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What Keeps Me (and You) Going #2948332 02/18/20 02:26 AM
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I've decided to start a thread for people, like me, who want to talk about finding discipline in their piano practice. For me, I've started and stopped lessons twice in the past two years. Each time, I miss it and find myself drawn back in. This time, I'm off to a good start and have been playing 30 minutes daily. Some days, it's just 20 minutes. But my hope is that regular practice will show incremental progress. More importantly, I find it relaxing to sit down - just sit down - and puzzle through a new passage. More often than not, I find that I can play it better than when I started. It's a small accomplishment after a long day of challenging and sometimes frustrating work.

So that's my post. Feel free to comment or share something of your own about daily practice, stress relief, or whatever you get out of playing piano.


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Re: What Keeps Me (and You) Going [Re: DDobs] #2948334 02/18/20 02:50 AM
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For me, it's important to practice every day. If I fall off the wagon it is hard for me to get back on.

For the 2 years since I started piano, I've probably not played piano for about a total of 8 weeks out of 104, mostly during vacations. I have to pay specific attention to resuming after any break and what I do is before I take a vacation, I always put on my calendar piano practice starting from 2 days after I return for a given time that I know I will be available to practice. Then when that time comes, I treat it like a work appointment/meeting. I sit down exactly at the scheduled time and play for the scheduled amount, which is an hour. I don't let myself start late as I wouldn't if it were a work event, and I don't do less than the scheduled time. After a week of these scheduled playing sessions, I know I'm back to being self-sustaining and no longer need to calendar practice time.


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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: What Keeps Me (and You) Going [Re: DDobs] #2948339 02/18/20 02:59 AM
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My practice today was 1 hour, forty five minutes, and went by in a flash. I didn’t have any stress, tension, or feelings of just being unmotivated. I wish it were like that with every practice.
I understand what you mean DDobs, my journey has had some zigzags due to health and motivation, but I’m going to stay with it for the long run. Great thread.


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Re: What Keeps Me (and You) Going [Re: DDobs] #2948347 02/18/20 04:14 AM
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I have a compulsion to create and it would be a rare day I don't spend a couple of hours at the piano regardless of how I feel. I do very little that could be called practice in the usual sense of that word though. The love of music and the necessary discipline became fused in my brain a very long time ago and none of it ever stresses me in the slightest.


"We shall always love the music of the masters, but they are all dead and now it's our turn." - Llewelyn Jones, my piano teacher
Re: What Keeps Me (and You) Going [Re: DDobs] #2948379 02/18/20 06:39 AM
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At some point I'll need to work on discipline, but at the moment my desire seems to be to take any chance I have to practise or just play without any discipline required at all.

I'm not sure if that makes me lucky or not.

I do like Tyrone's approach. If I do need discipline at some point I'll see if I can get a habit going by doing the calendar appointment approach. But it may also be sensible to reflect, that if motivation is lacking perhaps I've burnt out or something else is happening to remove the desire.

Re: What Keeps Me (and You) Going [Re: DDobs] #2948380 02/18/20 06:40 AM
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I have to have a goal. There have been many over the years, from goals that were simple to achieve to goals that required years of work.
Some examples:
- find time to practice 30 minutes a day
- "finish" Alfred's book 1 (then 2, then 3)
- Take lessons (preparing for a lesson every week is a great goal)
- Participate in the ABF recitals - this is a great goal, because there is another recital every 3 months
- Play in a live recital
- play Christmas music for family and friends (harder than it seems!)
- Accompany my wife - clarinet and piano
- find (or start) a piano group to play with

Sam

Re: What Keeps Me (and You) Going [Re: DDobs] #2948409 02/18/20 07:44 AM
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I've stopped lessons 5-6 times in the past 10 years. First was because my teacher quit playing the piano! (Partly out of frustration; he was working towards a diploma and couldn't master Beethoven's Appassionata. But I think it's mainly because of a mid-life crisis; he eventually sold his piano and all his books and started a business in the food and beverage industry).

