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I was pretty consistent with my practice over an 8 month span, practicing everyday. Made schedules, kept a log of what I played, sometimes mixed it up or focused on one thing. Got in my work and play. But then the frustrations set in, the cracks started forming, It was once every few days, and then I just stopped. I couldn't stand playing the same things over and over again, they were not pleasant to listen to, spinning my wheels. I would try some different pieces, experiment with different levels, with the same results. I am at the point where I look over at the piano with dread and purposely pile things on the bench so I can't sit down. I feel like I have fallen into a deep hole with smooth walls and I can't climb my way out of it. People around me look at me blankly when I seek some aid. Perhaps my piano brothers and sisters can throw down a rope. I've been at this for a long time, still consider myself a beginner, and there is nothing I'd rather do than to play piano. Confidently, entertaining, pleasing.
different people need different sources of motivation.

In anything, I think it's common for people to have the most enthusiasm up front and for that to fade overtime. Especially when there's not a proper sense of direction or structure. If you can't see the next milestone, you don't have something to work towards. Part of why self learning as a complete beginner can be inefficient and challenging.

Having a teacher or some kind of structured curriculum could help. Like anything in life, at minimum. you need some short term goals, even if you are unsure of your long term goals.
All of us hit plateaus from time to time, and it can be very frustrating when we do. Ditto for getting frustrated at a piece or feeling that we're not making any progress. But if you persevere these can turn into mere bumps in the road. Shake things up a little; try some things that are very different from your past routine - perhaps some etudes to develop specific skills (one at a time), composers you have never tried before, some jazz or modern if you have only been doing classical.

You didn't say whether or not you have a teacher. If you really are interested in learning piano, you should have one. A teacher can help keep you motivated and progressing, not spinning your wheels. Without a teacher I would have never tried most of the pieces I have ever worked on and my teacher's selections are invariably things that help me improve my understanding, technique, interpretation and musicality. Not to mention joy at accomplishments, mostly small, but joyous nonetheless.

If you don't have a teacher, find a few and talk with them. Share where you are with this, a sense of your current level, what you would like to accomplish, what you're frustrated about. After a few interviews you should have a sense of one or two teachers you might try an initial lesson with. The search alone can help you get out of the rut you feel you're in. There are loads of books and online courses you could try but there's nothing like having a real person to work with you on your progress.
Originally Posted by Josh1770
I couldn't stand playing the same things over and over again, they were not pleasant to listen to, spinning my wheels. I would try some different pieces, experiment with different levels, with the same results. I am at the point where I look over at the piano with dread and purposely pile things on the bench so I can't sit down.
Most students who are into classical and need something specific for motivation would pick a piece or three within their grasp that they really want to master, and work on it/them, maybe even setting themselves a specific period of time to get it/them to 'performance standard'.

When I was a student in my teens, that was what I used to do during my long summer vacations - learning difficult but appealing pieces that I really wanted to play, which were totally unrelated to what I'd been learning with my teacher. By the time the vacation was nearing its end, I'd be close to playing the pieces at performance standard (commensurate with my level at the time, of course) and not only had 'conquered' new rep all on my own, but also improved my level of technique & musicianship in the meantime, even without doing any specific technical practice. Often, those pieces that I took time to learn for myself were the ones that stayed with me into adulthood and wanted to keep returning to for pleasure. (In fact, I still perform them in my recitals today.)

But as you're not into classical, this might not strike a chord with you (pun intended). As you're goal orientated, you need to find something that would challenge you pianistically and/or musically that would lead to a defined objective, whether it's the mastery of aug 9ths (such that you can play any tune using only aug 9th chords wink ) or sightreading through a fakebook that you've just acquired, - or even learning an appealing Joplin rag or Gershwin song arrangement that you might want to keep in your rep to impress your nearest & dearest..........
I don’t know if you practice anything other than music pieces but if that’s all I did, I’d have given up long ago.
I set myself the task of learning all of the main 48 scales in a year and that in itself has been a challenge. I also practice my chords and arpeggios.
I don’t know what your setup is but I’ve also been doing 'piano marvel' which has been a great help as it’s so different from learning from a method book (which I also do). Because 'piano marvel' scores your accuracy and timing, I always see an improvement every day which gives me a sense of achievement.

