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#3218270 05/22/22 05:03 AM
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When the weather is very nice I have a problem getting motivated to go indoors and play the piano. Last week I played two times and the week before that a few times very short, like twenty minutes.
I thought it would help if I signed up for the recital in October with a difficult piece but I didn't even print the sheet music yet so that is going to be a disaster probably.

How to overcome this motivation issue?

It is not that I don't love to play the piano. I don't know what it is. Maybe I need a piano in the garden smile

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To add another motivation problem, I'm always struggling to finish a piece. I can do it but I just don't. I keep practicing and perfecting half of the piece and never finish it.
So I tried a short piece and it's the same, it is only something like three bars left that I need to learn now and I could do that in a few minutes but I just don't. Why why why am I doing that?

Last edited by Josephine83; 05/22/22 05:11 AM.
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My motivation certainly goes up and down but it is very rare I will miss a complete day of practice. When I do miss a full day it is because something has really upset me.
I like to start practice early in the morning before breakfast. Once I have decided to go into the garden I can easily tire myself so that concentration at the piano later in the day is lacking.
Originally Posted by Josephine83
it is only something like three bars left that I need to learn
I do not learn music bar by bar and my preference is to learn it as a whole from beginning to end. Not always possible so I do spilt it up into sections, pages or half pages.

Last edited by keff; 05/22/22 05:52 AM.
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I'm a complete nightmare when it comes to time and planning. It's because of ADD, or is it only called ADHD in English? But I think I need to plan at least the piano playing because I really want this and love it and dreamed about it my whole life.
I also learn sections but this piece was so short, not even a whole page, that it was only the last bars. Stupid right? I just learned them!! I suppose I needed this topic to do it. So now I'm proud and annoyed at the same time. I can't believe I just can't do it, why does it take so much to do something so small that also makes me so happy?

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Originally Posted by Josephine83
But I think I need to plan at least the piano playing because I really want this and love it and dreamed about it my whole life.

Hi Josephine! it seems to me that you don't have a motivation problem, because you describe your motivation very well. You may have a problem with starting a new activity, especially when some effort is required, which is very common for people with ADD/ADHD.

Maybe you can help yourself by connecting some kind of reward to practising the piano? For instance, I always play the piano immediately after breakfast and before my first coffee. So if I want that first coffee, I have to practise first.
For other people this reward after an activity doesn't work very well, and they need to reward before they do the activity. For instance, have your first coffee while sitting on your piano bench and when you finish your coffee, you start to practise.

If it is hard for you to learn the last bars, play around with this by learning the last bars first and the first bars last. Does that help?


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That is a very good idea, drinking my coffee sitting on the piano bench!! I think that can work!
I'm going to try that. Thanks!

I never tried beginning at the end. I did try beginning in the middle section but that didn't work, but I have to say that piece was way too difficult so I couldn't learn the middle section properly anyway, so I can try this again.

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I reckon ..... just let nature take its course. As in ..... sometimes there is no 'why' or 'reason'. It just is. The time may come in future to get back to something. To tie up 'loose ends'.

The trend of needing to finish what was started doesn't always need to be followed. Depends on situation .... circumstances.

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Is it the case that once you actually sit down, then you have a regular practice session?

If so, then another thing to get you to the piano is to get a calendar (a paper one) or else print out one month from MS Word or something. If possible post on the wall, somewhere highly visible. When you play, put a star on that day on the calendar (or a P or whatever).

If getting to the piano and staying there is a problem, on the calendar write the number of minutes and aim for 30 for now.

Seeing those Ps or stars add up on the calendar can be very motivating.

Regarding learning a whole piece… I wonder if the pieces are a little too hard? Although you mentioned a recital so I’m guessing you have a teacher? So let’s assume the pieces are an appropriate level…

Perhaps you could try going back and forth between focusing on longer sections of the music and zeroing in one just one or two sections.

Also remember that there are more kinds of learning and memorizing involved than most of us consciously recognize.

For one, there’s muscle memory, which benefits from repetition. In building muscle memory, you need to make sure you’re playing a passage the same way each time, especially the same fingering.

But there’s also a more cognitive (no, that actually not a good word, all of this is cognitive…) let’s call it a more conscious memory, say details like knowing that this phrase ends with a repeat, or noticing that this measure is the same as one at the end expect in a different octave… this kind of memory checks out (i.e., turns off) after maybe three or so repetitions. The brain is always looking to automate things, because it’s more efficient.

