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Can't concentrate - interrupting thoughts, possible ADHD
#3038594 10/23/20 11:02 AM
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Following my last thread, I still can't record the simple Sonatina piece at a tempo as slow as 60 bpm. This is really frustrating, I swear I've tried like 50 times already for like 3 days and always some interrupting thought breaks my focus. I try gazing at the sheet to help my focus and I still fail after a few measures. Random thoughts about neighbors listening to me and making fun of me or simply being bored with my practice, or the voice of teacher who frowns upon my faulty practice etc... I'm not sure what to do. I've taken breaks and after one hour or two I can play the piece without recording it fairly well although I still do stumble though not as many times as with recording.

I mean if I can't record it, how the heck am I supposed to perform in front of him? And no, my question is not merely performance anxiety, it's more of concentration, or lack of it. It's about thoughts suddenly coming to my mind and I look like some zombie gazing at the sheet while my mind is thinking about some random nonsense as stated above. :-(

I haven't been officially diagnosed with ADHD, however as I stated in the other thread, I'm taking anti-anxiety medication, sleep medication etc but they don't seem to be help me in this case.

I might ask my doctor to prescribe some drugs for this sort of problem. I wish I could take Adderall, but it's highly unlikely he will prescribe such drugs to an adult like me.

I might try marijuana though.

Any thoughts? Anyone else like me here?

Edit- I think I can do better with very low tempo like, 30, however it's just not right is it? I've done it and after increasing the tempo there is the same problem.

Last edited by meghdad; 10/23/20 11:07 AM.
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Re: Can't concentrate - interrupting thoughts, possible ADHD
meghdad #3038596 10/23/20 11:14 AM
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My immediate thought is that you should practise meditation, in order to train your ability to not think.

My second thought is that you might benefit from L-theanine, which is found in tea (so drinking a cup of tea might be a good idea), but it is also avaiable in pure form. It is known to increase alfa waves in the brain; these waves are found in meditators and are generally associated with relaxed awareness.

My gut feeling is that just about nothing good works better with cannabis (disclaimer: I have yet to to try this particular herb for myself).


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Re: Can't concentrate - interrupting thoughts, possible ADHD
meghdad #3038598 10/23/20 11:21 AM
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Piano progress is very slow I'm afraid. You have to accept this. You need to measure in terms of months to years. Repitition doesn't really work especially if repeated at a speed you can't play. Slow practice does. If you need to play it half speed to play it ok that is fine but if is still too hard then slower still. Speed is normally the last aspect of a piece I work on. This problem happens at all levels. I would suggest not practicing at all for the next few days rather than another diagnosis or medication.

Re: Can't concentrate - interrupting thoughts, possible ADHD
meghdad #3038602 10/23/20 11:23 AM
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Speed is very difficult to achieve. It takes long time, i mean years not just a few days. So don't worry. Keep practicing at a speed you feel totally comfortable. Don't push.

Regarding cannabis I've tried for fun and it is a powerful enhancer of the hearing capabilities. Listening to Mozart symphony 41 on cannabis was a transcendental experience. But im not sure it will help you to calm down your thoughts. Have you tried long walks alone on the mountains? It works for me.

Re: Can't concentrate - interrupting thoughts, possible ADHD
meghdad #3038613 10/23/20 12:01 PM
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Maybe substitute a shot of hooch for coffee or other caffeinated drinks you might be drinking?

Re: Can't concentrate - interrupting thoughts, possible ADHD
meghdad #3038615 10/23/20 12:12 PM
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Based on the post that started this thread and other recent ones in another thread by the OP, I think that there are issues here that are beyond the scope of strangers on an Internet Forum to help resolve.

Regards,


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Re: Can't concentrate - interrupting thoughts, possible ADHD
meghdad #3038616 10/23/20 12:16 PM
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You are on medications. These may have side effects, but a comparable medicine may not. I would encourage you to seek a medical opinion. Adderall is a stimulant and typically contraindicated in patients with significant anxiety. The only reasonable and safe path is to consult with your physician, and I would suggest a specialist if possible.

Re: Can't concentrate - interrupting thoughts, possible ADHD
meghdad #3038617 10/23/20 12:18 PM
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I agree with BruceD. It is clearly a mental health issue, not a piano-related issue. Resolving the underlying issue will likely help with problems at the piano.

Last edited by WeakLeftHand; 10/23/20 12:19 PM.

