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I started my 4th year taking piano lessons from a teacher in January. I am 70 years old and did not take lessons as a child. I took one year in my mid-twenties. There is a lot of classical music that I would like to learn but being realistic I’m not sure it’s going to happen. I can’t play fast and I am slow at learning new pieces. Just look at how long it’s taken me to learn the pieces I learned in 2020. I may be able to do Hanon about 55-60 bpm. But speed in Hanon is not at all the goal of my teacher. I don’t play pieces that I “pass” after I pass them. I don’t have time with my new stuff. And feel like it would take at least a couple of weeks to get them back, maybe longer. Currently I am learning Polonaise in Bb Major by Chopin, Sonatina Op 20 No 1 by Dussek, How Beautiful 6 pages by Mark Hayes and Hanon. Usually there would be another piece in there too.

I was practicing about 2- 2 1/2 hrs every day of the week but that’s not happening now. I’ve had a couple of health issues over the last several months and don’t have the energy. Covid hasn’t helped and being somewhat down and discouraged isn’t helping either. Now that Spring is here, and lessons have started up again I’m not sure what direction I should go. Do I continue as I have been with lessons and new music? My skills slowly will improve and maybe I can play some of the things I can’t play now. Or do I just try and find music a couple of levels below my level and just enjoy playing. But would I get bored with that? I’ve always liked the challenge of learning new things and the harder music is so much richer and beautiful. I’m probably just rambling but my passion isn’t what it was. Playing the piano the last 3+ years has been extremely important to me. But lately I can miss days or sit down and I’m done in 15 minutes. Any suggestions or encouraging words would be appreciated.

All music I learned in 2020
4 wks - Prelude C minor, Op 28 No 20 - Chopin
8 wks - Elegie - J.Massenet
19 wks - Sonatina Op 20 No 1 - F. Kuhlau
10 wks – Traumerei Op 15 No 7 - R. Schumann
8 wks – About Strange Lands & People Op 15 No 4 – R. Schumann
23 wks – Invention No 4 in D Minor – J.S. Bach
15 wks – Sonatina Op 36 No 1 – M. Clementi
12 wks – Mazurka Op 67 No 2 – Chopin
7 wks – O Come, O Come Emmanuel 3 pgs – Melody Bober
16 wks – Albumleaf to Emile Gailard – Chopin-Post.
15 wks – Sonatina in G – Beethoven
17 wks – Bluebird – Alexis Ffrench
Hynms are 2 pages, 1st page normal 2nd page re-harmonized
13 wks – When We All Get to Heaven arranged by Carol Tornquist
16 wks – How Firm a Foundation arranged by Carol Turnquist
8 wks – Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us arranged by Carol Turnquist
I finished all the major and minor scales, arpeggios and chords which took about 3 years. Then started Hannon and almost done with book 1.


Pat, short for Patricia
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Have you looked at or attempted to play
1) Moonlight Sonata
2) Passacaglia (Hanon/Halverson)
3) Canon in D ?

If so were they within the realm of something you would like to play? Did you feel they were attainable?

Would you prefer to stay with hymns rather than classical?


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What do you enjoy playing? You went into quite a lot of detail about your shortcomings and the songs that you've learned, but you haven't mentioned what kind of music you enjoy playing. Some people enjoy playing classical music, some enjoy pop, some jazz, etc. It will make a huge difference to your level of dedication to practicing if you're playing music that you love.

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I got into piano as an adult. As a child I was a slow learner and lacked the talent and inclination to get into music. Today I'd practice for an hour in the evening each day. Now I'm away from home in another time zone so I changed my time accordingly.

It's more effective to practice for 20 min. to half an hour a day than a long 2h session once or twice a week. The days when I'm out of energy I'd do just 10-15 min., take a break and come back for another 10-15 min.

I can read through 20 beginner pieces in an hour but wouldn't improve my playing or reading. I'd start with several lower intermediate pieces that are not overly challenging but would take 3 days to a week to learn. In between I'll squeeze in an advanced piece that would take a few weeks.

I'm working on a piano arrangement of an orchestral piece in 3 pages with a lot of RH chords in a moderate tempo... 1 to 2 lines /day. There are nice pieces that don't require you to play at a fast tempo like the intro to the Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, the slow movement of the Pathetique and Chopin Nocturnes that have a slower tempo. Even after a decade of playing I tend to pick slower pieces like arrangements of Bach Chorales and would occasionally get into a faster piece like the 1st movement of the Mozart Sonata #16 in C.

Good luck...

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You learned 15 pieces in a year. I'd say that's pretty good. The time you spent on each looks quite normal.