I don’t know if there’s something wrong with me but I very rarely get bored or frustrated as I’m doing a wide variety of different things and there’s very few occasions where I walk away from the piano where I’ve not noticed some improvement in one of those areas.

I do also play music that I enjoy but I’m very wary about the level of music that I’ll tackle. It’s very easy to select a piece that initially seems doable but then to end up spending weeks and weeks driving yourself mad because you’re simply not ready for it and do not have the required skills yet.
Originally Posted by Josh1770
I was pretty consistent with my practice over an 8 month span, practicing everyday. Made schedules, kept a log of what I played, sometimes mixed it up or focused on one thing. Got in my work and play. But then the frustrations set in, the cracks started forming, It was once every few days, and then I just stopped. I couldn't stand playing the same things over and over again, they were not pleasant to listen to, spinning my wheels. I would try some different pieces, experiment with different levels, with the same results. I am at the point where I look over at the piano with dread and purposely pile things on the bench so I can't sit down. I feel like I have fallen into a deep hole with smooth walls and I can't climb my way out of it. People around me look at me blankly when I seek some aid. Perhaps my piano brothers and sisters can throw down a rope. I've been at this for a long time, still consider myself a beginner, and there is nothing I'd rather do than to play piano. Confidently, entertaining, pleasing.

It could be that you are moving too fast through pieces.

Sometimes you can find yourself learning to play many pieces at about 75% perfection level in an effort to "move on".

This can be demoralizing after a while.

You long to play something really well.

The solution is to pick one here and there and work on it daily in an effort to get it to the point where you really know it and can play it almost effortlessly with few mistakes ... if any. Make it your masterpiece.

Do not worry about slow progress. Perfecting something is also ... progress.
Originally Posted by bennevis
...

But as you're not into classical, this might not strike a chord with you (pun intended). As you're goal orientated, you need to find something that would challenge you pianistically and/or musically that would lead to a defined objective, whether it's the mastery of aug 9ths (such that you can play any tune using only aug 9th chords wink ) or sightreading through a fakebook that you've just acquired, - or even learning an appealing Joplin rag or Gershwin song arrangement that you might want to keep in your rep to impress your nearest & dearest..........
Along the same lines, I was going to suggest to learn some blues piano, as a diversion. How to noodle and improvise over the blues progressions with the blues scale is really the safe place to learn that stuff; it's the backbone of R&R (funk, jazz etc); there's no end of excellent "learn jazz piano" u tube material etc. It's a great quick fix to achieve something fun and a key building block. And good for hand independence...

For some, or sometimes, structure, excellence, discipline is the thing; sometimes just mucking around in a fun way is what's called for.
It happens. I remember having one week where I didn't touch the piano between lessons and it didn't matter. I still had a semi-productive lesson. After that week I really don't care anymore. I have never been one to make lists or have structure to my practice but after many years lessons I've learnt this happens. If you are not feeling it I often just play unrelated random things. Motivation comes and goes in waves. my practice today was just random rubbish and I could not be bothered to even get music out the box. I quite like the start of a bach prelude and played that about 15 times today. :P I would not overthink it. Good luck!
“Nobody wants to show you the hours and hours of becoming. They'd rather show the highlight of what they've become.”
― Angela Duckworth, Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success

Take your quote to heart. You may be focusing too much on an image of what you want to be ... hence your frustration.

You have to take it step be step. My countryman Edmund Hilary didn’t leap to the top of Mt. Everest, he slogged his way up there one foot after another.
Everybody have different needs. In the beginning most people need a teacher to guide them. I'm in group piano. The teacher got our group into playing some easy arrangements of Classical and Jazz pieces. At least we're not stuck in 1 genre of music.

Personally my motivation for playing everyday is the amount of repertoire I can access when I'm bored. After playing for a while, my reading music becomes less challenging. I don't have to stick to playing just Classical pieces. I'd download all sorts of show tunes and Pop songs.

