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Hypnotised by the piano?
#3049201 11/25/20 12:17 AM
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Hi All,

I started playing a couple of months ago, and play with a Kawai CN29 at home, mostly with headphones. At the music school, I play on a Yamaha C3, on monday evenings, with nice warm cozy lighting... Which creates a very soft and "hygge" atmosphere.

As I was playing slowly through a simple Bach's piece, my teacher made the following remark "Don't let yourself be hypnotized by the tone of the Piano, it's good to enjoy it 10% of the time, but you need to work and concentrate 90% of the time, so as to really make progress".

It is true that this sound has some effect and that the whole environment, playing and feeling a small grand piano, has a strong effect on me.

Do you guys experience this (great) feeling of being hypnotized as well? Do you differentiate when you do the concentrated work versus the "enjoyment" work? How do you set yourself in a state of concentration?

Thanks!

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Re: Hypnotised by the piano?
xlider #3049252 11/25/20 06:50 AM
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I was hoping someone else would answer before me because I don't get what your teacher is on about. At least, I don't agree with his/her notion of "enjoyment" work and "concentrated" work.

For me, the enjoyment work and the concentrated work are all rolled up into one. I cannot differentiate between the two. And I would further say that to do so would be a mistake.

Awareness of the tone of the instrument, the tone I am producing when I play a particular piece is what playing the piano is all about, and is never out of my mind when I play.

You are obviously very sensitive to sound, the sound of the piano and you enjoy it. Good on you. Incorporate that into your "concentrated work", and continue to enjoy your playing.

Maybe I've misunderstood something. If so, I look forward to others putting me right.

Re: Hypnotised by the piano?
xlider #3049262 11/25/20 07:30 AM
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I understand what you are talking about because I have two different modes of listening to the sound : the first is critical listening and continually questioning: was that crescendo gradual enough? Was that note too loud? Etc . This is my concentrated practice and lesson listening mode.

The second type of listening is not to critically examine the details but to engulf myself in the experience. It might be reveling in a wonderful harmony, or imagining the music to be expressing a beautiful courtyard garden in Spain. It can really be hypnotic. I once performed at adult piano camp where there was loud blaring music from a car in the parking lot. I never heard it.

I suggest you not give into the hypnotic mode during your lesson or when critically practicing. You can do that by continually querying yourself as above or running an interior dialogue: don’t forget to start the of the trill is on the down beat, don’t forget the next measure is a subito pianissimo, etc. keep yourself in critical listening mode.

Hope this is helps.


"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

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Re: Hypnotised by the piano?
xlider #3049273 11/25/20 07:57 AM
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Let me start off by saying that I get what you mean by "hygge"; I am Danish smile. And I understand what this feeling may lead to. My guess is that your teacher refers to one (or both) of two things:

  • Loosing consciousness by being lulled into a deep trance from the pleasantness of the experience.
  • Having consciousness drift from attention to the execution of the music towards the enjoyment of the music.


This problem is the same faced by meditators, who on the one hand risk falling asleep, and on the other hand risk loosing their mental focus on the object of the meditation. Overcoming these two issues is really what successful meditation practice is about, and I think the same applies to us when playing the piano.

Personally, I have never experienced loosing consciousness when playing, and my attention seems fairly stable (at least for a few seconds at a time, which is typically enough for whatever I am working on, for example playing a particular measure correctly). I do get tired of repeating the same few notes over and over, so I may bounce a little too easily from one problem to another, but that's just how it goes for me, and I believe that to be a useful trick to avoid loosing consciousness.


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Re: Hypnotised by the piano?
xlider #3049309 11/25/20 09:29 AM
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In my younger days, many in the family took music lessons but nobody was considered talented to become professional musicians.

In my younger days I would listen to music recordings and get into meditation while listening. I wouldn't imagine sitting in front of a piano playing some of the pieces I listened to years ago.

As an adult learner, I can sit in front of the piano for hours. I enjoy experimenting with recording and creating a nice sound. Someone in my social circle took music lessons to an advanced level but not comfortable playing in family gatherings. Part of my life is finding a personal identity. The rest of my family get preoccupied with making money and having a successful career. I needed a balance in life.

