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Concentration in a time of distraction
#2960237 03/25/20 08:50 AM
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As several people have noted in other threads, they're having some difficulty concentrating on their piano practices. I'm definitely in that camp. I'm still getting to the bench every day, but my perception is that the quality of my practices has suffered. I'm hoping that my concentration will improve as time goes on and I adjust to this "new normal," but who knows?

How are the rest of you doing? Any tips or strategies for dealing with problems with concentrating in a time of great distraction and general upset?


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Re: Concentration in a time of distraction
Stubbie #2960244 03/25/20 09:24 AM
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I was also distracted by this whole situation, then I looked deep into my inner self.

What I found was a monster secretly living inside me. This monster was very curious, it was indulging in those increasing numbers of cases, and the fall of the stock markets. It wanted to see more and more of such trends just to fulfill its curiosity and indulge further.

Once I realize all this, I was able to put an end to it. It no longer affects me.

Hope you can find the monster in yourself too. Meditation is a very useful tool.

Re: Concentration in a time of distraction
Stubbie #2960252 03/25/20 09:58 AM
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You’re not alone in this, I think! I am getting to practice every day but get up sooner than usual. Same thing with housework and projects. Yes, I feel my focus isn’t so great.

Yesterday I tried several short practice sessions. I think that will work for me, with a reminder every time that as long as I’m keeping the habit of practice, it’s ok.


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Re: Concentration in a time of distraction
Stubbie #2960339 03/25/20 02:03 PM
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Yes concentration can be a problem. But I think for me, it's important to play everyday. If not on my lesson pieces than play pieces that I've already learned or easier pieces just for fun. Oh, and keep my phone that is contently beeping at me for the latest news story away from me as I play.


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Re: Concentration in a time of distraction
Stubbie #2960349 03/25/20 02:30 PM
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The only thing that I can muster at the moment is scales and some simple pieces that I can smoothen out. Basically stuff that requires almost no thought.
I have the odd occasion where I’m more productive. It’s usually after I’ve been sitting in the garden and have been able to forget for a moment what’s going on.
The fact that I am now working from home together with the lovely weather that we’ve had over the last few days has lifted my spirits a little but I’m mostly resigned to the fact that not being able to practice like I did under these conditions is normal and hopefully in the near future we will start to see a turnaround and get some positive news.
Until that point I’m just concentrating on keeping my fingers moving and not allowing things to deteriorate.

Re: Concentration in a time of distraction
PatG #2960356 03/25/20 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by PatG
it's important to play everyday. If not on my lesson pieces than play pieces that I've already learned or easier pieces just for fun. .


That is the hard bit. Familiarity breeds contempt? I find it hard to concentrate on pieces I've already done/written, the result being I can't even play my own music!
Time to do something else? Trouble is I've just bought a new Joanna . . . .(shrug) I guess I'll just have to play the darned thing . . . .


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Re: Concentration in a time of distraction
Stubbie #2960376 03/25/20 04:38 PM
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I am finding that, occasionally, my concentration lags. What is helping, however, is a "concentrated" effort at memorizing. I've been working on memorizing both new and "old" repertoire, with much more attention to detail than in the past, and with much less reliance on muscle memory getting me through certain passages. Playing very slowly, from memory, is a real help to focusing; at least, it is working for me and is producing some results at the same time.

But, we are so very early into this situation that trying to predict long-term results is pointless. I'm taking it one day at a time and being pleased when results happen.

Keep well!

Regards,


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Re: Concentration in a time of distraction
Stubbie #2960385 03/25/20 04:58 PM
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Thank you, all, for the replies.

What I have settled into over the past week is working on short, new-to-me pieces and one piece I was working on before lessons went on hiatus. The new pieces are from Schubert Dances, D. 366. I am playing them first as sight-reading material, then going back and working on getting them presentable. I've currently read through and practiced nos. 1-7, with ten more to go. Thus far, these are delightful short pieces. My longer term piece is Chopin C# minor nocturne, posth. This has enough fiddly bits (for me, at any rate), to fully occupy my brain. I'm on the last piece in Bartok's Mikrokosmos, Bk. 5 and will probably start the first piece in Bk. 6. My Scarlatti and Mozart are getting short shrift these days.

Today was the first nice, sunny, warm day in at least a week and I was able to get outdoors and do some yard work. Never has yard work felt so good!


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Re: Concentration in a time of distraction
Stubbie #2960406 03/25/20 06:01 PM
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I too have trouble concentrating. I am playing every day but mostly want to just play easy pieces for fun. After a couple of weeks with no lessons, I am having my first lesson by Zoom on Friday. I guess I better get working on the Chopin Nocturne. The strange thing is usually Chopin is what I love to play and happily spend lots of time practicing . Hopefully having lessons again will help get me back on track. Since I am working from home and should have more time to practice. My teacher is probably going to wonder why I
have made less progress in 3 weeks than one.


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Re: Concentration in a time of distraction
Mongol_fiddler #2960430 03/25/20 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Mongol_fiddler
I was also distracted by this whole situation, then I looked deep into my inner self.

What I found was a monster secretly living inside me. This monster was very curious, it was indulging in those increasing numbers of cases, and the fall of the stock markets. It wanted to see more and more of such trends just to fulfill its curiosity and indulge further.


I agree. If the whole virus situation is affecting you so much that it’s affecting your concentration, then it’s time to stop watching endless news reports and hanging out on Facebook groups spreading misinformation.