I belong to a music group so finding people to play duet together is never a problem. And we have interesting pieces we'd work on with 2 or more people around Christmas before the lockdown. I'm not limited to just the pieces assigned by a teacher. I also play pieces that I like to listen to. When I hear a piece that I like on the radio, I'd try to find the sheet music.
It seems that your practice may not be diverse enough, you may not be doing things enough that you want to do at the piano, and also you might have over-burdened your practice with logs, schedules and things like that. Perhaps you need a little rest and then to try some different approach to practice, probably make it more joyful, diverse and creative.
I personally found the first year of piano had some great highs, when I mastered something, but generally followed by some real lows when I realised the enormity of the task, or just failed at something seemingly easy. So this could be a passing phase, and for me the second year was more even, emotionally speaking. The main thing for the OP is to find something that is rewarding enough to maintain interest, but definitely they have to get back on the bench.
>I couldn't stand playing the same things over and over again, they were not pleasant to listen to, spinning my wheels.



You need to figure out which pieces you really love and really want to spend the time with. I mean enough love to spend a year on them, if needed.

And love does not mean that you are going to get credits for it. It's a personal thing only, you do it because YOU love it. So if you are going to pick "la campanella" or another crazy difficult piece, that does not sound honest.

If you don't have such a piece, then well why bother with the piano at all.

If you found these pieces, then start working on these. Possibly with a teacher.

Maybe you can then consider a few other etudes to support you in playing these pieces. But all work at the piano is in the function of those pieces that you love.
Hi Folks, OP here. Thank you SO MUCH for all of your replies. Even though it has taken me a couple of days since I first posted for this response, I did come back every day to read and reread your posts. I am grateful for the outpouring of warmth and support I get every time I post a question or statement to this forum. Perhaps this preamble may appear dramatic, especially to some of you big posters but, in a world where people generally don't talk to each other, what I get and see on this forum is something I never take for granted. (In contrast, I also participate in a baseball forum for NY Mets fans and I am sure some of the members have restraining orders against other members :-) ).

To respond to some of the comments.... The reason for my original post was because I hit a state of panic and resistance where I couldn't sit at the piano to get back to work and practice. It was pone of those "God I can't do this anymore" moments. It was the feeling one might get about jumping in the pool after nearly drowning. I have plenty of music and a decent variety of music at my disposal -some already on the piano, some in boxes or on my bookshelf. When I got to a frustration level I always had something to pull out. While I prefer music from the pop era - rock, pop, standards, blues, jazz, etc. I do occasionally pull out a sonata movement or grade 1 classical piece, because a few of them sound kind of poppy and I enjoy them. They tend to keep me honest, whereas I might make a change or two on a popular piece if I feel it doesn't work for me.

The thing about keeping a log - just another tool that I use to get me back on track, not an every day thing. It isn't my intention to take the joy out of piano by reducing it to a checklist and I have no strict rules for how much time I should spend on anything. But I thought it might help if I occasionally wrote down what I wanted to work on that day or that week.
Looking over at my piano I see the last four things I worked on were: Hanon #15, an exercise for practicing minor pentatonic scales, "Paint it Black" by The Rolling Stones, and the keyboard solo to Blondie's "Call Me". I also have my Leo Alfassy "Blues Hanon" book and "Summer" by Joe Hisasishi on top of the music pile on the right side of the piano.

I currently don't have a teacher. I have had many teachers in the past and I am not opposed to working with one in the future, if I find one that suits my needs. I know there are many threads about getting a teacher so I don't want to get caught in the weeds on that topic in this thread.

Piano is the one sustaining dream I have always had and maintained. I know I am not going to be a star athlete or fly to the moon, dreams I may have had as an eight year old. So that is why I feel a little more desperate about this, playing piano, then whether I could run the marathon or book a flight on Virgin Galactic. I received replies from Norway, UK, Russia, Canada, Australia, Pennsylvania, and other parts or the US and world. That's totally amazing. And I have reread some of your comments three times because they are full of great suggestions. It's too bad that none of you live in my neighborhood - would love to talk piano. I am sure I will eventually sit back down on the bench, as I always have after pauses. But I just want to get to the next level already. Time is not on anybody's side.

-Josh
Thanks for your nice final reaction on our suggestions! Good to hear they arrived

Everyone is losing the fight against time. But the more dreams you have the tighter it gets. Spend whatever you get wisely
Don't be hard on yourself you never know where it'll end up and you may be a star athlete. I went through almost exactly what you're experiencing. I started 5-6 years ago and played for a year and I started tapering off about 9 months to play less and less. Then I stopped and played randomly from time to time but not serious as I had a defeated attitude such as, "I haven't played for years why bother?" I have started up again about 16 months ago and play a ton. I still am not any good but love it. I would suggest just sit at the bench and play even if only 10 min. When 5-6 years passes you'll be happy you didn't stop. You already put in a lot of work. I should have spent more time here 5-6 years like I do as this place helps keeping me motivated and I enjoy time here too. I hope you start playing again today.
If I’m not in the mood, I'll set myself the simplest of tasks where no music or thought is required.

