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Pianostudent88,

In drawing one can make a beautiful piece of art with hardly any strokes. What matters is not the quantity or complexity (an easy trap to fall into) nor is it the approvals or applause one might receive, but rather the quality of the gesture as it reflects one's own creative spirit.

It is the same with piano. With one gesture, one flowing touch of a key, one beautiful sound, one can create all the music one needs. It is that sound, that vibration, the unique touch of creativity that most satisfies the soul.

It is just a different way of enjoying the art of piano. 😃

Last edited by Richrf; 04/16/17 12:49 AM.
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Sounds like you might need a bit of a break. Give your brain a rest. We all need to do that once in a while. That happens to me with my classes. Sometime we don't get a break between semester and my brain is basically toast and then I have to start a whole new semester. Sometimes I will take a day or two and just do nothing! It really helps.
I definitely think it’s a good idea to go with short pieces. That’s what I’m doing right now. I’m taking three college classes and working PT and my teacher knows I don’t always have a lot of time to practice and she knows that I am not too worried about it as long I am doing something, I’m happy with that.
Isolate the parts of the songs that are giving you trouble and just practice them until they become easy. My teacher has me so this. Even if its just three or four notes at a time.
How comfortable are you with your teacher? Do you feel that she listens to your concerns? I understand she wants to push you, but if you want to take things down and notch, so you can enjoy it more then I think she should be able to accommodate that. Or, maybe it’s time for a new teacher. I had a few different teachers until I found one that I really feel is a good match for me. She gives me good solid advice, but is also understanding was well.

Whatever you decide to do I wish you luck and don't be too hard on yourself smile



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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
So... I find myself losing motivation to practice. In particular, losing motivation to work hard at practicing.

It takes me so long to work on a piece, and I feel like even after months I'm still struggling with playing the right notes in places. My teacher gives me lots of expression things to improve, and I'd like to be able to really concentrate on that, but the whole time I'm working on the piece it's like this nervous high wire act for whether I'll get the notes correctly.


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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
... read through a bunch of Martha Mier's Jazz, Rags, And Blues series. That was fun. I love the sound of blues. (Over time I'd like to learn how to improvise these sounds and rhythms. But that's outside of my lessons, and I need to find some of my own path to it.)


I do not understand why the music you love has to be relegated to finding your own path to it.

Why not switch your lessons (and your teacher if need be) to the music you love (Jazz, Rags, & Blues) and relegate classical music to a lesser emphasis ?

As they say .... Life is too short. Do things you enjoy.

Good Luck to you


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Whizbang, you made me laugh :-)

dmd, I always read with great interest your descriptions of "pick a method any method and then Stick With It." So I'm somewhat embarrassed to say that I've dabbled in various jazz/blues methods (self-taught, never with a teacher). I generally get stumped pretty early -- there will be some fundamental thing they expect me to be able to do, and I can't do it. So then I end up on a long path away from the method figuring out how to fill in that gap. But I hear what you're saying about following what I love, with guidance.


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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
. . .
Ditched all my supposed-to-be practicing stuff today and read through a bunch of Martha Mier's Jazz, Rags, And Blues series. That was fun. I love the sound of blues. (Over time I'd like to learn how to improvise these sounds and rhythms. But that's outside of my lessons, and I need to find some of my own path to it.)
. . .


You might get a copy of Tim Richards' "Improvising Blues Piano". It's "self-teaching", but not easy. Take it in to a lesson, and say:

. . . "Could we spend some time on this?"

What's life, without fun?


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I was going through much the same at least in losing motivation. Frustrated by how long it took me to learn pieces. I had a talk with my teacher. And we've introduced shorter easier pieces.

I'm not so sure this is the solution. Yes, I learn them more quickly. But they aren't the great music I so inspire to learn.

The real solution has been to have at least one bigger piece of my choosing to keep working on while I strive to play these easier pieces "just so".

So here I am working on the Children's Carnival pieces by Amy Beach while chipping away at Schumann's Kreisleriana no. 8! It's quite the contrast I'll tell you!! But my time at the piano has been more regular and more productive.

All I can recommend is to talk with your teacher and experiment with different paths of learning. I don't think the solution is no teacher and no lessons. That doesn't work for me. Doubt it will improve your motivation.

Just be open and honest with your teacher. She is there to help you!! And keep at it. Something! Scales and cadences if you find that fun. Motivation sort of comes and goes when you are an adult student. It can and will change and get better. You're just in a lull. This will pass.


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I think every musician - certainly every artist - goes through phases like this. There are just times where you feel stuck. In all likelihood, it will end and you'll just one day realize again how much you love to play and be off to the proverbial races.

I don't know of any magical cure, really. Most of the folks who have already replied suggest adjusting how you're approaching the music, speaking to your teacher and the like. I'd advocate all of that. Changing focus and approach are normally helpful for me. Doing something else. Taking a walk or a longer than usual break. In your place, though, I would certainly tell the teacher that you are losing focus and motivation. S/he might be able to help you there at least.