The second was because I got lazy and lacked the motivation to continue after an exam. Then I was drawn back to it because I felt something lacking and looked for a third teacher whom I felt I could better "gel" with. then I stopped the third time when my dad passed away and I quit my job. Then I missed it again and went back to the same teacher. Then i quit twice again because of some other family drama, but twice my current teacher was willing to take me back! Never again will I stop this time!

Once because I'd thought I could and ought to save some money, i signed up for pop piano improv lessons instead (the monthly fee was a fraction of classical piano lessons). But I found myself playing the same old classical pieces I knew again and again, so I stopped the lessons there and went back to classical piano.

Each time I stopped lessons I'd have to put in twice to thrice the effort to get back to my former shape, and each time I stopped I'd feel a part of me was missing, so I really don't want to quit again. It's been about a year of regular lessons now. So far so good.

I think what keeps me going now is an inexplicable desire to want to capture a sound, and a desire to simply play well. And since it was my dad who first exposed me to classical music and who taught me how to appreciate a bit of it, playing it seems like a way to remember him.

Last edited by Athdara; 02/18/20 07:53 AM.
Re: What Keeps Me (and You) Going [Re: DDobs] #2948486 02/18/20 11:43 AM
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Let me put in a plug for MOYD. It really does help on those days when I am too tired to practice. Generally, when I sit down to do my compulsory 5 minutes, I get hooked and end up having at least an hour of good practice or more.

I also keep a practice log, and seeing progress each week helps. I also agree about having goals, like the quarterly recitals. Deadlines do motivate!

Re: What Keeps Me (and You) Going [Re: DDobs] #2948517 02/18/20 12:41 PM
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Quote
]What Keeps Me (and You) Going?


I just enjoy playing although I'm just an average player. I do feel some motivation to play each day to get prepared for my weekly lesson. But primarily I just enjoy playing the piano. I still play pieces my teacher "checked off" months ago because I just like to play them. So I hate to call my time at the piano practice, it's really more like a fun thing I look forward to doing similar to other people looking forward to running, painting or playing golf.

It is very easy to establish goals via the method books at my level (finish section 1, finish section 2, etc.), so I suspect the feeling of making identifiable progress is also a positive that is in play.

Last edited by Chili_Time; 02/18/20 12:45 PM.

First Lesson Oct. 17, 2017. Currently in Faber Piano Adventures Book 3a. Yamaha P-115 for two years (good starter piano) and now a Kawai MP11SE (Fantastic piano!).
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Re: What Keeps Me (and You) Going [Re: DDobs] #2948519 02/18/20 12:43 PM
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Discipline is overrated.

I once asked a therapist how I could commit to exercising more frequently. Her response was "What if you just commit to not exercising?"

She could tell that the pressure I was putting on myself was actually making it harder to motivate myself to exercise.

So, I tried it. Committing to not exercising. As long as I felt that pressure to do it, I refused to let myself do it. Eventually, the pressure went away, and I found a deeper source of motivation underneath it. Now, I'm an Olympic athlete.

One sentence in this post is false.

Re: What Keeps Me (and You) Going [Re: DDobs] #2948524 02/18/20 12:53 PM
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What keeps me going falls on two levels: the immediate, where MOYD and preparing for weekly lessons give me 'here and now' goals, and the long term, where I can see and feel improvement over time.

I get charged up when I sit down with a new piece and go through it for the first time (usually HS and trying out fingering), then come back to it the next day and play a section HT, slowly, maybe with adjustments to the fingering, and then the third day--a miracle!--it's starting to sound like music! (After that comes the real learning part.)

I took some golf lessons many years ago and would go out and play with friends now and then. Most of my shots were awful, just awful. But every now and then I'd get in a good shot and that good shot kept me going. The good shot let me feel and see what success felt like, and charged me up to keep trying. Same with piano. Every once in a while I feel like I'm making real music.


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Re: What Keeps Me (and You) Going [Re: MichaelJK] #2948536 02/18/20 01:14 PM
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Great thread!

Originally Posted by MichaelJK
So, I tried it. Committing to not exercising. As long as I felt that pressure to do it, I refused to let myself do it. Eventually, the pressure went away, and I found a deeper source of motivation underneath it. Now, I'm an Olympic athlete.

