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Perhaps this is the wrong forum to bring this up,but maybe some of you can relate. I am sixty and I have studied music for forty years. For many of those years a woodwind and more recently piano,or at least I have attempted to study piano. I have loved music my entire life and come home every night and watch videos and listen to music for as long as there is time. I also love studying music and I love learning to play the piano even though I have been sitting at an R C M two level for years now. I don’t care that I can barely play grade two,grade two,grade six it’s the same thing for me-working on the puzzle,learning new things. I have had some exceptional teachers in my life and mostly duds. But my lessons and my study never lasts because I suffer from clinical depression. I’m good for one week, I manage to practise for five nights-I still work full time,and then I can’t get to the bench and I cancel one lesson and the next lesson and then I cancel lessons altogether. A year goes by,I try again,same thing happens. I worry that teachers wonder what is wrong with me. But I really love trying to learn and improve on an instrument, I just can’t make my brain get me to the bench.

I’m sorry if this post is inappropriate for this forum,but friends ask me over and over again,why do you continuously change teachers?

Last edited by alans; 12/01/19 12:11 AM.
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I wonder if you could find a flexible teacher online and just take a couple of lessons at a time. If you can take a few more, then do that when you're well enough, and it's no problem if you don't. That way you wouldn't feel you have to change teachers, and you can break the cycle of starting and giving up.

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Thanks johnstaf,I have been looking into Skype lessons.

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Teachers are used to students dropping their lessons - particularly adults. I would just recommend letting teachers know what you're going through so that they're aware that you may drop, and maybe they'll also have some tips to help you stay on track.

Struggling with motivation is hard, and I relate. Keep doing what makes you happy - even if you don't take lessons for while. Perhaps taking one or two lessons a month could also keep you from feeling overwhelmed, as opposed to taking one every week. It would give you more time to practice between lessons since you mentioned that you're working full time. What is important is that you take care of yourself and you keep doing little things that bring you happiness. Best of luck with your musical journey!

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The other thing is if you are doing RCM, you could also do RCM online here.


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If you signup for lessons again, please talk to your new teacher before you start so that they understand what may become an issue for you. The other thing that I would recommend, which I religiously do, is never cancel a lesson due to poor practice. Not only will your teacher appreciate that you didn’t cancel but you will find you can have great lessons even with a lack of practicing. Not practicing and then canceling does turn into a snowball which is hard to stop rolling down the hill; taking the lesson anyway stops the landslide as it is motivating for practice to have the lesson.

Sometimes it is just necessary to put both feet on the floor and keep moving... even if a snail’s pace . I know—- I’ve been there the last couple of horrible years so I am suggesting what I’ve done


"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

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I have long term depression as well. I have lots of different hobbies and often switch up whichever one I am most active or interested in all the time. It might not work for you, but Piano Marvel works great for me. I stay motivated to get as many practice minutes as possible and am currently working on a 70 day practice streak ATM. I am more of a self motivated learner so YMMV.


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Hi Alans, do you get some treatment for your depression? Do you regularly meet with a psychologist or a psychiatrist?
My guess is, that if you feel depressed and you do play, the playing makes you feel better, is that right? In that case, it would be good if you could find a way to help you to get to the bench. This is something you can work on with a therapist.
But apart from the piano, it's not good to be clinically depressed for a longer time. Of course, I don't know and it's not my business, maybe you have tried to get help but found that it failed. But if not, please find help.


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Thank-you all for your kind assistance and knowledge. You are a kind wise bunch. Animisha I do receive assistance but,,and dogperson,I have made that mistake a zillion times-booking out of a lesson because I didn’t get any work done. You’re right, still showing up is the best way to foo. Thank-you all once again!

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Hey alans!
I have a few mental health challenges of my own. I haven't ever had a detailed discussion about any of this with my teacher, but I've been taking lessons from him for years, and he's not an idiot, so I figure he's aware of at least the basics.

I reschedule lessons when I'm out of town, but have only cancelled a couple times-once I was in the ER, and once I was so sick that I couldn't sit and it would have been risky to go anywhere, but only stuff like that.

Anxious before a lesson--more often than not.
Feeling depressed and unprepared--yup!
Feeling like a failure because I practiced like a fiend, but couldn't see the improvement I wanted--Oh yah!
Embarrassed to admit how much I practiced given my minimal progress- Yes, sir!

But none of these warrant cancelling a lesson. If they did, I would never take a lesson, never leave the house, or my couch. Anyway, I value my teacher's time too much and he insists on making everything up, so I end up going to lesson at some other time anyway.
I confess that I do check my text messages incessantly the morning of a lesson, hoping and wishing that maybe my teacher is cancelling.

Sometimes I start a lesson with "True Confessions" which I think is mostly not relevant for my teacher--often I'll start to make apologies and he'll respond with "Let's hear it!" or "Let's have some fun!" Occasionally, my input is relevant, like "I'm hearing these as triplets and not as sixteenths." Or "This fingering keeps tripping me up here." because if I just played the piece he would know that I was playing triplets and not sixteenths and not using an effective fingering in that other place. True Confessions is lately reduced to "Well, this made me crazy this week, but... well, you'll hear it."