I’ll say something to myself like 'Do all of your white key scales in Major and Minor keys' and that will take me just 10 minutes and that’s all I’m required to do for the day.

I’ve yet to leave the piano after those 10 minutes but the option is always there smile
Thank you again for the responses, including the three that came after my previous thanks.
Read them all, and read them again. Maybe tomorrow I will set myself a simple task and build on it from there.
-Josh
Originally Posted by Josh1770
Maybe tomorrow I will
When you read this, now! Get up from whereever you are, go to your piano and play a C major scale. Try to play it as nicely as if you play a melody. smile
You want to read Lord of the Rings. But there are too many big words you don't know. That's going to be the piano experience from year 1 through 3 <if you're a diligent adult w/ other life responsibilities>. You can only go so far using memorization/repetition without attacking Music Reading.

And here's the thing alot of new guys get hung up on. You don't need to develop that Transcendental-Music-Reading-Omniscience, BUT, you have to get pretty fast, so that you can learn pieces fast enough to Keep YOUR OWN interest in playing the piano.

In most cases, if you can read the entire piece, 1 hand at a time @ 1/4 tempo. That's more than good enough to stay warm. But so few new guys even get to that point.

The majority of new initiates will practice and repeat short segments of music, while that's good as a coordination and freedom exercise, it doesn't attack reading, and reading is the most stressful and critical hurdle.

There's no secret psychology, the problem is always the reading, it will never go away, attack attack attack. To be clear I'm not talking about sight reading. You don't have to get THAT-good, though of course eventually it will happen if you keep at it. You do need to get alot faster than you are now. The STRESS you're trying to avoid isn't playing the piano, that's easy, it's reading/ brain use that you're avoiding.

The human behavior system is designed to Conserve energy/effort. The brain uses 30% of the body's sugar supply. That's a major expense, and it increases when you push higher functions.

Music is a good thing, but it's not so rewarding that it can cross the motivational threshold VERSUS lower hanging fruits easier to pick like, Eating Chocolate, Watching movies, Smoking Cigarettes, Sex, Cocaine, Meth.

Think about why people eat so much Instant noodles. It's great but not super good. The advantage of instant noodle is the fact that It's got an extremely high Reward to Effort ratio. It's not as good as a 3 course Lobster dinner, but it only takes 5 minutes to make, and you wash 1 bowl and one fork. A lobster dinner, however good it tastes, is 5 -10 bowls, 3 pots, 2 pans, a drawer of seasoning, 1hr of prep time, 20 min of cleaning.

These ratio of pleasure vs expense constitutes your general desire to DO everything.

Be glad you're not addicted to drugs. There's a reason why addicts never get anything done. The reward to expense ratio is so high, that nothing else compares.
Originally Posted by jeffcat
Think about why people eat so much Instant noodles. It's great but not super good. The advantage of instant noodle is the fact that It's got an extremely high Reward to Effort ratio. It's not as good as a 3 course Lobster dinner, but it only takes 5 minutes to make, and you wash 1 bowl and one fork.
Instant Noodles that come in plastic packets are far too slow: you need a stove, you have to cook, and there's too much to wash up.

You want Pot Noodles, into which you just pour boiling water. Wait four minutes, stir, and Bob's your uncle (or not, as the case may be):

https://www.potnoodle.com/products/pot-noodle.html

Washing a bowl takes far too much effort. Eat it straight from the pot, using whatever you've got - teaspoon, chopsticks, fork, your fingers (- wait until noodles are cool enough) etc. I just use a specially-designed (for Pot Noodles) Swiss-made titanium Spork. I survived happily on Pot Noodles (bolstered, of course, with a multi-vitamin & mineral supplement) in my mis-spent youth while at university, juggling between piano practicing in the Music Department during all my spare time, while trying to pass my actual course exams with the least effort.