Best of luck.

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We all get this from time to time.

Sometimes I just go back to a few pieces I did ages ago, polish those and play them for fun.


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I agree with some of the posters above who advised you to keep it fun. Play music you love. Maybe you should jump into those Martha Meier pieces and just play them for pleasure. Explore other similar pieces that you are not yet familiar with.

If practicing is currently unpleasant, don't practice until you want to practice. When the desire to practice arises from your personal need, then practice will be meaningful. But, don't impose upon yourself practice just for the sake of practice.

I think most human activity is driven by the reward that is anticipated at the end of the activity. You currently don't see any reward from practicing that will motivate you to do it. Don't beat yourself up, just do and celebrate that which DOES provide you some worthwhile reward. It sounds like just playing does that for you. So, play!

Maybe next week you will feel some need to improve something in your play, or undertake a piece that will require you to practice to get your pleasure from it. When it means enough to you, then you will practice. With a meaningful reward or goal in sight, that practice will not be unpleasant.

In short, be happy. Do what makes you happy. If it changes tomorrow, great! If it doesn't change tomorrow, great! Be happy, great! smile

Did I mention, be happy? grin


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Originally Posted by Morodiene
The way out is to allow yourself to play poorly. Play that Beethoven sonata at tempo and laugh off all the wrong notes. Just let them happen and keep going, but play as musical as you can with it. Leave the metronome out of this if you tend to use it. Focus completely on expression. See how you feel after that. There may have been funny mistakes, but I bet you'll feel uplifted too.


I'm in the same boat you are, a Mozart Sonata, Bach's 13 invention, Chopin prelude, and a John Thompson Tarantella that should have been easy except it's supposed to be fast. I'm not getting anywhere fast. I need to do what Morodiene said or I'm going to end up with slow boring songs, but that's only way I can play them without mistakes. I love my piano teacher, but this is too much and too hard to work on all at once. I'm going to push through these but request at least one fairly easy song I can accomplish in a week or so and cut back to no more than two hard ones at one time.



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Originally Posted by Morodiene


The way out is to allow yourself to play poorly. Play that xxx at tempo and laugh off all the wrong notes.


This strikes a nerve...I wish I could do that more... I have always had a "fix things" attitude in life and whenever I make mistakes I feel they must be fixed. It's partly unconscious and that makes it difficult to change. I can laugh at my mistakes at lessons sometimes and when playing with my friends, but not when I am at home. This " must fix things" attitude is good for efficient practice but bad for relaxed playing and enjoyment of music. And my teacher enforces it by her perfectionism. Yet I don't want to switch to someone who lets me get away with things...

Self suggestion does not work with me, my self is too clever to see through such attempts. I guess the answer is to get together more with other people to play but I don't have the time nor energy for that right now...

But at least I do enjoy the process nevertheless, I just wish I could switch to "just play" mode occasionally.

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I feel the same as you. Learning takes a long time to get even the notes right. After switching to another piece, I "forget" the previous one to play it at a decent speed.
Lessons with me teacher end in june, and I am planning to look for a way/teacher to learn me how to improvise by ear. Not need to memorise those notes anymore - that is my idea - I might be wrong...

A book I have in Dutch, but should be abvailable in English very soon, and am going to use again. German should be already available.

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"This above all, to thine own self be true". (Hamlet)

Excellent advice for the arts. Excellent advice for life in general.

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Why not work on side projects that don't need to be so perfect? Not everything needs to be taken to performance standard. I find things I really like when I practice sight reading, music that's easy to polish in a short time 5 minutes a day (seems like no matter how easy, I have to give it 2 weeks. Hmmm). I just get them nice, not perfect. My sight reading improves when I rotate through more material, and it's fun.

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Originally Posted by outo
Originally Posted by Morodiene


The way out is to allow yourself to play poorly. Play that xxx at tempo and laugh off all the wrong notes.


This strikes a nerve...I wish I could do that more... I have always had a "fix things" attitude in life and whenever I make mistakes I feel they must be fixed. It's partly unconscious and that makes it difficult to change. I can laugh at my mistakes at lessons sometimes and when playing with my friends, but not when I am at home. This " must fix things" attitude is good for efficient practice but bad for relaxed playing and enjoyment of music. And my teacher enforces it by her perfectionism. Yet I don't want to switch to someone who lets me get away with things...

Self suggestion does not work with me, my self is too clever to see through such attempts. I guess the answer is to get together more with other people to play but I don't have the time nor energy for that right now...

But at least I do enjoy the process nevertheless, I just wish I could switch to "just play" mode occasionally.
But please keep the whole context of what I said. I'm not saying leave the mistakes in and not try to play better. The above quote was step one of many steps to get rid of perfectionism and get to a healthier, creative approach to learning.


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Originally Posted by Morodiene
But please keep the whole context of what I said. I'm not saying leave the mistakes in and not try to play better. The above quote was step one of many steps to get rid of perfectionism and get to a healthier, creative approach to learning.