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Re: Can't concentrate - interrupting thoughts, possible ADHD
meghdad #3038620 10/23/20 12:25 PM
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Yes speed really does take lots of time to acquire in your fingers. Especially starting as an adult. My wife watches me do some scales and tells me "How can you just real them off"? I started lesson when I was 5 with my Aunt and at 8 lessons with a actual teacher. I play now for my own self enjoyment at my age in the fifties. The fun for me is the learning process of tunes I like. Also playing synths for worship service. Of course that is on hold now frown

I also have some ADHD as by the chart my wife showed me. (she is a medical professional) I found out that not having caffeine in the afternoon and evening helps a lot. As does herbal tea at night-time.
I still need my cup or two of coffee in the morning smile

Really Meghdad try to take the approach that piano playing and learning is going to take years to get good at. That is why I say digital pianos are great as you can practice with headphones and not annoy family or neighbors LOL


All these years playing and I still consider myself a novice.
Re: Can't concentrate - interrupting thoughts, possible ADHD
meghdad #3038631 10/23/20 12:48 PM
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OP quit worrying about other people you're distracting yourself wasting time and energy with something that doesn't matter. Play for yourself and if you like it so will others. Be the best you, you can be.

Re: Can't concentrate - interrupting thoughts, possible ADHD
meghdad #3038638 10/23/20 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by meghdad
Following my last thread, I still can't record the simple Sonatina piece at a tempo as slow as 60 bpm. This is really frustrating, I swear I've tried like 50 times already for like 3 days and always some interrupting thought breaks my focus. I'm not sure what to do. I've taken breaks and after one hour or two I can play the piece without recording it fairly well although I still do stumble though not as many times as with recording.

I mean if I can't record it, how the heck am I supposed to perform in front of him? And no, my question is not merely performance anxiety, it's more of concentration, or lack of it. It's about thoughts suddenly coming to my mind and I look like some zombie gazing at the sheet while my mind is thinking about some random nonsense as stated above.

Edit- I think I can do better with very low tempo like, 30, however it's just not right is it? I've done it and after increasing the tempo there is the same problem.

It is pretty common that people have issues to record themselves. It is like performing. As simple as the piece seems to be, it is already difficult for you and thus you need a lof of concentration to play and a small disturbance creates an error. Nothing but usual. When your level will increase, you will see that you dont need as much focus to play that same piece. It is like learning to drive a car. At the beginning you have to make a conscious effort to coordinate the clutch (for those that learned manual gear shift), the shift, the wheel and everything else. Once you get seasonned, all this becomes automatic.

Same for speed. It will come with time, patience and practice.

For the rest, i am not a physician, so cant advise you, but for sure medications for anxiety have side effects, of which potentially an impact on your ability to focus. I would stay away from any additional medication that is not absolutely necessary for your health, as prescribed by a professional. And i certainly dont support taking any drug. I have seen unhapilly too many times the long term intellectual harmful impact of such products.

Re: Can't concentrate - interrupting thoughts, possible ADHD
MrShed #3038650 10/23/20 01:35 PM
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Thank you everyone for the responses. :-)

Originally Posted by QuasiUnaFantasia
My immediate thought is that you should practise meditation, in order to train your ability to not think.

My second thought is that you might benefit from L-theanine, which is found in tea (so drinking a cup of tea might be a good idea), but it is also avaiable in pure form. It is known to increase alfa waves in the brain; these waves are found in meditators and are generally associated with relaxed awareness.

My gut feeling is that just about nothing good works better with cannabis (disclaimer: I have yet to to try this particular herb for myself).
1. Meditation is indeed that has been on my mind for quite some time but I never made it a regular exercise. However I regard playing the piano as a sort of meditation. Indeed my teacher pointed out that playing the piano can help me with my concentration issues.

2. Tea is our regular drink in Iran and we drink it two or three times during the day. However, tea is also an stimulant like coffee, but weaker. I'll look that chemical up though and will consult a drug technician.

3. I've heard from quite a few people that smoking cannabis increases focus. That's why I mentioned it.

Originally Posted by Ubu
Speed is very difficult to achieve. It takes long time, i mean years not just a few days. So don't worry. Keep practicing at a speed you feel totally comfortable. Don't push.
Originally Posted by Moo :)
Piano progress is very slow I'm afraid. You have to accept this. You need to measure in terms of months to years. Repitition doesn't really work especially if repeated at a speed you can't play. Slow practice does. If you need to play it half speed to play it ok that is fine but if is still too hard then slower still. Speed is normally the last aspect of a piece I work on. This problem happens at all levels. I would suggest not practicing at all for the next few days rather than another diagnosis or medication.
Great advice that actually removes my doubts regarding slow(er than usual) practice and also removes this weird resistance within me as to stop repeating over and over at same speed.
I knew that I need to practice slowly however I had a minimum bpm set in my mind.

