a particular student comes for the next lesson in a week or a month), the source of income is established...right?


Yes, the source of income would be established but the frequency of the income would not be consistent. If it is a teacher that is looking to maintain a full studio they want a weekly expectable commitment to the timeslot and the income. Gaps mean no money, just that simple.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
" I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

It’s ok to be a Work In Progress
Re: Dealing with Frustration [Re: dogperson] #2871288
07/21/19 07:43 PM
07/21/19 07:43 PM
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Tallahassee, FL
Chopin Acolyte Offline
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Originally Posted by Opus_Maximus
Granted - I charge more for a per-lesson basis, as is only fair.


Why is it fair? Do you feel like you're working more with that person than with someone who takes lessons on weekly basis?

If taking lessons more sparsely results in more per-lesson fee, this renders taking them in this fashion completely useless, if the motivation was money (like in the OP's case). Not only they're not paying less, they are now paying more per lesson than they would in the case of weekly lessons! laugh win-win...

Originally Posted by dogperson

Yes, the source of income would be established but the frequency of the income would not be consistent. If it is a teacher that is looking to maintain a full studio they want a weekly expectable commitment to the timeslot and the income. Gaps mean no money, just that simple.


Well, if there's 4 people wiling to commit to a lesson once per month, that's a hole filled in every week. But I see where you're coming from.

Note that I'm not trying to say teachers want too much money from us. I actually did some thinking and $150 per month per 45 minute lesson each week is not that much. If a teacher has 20 students, that's $3000 dollars, but one has to think of taxes (unless they want to be screwed by IRS) and other things, like sheet music (my teacher has beautiful scores of some pieces I'm practicing, with far better fingerings than you can find on IMSLP), gas (my teacher agreed to having lessons in a practice room at the college, because I don't have a car - no extra charges), rent (if working on a private basis out of their house, or driving to students' houses, there's no rent involved for a studio, but I guess you can't really expect to have lessons back to back every day, if some commute is involved, with studio one can take more students, but there's rent...) and I guess some out-of-lesson time spent on pieces (I don't expect the teacher to be able to play the pieces we're working on on a concert level, but should be aware of basic pitfalls and be familiar with them - if not, that's the extra time they should spend on it outside of lessons, so they don't act all confused and don't even notice mistakes the student might do). All this should be accounted for and considered and it seems to me that $100-$200 per month is not a horrible price.

Re: Dealing with Frustration [Re: bennevis] #2871334
07/22/19 12:31 AM
07/22/19 12:31 AM
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RmntcPianoLvr Offline OP
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Originally Posted by bennevis


That of course, is predicated on the assumption that nothing in the piece is technically beyond you.......


Well, surprisingly enough, I actually finished learning the piece today by taking my time on the metronome and going slow like you said. Guess your assumption was right lol

Re: Dealing with Frustration [Re: RmntcPianoLvr] #2871451
07/22/19 10:45 AM
07/22/19 10:45 AM
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Peter K. Mose Offline
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I think most piano teachers who teach adults are more flexible about frequency of lessons than the boilerplate once-a-week model used for children. If an adult piano learner wants to check in with a teacher just once every month or two for a single lesson, it would certainly be affordable, no matter what rate the teacher charges. And the student would get something out of it.

Some adults at the piano are uncomfortable about making a commitment to any teacher. That's ok. I'd encourage them to just try an occasional single lesson with someone. Or else try a lesson with a different teacher every 2 months. Could be quite stimulating. And zero commitment!

P.S. Bravo, Rmntc!


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