One sentence in this post is false.


LOL. I think this is an important point though. I read The Inner Game of Tennis last year (based on recommendations here). Really interesting stuff about what happens when we are trying too hard (maybe similar to putting pressure on ourselves to do something). I need to read that again...

I also think it's very helpful to have a specific goal...but even that hasn't always helped me. When I took lessons as a kid, I just wasn't motivated to practice. I played for my 8th grade jazz band and did so-so. I was then asked to accompany the 9th grade jazz choir and it was a train-wreck. Even though I had a very obvious goal (play well enough to not humiliate myself), at that time it just wasn't enough to motivate me to practice. I played for one concert, and for the next one I procrastinated so long that I couldn't prepare in time and I had to beg a senior to take over. That was the end of my short-lived accompanying career. I stopped lessons and just played for fun throughout high school, then dropped it almost completely for more than 20 years.

2 years ago I decided I wanted to play piano for my concert band, and it was like a switch was flipped. Ever since, I can't imagine not practicing every day that I'm able (not on 12-hour work days). My conductor could find a piano player at any time and the opportunity will have passed, but even knowing that, I'm so in love with playing now that I don't believe I'll give it up again. I can't fully explain what caused this shift in my brain...but I'm certainly enjoying it.

Last edited by JB_PW; 02/18/20 01:16 PM.

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Re: What Keeps Me (and You) Going [Re: DDobs] #2948537 02/18/20 01:14 PM
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What keeps me going?

Just one word: Music whistle.

I wake up to BBC Radio 3 (the BBC's classical radio station) from my bedside radio on a timer. More than once, I lie there listening to the music until it's finished, before getting out of bed, if the music is particularly well played, or if the music is unfamiliar but appealing, and I just have to keep listening to the end to find out what it is.

When I get home from work, the first thing I switch on is......you've guessed it.

So, I play the piano because I love the music, and I love the making of it by my own fair hands, because I can (even though my hands aren't fair, and never were). But another attraction of making music at the piano is that I like the movements, the technicality of piano playing, and the control I can exert over the sound (which of course I cannot if someone else is playing). That's why the pieces I love to play aren't just appealing as pure music, but also appealing as technical & musical challenges. There are a lot of pieces that I love to hear great pianists play, but which I couldn't be bothered to learn for myself, simply because they don't challenge me (though of course I might just sight-read through them).

At this time in my life, I don't need a teacher, and I choose what I want to learn, as well as what I want to play purely for fun without actually learning it properly, and what I want to sight-read through (and discard immediately - or not, as the case may be). And I never keep track of how long I play every day.

However, when I'm away up in the mountains, or battling the waves on the sea, or battling man-eating fish beneath the sea, I don't miss music or the piano one bit, because my mind and body is engaged elsewhere smirk . But when I come back down to Earth, and I come across a piano (any piano, even if beaten-up) it's irresistible, and I just have to sit down and play it.......


"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: What Keeps Me (and You) Going [Re: DDobs] #2948554 02/18/20 01:47 PM
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There's always something that grabs me in a new way. There's always a new piece that I feel I have to learn. Whether I end up doing so or not, I will have deepened my relationship with the piano.

Re: What Keeps Me (and You) Going [Re: DDobs] #2948564 02/18/20 02:17 PM
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I really like music and I like playing and practising music on my piano. But I don't like practising sight-reading, so i need to set a goal, like finish book 1 then book 2.

There is something better than discipline, it's called habits. If I practise every day at 6h, it becomes a habit and I don't need to convince myself to do it.



"The piano keys are black and white but they sound like a million colors in your mind.“
Maria Cristina

Re: What Keeps Me (and You) Going [Re: MichaelJK] #2948588 02/18/20 03:16 PM
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Tyrone Slothrop Offline
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Originally Posted by MichaelJK
Discipline is overrated. .

You should have qualified that. "For some/many/most people, discipline is overrated." With that qualification, then I'd buy it.


