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Did you stop playing/practicing?
#3041314 10/31/20 10:06 AM
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I just listened to the four members of the Castalian String Quartet talking about their experiences during the lockdown (which started on March 23rd in the UK): they all stopped playing - i.e. didn't touch their instruments at all - for a period of time, ranging from two weeks to three months, when they realized that all their concerts were cancelled for at least six months. One of them even wondered "what is music for?" (Subsequently, they did perform again recently, to a small audience in Wigmore Hall which was also live-streamed):

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000p08m

Several concert pianists also talked in several other radio interviews about taking long breaks from their instruments, sometimes spending their time doing anything but music-related. But we also heard various livestreams online from some pianists - the ones who didn't take breaks away from piano.

Of course, if you're not performing (professionally or otherwise) or if you're still having regular lessons, even if no longer in person (or "f2f" in my profession's parlance), there won't be a gaping black hole in your life due to cancelled events. But maybe other worries - about health, income etc - took over, and piano suddenly became almost insignificant......?

Pianists have the big advantage over those musicians who play in ensembles (whether quartets, small chamber groups or orchestras), in that we have the 'complete instrument' at our disposal, so even if your main job is as collaborative musician, you can still play music that doesn't require others to make it 'complete'. But would you still feel like practicing?

In my case, I was (and still am) working on the front line. My monthly recitals had been cancelled, which was just as well, as my mind - and my time - was diverted towards more pressing matters........like staying alive. I was working on three new pieces which I'd planned to add to my performing rep in the near future, but they all fell by the wayside while in various stages of 'completion', as I didn't have the mental concentration after returning home from work to do anything like proper practicing. I also stopped teaching temporarily (though that wasn't my source of income). Most days, I'd just play something familiar (that had already been memorized) or improvise something, usually on a tune that came into my head (Mozart's operatic arias proved to be a fertile source, as always in stressful situations) - just something to take my mind away from what I'd experienced at work that day, rather than trying to do the music justice. Using music to clear my mind before bed, in fact. Though I was still playing the piano almost every day, I wasn't 'practicing' for some three months, and I rarely spent more than half an hour at the piano. Then cases fell, lockdown was eased, and I was able to take two weeks off work to go into the mountains in the summer, including reacquainting myself with my namesake wink . Refreshed, I started practicing properly again, but things have been hotting up in recent weeks........ cry

So, what have you been doing? Learning to cope with Zoom lessons, or stopping them completely? 'Playing' instead of practicing? Changing your rep to something less strenuous (e.g. Consolation No.3 rather than Wilde Jagd wink )? Did you stop playing for a time? Discard all those pieces you'd planned to learn, or switched them to other stuff? Or spending all the extra time at home putting the hours into learning lots of new pieces? If you had recitals or competitions planned, what happened to them?

Spill the beans here...........


"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: Did you stop playing/practicing?
bennevis #3041326 10/31/20 10:43 AM
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Perhaps this is odd but with no pressure from lessons or piano social groups, I've been practicing longer, more frequently and with better focus. New pieces, revived pieces, polishing pieces.


Best regards,

Deborah
Re: Did you stop playing/practicing?
bennevis #3041334 10/31/20 11:11 AM
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Since I live in NYC, the first few months of the pandemic were a bit of a nightmare with 800+ dying in a single day at the worst times. I didn't leave the apartment except to pick up numerous Amazon packages in the lobby. And I didn't practice or play at all.Then things got to the point where NYC had one of the smallest problems in the U.S., and I started practicing note for note transcriptions of Keith Jarrett, Fred Hersch, Bill Evans, George Shearing, etc. a lot. Now I've had to stop again until I can work out an arrangement with my upset neighbor.

Re: Did you stop playing/practicing?
bennevis #3041375 10/31/20 12:51 PM
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I've noticed that the pieces I listed in my signature that I'm supposedly "working on" hasn't changed in like 8 months, so that pretty much sums it up. Definitely lost a lot of motivation given the pandemic in the US and the idiotic fool who is leading us down the drain with his stupid, moronic, inexcusable, inconceivable actions and tweets. The equivalent number of deaths from the coronavirus 19 as were killed by the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined yet, "its not big deal" and besides the doctors apparently are inflating the numbers because they apparently just want to make more money, so let's all just rip off our masks folks because it's all a hoax. Ok, I digress. No I've not been practicing as much since the pandemic hit I'm too busy watching our country going down the tubes.