Very much agree. Pivoting in the way that one perceives his/her own art from a) attempting to achieve perfection (I have no idea what such a quality means nor how one achieves such a subjective goal) to b) exploring and learning how to express oneself through music (or any art) helps create a healthier sense of being.

Perfection is a desire that is substantially unachievable and thus creates stress and frustration which in turn creates problems in the spiritual, emotional and physical being.

Creativity is an outpouring of one's expressive spirit which is free and without restraint, which is what life is all about. Problems only arise when the natural creative element is suppressed. What ever one creates should first and foremost please oneself. This is a reliable guide.

"This above all, to thine own self be true"! Really, quite a magnificent piece of advice from the Bard. 😃

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Originally Posted by Richrf
Originally Posted by Morodiene
But please keep the whole context of what I said. I'm not saying leave the mistakes in and not try to play better. The above quote was step one of many steps to get rid of perfectionism and get to a healthier, creative approach to learning.


Very much agree. Pivoting in the way that one perceives his/her own art from a) attempting to achieve perfection (I have no idea what such a quality means nor how one achieves such a subjective goal) to b) exploring and learning how to express oneself through music (or any art) helps create am healthier sense of being.

Perfection is a desire that is substantially unachievable and thus creates stress and frustration which in turn creates problems at the spiritual, emotional and physical being.

Creativity is an outpouring of one's expressive spirit which is free and without restraint, which is what life is all about. Problems only arise when the natural creative element is suppressed. What ever one creates should first and foremost please oneself. This is a reliable guide.

"This above all, to thine own self be true"! Really, quite a magnificent piece of advice from the Bard. 😃
+1 .

To be honest, "perfect" playing is very unappealing to me and most people. It shuts down the brain because all notes become predictable and there is no expression of the self in it. A computer might as well be playing.

So one must play musically to themselves. Perhaps not all the time - for there is a time to do some repetitive, but focused (NOT mindless) work. But certainly most of the time, when a person plays it should be emotionally fulfilling. That doesn't mean you will love every piece you do, but not every piece has to be worked to performance level, either.

But if it's not musical, you can't really enjoy it. For me, it's like torture to make myself play like that.


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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by outo
Originally Posted by Morodiene


The way out is to allow yourself to play poorly. Play that xxx at tempo and laugh off all the wrong notes.


This strikes a nerve...I wish I could do that more... I have always had a "fix things" attitude in life and whenever I make mistakes I feel they must be fixed. It's partly unconscious and that makes it difficult to change. I can laugh at my mistakes at lessons sometimes and when playing with my friends, but not when I am at home. This " must fix things" attitude is good for efficient practice but bad for relaxed playing and enjoyment of music. And my teacher enforces it by her perfectionism. Yet I don't want to switch to someone who lets me get away with things...

Self suggestion does not work with me, my self is too clever to see through such attempts. I guess the answer is to get together more with other people to play but I don't have the time nor energy for that right now...

But at least I do enjoy the process nevertheless, I just wish I could switch to "just play" mode occasionally.
But please keep the whole context of what I said. I'm not saying leave the mistakes in and not try to play better. The above quote was step one of many steps to get rid of perfectionism and get to a healthier, creative approach to learning.


Yes, it was out of context but I took the quote because it seems exactly what I would need but I just find it really difficult to do...

Want to add that for me perfection is not just right notes at the right time, but all aspects of music must be how I want it.

Last edited by outo; 04/17/17 01:41 PM.
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Originally Posted by outo
Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by outo
Originally Posted by Morodiene


The way out is to allow yourself to play poorly. Play that xxx at tempo and laugh off all the wrong notes.


This strikes a nerve...I wish I could do that more... I have always had a "fix things" attitude in life and whenever I make mistakes I feel they must be fixed. It's partly unconscious and that makes it difficult to change. I can laugh at my mistakes at lessons sometimes and when playing with my friends, but not when I am at home. This " must fix things" attitude is good for efficient practice but bad for relaxed playing and enjoyment of music. And my teacher enforces it by her perfectionism. Yet I don't want to switch to someone who lets me get away with things...

Self suggestion does not work with me, my self is too clever to see through such attempts. I guess the answer is to get together more with other people to play but I don't have the time nor energy for that right now...

But at least I do enjoy the process nevertheless, I just wish I could switch to "just play" mode occasionally.
But please keep the whole context of what I said. I'm not saying leave the mistakes in and not try to play better. The above quote was step one of many steps to get rid of perfectionism and get to a healthier, creative approach to learning.


Yes, it was out of context but I took the quote because it seems exactly what I would need but I just find it really difficult to do...

Want to add that for me perfection is not just right notes at the right time, but all aspects of music must be how I want it.
I figured that was why you quoted that portion, but for the sake of those who may not go back and read the whole thing, I wanted to make sure it wasn't misunderstood wink


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