Re: Hypnotised by the piano?
xlider #3049311 11/25/20 09:35 AM
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I have never experienced that feeling with the piano in my short 20 months of learning. I’ve always been hyper-focussed on either learning or playing correctly. I suspect it’s a personality/upbringing thing, the need to get things right. I’ve never been able to let myself go to a point of feeling that “hygge” feeling, unfortunately.

So I will say your feeling of being comfortable, cozy, hypnotized is enviable. I hope I one day will be comfortable enough in my playing to experience it. I’d say enjoy it, except when you’re with your teacher lol!

Last edited by WeakLeftHand; 11/25/20 09:35 AM.

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Re: Hypnotised by the piano?
xlider #3049405 11/25/20 02:12 PM
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Thank you for your answers.

@CharlesXX : I guess it is desirable to achieve both concentration and enjoyment, which is sometimes referred to as "Flow"... I believe in that state, you will not slow down or make errors you did not make the minute before.

I'm not sure how my teacher detected the state... I guess I slowed down or was sloppy in my rhythm. A bit later, I did make some errors because my mind was drifting away and thinking about how lucky I was to play in such an environment...

@QuasiUnaFantasia... I did not think about meditation, but it's exactly that... The goal of meditation is to focus on your breathing (or for Zen, focus on nothing)... Often your mind runs away... and the exercise is to bring back you mind to the task at hand (bring back to nothing), and sometimes, you have a strong feeling of wellbeing during the meditation, which is a blessing... But not the exercise.

As you said, I'll make sure to (try to) concentrate when with my teacher... And maybe from time to time play 5 minutes just to for the hypnosis...

Re: Hypnotised by the piano?
xlider #3049436 11/25/20 03:30 PM
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I've been told I'm unhypnotizable (assuming there's such a word): I have to suppress giggles when someone dangles a swinging bead in front of me (and trust me, I'm not normally prone to giggling grin).

In any case, as most of my rep is fast and furious and highly-charged (as befits my temperament), there's little opportunity for me to be hypnotized by the sounds of my piano. However, in the rare instances when I'm playing something slow (like Bach's Goldberg Aria), I'm thinking of the kind of nuances I can project to my audiences that would convince them it's a masterpiece, rather than getting lost in the admiration of my sounds......


"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: Hypnotised by the piano?
WeakLeftHand #3049682 11/26/20 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
... So I will say your feeling of being comfortable, cozy, hypnotized is enviable. I hope I one day will be comfortable enough in my playing to experience it. I’d say enjoy it, except when you’re with your teacher lol!

It is true in a sense, that when you can wear the music like an old shoe it is easy even to let your mind wander or forgetting entirely what you're even playing can not distract you from playing the right notes next and perhaps entirely to completion.

It is not something to strive for though. Rather, it is something to avoid. I don't believe it has much reflection on your enjoyment or lack of.

The motto I like best is practice like it is a performance and perform like you are practicing. Well this almost works. In performance you possibly know the music so well that it may be easy to drift off, but all your focus needs to be on managing the overall performance. It is highly doubtful you will perform as well when not paying absolute full attention, in performance or not. It can still be fun though, but try not to make a habit of it.

Re: Hypnotised by the piano?
xlider #3051703 12/01/20 04:03 PM
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Generally, you probably should try to pay attention to playing well when playing piano (in case your teacher is worried about that.)

But maybe try to do this in a positive way— find more nuances or more music to strive for— and do not just become perfectionist in the fear of mistakes. Have a positive goal, the goal of bringing out more of the music. (Hm, maybe this means you should get an interpretation.) Perhaps you could be inspired by the piano then.

There are some pretty pieces that I like to feel semi-tranced at the beauty (not that I know what that means...) But if anything, loving the sound should make you pay more attention. (I need to be better at giving full attention.)

it's better than being tranced by intimidation or mistakes, anyway. And playing naturally, even getting familiar with a piece, could be good to. Don't let focus make you rigid.

Re: Hypnotised by the piano?
xlider #3051836 12/02/20 12:47 AM
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I guess we play piano for the most part of us because we enjoy the ride... So having fun while doing it is a nice by-product. In discussing more with my teacher, there are 2 goals to follow: contentration and relaxation, which together lead to learning and better play.
I haven't been hypnotized anymore at my class this week, but had to restart a piece after one line, acknowledging and letting go that the piano at the class creates so much more emotions than the DP at home...

Thanks for all your comments!


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