These days, of course, I make noodles and pasta from scratch, with flour and eggs. (Actually, that takes far too much effort, so I just microwave the eggs instead, for Instant Microwave Eggs.)
Originally Posted by bennevis
Instant Noodles that come in plastic packets are far too slow: you need a stove, you have to cook, and there's too much to wash up.
You want Pot Noodles, into which you just pour boiling water. Wait four minutes, stir, and Bob's your uncle (or not, as the case may be):

For a while I just bought saltines and drank orange juice. Soylent = Future.
Originally Posted by jeffcat
Soylent = Future.
That's reminded me of the movie Soylent Green:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soylent_Green

Well worth watching.......(and beware of where the protein in your processed food comes from smirk ).
Originally Posted by Animisha
When you read this, now! Get up from whereever you are, go to your piano and play a C major scale. Try to play it as nicely as if you play a melody. smile


Best advice yet! It took a couple of days before I saw this post. But once I did, I went over and did a two octave C-scale, hands together.
Originally Posted by Josh1770
Originally Posted by Animisha
When you read this, now! Get up from whereever you are, go to your piano and play a C major scale. Try to play it as nicely as if you play a melody. smile


Best advice yet! It took a couple of days before I saw this post. But once I did, I went over and did a two octave C-scale, hands together.

Great job! The hardest part is over. You have started. Now follow up. Yes now! Get your first piano book, find the first piece in your book, sit at your piano and play it. smile
Originally Posted by jeffcat
In most cases, if you can read the entire piece, 1 hand at a time @ 1/4 tempo. That's more than good enough to stay warm. But so few new guys even get to that point.


Well, in most cases I can play a piece at 1/4 tempo, one hand at a time. But that's not exactly enjoyable music. If I could get to a modest 3/4 tempo with both hands together, I would be in better shape. But I find that there is a huge wall I am never climbing over with anything I play.

And I don't think of myself as new to the piano. - which is another problem in addition to the one above.



Originally Posted by jeffcat
The majority of new initiates will practice and repeat short segments of music, while that's good as a coordination and freedom exercise, it doesn't attack reading, and reading is the most stressful and critical hurdle.

There's no secret psychology, the problem is always the reading, it will never go away, attack attack attack. To be clear I'm not talking about sight reading. You don't have to get THAT-good, though of course eventually it will happen if you keep at it. You do need to get alot faster than you are now. The STRESS you're trying to avoid isn't playing the piano, that's easy, it's reading/ brain use that you're avoiding.

The human behavior system is designed to Conserve energy/effort. The brain uses 30% of the body's sugar supply. That's a major expense, and it increases when you push higher functions.

Music is a good thing, but it's not so rewarding that it can cross the motivational threshold VERSUS lower hanging fruits easier to pick like, Eating Chocolate, Watching movies,.

I read some books and watched a video recently on forming small habits and similar ideas - Floss just one tooth, do one pushup, place musical instrument in the living room where the tv is so it is more accessible and just hit one note. The idea is that once you get started you are already in position to keep going. And even if you don't, you will add on to the the tiny action every day. The problem is that we aren't avoiding these actions because they are time consuming - if I floss one tooth I may as well keep going...it's all of the actions required to lead up to what you really want to do - finding the floss, tearing off the right sized piece (what did the dentist say again???), wrapping it correctly around my fingers, sticking my fist in my mouth and trying not to gag, having to reclean my mouth after flossing, - there is a lot of mental effort attached to the first action, associations with painful times (dental cleanings), with no reward. I would rather just jump into my warm bed. It's the same for practicing - I put a simple practice keyboard in my tv room, but just turning on the tv will give instant rewards. Turning on my keyboard represents past failures, no rewards, requires an effort to figure out what I should do at that moment, and all of the stress I am facing.

BTW - the majority of my practice is on an upright full sized digital piano. But right now there is a lot of stress and past failure attached to that thing.

-Josh
Originally Posted by Animisha
Great job! The hardest part is over. You have started. Now follow up. Yes now! Get your first piano book, find the first piece in your book, sit at your piano and play it. smile

Thank you for cheering me on. I will report back, hopefully with good news.

-Josh
Originally Posted by Josh1770
I put a simple practice keyboard in my tv room, but just turning on the tv will give instant rewards. Turning on my keyboard represents past failures, no rewards, requires an effort to figure out what I should do at that moment, and all of the stress I am facing.