Anyway, my mental illness is part of me, like my frizzy hair and legs that don't fit normal pants. I have people who help manage my hair and my wardrobe, there's no shame in having someone help manage anxiety and depression. And of course, I have my piano teacher to manage my piano education. (until he fires me because I'm the slowest student ever and don't make adequate progress but still make excuses about practice and work and how much I hate my job and why did I take that new job anyway? and wtf is wrong with my right wrist maybe because I played flute in high school, and my left index finger hits random keys sometimes and that might be because last year a cat that probably had rabies tried to eat my left hand and that knuckle was messed up from playing flute too, i mean who gets diagnosed with arthritis at age 17? anyway, but I can read leger lines above treble completely like it is a normal thing, but um, sorry about all those notes in bass clef, nevermind the leger lines either above or below bass clef, and as for sight reading more than one note at a time, don't even get me started, sorry but when my hands are shaking like that, I get hung up on the black keys, well and all the white keys for that matter; and is that tiny sharp on the grace note on the line or the space? I can't really see it...)

Keep on keepin' on!


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I once tried to beg off from a lesson by saying that I had not practiced enough to see any improvement. My teacher promptly told me that I should not think that way, so I went. I was glad I did as I learned that I was making a lot of mistakes, mistakes that would have become more ingrained with another week of practice. So, I never skip a lesson now unless it is absolutely necessary. My teacher also told me that the most important work happens during the lesson, something I did not think was true, but is probably correct.

Last edited by LarryK; 12/01/19 03:35 PM.
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I too have chronic depression and have for many, many years. Most of the time it is pretty well controlled, but I do have rough periods. I have been very frank about this with my teacher--just a great person--and she has been very supportive. She also knows that some days I have a much more difficult time at my lesson. I have never cancelled a lesson, but I did skip the spring semester last year. Started again in summer school and she was good with that. Like Dogperson said, every day is a struggle and many days you just have to grit your teeth and inch forward and do the best you can. But you know all this being a overran of this disease-- but do know you are certainly not alone with the affliction.

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I’ve suffered depression in the past, a side effect of other health issues. It was especially bad last year and the first part of this year, when due to my health, my finances were extremely bad.

Thankfully my finances are good at the moment thanks to finding an unexpected pension pot and clearing my mortgage with part of it.

I would go to bed, not be able to sleep, go on my iPad, read this forum, decide that tomorrow I’m going to sit down and start going through my Alfreds or Faber books, and be really excited about it.

Then the next day would come, my head felt sludgy, before I knew it, it was the evening and again I’m reading this forum as I can’t sleep.

And before I knew it, 3 months then 6 months had gone by and I hadn’t touched my piano (or my synths).

Then I would have a really good day (suffer from health issues that cause a lot of fatigue), be alert, finally get on my piano, and I absolutely love it. So uplifting, so enjoyable. I make a promise to myself that I must spend a little time each day on it, even if it’s just 10 mins (if I went to play for 10 mins, I know I would play much longer).

Then the next day arrives and before I know it, another 3 months have past and I haven’t touched it.

With me, it’s not depression but fatigue and brain fog that causes this. Then I get depressed because 3 months have passed and I’ve done virtually nothing due to my health (I’m including my entire day to day life when I say I’ve done nothing, not just the piano) .

Last year and early this year when I was about minus £50 a month after paying essential bills, obviously caused my depression to be severe, now I have disposable income again, the real awful depression has completely gone, I now simply get fed up when weeks go by and due to fatigue, I’ve achieved very little.

But I do really enjoy the times I have on both my piano and synths, and my piano playing has improved (very slowly). I’m glad I don’t give up on it, I find reading this forum when I can’t sleep also helps.

Not sure if that’s of any help to you or not

Last edited by Ojustaboo; 12/01/19 08:59 PM.

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Here’s hoping 2020 will be better for all of us.


"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

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Originally Posted by dogperson
Here’s hoping 2020 will be better for all of us.


Let's hope Beethoven's 250th birthday will lift musicians everywhere.

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try practicing with a timer, set it to 10-15 minutes. I find using a timer to practice really helps me to focus and follow through)

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An old friend who is a painter said the best advice she ever got was, “if you don’t feel like painting, just go paint for ten minutes. Then you’ll feel like painting.” Works for me for piano practice too. Practicing helps turn my attention away from fretfulness, worries, my mind going around in circles. Instead, at least for a time, I’m thinking about music, not regrets. It is good medicine.

And I will add my two cents to the advice never to skip a lesson because you feel you haven’t practiced enough. There are always things for your teacher to work on with you. Alans, here’s hoping that your lessons refresh your energy and enthusiasm.


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Yep. Set yourself a tiny goal. Maybe just to practise a few bars of a piece. Don't even give yourself a time. Just think of something you know won't take long.

One of my favourite things (if I can't practise and I just want to maintain contact with the piano) is to sit down and just feel the motion of my hands and arms. Maybe just C in octaves in both hands and slowly repeat like church bells, concentrating on the movement of the keys and how my arms feel. It's like the piano and I are saying hello to each other.

There's no pressure. It doesn't matter if I stop after ten seconds or ten minutes.



Last edited by johnstaf; 12/02/19 02:23 AM.
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I don't know what to advise to you, I just wish you good luck and all the best.

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This has been a great discussion about practicing music and depression. Every suggestion was filled with insight. I agree with pianowillbebach about how often to take lessons. I take an hour lesson twice a month. It gives me more freedom to relax between lessons and vary the amount of practice every day. And I agree that there is enough goodness in learning music without having to advance to any higher level.

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