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#2889301 09/11/19 03:17 PM
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I've had about 5 lessons now and am feeling low on confidence.

I have an electric piano at home but I work long hours and take medication which affects my concentration and energy levels so my motivation to practice is low in the evenings but higher at weekends.

My teacher is great but sometimes I feel so stupid when I have my lesson at the end of the day and I can't identify some of the basic notes on the page. It's too early, of course, to jack this in, but is it normal to feel big dips in confidence at the start? I guess that very much depends on lots of factors.

Somedays I can play fluently and feel great, other times I can barely strike a note and the sheet music looks like a meaningless jumble.

Practice, practice and practice. I just need to fundamentals to gel.

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Originally Posted by steerpike
I've had about 5 lessons now and am feeling low on confidence.

I have an electric piano at home but I work long hours and take medication which affects my concentration and energy levels so my motivation to practice is low in the evenings but higher at weekends.

My teacher is great but sometimes I feel so stupid when I have my lesson at the end of the day and I can't identify some of the basic notes on the page. It's too early, of course, to jack this in, but is it normal to feel big dips in confidence at the start? I guess that very much depends on lots of factors.

Somedays I can play fluently and feel great, other times I can barely strike a note and the sheet music looks like a meaningless jumble.

Practice, practice and practice. I just need to fundamentals to gel.

This often happens when starting something new which is very different from what you've ever done before (since you haven't mentioned other instruments, I assume piano is your first musical instrument?)

One thing you might want to consider is shifting your schedule by 30 mins and practicing the first thing in the morning instead of in the evening. You might find that this practice session is before your medication kicks in, and is more effective than late practice for you. You may want to try this once or twice as an experiment and see how it goes and how it compares to practice late in the day.


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Steerpike
Welcome to the joys and frustrations we all feel: joy when things go well and frustrations when things are horrible and we know they were better yesterday. Having frustrations is just not for beginners... we all take the dips personally (I call them mitten hands)

You really just need to know you are not alone, keep moving and realize you will be able to look backwards and see how far you have come... the progress will not be even from day to day but it will happen!

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You are not alone. Many of us feel this way at times. Hang in there and enjoy your journey.



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This has been posted on PW numerous times but I think it will be appropriate here once again:



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thank you both for the kind words.

Being honest, I was feeling a bit low anyway and sorry for myself!

I want to be good at this - I know it takes time and endless patience and even more practice. I'll plough on, but man it can be humbling to feel like the school dunce again. It's all down to lack of practice. Hard to fit into a busy schedule of work, commuting 4 hours a day and the medication doesn't help.

I need to give it more time and as you mention - this is all new to me - playing by ear is one thing, following notes is a whole different ball game.

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Originally Posted by WeakLeftHand
This has been posted on PW numerous times but I think it will be appropriate here once again:



I needed that! thank you.

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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
One thing you might want to consider is shifting your schedule by 30 mins and practicing the first thing in the morning instead of in the evening. You might find that this practice session is before your medication kicks in, and is more effective than late practice for you..
Good advice - I have been considering this - thanks.

Last edited by steerpike; 09/11/19 04:06 PM.
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Originally Posted by NobleHouse
You are not alone. Many of us feel this way at times. Hang in there and enjoy your journey.

Thank you!

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Don't be afraid to break practice into smaller sessions. If your initial goal is to practice 30 minutes a day, try 10 minutes before you leave for work, 10 minutes after you get home, and another 10 before bed (just for example). Believe me, it adds up!


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Originally Posted by steerpike
I've had about 5 lessons now and am feeling low on confidence.

==============SNIP SNIP SNIP=================================

My teacher is great but sometimes I feel so stupid when I have my lesson at the end of the day and I can't identify some of the basic notes on the page.
============================SNIP SNIP SNIP=====================

Practice, practice and practice. I just need to fundamentals to gel.

Starting to learn the piano is... difficult.
There is MUCH to learn.
If you drive a car, think how hard it was to drive - in traffic - at the beginning.
Now, much of the driving is done unconsciously I would bet.

In addition to switching to before work practice from after work, I would recommend you change your lesson time. If you are not fully present and fully functional, you are not getting maximum benefit for the time and money invested.

Hang in there. The rewards for doing so are substantial.


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I remember having such disastrous lessons in the early days, so for me it seems normal. I found the whole thing of learning music, from the ground up, overwhelming and it got to the point where I dreaded lessons. But this was also at a time when I could spend hours at the piano each day, so for me having that amount of time didn't help.

I also remember, (this was only seven years ago), that the whole of the first year was an emotional roller coaster. I would have real highs when I achieved something I thought was great, and some pretty desperate lows when things weren't going so well. Thankfully these feelings leveled out in the second year.


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I'm a big fan of early morning practice at the beginning. That worked for me, but playing in front of my teacher probably took 6 months before I got decent at that. Try to learn enjoying the process......in fact, one of the things you learn over the next year is how to practice effectively. I think maybe the most important thing right at the beginning is to practice every day at the same time. It really only has to be 30 minutes or so....You Can Do It!


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Another fan of morning practice. For me, I end up getting busier and busier as the day goes on, with either planned or unexpected events (the unexpected seems to happen a lot wih me, even though my kids are adults, lol.....go figure). By the end of dinnertime, I'm wiped out. I'm a whole lot fresher in the morning, and there's much less chance that I won't get all my practice in when I tackle it early.


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Welcome to PW steerpike! I think it's amazing that you are embarking on learning the piano when you are incredibly busy with work and have a 4 hour commute, plus side effects of medication to deal with. I started a year ago, and have had periods of things going well most practice sessions and times when I struggled in practice. Ironically the times when I've struggled have in retrospect been most valuable - they are indications of having hit a plateau and the struggling is the period of acquiring the next level of skill.