-Josh

If you're trying to program yourself quickly, you could try stronger stuff.

Starting 8 PM, play piano for 2 hours, FORCE yourself to read sheetmusic the entire 2 hours. @ 10pm have a small glass of wine, or smoke a cigarette. 11pm go to bed. The less that happens after 10, the more rapid the programming.

This obviously won't work if you decide to take shortcuts and drink/smoke without playing.
Originally Posted by jeffcat
If you're trying to program yourself quickly, you could try stronger stuff.

Starting 8 PM, play piano for 2 hours, FORCE yourself to read sheetmusic the entire 2 hours. @ 10pm have a small glass of wine, or smoke a cigarette. 11pm go to bed. The less that happens after 10, the more rapid the programming.

This obviously won't work if you decide to take shortcuts and drink/smoke without playing.

Well, absolutely NO to the cigarette. Never have never will. Bleh! - LOL. I'm not a wine drinker either. Maybe if there's nothing else to drink at the restaurant. Prefer the occasional beer or bourbon. But not so late in the evening. Screws up my sleep.

I am not sure why reading sheet music for two hours is the answer. I mean, if I play, I am looking at sheet music. I wish I had a better memory so I didn't have to. But reading music is not a problem for me. It's the sitting down to begin with, then sitting for two hours (very restless and easily frustrated), and feeling productive and satisfied without all of the voices in my headspace that's the problem.
Originally Posted by Josh1770
It's the sitting down to begin with, then sitting for two hours (very restless and easily frustrated), and feeling productive and satisfied without all of the voices in my headspace that's the problem.

Then don’t do it. We have one life. Enjoy it!
Originally Posted by dhull100
Originally Posted by Josh1770
It's the sitting down to begin with, then sitting for two hours (very restless and easily frustrated), and feeling productive and satisfied without all of the voices in my headspace that's the problem.

Then don’t do it. We have one life. Enjoy it!

I could not agree more.

I absolutely love music and I love learning to play instruments .... that is why I do it.

I played a trumpet in highschool. I played guitar and banjo after that.

Now I am playing piano.

I am not a very good player and was not with the other instruments either.

I have natural talent but do not work at it hard enough to get really good.

But I enjoy it the way I am doing it.

So I do it.

If you (the OP) cannot say that you enjoy it .... I see no reason to keep doing it.
Originally Posted by Josh1770
Well, absolutely NO to the cigarette. Never have never will. Bleh! - LOL. I'm not a wine drinker either. Maybe if there's nothing else to drink at the restaurant. Prefer the occasional beer or bourbon. But not so late in the evening. Screws up my sleep.

I am not sure why reading sheet music for two hours is the answer. I mean, if I play, I am looking at sheet music. I wish I had a better memory so I didn't have to. But reading music is not a problem for me.

Cigarettes give you approximately the same dopamine rush as coffee, but coffee keeps you awake at night. People are as addicted to coffee as cigarettes. I'm not downplaying the harm in smoking, I'm just saying in terms of brain chemistry, people tend to poopoo the smoker, while reveling in their own chemical addictions.

I used cigarettes just as an example, there are other options like Vaping. This programming phase is just to create a mental inclination , behavioral modification. You don't have to keep vaping/ drink alcohol once you become consistent and feel that drive to practice piano.

The reason why you'd choose vaping/smoking/alcohol, is because the mental surge is almost instantaneous, The faster you can reward yourself after a certain action, the more tightly the brain will attribute the pleasure. So, this is a timing hack.

Again, I'm not suggesting that you need to drink / smoke for an extended period of time. This programming should produce strong results within 2-3 weeks.

As for WHY READING is always the problem. It is typically the highest cost function, (most stressful) for a non-sight reading player to perform. It's like internet lurkers, why do they lurk, Most lurkers have a drive to say something, but the majority type really really slowly. So typing is a high cost function, that they would not perform unless something pressing occured. This is responsible for why people write stupid intros like, I made an account just to say this, or I almost never post, but this thread has me riled up. The reason they never post is because their typing speed is so abysmal, that they can not work beyond the motivational threshold to act.

VS someone more Cheeky like Jeffcat, who also happen to type faster than he can speak. These people will write giant posts, because the cost to them is minimal.
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