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Re: What Wisdom Would You Give to A New Adult Beginner?
earlofmar #2994553 06/24/20 02:11 AM
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Originally Posted by earlofmar
3. Expect the first year to be tough. You might want to give up at times, but stick with it, it gets easier to deal with problems, but piano remains hard.

I found my first two years to go pretty smoothly and only after that I started feeling overwhelmed/demotivated (sometimes). If you keep up though the rewards are well worth it.

Originally Posted by earlofmar
7. When listening to new pieces to learn, if it sounds easy it is most likely incredibly hard.

LOL! I had a laugh at that one. laugh But when you get to intermediate stage it's sometimes the opposite.

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Re: What Wisdom Would You Give to A New Adult Beginner?
dogperson #2994556 06/24/20 02:16 AM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
Then another reminder for you: lessons are not a performance and definitely not a time to impress your teacher with how far you have progressed since your last lesson.

Think of them as a golden opportunity to identify your flaws with a professional available to help you find solutions.

Exactly. It's better if you make all your mistakes at the lesson so your teacher can diagnose what's wrong. Teachers can hear how much we practiced anyway.

Re: What Wisdom Would You Give to A New Adult Beginner?
akc42 #2994558 06/24/20 02:37 AM
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Originally Posted by akc42
Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by M Dominic
Great suggestions. Thanks so much, everyone!

I've already made the mistake of being waaaaay too hard on myself. By lesson 2 (I've had 3), my teacher reprimanded me for not tolerating mistakes while I was trying to sight read a piece that she gave me.

This is definitely going to require rewiring my brain a bit...


Then another reminder for you: lessons are not a performance and definitely not a time to impress your teacher with how far you have progressed since your last lesson.

Think of them as a golden opportunity to identify your flaws with a professional available to help you find solutions.

This point is so important, and one I still fall down at. Last week I relearnt Bach Invention No 8 in a week and I was so so keen to impress my teacher that I had done that that when I came to play it, I could hardly get a note right and I starting getting very nervous. Later in the lesson, she said to me - show me how you were practising by playing until you make a mistake and then show my what you did then. Released with the permission to make a mistake I almost played it right through.

For me, this is expressed the best in the book "The Perfect Wrong Note" by William Westney. Transformational for me.


I also highly recommend Westney’s book.
One thing that has helped me keep the perspective of ‘learner with flaws’, ‘help me’ during a lesson is to start out each lesson with the questions/problems I had during practice. By the time we work through those, there is no feeling of ‘let me show you how well I’ve done this week’. My flaws have already been exposed 😊

After this, I then play through so my teacher can note anything else.


"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: What Wisdom Would You Give to A New Adult Beginner?
M Dominic #2994615 06/24/20 07:04 AM
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The only advice I can muster for an older adult beginner is to enjoy the music, learn and play whatever you like the sound of, have confidence that your musical taste is valid and go for it and it alone. The great thing about getting older in music, I found, is that nobody expects achievements from me in the tiresome way they did in my youth. Nothing matters any more and I find that a wonderful liberation. I just wish I had embraced my own direction far earlier in life.

So were I starting music at a later age, hypothetical situation notwithstanding, I would learn all the disciplines assiduously from a good teacher, no way around those, but I would apply them to suit my own musical purposes from the very start and emulate no one.


"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 Wisdom Would You Give to A New Adult Beginner?
M Dominic #2994633 06/24/20 08:29 AM
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Be like a child, they learn fast not just because they have "younger brains" but also because they are not afraid of looking clumsy. Adults often find the "beginner" role awkward and intimidating because it was such a long time ago since they were absolute beginners in anything. But remember that EVERY pianist on this earth, ever, has been a clumsy beginner once. Even the best pianist in the world has struggled, sometimes despaired, sometimes got overwhelmed, lost motivation from time to time etcetera. So it is perfectly normal to feel "stupid" and "untalented" sometimes, we all do. As been written by others, the development is far from linear. Sometimes you seem to get stuck. Don't worry, keep on working, you will get over that hurdle too. Piano playing is fascinating and amazing. When I was younger I just wanted to be able to play pieces, preferably without any effort, but today I find the learning process often more intriguing and fun than the end result ...

Last edited by ghosthand; 06/24/20 08:31 AM.
Re: What Wisdom Would You Give to A New Adult Beginner?
M Dominic #2994681 06/24/20 11:10 AM
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Life’s too short to endure needless suffering. So, as much as you can, play/learn music you enjoy listening to. Not all beginner music is boring and pedantic.

