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Does anyone here have experience with quiting for a while? Basically I'm currently not in a situation where I can dump hours and hours into practice a week and need to switch to just maintaining what I know. Does this even work? How long can it be maintained for? I think if I go through my repertoire 2-3 times a week and scales and such once a week it will be enough to hold on to what I have without having to worry about losing it and having to start over from scratch.

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I'm coming off a 6 week break. Can't recommend it. Might as well quit and start over. The muscles and reflexes atrophy. Nothing works. Takes weeks to get the muscles back. Even if the "piano brain" comes back quickly your body flops about like a gasping fish on the deck. Very discouraging.


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I've recently came back from about a complete 3 year break and haven't noticed much difference honestly. After 2 weeks I think I'm back to about the same. Although to be fair I wasn't that great when I stopped playing (about 18 months learning). If you could manage 2 or 3 good sessions a week I feel you should be able to maintain ok?

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the issue will be how you feel just being on a maintenance regime. Simply maintaining pieces (by not putting in the extra effort needed) is actually quite unsatisfactory to me.

I have only ever stopped for a maximum of two months and I got back into piano fairly quickly. I would say longer term it should not be an insurmountable issue.


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I have to take breaks periodically. I've been playing off and on for the last 2 years, being overloaded with work and having to travel as well.
There are many advantages to taking breaks. I find that I have a fresh perspective on problems I couldn't solve earlier. Re-learning things also helps reinforce your memory. And each time you re-learn something, it takes less and less time until eventually, you don't forget at all. However, the biggest benefit I've found is that many bad habits that I've developed often disappear after a longer break.

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I think if you have limited time, then taking a maintenance approach is reasonable.
For me though, I think if I just tried to play through all my repertoire all the time I might get bored and stale, so the specific approach to maintenance that you describe might not be great for me for more than 4 or 5 weeks.
I think for me it would be more sustainable to think of maintenance in terms of not majorly progressing my skills, but still having a certain amount of variety in what I'm working on. I might pick a shorter/easier piece to work on where I could reasonably expect it to come together with limited practice, and rotate repertoire in and out rather than trying to keep it all up with a play through. That gives the relearning benefits that noobpianist90 describes above, while also keeping enough variety in the mix.

But that is what I think would work for me, it might not be what's right for you.


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What if you didn't push ahead, but still worked on different pieces at your current level? Then it wouldn't seem overwhelming, but you'd still be practicing something.

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I started in 1995 drop my piano lesson in 2000. Restarted in 2006 as a self-learner and stop in 2012. Then back at the piano since 2018. It takes around 4 months to get back at the level I was when I quit.



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Different people have different needs. My sight reading can improve. I have a good ear and can play a few pieces I worked on by ear or from memory after a break. Learning new pieces tend to be slower and my fingers tend to get rusty.

Once I took a few months off to travel during the summer. I restarted with a 4-part church hymn with 4 lines. Took a week and many repeats to get comfortable playing. The notes were there but the tempo was a bit slower than ideal.

The thing about practicing scales is that they should be used for warm-up and not more than 15m of a practice session. Otherwise practice can get very boring. I have a good ear and can run through the major & minor scales 1 by 1 in 10m. The first time playing a scale is to play with both hands doing the same notes an octave apart: L & R both playing CDEFGAB. Next step up is to play the scale in contrary motion. The R playing CDEFGAB (ascending) while the L doing CBAGFED (descending) at the same time. After that you’d play from the 60 Hanon exercises book. These are mixture of scales & arpeggios in various keys. Get the book if you don’t already have 1.

I have a few beginner song books including Alfred’s Book 1 & 2 I can get into easily. The other book at the basic level is a Easy Jazz & Rock Book 1. In the intermediate level I have a few online downloads.

The last time I was traveling I found a public piano at a local YMCA I can practice in the evening. I was working on a Handel Sarabande from memory that was submitted to a previous PW recital a few months ago. When you sit in front of a public piano you occasionally notice someone looking from behind out of curiosity.

Someone in the family took a decade off to complete her education. The last time I talked to her she said that she plans to work on an advanced repertoire at a conservatory Gr. 10 level. Can’t imagine someone taking that much time off not starting with something easier. Guess everybody is different.

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Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
Someone in the family took a decade off to complete her education. The last time I talked to her she said that she plans to work on an advanced repertoire at a conservatory Gr. 10 level.

You’ve mentioned family members and conservatory a few times and this finally made me understand what you mean. You don’t mean someone getting their bachelor’s, master’s, or DMA at a musical conservatory as an institution of higher education - you mean a person passing their Royal Conservatory of Music level 10 exam in RCM’s piano “certificate” program. You realize that when someone says “ABC finished the conservatory” outside of Canada, they really mean the former and not the latter? Because RCM level 10 is still equivalent to a secondary school level of piano. In the RCM system, the diplomas - ARCT and LRCM - are the real postsecondary levels of the RCM certificate program. And none of these certificates are really equivalent to “graduating from the conservatory” as some of the members of the Pianist Corner have done. This usage of the word “conservatory” as you are using it is uniquely Canadian. You might in the future consider referring to the certificate program as “RCM,” instead, because then I think others will better understand that, for example, your relative was not taking a break from work/life and returning to the university for a piano performance postgraduate degree.


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Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
The thing about practicing scales is that they should be used for warm-up...
I disagree with this, I'm afraid.

The thing about scales is that they are a tool for learning technique, not the end product, so to speak. One of the problems we face as pianists is having ten fingers to cover 88 keys. Our primary weapon at overcoming this limitation is using the thumb (that moves sideways more easily, while the fingers are more suited to moving up and down) as a pivot. Scales should be played using one finger at a time (for learning and knowing the notes), fingers 1 and 2 (only), 1, 2 and 3 (only), the standard 1, 2, 3 and 4 and also for more advanced playing turning under the fifth as well.

They're used for practising touches, dynamics, articulation, phrasing, polyrhythms, releasing tension, learning to hear the tonic and the approach to it both by rising and by falling.

If you want to warm up at the piano it might be better to use slow material, pieces being newly learnt, slow sight-reading, difficult technical passages, or slow five finger exercises, trills and double notes focusing on releasing tension.

No beginner needs a manual of scales and arpeggios any more than someone new to English needs the full Oxford English Dictionary. A pocket edition is all that's needed for the first few years and the scales and arpeggios can be fitted onto a postcard.

By far the most important skill in piano playing is learning to hear and to listen. You can't play well what you can't hear in your imagination before playing it. Listen intently to the best pianists and best orchestras playing the major works of the major composers.

If you can read and audiate well you can improve your piano playing without a piano.


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I think your maintenance plan is sufficient. It may actually be beneficial to spend some time like that.

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This might sound odd advise, but there's some merit in not practising/maintaining a piece for a few week/months. Then when you come back to it, you almost have to relearn your pieces from scratch. The benefit I find, is that the relearning occurs quicker each time and it feels like pieces are really been solidified in your memory.

Now that's slightly different from taking a complete break from piano, as opposed to switching to different pieces before cycling back. What impact a total break may have, no idea. But, do not worry imo about "losing it" and having to start over from scratch on some pieces. That may actually be a plus in the long run.


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