Curiously, when I practice at a slow tempo, my concentration increases and it begins to feel more like meditation.

Originally Posted by Ubu
Regarding cannabis I've tried for fun and it is a powerful enhancer of the hearing capabilities. Listening to Mozart symphony 41 on cannabis was a transcendental experience. But im not sure it will help you to calm down your thoughts. Have you tried long walks alone on the mountains? It works for me.
Now there are two reasons for trying cannabis. :p Seriously, I might give it a try at least for fun.

Interesting that you suggested walking alone because right after creating this thread I went out to take a walk on the street which is pretty peaceful at this time. That's one of my favorite ways to relax. Solitude and all.
However this very problem I guess is mostly associated with obsession over playing correctly at the "right" speed and hence the mad repetition.

Originally Posted by TBell
Maybe substitute a shot of hooch for coffee or other caffeinated drinks you might be drinking?
Hehe no thanks. smile Though I agree that I should not drink coffee later than morning. I know it does cause "mental activation" however I've also read that it increases focus for some people.
Originally Posted by BruceD
Based on the post that started this thread and other recent ones in another thread by the OP, I think that there are issues here that are beyond the scope of strangers on an Internet Forum to help resolve.

Regards,
You are correct. However as I mentioned above, playing the piano does help me relax, if done properly, without rush and tension. There are music therapists out there you know. Also listening to the classic era style piano music (Mozart, Mendelssohn...) decreases my stress level.

Originally Posted by EPW
Really Meghdad try to take the approach that piano playing and learning is going to take years to get good at. That is why I say digital pianos are great as you can practice with headphones and not annoy family or neighbors LOL

Ok I'm not in a rush however being in my 30s, I have this little worry that I might not have the time to make it given that I don't much time to practice and I started learning pretty late. But you're right, I need to focus on the journey rather than the destination. That's, I believe, the universal wisdom. smile

Originally Posted by MrShed
OP quit worrying about other people you're distracting yourself wasting time and energy with something that doesn't matter. Play for yourself and if you like it so will others. Be the best you, you can be.
Oh I wish I could. I mean I tell myself that I don't care about them but that's not very effective. It's become my mindset unfortunately although it's not constant and there are times when I can practice with less of such worries.
Also practicing using headphones can help with this issue until I can overcome it totally.

Cheers everyone. :-)

Re: Can't concentrate - interrupting thoughts, possible ADHD
meghdad #3038651 10/23/20 01:37 PM
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If the issue is medical then the OP seek advice from doctors or therapists and not random PW members. If the problem is pianistic, then the OPs teacher should be giving advice about how to practice in general and about how to solve the specific pianistic problems in the particular piece. There can be more to solving the problem than just saying "it takes time". That's where specific advice from a teacher can help.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 10/23/20 01:40 PM.
Re: Can't concentrate - interrupting thoughts, possible ADHD
Sidokar #3038652 10/23/20 01:40 PM
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I really enjoy reading your replies, even though parts of it may seem like obvious solutions, nonetheless they are reassuring. Thank you.

Re: Can't concentrate - interrupting thoughts, possible ADHD
meghdad #3038675 10/23/20 03:08 PM
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[q]. . . Really Meghdad try to take the approach that piano playing and learning is going to take years to get good at. That is why I say digital pianos are great as you can practice with headphones and not annoy family or neighbors LOL[/q]

+1.

With headphones, nobody hears your mistakes, and nobody knows how many repetitions it takes, until you master something.

So learning new stuff can be frustrating, but it's not embarrassing.


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Re: Can't concentrate - interrupting thoughts, possible ADHD
meghdad #3038687 10/23/20 03:47 PM
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Before you load up on meds, I want to say that other people's minds can also wander while playing. For a piece that I know well, I can keep playing and talk to people in the room. Not a lengthy conversation, but for example if someone asks have you seen the scissors? I can answer it's in the top drawer in the kitchen, and all the time continue playing at tempo. This is very common, people can sing and play or teachers can instruct and play at the same time. I think you need to practice more, until you become very comfortable.

Re: Can't concentrate - interrupting thoughts, possible ADHD
meghdad #3038695 10/23/20 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by meghdad
I mean if I can't record it, how the heck am I supposed to perform in front of him?
I think first of all you need to understand that you don't have to perform in front of your teacher, nor to make records to prove anything to him.