YouTube is a massive resource of seldom heard music. More specifically, The University of Iowa Piano Pedagogy Project is a seemingly boundless collection of piano videos of thousands, maybe tens of thousands of beginner pieces performed by their music professors. When you hear things you like at your current grade level, go acquire the sheet music, and enjoy.

Save yourself the horror of spending hours practicing something you do not enjoy.


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Re: What Wisdom Would You Give to A New Adult Beginner?
M Dominic #2994682 06/24/20 11:18 AM
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A big issue I see many adult learners have is they are always comparing themselves to the person they think they could have been had they started piano earlier in life. Comparing yourself, in general, is very discouraging. But you can get caught in this trap of constantly thinking, "If only I started sooner..." and as a result, you want to rush to catch up. This is just not possible, and you'll only hamper your progress with this thinking.

So enjoy the process and trust in what your teacher is telling you. Be wary of using apps too much - they're OK for theory and that's about it.


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Re: What Wisdom Would You Give to A New Adult Beginner?
M Dominic #2994840 06/24/20 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by M Dominic
on the flip side, what would you suggest that I NOT do?

I hope you wind up loving piano as much as I did, I started about 3 years ago at 47, and am a die hard piano junkie now smile I didn't see many "what not to do" responses, so here's mine. Don't watch video of 7 year olds playing the pieces you're playing, and if you do, don't compare yourself to them. It's so easy to get discouraged when you're having a problem hitting the right key at the right time and wondering how these kids get it so much easier than you. But, though they have the "young brain" advantage, we have the advantage of greater patience, more general knowledge, and we have learned to stick to things. Take advantage of those qualities and don't worry about "everyone else." You risk losing the enjoyment of what YOU are doing, and what YOU are accomplishing.


Now learning: Chopin C# minor Nocturne (posth), Mozart Sonata in C K. 545, R. Schumann Fantasy Dance, Joplin The Chrysanthemum
Instruments: Yamaha N1X, Kawai ES110, Roland GO:PIANO, Piano de Voyage
Re: What Wisdom Would You Give to A New Adult Beginner?
M Dominic #2994868 06/24/20 08:35 PM
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What NOT to do? Don't quit. When you get discouraged, keep at it. In piano once the quick & easy ramp up of the beginner is over, you may find yourself progressing so slowly you question whether you are progressing at all.

Believe me, you are. Keep going. Dont give up. Eventually you'll see exactly how much you've improved. Especially so with the Russian Method which takes a long while to lay the foundation because the method is so rooted in fundamentals.


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: What Wisdom Would You Give to A New Adult Beginner?
M Dominic #2994880 06/24/20 09:07 PM
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Be deliberate, be focused, be patient. It will come...unless you rush it.


Only in men's imagination does every truth find an effective and undeniable existence. Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of art as of life. -Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski
Re: What Wisdom Would You Give to A New Adult Beginner?
M Dominic #2994912 06/24/20 10:15 PM
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Take special heed when your teacher tells you how to practice- which is typically very slow and always go back fix your mistakes rather rushing through a section. My teacher is a very accomplished classical pianist with incredible technique and has her doctorate from the University of Illinois in Piano Performance. She studied under Ian Hobson. She said even when she was studying for her doctorate she would run into some difficult pieces and asked her advisor, "how do you possibly play this?" and he would tell her, "practice slowly" and when she would say that she did but was still having difficulty he would say "then practice even slower".


Working on:

Bach/Busoni Chaconne in D minor BWV 1004
Preludio: Bach/Rachmaninoff E Major Sonata for Violin
Chopin: G Minor Ballade


Shigeru Kawai SK2
Kawai VPC-1
Re: What Wisdom Would You Give to A New Adult Beginner?
Jethro #2994982 06/25/20 06:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Jethro
Take special heed when your teacher tells you how to practice- which is typically very slow and always go back fix your mistakes rather rushing through a section. My teacher is a very accomplished classical pianist with incredible technique and has her doctorate from the University of Illinois in Piano Performance. She studied under Ian Hobson. She said even when she was studying for her doctorate she would run into some difficult pieces and asked her advisor, "how do you possibly play this?" and he would tell her, "practice slowly" and when she would say that she did but was still having difficulty he would say "then practice even slower".