So after you’ve played a passage (or whatever section you’re working on) maybe 3 times, your brain starts to go into autopilot mode. So it might be better to switch things up, say practice those last few measures three times, then go back to the beginning and play all the way through or find another section to work on. Do this even if you feel you haven’t mastered those three measures. You’ll come back to them again later in the practice session or the next day.

You might have better results by approaching it like this, and if you feel those results are starting to show, it might be easier to get to the piano in the first place.

BTW these ideas come from Dr. Noa Kageyama, who has a website called the Bullet Proof Musician, in case you’re interested in the science behind them.

One last thing… don’t give up, and don’t be too hard on yourself. Developing and maintaining new habits and new routines (which is what piano is) is hard, and it’s even harder for adults who have other things on our plates, and who don’t have parents nagging us to go practice.

Last edited by ShiroKuro; 05/22/22 07:37 AM.

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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
Is it the case that once you actually sit down, then you have a regular practice session?

If so, then another thing to get you to the piano is to get a calendar (a paper one) or else print out one month from MS Word or something. If possible post on the wall, somewhere highly visible. When you play, put a star on that day on the calendar (or a P or whatever).

If getting to the piano and staying there is a problem, on the calendar write the number of minutes and aim for 30 for now.

Seeing those Ps or stars add up on the calendar can be very motivating.

Regarding learning a whole piece… I wonder if the pieces are a little too hard? Although you mentioned a recital so I’m guessing you have a teacher? So let’s assume the pieces are an appropriate level…

Perhaps you could try going back and forth between focusing on longer sections of the music and zeroing in one just one or two sections.

Also remember that there are more kinds of learning and memorizing involved than most of us consciously recognize.

For one, there’s muscle memory, which benefits from repetition. In building muscle memory, you need to make sure you’re playing a passage the same way each time, especially the same fingering.

But there’s also a more cognitive (no, that actually not a good word, all of this is cognitive…) let’s call it a more conscious memory, say details like knowing that this phrase ends with a repeat, or noticing that this measure is the same as one at the end expect in a different octave… this kind of memory checks out (i.e., turns off) after maybe three or so repetitions. The brain is always looking to automate things, because it’s more efficient.

So after you’ve played a passage (or whatever section you’re working on) maybe 3 times, your brain starts to go into autopilot mode. So it might be better to switch things up, say practice those last few measures three times, then go back to the beginning and play all the way through or find another section to work on. Do this even if you feel you haven’t mastered those three measures. You’ll come back to them again later in the practice session or the next day.

You might have better results by approaching it like this, and if you feel those results are starting to show, it might be easier to get to the piano in the first place.

BTW these ideas come from Dr. Noa Kageyama, who has a website called the Bullet Proof Musician, in case you’re interested in the science behind them.

One last thing… don’t give up, and don’t be too hard on yourself. Developing and maintaining new habits and new routines (which is what piano is) is hard, and it’s even harder for adults who have other things on our plates, and who don’t have parents nagging us to go practice.

It's a bit of both, starting is a problem but I also take a lot of small breaks, like five or ten minutes and then go back. Sometimes I go back only one time and sometimes I go back all the time and practice for hours in total. In another topic I saw Animisha mention an hourglass, I think I'm going to buy one to reduce the amount of breaks.

It also happens with easier pieces. I just pushed myself after opening this thread to learn those last bars and it only took a few minutes, so I don't know why I do this. Maybe because I like the playing part better then the learning part, or because it is again starting with something?

I meant the recital here on PW, Mendelssohn in October. I have the feeling that I need a deadline, and because it's five months I thought, let's pick something difficult where I really need those five months for. It adds pressure, and normally that helps. It doesn't make things more fun however.

I'm going to try the Dr. Noa Kageyama method. Thanks!

Last edited by Josephine83; 05/22/22 07:59 AM.
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Originally Posted by Josephine83
In another topic I saw Animisha mention an hourglass, I think I'm going to buy one to reduce the amount of breaks!

I have this one, but in silver colours. It takes half an hour for the sand to run through it, and I think it is beautiful! Half an hour is a very good time for a piano practice session for me. Longer than that, I get too tired and I start making too many mistakes.

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It beautiful indeed! I'm going to look for something similar.