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Originally Posted by PatG
Any suggestions or encouraging words would be appreciated.

Undoubtedly learning piano is hard and comes with challenges whether you have only been playing for four years or forty. These are the things we just have to accept and move on, but you are not alone in having doubts. Personally passion for me was replaced a long time ago with ''this is just what I enjoy doing and as hard as it is, I don't know if I would be happy to stop''.

I don't see anything on your list that took an abnormal amount of time, in fact it rather suggests there might be no polishing to performance going on. The next logical step to learning lots of pieces is to start learning less pieces over a longer duration. Something as it happens I started to do after about the four year mark. If you enjoy the challenge and working on small details this can be quite rewarding. Just a thought.


Surprisingly easy, barely an inconvenience.

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In your post, you do not mention what is really bothering you. Slow progress ?

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Originally Posted by PatG
There is a lot of classical music that I would like to learn but being realistic I’m not sure it’s going to happen. I can’t play fast and I am slow at learning new pieces. Just look at how long it’s taken me to learn the pieces I learned in 2020.

I finished all the major and minor scales, arpeggios and chords which took about 3 years. Then started Hannon and almost done with book 1.
You're beating yourself up unnecessarily.

Many child as well as adult learners would be more than happy to have reached your level after four years. (BTW, it took me eight years to learn all the scales & arpeggios when I was a student.)

You should just prioritize what you enjoy playing, rather than pressure yourself to keep on learning difficult new stuff. Play what you like, for as long as you like, and don't worry about how much or how little time you're spending at the piano. If you find something you really like, you'll almost certainly end up spending more time with it.

Here are a few ideas for pieces you might want to try:






There are various arrangements of varying difficulties of all the above.

Here are two well-known piano transcriptions of songs by Max Reger - one of his own song, the other by R.Strauss:





"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."
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I think it's tremendously important to have a repertoire, I mean pieces that you don't "pass", but that stay with you. It's one of the most wonderful things about piano to have an opportunity to play your favorite sad piece when you feel sad, or to play your favorite joyful piece when you feel so. Without a repertoire the conveyor of new pieces may be exhaustive and boring. It seems that you need to spend more time doing things that you best enjoy. Also consider that it's normal to feel decrease in piano passion from time to time.

I agree that your achievements are very good and you may feel very proud of yourself!

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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
I think it's tremendously important to have a repertoire, I mean pieces that you don't "pass", but that stay with you. It's one of the most wonderful things about piano to have an opportunity to play your favorite sad piece when you feel sad, or to play your favorite joyful piece when you feel so. Without a repertoire the conveyor of new pieces may be exhaustive and boring. It seems that you need to spend more time doing things that you best enjoy. Also consider that it's normal to feel decrease in piano passion from time to time.

I agree that your achievements are very good and you may feel very proud of yourself!

+1


Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
You learned 15 pieces in a year. I'd say that's pretty good. The time you spent on each looks quite normal.

+1


Originally Posted by trooplewis
Have you looked at or attempted to play
1) Moonlight Sonata
2) Passacaglia (Hanon/Halverson)
3) Canon in D ?

If so were they within the realm of something you would like to play? Did you feel they were attainable?

+1 and great piece suggestions.

PatG - I agree with others: You've made good progress so far and the more advanced the pieces, the longer they take to learn. So, I would say you are being too hard on yourself and should instead be proud.

It's perfectly fine to play slower and moderate tempos. I am more of a slow hand on both guitar and piano. I very much enjoy it. I can play at moderate speed with many pieces. But playing fast isn't something I've been able to do yet. Maybe someday, but not today and I'm fine with it.

I like a very wide variety of genres. What types of music would you like to focus on for a while. It's not a question of "what you should do", but rather a question of what pulls at you right now and will likely do so in the near future. Just identify that and consider pursuing it.

Do you like playing mostly for yourself or do you enjoy playing for others? I like playing for myself much more than for others. This was true for guitar, french horn, trumpet, drums, and piano. I took lessons a long time ago on all of those instruments.

I can't afford a piano teacher or I would have one. I am forced to go the self teaching route, which is a bummer, but I can handle it better than most as I am more qualified than average. I used to teach guitar.

You've had enough lessons to go the self teaching route, but if you can afford it, I would recommend a teacher. Just tell the teacher what you posted here. Then he can alter the course a bit if the path is the reason you are losing interest. But also know that we all hit plateaus from time to time. That's when it's time to focus on different learning approaches. Do you like the teacher you have or do you think you can do better?

Hang in there. Stay with it. You're doing much better than you think. Just reassess the learning path and make some changes. Specific changes are entirely up to you.