Very good point and thanks for the reminder for me as well.

It took me years to understand how playing slow works. Playing slow means playing with control. Trying to play fast means losing control. Speed is not about learning to play fast, it's about learning how to play with control.

What I have realised is that speed is a product of having control of the instrument. Hence pushing the tempo while losing control is counter productive.

Hope I'm explaining this well... but the day I realised this and changed my practice to playing with control was a big day for me.

Re: What Wisdom Would You Give to A New Adult Beginner?
Emigre #2995022 06/25/20 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Emigre
It took me years to understand how playing slow works. Playing slow means playing with control. Trying to play fast means losing control. Speed is not about learning to play fast, it's about learning how to play with control.

What I have realised is that speed is a product of having control of the instrument. Hence pushing the tempo while losing control is counter .

Well, of course until one can play the piece slowly there is no point trying to go fast. But that said playing slowly helps to get a good control but does not allow to play fast. To play fast, one needs to develop control at speed, ie the ability and technique to play at greater speed which is not the same as playing at slow or moderate tempo.

Re: What Wisdom Would You Give to A New Adult Beginner?
Emigre #2995030 06/25/20 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Emigre
It took me years to understand how playing slow works. Playing slow means playing with control.
Over on a saxophone BB I frequent, you cannot post "play slow" without someone chiming in (do saxophonists "chime"? Probably not):

Play slow - with good time / rhythm feel!

Which is an aspect of control. Count, out loud even. Put the metronome slow, and count. And overlap phrases with good time...

Once you get the timing right IMHO, it starts to actually sounds like music and then you can play the music faster (or with more feeling or whatever) rather then playing the instrument faster..

Re: What Wisdom Would You Give to A New Adult Beginner?
M Dominic #2995042 06/25/20 10:59 AM
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I used to teach martial arts and told my new students, remember you are a white belt. Enjoy it! Now is when we expect lots of mistakes. So make all the mistakes you can! Every black belt started was a white belt, and not all of us had any “natural talent.” I sure didn’t. I sucked at every other sport I tried. LOL But I practiced a lot.

Try to enjoy your mistakes. You can’t learn to always hit F until you hit E and G. Fall off the bike, get back on. Burn the cookies, add too much salt, color outside the lines, pronounce it wingardium levioSAH. Be the white belt, the happy white belt.

As everyone, said sit at the piano every day if you can. Even if it’s just a quick 5-10 minutes of find every C, find every D, find every E, etc, followed by just a line or two of something you know you can play. Two days of 10min is better than 48hrs of nothing.

If you’re really frustrated find something fun to play to start. Re-do stuff you know you can do to warm up. I had note flash cards and would go through those for a few minutes. On bad days, I’d run through a super simple Ode to Joy from First Book of Bach, that Always made me happy. LOL

Try to remember, the best part is when you don’t seem to be improving. I know that’s when something cool is about to happen, you just don’t know when. I worked on a simple little on/off rhythm for weeks. Couldn’t do it at 60bmp or even 40 bpm. I skipped it for a day or two, but practiced other stuff. The 3rd day I was not only able to do it correctly at 80 bpm, but not half bad at 100 bpm.

Most importantly have fun!

Re: What Wisdom Would You Give to A New Adult Beginner?
dogperson #2995045 06/25/20 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by M Dominic
This is definitely going to require rewiring my brain a bit...
This WILL rewire your brain! All you need to do is keep on with it, giving it time every day (or almost every day).
Originally Posted by dogperson
Then another reminder for you: lessons are not a performance and definitely not a time to impress your teacher with how far you have progressed since your last lesson.

Think of them as a golden opportunity to identify your flaws with a professional available to help you find solutions.
I second this excellent advice. Except, instead of "your flaws," I might suggest "skills you have yet to learn." And some of those skills take a while to develop, no matter your character, willpower, intelligence, or how much you want it to happen.

I began 3-ish years ago, older than you are. Enjoy the process!


About to say goodbye to Mister Upright, and wondering what nickname the new Estonia L168 will inspire.
Re: What Wisdom Would You Give to A New Adult Beginner?
Sidokar #2995270 06/26/20 02:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Sidokar
Originally Posted by Emigre
It took me years to understand how playing slow works. Playing slow means playing with control. Trying to play fast means losing control. Speed is not about learning to play fast, it's about learning how to play with control.