Some months ago it was a wonderful thread here with advice to adult beginners, and user Gooddog wrote a very wise thing on that matter.
Originally Posted by gooddog
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.
http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthre...ld-you-give-to-a-new-adult-beginner.html

As an adult beginner you don't have to prove anything to your teacher, to impress your teacher or to perform in front of him. You have a wonderful opportunity to enjoy music, to enjoy learning it and to learn in your own pace. Try to think of it this way: in fact, like all people, essentially you are a self learner. Even if someone tells or shows you how do to something, still everything you learn, you learn by yourself by interpreting and doing it yourself. Now it's your piano journey. You are guided by your musical taste and your musical imagination in it. You visit lessons only to get some advice, get pieces/exercises recommendations and to get some help in solving musical problems. You don't have to prove anything to anybody. Just relax and enjoy your journey.

My best wishes to you.

Re: Can't concentrate - interrupting thoughts, possible ADHD
Iaroslav Vasiliev #3038707 10/23/20 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
As an adult beginner you don't have to prove anything to your teacher, to impress your teacher or to perform in front of him. You have a wonderful opportunity to enjoy music, to enjoy learning it and to learn in your own pace. Try to think of it this way: in fact, like all people, essentially you are a self learner. Even if someone tells or shows you how do to something, still everything you learn, you learn by yourself by interpreting and doing it yourself. Now it's your piano journey. You are guided by your musical taste and your musical imagination in it. You visit lessons only to get some advice, get pieces/exercises recommendations and to get some help in solving musical problems. You don't have to prove anything to anybody. Just relax and enjoy your journey.

My best wishes to you.

Exactly my point of view as well. Well said.

Re: Can't concentrate - interrupting thoughts, possible ADHD
QuasiUnaFantasia #3038709 10/23/20 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by QuasiUnaFantasia
My immediate thought is that you should practise meditation, in order to train your ability to not think.


I am sorry, I know this is not a forum about meditation but meditation is not "learning to not think" - in a typical mindfulness practice session thoughts come and go. So do not force yourself to not think, thats not even possible in practice.

I just wanted to make that clear so that the OP doesnt go meditate with the goal of "not thinking" and then go crazy because he will think smile

Last edited by Tom97; 10/23/20 04:54 PM.
Re: Can't concentrate - interrupting thoughts, possible ADHD
meghdad #3038733 10/23/20 06:38 PM
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I have an adult son with ADD. (No hyperactivity, which is why we didn't suspect that he had an attention deficit problem until he was 17.) I would think that piano practice would be a very difficult thing for someone with ADHD: there's the time organization of daily practice; the difficulty of focusing on the score; the mental gymnastics of translating the score to finger placement; the difficulty of fine motor control (a problem for ADHD folks); the sitting still; and the repetitive, sometimes dull nature of practice. Add to it your worries about whether your teacher will approve of your playing. No wonder your mind drifts -- that's a lot to juggle for someone with focus issues! And the harder you try to concentrate, the less able you are to do so.

Anxiety is a common comorbidity among people with ADD/ADHD, btw. Maybe you should discuss with your doctor about taking a small dose of Ritalin. The irony is, that these stimulants that help with focus also have a calming effect for people with ADD/ADHD. We certainly saw that with our son. Part of it was marked improvement in his school work, which reduced a lot of stress, which helped him to sleep better at night. But the other part of it was Ritalin helped his brain stop bouncing around like a ping pong ball. Life wasn't overstimulating anymore.

https://www.brainfacts.org/archives/2012/brain-chemical-transporters-solving-the-ritalin-paradox

We were wary of "doping" our son with chemicals, as any loving parent would be. But we found out half a dose in the morning worked just fine for him, and he didn't take Ritalin on weekends, holidays, or summer when he didn't need it for schoolwork. The best part is that he transformed from a defensive, depressive teen to a happier, more confident person. He wasn't failing & embarrassing himself anymore; the Ritalin gave him a chance to succeed, & he started to believe in himself. He's an adult now, & fortunately is in a field that taps into his creativity & friendly, outgoing personality -- and secretaries handle the paperwork, thank goodness! So he doesn't feel a need for medication anymore, and he manages okay in his personal life with some nagging from mom & dad ("File your taxes yet? Your car registration needs renewing soon." Etc.)

I would think that marijuana would make you less able to focus. It has a disinhibiting effect, so you would lose what little control & focus you have. Same with alcohol.

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