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: Did you stop playing/practicing?
bennevis #3041376 10/31/20 12:54 PM
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My piano playing has ground to a halt. My interest in playing ground to a halt, but I've been playing quite a bit with my 1970s style analogue synthesizers, so I assume that will lead me back. Everything always leads me back to the piano. I've started missing it.

Re: Did you stop playing/practicing?
bennevis #3041449 10/31/20 04:00 PM
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Other than about two weeks while my teacher switched from in person to Zoom, I have continued lessons via Zoom. Even though I am working remotely from home, and at first thought I would have all this extra time to practice, I have much less motivation to practice.
I am fortunate to be able to work from home as many are not. I have practiced some every day but for the first few months when it was really bad, I just worked on easy pieces.
Then it got better but of course now it is getting worse again. I am now back to working on more typical pieces and I am in two piano zoom groups that each meet once a month.
The thought of the colder weather and being stuck in the house all winter is making me feel less motivated. I keep telling myself to be grateful you have a job that lets me work from home. I live alone other than a cat and dog, am over 70 and take meds that compromise
my immune system so I have to be careful.


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Re: Did you stop playing/practicing?
bennevis #3041501 10/31/20 05:41 PM
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I haven't had lessons. We used to do two solo recitals and 4 ensemble performances per year. Now with no pressure and no deadline, I haven't been playing much new music. Learned only three pieces since March. I've been spending more time on other interests, and when I do play the piano, I am playing a lot more technical exercises. I don't want to totally "go soft" :-)

Re: Did you stop playing/practicing?
bennevis #3041542 10/31/20 07:31 PM
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Being unable to go to too many concerts and operas in the evenings, as I normally do, I have been at home much more and have been thoroughly enjoying it. Both my garden and my piano playing have greatly benefitted.

Re: Did you stop playing/practicing?
bennevis #3041579 10/31/20 10:55 PM
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My music group is off for the rest of the year since the church we used for rehearsal space is in lockdown. The congregation is probably conducting services online but our group of 20+ people have no place to go.

I've been practicing short pieces over the past 6 months. On average 1 piece a month. The most time-consuming pieces to learn was a Bach fugue for about 4m. What kept me motivated was hooking up with a teacher once a week through Zoom. And I recently acquired 2 exercise books. And I'm downloading my favorite songs off the net and playing them on top of my regular repertoire with the teacher.

I had a few lessons at 5 but didn't get any where. As an adult learner, I am more determined to make up for the missing years I wasn't playing piano / keyboard. Right now I have 2 aging parents to take care of. I may end up taking a few years off because of it. Not something out of personal choice...

Re: Did you stop playing/practicing?
bennevis #3041918 11/01/20 07:43 PM
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Out of curiosity, if your lessons stopped because of the pandemic, was it your teacher's decision, and were you offered the Zoom (or other) alternative?

I've had all meetings with colleagues switched to Zoom (rather oddly, as we're all much more dangerously exposed while working than when meeting each other up f2f), and found them convenient, as I can have a cup of tea (or something stronger, like coffee wink ), watch the TV with sound turned off, even check up on Facebook (- except that I'm not on any social media of any sort) while pretending to be engrossed in what was being said.......but totally unsatisfactory otherwise.


"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: Did you stop playing/practicing?
bennevis #3041947 11/01/20 09:18 PM
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Lessons went online for a while, then back to in-person (with all the safety protocols etc).
Group playing ('Soirees') have been online. Used to be with wine so that changed smile
No significant changes to my playing or practice routine. But its a hobby, I don't perform regularly.

Re: Did you stop playing/practicing?
bennevis #3042160 11/02/20 05:36 PM
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all concerts have been cancelled, an expensive loss, all lessons have resumed, in person, all Chopin études and all Beethoven sonatas have been revisited, now to WTK 1, and well, 2.


Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure, but not anymore!
Re: Did you stop playing/practicing?
bennevis #3042165 11/02/20 05:57 PM
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This topic is perfect timing for me... I have lost my motivation to play, even though I have twice per month online lessons. I used the word "play" intentionally. I push myself to "practice", but I don't really "play" the way I used to. Every once in a while I can be really focused during my practicing and I can get a hint of how I used to feel. ("in a zone, highly motivated, that feeling of "I could do this for hours"). Due to Covid, I now have a full house and very little privacy. I'm very distractible now, and there are endless things--house or family---that draw my attention. I used to practice all by myself in an empty house, and that is simply not an option right now. So, I am seriously considering putting my lessons on hold for now, with the plan to try again when my home life gets a little bit back to normal. Makes me sad. I have a lesson this week and will talk to my teacher.


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Re: Did you stop playing/practicing?
bennevis #3042197 11/02/20 09:17 PM
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In my younger days I had a few lessons that didn't work out and restarted as an adult. After a decade of playing, I may have to give up music for the time being to take care of family matters.

Hate to put off music and pick it up a decade later in my senior years. A number of people in the family took piano lessons as a child but eventually gave it up. I actually enjoyed playing as an adult but forced by circumstance to put music aside.

Re: Did you stop playing/practicing?
bennevis #3042213 11/02/20 10:54 PM
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After reading all these posts I feel some relief as it sounds like many of us have a similar theme. I’m remote for work and I find it harder to sit the piano. When I was not remote my routine was on point. Up at 5:30am, make coffee, sit and piano for 30-60 min, read some theory and study then off to get ready and work. I’d work out on lunch break, come home disconnect from work. Now I find myself working more, drinking more, sleep until 7;30am then hop on work calls and I’m working out less, piano less. I just can’t develop a solid routine.

I have kept my lessons going and only took a break from piano for about 12 days when I moved. But still don’t feel I’m progressing or getting solid practice for a while now.

Re: Did you stop playing/practicing?
bennevis #3042535 11/03/20 11:51 PM
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During our first lockdown I played the piano so much and made so many recordings I had to schedule an extra tuning, so no, definitely no negative effects for me.


"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: Did you stop playing/practicing?
bennevis #3042689 11/04/20 01:46 PM
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I lost much of my motivation to practice as soon as in-person RCM exams were cancelled. No exam meant no purpose to progress for me. Also, I simply didn’t want to practice due to earlier concerns about my job and general pandemic anxieties. Brain was scattered, no focus. It’s been a while now since the beginning of the pandemic and thankfully my motivation is coming back slowly.


Kawai K-500
Casio PX-735 (in retirement)
Re: Did you stop playing/practicing?
bennevis #3042695 11/04/20 01:57 PM
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Hi I've still been playing and learning new pieces regardless of my concerts being cancelled , it's something inside me I can't stop whether I play alone or for an audience , it's like breathing to me

Re: Did you stop playing/practicing?
bennevis #3042768 11/04/20 06:15 PM
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Ive taken 5 days off since the quarantine. My motto is music for music's sake, and I try to live that... so when external pressures fade, I still work as hard if not harder. Many of my concerts have been cancelled, but Luckily, being in West Virginia, corona numbers have been low, and Ive been able to keep a schedule of concerts (Outdoor, with some ingenuity), as well as many live stream and benefit concerts. I also have a few recording dates scheduled in the near future.

My students, however, have thinned out. All but one are now online.

The inspiration is like a fire inside your heart that you must continually stoke. I try to keep mine raging as much as possible.

While for some, this may have been a rare and much needed break, for me it was an opportunity. To work. harder.

Hope everyone here gets some new waves of inspiration!

Re: Did you stop playing/practicing?
bennevis #3043098 11/06/20 12:20 AM
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I just started practicing again after several weeks of only casual largely unmotivated study. For whatever reason my mood seems to lifting as in my country there seems to be hope for the future, a new beginning, and some return to normality and decency. I don’t know how many found motivation to practice during these uncertain times but I admire you for your dedication. Hopefully soon we can all resume enjoying our activities once again together in each other’s company.


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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