What I have realised is that speed is a product of having control of the instrument. Hence pushing the tempo while losing control is counter .

Well, of course until one can play the piece slowly there is no point trying to go fast. But that said playing slowly helps to get a good control but does not allow to play fast. To play fast, one needs to develop control at speed, ie the ability and technique to play at greater speed which is not the same as playing at slow or moderate tempo.

My teacher has slightly different advice about playing slow which I think might help to overcome this issue. When practising slow, actually practice playing the note before and then moving as fast as possible to just above the keys for the next note AND ONLY WHEN IN POSITION (and when you have in your brain where you are going to after you play the note) do you actually play the note. These short, very sharp bursts get burnt into you brain after an overnight sleep and next day you find yourself able to play much faster than the day before. I was doing this a lot recently, particularly with some Chopin with vast left hand jumps and it worked really well.

Re: What Wisdom Would You Give to A New Adult Beginner?
M Dominic #2995271 06/26/20 02:42 AM
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Sometimes I play fast and sloppy just to push my push my synapses to the limits, but I make sure to tell myself it's dumb what I just did.


Only in men's imagination does every truth find an effective and undeniable existence. Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of art as of life. -Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski
Re: What Wisdom Would You Give to A New Adult Beginner?
hawgdriver #2995301 06/26/20 06:09 AM
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Originally Posted by hawgdriver
Sometimes I play fast and sloppy just to push my push my synapses to the limits, but I make sure to tell myself it's dumb what I just did.

Who doesn't!! smile

Re: What Wisdom Would You Give to A New Adult Beginner?
akc42 #2995346 06/26/20 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by akc42
Originally Posted by Sidokar
Originally Posted by Emigre
It took me years to understand how playing slow works. Playing slow means playing with control. Trying to play fast means losing control. Speed is not about learning to play fast, it's about learning how to play with control.

What I have realised is that speed is a product of having control of the instrument. Hence pushing the tempo while losing control is counter .

Well, of course until one can play the piece slowly there is no point trying to go fast. But that said playing slowly helps to get a good control but does not allow to play fast. To play fast, one needs to develop control at speed, ie the ability and technique to play at greater speed which is not the same as playing at slow or moderate tempo.

My teacher has slightly different advice about playing slow which I think might help to overcome this issue. When practising slow, actually practice playing the note before and then moving as fast as possible to just above the keys for the next note AND ONLY WHEN IN POSITION (and when you have in your brain where you are going to after you play the note) do you actually play the note. These short, very sharp bursts get burnt into you brain after an overnight sleep and next day you find yourself able to play much faster than the day before. I was doing this a lot recently, particularly with some Chopin with vast left hand jumps and it worked really well.

Yes there are a lot of techniques to "burn" in the notes. Some include playing in off rhythms, such as eight note to 16th note and continue in this pattern (like skipping through the notes) still playing slowly, or blocking out measures and working on them until you get all the right notes and then start connecting measures that have all the notes corrected. Also I've been advised to reverse the off rhythms to really nail the notes down. Early in the learning process you DO NOT want to rely on muscle memory. You have to actively think about the notes.

The key thing to remember is once you have corrected all the notes make sure you can play them consistently correctly and one of my teachers emphasized that you demonstrate to yourself that you can play the notes consistently 3X then you can move on. She also said her teacher from Eastman told her not to repeat the same measures too many times because you are no longer actively learning and it actually works against you. You'll actually start becoming sloppy because you are no longer actively thinking about it. She said just 3X then move on. There will be plenty of time later on when you are polishing the piece that your muscle memory will be grooved in. But muscle memory is something you want to rely on as a backup system when you are performing or in sections that require a level of virtuosity and the fingers just have to move "on their own"

Every accomplished concert pianist whom I have spoken to told me that playing slow is critical to learning difficult pieces. For example, 2 concert pianists told me in order to learn the Revolutionary Etude the piece MUST be learned as slow as possible initially. (and they meant painfully slow to the point the piece is not recognizable). And these are 2 very accomplished pianists so I have to take their word for it.

Last edited by Jethro; 06/26/20 09:27 AM.

Working on:

Bach/Busoni Chaconne in D minor BWV 1004
Preludio: Bach/Rachmaninoff E Major Sonata for Violin
Chopin: G Minor Ballade


Shigeru Kawai SK2
Kawai VPC-1
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