Personally I don’t watch any news reports - I just go to a couple of reliable online news outlets for updates once a day.

My practice concentration is a bit reduced, it’s true, but that’s mainly due to disruption to our family routine more than anything, people being home when they wouldn’t normally be, that sort of thing.


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Re: Concentration in a time of distraction
Stubbie #2960437 03/25/20 07:43 PM
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Now That our state has gone into lock down For past 10 days...I only watch the governor’s update [doing a fab job], Now I switch TV off when I practice. Before that, i couldn’t focus and had the news channel on for longer than I should have. Just getting into new normal routine now that we are all home. Making sure I work out and meditate every day. First virtual lesson today where I finally showed progress on Chopin ‘raindrop’. Just waiting out on the peak to materialize and looking forward to the state’s exit plan, and eating out again!


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Re: Concentration in a time of distraction
Stubbie #2960438 03/25/20 07:53 PM
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Lessons are cancelled until the shelter in place order is lifted. I've lost all incentive to practice. Oh I sit at the piano and pound something out but it's without concentration or interest. It's hard to describe but piano feels utterly superfluous at this time.

I guess I'm totally preoccupied with what may happen to friends and family.

Last edited by Fidel; 03/25/20 07:55 PM.

With new students Chopin was chiefly anxious to do away with any stiffness in, or cramped, or convulsive movement of the hand, thereby obtaining the first requisite of fine technique "souplesse" (suppleness). -- Carl Mikuli on Chopin the teacher.
Re: Concentration in a time of distraction
Stubbie #2960440 03/25/20 07:56 PM
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I’ve been doing as @BruceD says above, just trying to take it one day at a time. If I keep things going smoothly with practice, it has always been a kind of “escape”, if you will. By smooth I mean the same as usual with no tension or letting myself get flustered, making forward progress, etc. Please stay safe everyone.


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Re: Concentration in a time of distraction
Stubbie #2960496 03/25/20 11:39 PM
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I just saw this thread.This has happened to me. I sit at the piano and play but my mind is on
"overload" I tried to do a little practice last night on a Schubert sonata I used to play but gave
up and then did a little practice on an Impromptu.Things will however improve sometime
I suppose.Life will go on somehow.

Re: Concentration in a time of distraction
Stubbie #2960517 03/26/20 01:32 AM
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We supposedly have more time with many cities & countries in lockdown but...

Paying attention to the news all the time we can't really focus on playing music. I managed to learn several pieces before Feb. and still practicing the same pieces regularly. I only managed to learn 1 piece of new music (2 pages) at a much lower level in the last 2 weeks.

Staying home for many hours a day my energy level is at the lowest like a sick patient.

Re: Concentration in a time of distraction
Stubbie #2960571 03/26/20 06:34 AM
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There is a little bit of this going on.
Work expands to fill the time available for its completion. A proverb coined by the twentieth-century British scholar C. Northcote Parkinson, known as Parkinson's Law. It points out that people usually take all the time allotted (and frequently more) to accomplish any task.


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Re: Concentration in a time of distraction
Colin Miles #2960721 03/26/20 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Colin Miles
There is a little bit of this going on.
Work expands to fill the time available for its completion. A proverb coined by the twentieth-century British scholar C. Northcote Parkinson, known as Parkinson's Law. It points out that people usually take all the time allotted (and frequently more) to accomplish any task.



the way they said it when I was in music school was.... The task increases with the time allotted. One their example was colleges on the semester system and ones on the quarter system. Both school teach the same class, but in the quarter system its shorter and you accept that and do what you need to in order to pass. People in general do this all the time subconsciously their boss (or parent) gives them X amount of time to complete something and people without thinking just plan to use the amount of time given.


As for concentration that is something else we worked on in music school at first without being told why were were given daily thing to work on with timings on them. 20 minutes for this, 12 minutes for that, and etc. Over the days the times would get shorter and shorter and we were told we HAVE to stop when the time is up. Eventually they explained the timings were to help us learn to control keeping focused on a task. So when we knew we only has X minutes to work on something we learned how to block everything out and just focus on the task at hand, It works and essential for musicians since that's the way we tend to work in real world, Need to focus to play a song, the turn off the focus between songs, or in the studio sightreading really need total focus to play a chart you have only had a minute or two to scan.

So having trouble concentrating take your list of thing to practice that day and set time limits and use a timer. I think you'll find when you know you only have to work in X for ten minutes you will be able to do it.

Also in school they taught us to take a break every hour when practicing. This help avoid becoming distracted and noodling more than real practice. I found once I took a 15 minute break every hour I could practice hours and hours and get things done.

Re: Concentration in a time of distraction
Stubbie #2960784 03/26/20 04:48 PM
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I think all this situation is a good reason to play some Bach. Bach helps.

Re: Concentration in a time of distraction
Stubbie #2960800 03/26/20 05:30 PM
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We're so lucky to have piano. It's has always felt like an isolating hobby to begin with and so feels like a very comfortable place now. Lot's of people going stir crazy, twiddling their thumbs and (hopefully not) filling their minds with anxiety. We have a relief for that and it's precious.

It's painful seeing the world suffer and praying for it to get well soon.

Re: Concentration in a time of distraction
Stubbie #2960804 03/26/20 05:58 PM
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Agree, we're not strangers to the solitary aspects of piano. Right now, with all the stuff going on, I'm thankful I have it to go to, either when the mood strikes or when discipline taps on my shoulder.


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