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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: What Keeps Me (and You) Going [Re: DDobs] #2948590 02/18/20 03:17 PM
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DDobs,
I just posted something similar in another thread - my frustration to not being about to put in a long practice. Everything you spoke of at the top of this thread is what I have been looking for since I joined this forum. There is a certain practice fortitude that some folks have - that everyday practice, 2, 3 hours. Some people call it the Lang Lang method (practice the number of hours equal to your age), or the 40 hours a day. Joking, of course, but I would be happy to break the two hour mark on a regular basis, let alone any given day. Unfortunately, when I discover one person who has this ability, I find it hard to discover the secret or to tap into it. And it is just as difficult for those folks to answer how they do it.

That said, I have somehow managed to increase my time and consistency with practice after many years of starting and stopping. I joined this forum a couple of weeks before the 2020 new year, discovered MOYD (see SwissMS comment above) and haven't missed a practice day in two months. Granted there were a few times I cursed, jumped out of bed at 11:55, and got in ten minutes of playing, but I managed to touch the piano that day. Didn't want to break the streak. If I do, Swiss has permission to come to house and TP my car. Joking aside, I've noticed the practice time increase, as well as start earlier in the day.

Another secret I learned here is to always have plenty of material at the ready. You could be focused on one or two pieces, but keep seven or eight pieces near by, even if it is stuff you know, stuff that's easy, or stuff that's fun. Does Chopin make you want to punch a hole through your piano and swear it off? Pull out the sheet music to "I Feel the Earth Move" and rock out. Call it productive procrastination. I keep Hanon on my stand just to waste time between things that I am plateauing with. Instead of pacing around the room, checking messages, or looking for snacks, I continue to play something. It's not the ultimate goal but it is at least the first step. Pile the material by your piano even if you are concentrating on only a couple of pieces.

The last thing is to keep sharing and discussing. Around my parts there is an abundance of guitarists, and you don't want to get stuck at a party when two of them meet. It's all drop d's, and amps, and Fender vs Gibson, and what would Keith play for the next few hours. Piano players seem to resist talking about piano, which is a shame because I feel having other people sharing your interests is an enormous boost for your own motivation. (Some folks here have pushed back on what I just said but we decided that the resistance of pianists to "talk piano" comes from the piano being a solitary instrument and not really gear based.) So that said, keep sharing and responding on the forums. We at least have each other to lean on.

All the best and keep playing.


“Nobody wants to show you the hours and hours of becoming. They'd rather show the highlight of what they've become.”
― Angela Duckworth, Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success
Re: What Keeps Me (and You) Going [Re: DDobs] #2948601 02/18/20 03:58 PM
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It’s the words in your head...I don’t HAVE to practice, but I GET to practice.
Another advice I find invaluable: know what you are hoping to achieve before you start practice. Regardless of how tired or energetic you are: you choose what you want to accomplish at the end of practice. The night before I plan a number of ‘goals’ like play major scales and the next day- I can choose to play 6 of the 12 scales, it it might be all 12 scales. But I have an end goal in mind. If I still have some time/energy left, I will play through a whole piece that I am working on, slowly, to see where the measures that might need more time/practice.


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Re: What Keeps Me (and You) Going [Re: DDobs] #2948604 02/18/20 04:14 PM
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I don't need any convincing to play piano, 2 hours a day if I had so much time. But I do need a little bit of discipline to start my practice with new pieces (sometimes they are resisting first 2-3 days) and difficult parts first. So, the timer is what I use and it works for me. I usually have two new pieces going and I set 20 minutes for each at the beginning of the practice, so this way I always give more focused attention to harder stuff and then I let myself play what I want and work on my "in polishing" pieces. Sometimes I put timer for 15 minutes each, but this time is to stop myself from working on something for 1.5 hours because I enjoy it so much, but other stuff in life needs my attention too.

Re: What Keeps Me (and You) Going [Re: DDobs] #2948605 02/18/20 04:16 PM
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Most days I can't wait to get my hands on those piano keys. The only times I don't practice or play is when I'm away on holidays, then the desire to get hands on is even stronger. Part of the motivation is preparing for my next lesson, naturally, but I just love how piano is a whole body experience, completely engaging of the mind and body...

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