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Originally Posted by Josephine83
To add another motivation problem, I'm always struggling to finish a piece. I can do it but I just don't. I keep practicing and perfecting half of the piece and never finish it.
So I tried a short piece and it's the same, it is only something like three bars left that I need to learn now and I could do that in a few minutes but I just don't. Why why why am I doing that?

I did this for 40 years or so. Really had no motivation to complete a piece to 100% as there was nothing pushing me to do it and I was content enough with it for myself that I never really felt the need.

Recording changed all that. If I am planning to eventually perform a piece, I don't want to embarrass myself by only performing most of it blush . I need to learn all of it and that was the push I needed.

In terms of playing everyday. I try to do 20 minutes in the morning everyday. Already did the Moonlight 1st and 2nd. movement this morning and some rep. Worst case is that this is all that gets done today. But, usually I have several more sessions in a day if not at work or away, or couple in the evening. I don't beat myself up if I miss a day. Sometimes, a good break is needed too.

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Well, you say you have ADD/ADHD, so I would say that’s probably the main contributor to your lack of motivation/focus. And that’s not an easy fix. Above all, I’d suggest also checking out some ADD/ADHD forums/information to determined what some of the best methods for dealing with that are, as general suggestions may not be enough. That said:

- I would first ask are you practicing pieces that you love. I refuse to practice anything that I don’t like, regardless of how legendary it is in the repertoire. I only play pieces that move me. That helps motivate me, because when I practice I am excited to learn the piece and excited to practice/play it. That may help.

- I’d also suggest ensuring that the piece you are practicing is at your level, technically. If it’s too difficult, it’s easy to get unmotivated. But you’ve mentioned practicing easier pieces, so you’re probably already doing that.

- As others have suggested, setting a timer is a great way. Perhaps set aside 20 or 30 minutes a day, set your timer, and that may help. Use the washroom before hand, eat before hand, make sure there’s nothing you need to that would distract you or require you to step away from the instrument.

- I’d also suggest practicing at the best time of day when you are usually just sitting around. I tend to practice in the afternoon/evening, toward the end of the day, just before I go to bed, because I’m totally free and don’t have any disturbances.

But, again, I would also search out some resources from people who have ADD/ADHD because they may have better advice and tools.

Take care & happy practice!

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I would suggest to pick easier pieces. Preferably short easy pieces. I would definitely avoid playing a difficult piece over five months as it'll make it much worse. What Mendelssohn where you planning to play? There is a good series called songs without words which has a mixture of intermediate and advanced pieces.

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I have played a lot of Mendelssohn but to be honest I think even his easiest pieces are not doable for people. His easiest series, for example, are grade 6-7 out of 8.



I'm a bit sceptical of graded system at times. His tarantella is very hard compared to the above but at the same grade



So be careful about picking pieces, sometimes I think the graded systems can be misleading

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I'm sure it's meant to be presto like this


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Originally Posted by Moo :)
I'm a bit sceptical of graded system at times. His tarantella is very hard compared to the above but at the same grade
Every grading system is subjective but to me those two look pretty much the same level (even considering the tempo). If you have difficulties playing fast pieces like this then practice playing lots of fast pieces - sonatinas, etudes, some of the faster Scarlatti, etc.

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Josephine, if you have difficulties finding motivation then maybe look for pieces that you really love and want to play. Those always motivate us to spend countless hours at the piano. However, I would be careful about not picking something too difficult. If a piece is out of reach and you hit a wall then it will be a huge demotivator.

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I see he plays it slow practice tempo then fast. She plays it fast than slow. Don't worry . Still a celrazy hard piece for a grade 7

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Originally Posted by Bart K
Originally Posted by Moo :)
I'm a bit sceptical of graded system at times. His tarantella is very hard compared to the above but at the same grade
Every grading system is subjective but to me those two look pretty much the same level (even considering the tempo). If you have difficulties playing fast pieces like this then practice playing lots of fast pieces - sonatinas, etudes, some of the faster Scarlatti, etc.

Really? Perhaps it's just me then. I have played loads of slow songs without words (I think more than anyone here!) so the children piece I thought was much easier. I have learnt the tarantella also.

Yes I am playing different styles now and not playing Mendelssohn anymore but I still think no Mendelssohn pieces are really doable for beginners so if the op is struggling and not comfortably grade 6 standard then I would suggest not to play this composer yet.

Last edited by Moo :); 05/22/22 02:08 PM.
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