You know when you've played the wrong note - that's a major plus. According to my teacher, most of his students don't know when they've played something wrong. And you know exactly why you are struggling to concentrate - the medication. That gives you the possibility of addressing the problem by shifting your practice and lesson times.

When I started I practiced for 30 minutes before heading to work, because I wanted to make sure I got my practice time in. I was concerned that leaving to later in the day might mean not doing it at all. After I'd increased to 40 minutes, I switched to two practice sessions a day to better fit practice into my schedule, and to allow for further increasing practice time as I continued.

Good luck!

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The frustration at the gap between how we want to play and how we actually play never goes away.

There is much to be learned from even the most disastrous lesson.

Yesterday, my teacher said to me: “I wonder if you have the courage to play much more slowly.” That statement flips conventional wisdom, which is that the brave play fast and the timid play slowly, on its head.

As a beginner, I have to be reminded time and time again to slow down so that I can make all of the movements in time, with comfort. When I play too fast,I make mistakes, everything falls apart, and I get frustrated and try to force it, which just makes things worse.

SLOW DOWN is my motto.

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I would also suggest that you try not to evaluate your progress.

Just do your lessons as well as you can without expecting to "get it" before your next lesson.

It doesn't work that way.

You just keep working at it and it gets better when it gets better …. no promises of when.

Your teacher does not give you things to "finish" before next lesson.

Your teacher gives you the next thing to do on your journey.

How long it takes is a matter of how much time you have to work on it and your natural ability.

You need to enjoy practicing because that is what learning to play piano is ….. seemingly endless practice.

After a bit …. you will begin to play tunes and then all that practice will begin to pay off.

Good Luck


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Originally Posted by steerpike
is it normal to feel big dips in confidence at the start?

Oh yes, and not only at the start. It's all part of the process. Another part of this process is that you will succeed with something that was hard, and your confidence is growing again. Until the next time you fail... wink

Originally Posted by steerpike
I work long hours and take medication which affects my concentration and energy levels so my motivation to practice is low in the evenings but higher at weekends.

I have also been in the situation in which I was too tired to practise after work. For me, in the end I got a burnout, and looking back, I am rather happy that I didn't force myself to practise when the energy was not there.
Furthermore, if your concentration is low and you make a lot of mistakes, you risk learning those mistakes. So take care!

And welcome to ABF Steerpike!


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Originally Posted by LarryK
The frustration at the gap between how we want to play and how we actually play never goes away.

There is much to be learned from even the most disastrous lesson.


Yesterday, my teacher said to me: “I wonder if you have the courage to play much more slowly.” That statement flips conventional wisdom, which is that the brave play fast and the timid play slowly, on its head.

As a beginner, I have to be reminded time and time again to slow down so that I can make all of the movements in time, with comfort. When I play too fast,I make mistakes, everything falls apart, and I get frustrated and try to force it, which just makes things worse.

SLOW DOWN is my motto.
This is so true. I have been taking lessons for five years and right now I'm in one of those troughs where I am unhappy with my progress. Someone wrote some time ago that it's okay to be disappointed in our progress, but we should not be discouraged. So let's just say I'm very, very disappointed with my progress. frown

If the OP can manage it, morning practice before heading for work is definitely worth trying. It worked for me when I was still working and was out of juice by the time I got home in the evening.


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Great tips on this thread- I too feel the frustration. My videos on my YT channel are evidence of it and of course fast playing is my biggest weakness. Its a constant struggle to (1) find the mental energy to practice as my teacher suggests and (2) actually practicing it consistently as instructed. It is never ending.

For some here, I seem like an advanced player..and to others, I am at best a struggling intermediate player. I never formally studied music theory after high school so most of what I do is strictly on my own time and energy since I work full time (law firm litigation attorney). Its a personal mission to learn as many pieces as I can while my brain is fit/agile (am approaching mid 40s and have distant relatives with dementia/Alzheimers) plus the sooner I learn pieces, the more time I have to polish it for a nice performance the older I get.

I attend a lot of piano meet ups in my area (NYC) and there are quite a few adult beginners in the group, including a 56 year old man who picked up piano in his 30s and learned one of the harder Beethoven Sonatas by memory (all movements) and performed it flawlessly. It is very inspiring to hear people from all walks of life commit to daily practice of this instrument which professionals have dubbed "easy to learn initially but hard to master later on".

Another tip I also would like to share with OP: besides practicing in the morning (I tried it, I admit I am too lazy and like my extra zzzz's some days) is to take the music scores with you and actually practice AWAY from the piano. During my lunch hour, I will print out the music scores from ISLMP and mentally practice the fingering on my desk or in my head. I find that the more you read the score, the easier it is to approach some of the dynamics or notations .Some days I only have 30 min to devote to practice if I am home, so I just work on 3 measures and thats it. 3 measures or bars and just repeat, repeat, repeat, Then I do it again the next day/night until I have the musical idea in my head and the muscle memory in my fingers. There are days I just give up on X piece and just only play Bach Inventions and call it a day! The point is, the more you sit at the piano playing, the better your aural skills develop and the more mistakes you hear yourself making - then more you realize what needs work and fine tuning. This is actually good because you are learning how to teach yourself and eventually learn music without having a teacher at your side every step of the way.

Sometimes I will just take the score and work on it backwards, only picking out chords, or the arpeggios, or just the trills and work on that..You have to find what method works for you but part of the fun is realizing after X days or weeks of working on a particular piece, you can actually play it and have it sound more like what you hear on the radio or CD (or as close to it as you hear).




Last edited by AssociateX; 09/12/19 11:56 AM.

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