Good luck,

Stormbringer


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Everybody that plays the piano has times when they want to quit or are discouraged. This goes with the territory. In your case, the illness is probably the main reason. Your perceived slow progress is relative, as other have pointed out.
You should go in the direction that gives you the most satisfaction. Don't be shy pointing out to your teacher if you want to change something. Playing piano should be fun / rewarding. If you're not sure, experiment and try out different things. We don't know what gives you the most satisfaction so we can't give you direct advice.

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Hi Pat.

Honestly, you really appear to be doing just fine at the 4 year mark. There is an enormous pool of music within your reach already, and even more in the next few years at your current pace of advance. Don't despair or overanalyse the ups and downs we all experience. My only concrete suggestion would be to find something you really enjoy that is just for fun.... my example, I just love pulling out a fakebook of old rock tunes and banging away at songs I grew up with. I'm not good at it but really enjoy it as a break from more "serious" music.

Enjoy!

Jim


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Its All in the Game- KJarrett trans.
Gnossienne No1 E.Satie

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I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read my post and to those that replied. I am feeling much better now, COVID took its toll on me. But my energy is coming back, and I am not discouraged anymore.

Trooplewis – I have played Moonlight Sonata 1st movement and Canon in D. I hadn’t heard of Passacaglia before. Thanks for the suggestion. I think for now I have given up on hymns. My church does contemporary music anyway. So, I will stick with that. But I really love classical music. Probably the Romantic era with Chopin being one of my favorites. His music is a challenge to play. While I was recovering from COVID I took all the music that I had printed from the internet and put the ones that I would like to play someday in a folder. I guess you can call it my wish list. I listened to each one on YouTube. That was fun. Then today at piano lessons I showed the list to my teacher and she did say that I could learn Beethoven’s Sonata No. 8 Pathetique 2nd Movement if I was up to learning another piece. Cool, I’m excited about it. I’ve already noticed there’s one place on the first page that is a 9th and I can only reach an octave. I’ll have to wait till next week to ask my teacher about that. I’m starting hands separate which I don’t usually do but I’m really trying to get the voicing right.

Sharra – I’m pretty sure I answered your question in my response to Trooplewis.
Thepianoplayer416 – Thank you for your input. I have noticed that I do better with more short practice sessions than one long one. I love some of the Chopin Nocturnes that I have listened to. Want to play Op 9 No. 1 and No. 2, but not yet.

Qazsedcft – You don’t know how much it meant to me to have someone say the number of pieces for the year was good and time spent was normal. Sometimes we can be so critical of ourselves. Especially when we don’t feel good.

Earlofmar – I like what you said about passion being replaced with “this is what I enjoy doing and as hard as it is, I don’t know if I would be happy to stop”. I know I wouldn’t be happy. I just read an older post from the beginning of the year where someone quit piano after 5 years and sold their piano. That was so sad to me.

Sidokar – No I did not mention what was really bothering me. To tell you the truth I’m not sure. I guess feeling inadequate. That I should be playing harder pieces and learn them faster.

Bennevis – thanks for the encouragement. Yep, beating myself up. I’m good at that. I need to change my self-talk. I did play Massenet – Meditation from Thais. The others I haven’t played and aren’t really my style. But thanks for looking them up for me.

Iaroslay Vasiliev – I agree that it is important to have a repertoire. I wish I would have continued to play some of the pieces I learned. Maybe I need to slowly go back to some of those pieces that I really liked and start playing them for fun and continue to do so going forward. Thank you for the encouragement. It really means a lot to me.

Stormbringer – Thank you for the encouraging words. I will try and be proud and not be so hard on myself. I like playing for myself. I thought I would like to play in church, but I think I”ve changed my mind on that. I’m getting too old and it would stress me out too much. I did play at the churches ladies Christmas luncheon this past year and did OK. But I just don’t know if I want to do it again. Yes, I can afford taking piano lessons. I only pay $20 for 45 minutes of lessons. I am so fortunate that I can take them, and they are only 15 minutes from home. Just today in my lesson I had a few pieces where the rhythm wasn’t correct or consistent and I’m not sure that I would see that if I were self-taught. Oh, I also teach a daughter and mother beginning piano so that pays for my lesson. I like my teacher very much. She has helped me a lot and she is more than qualified.

ErfurtBob – I think you are right saying that the illness was probably the main reason.

JimF – Thanks for the encouraging words. I’ll try and not overanalyze. I am going to enjoy the journey!


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Pat, I can only join others here to say that you are doing great!

I just want to add that you shouldn't worry if some days you don't feel like playing for long.

Even if you can only manage to play 15 minutes, this has at least two great benefits:

- you keep your momentum and a short regular practice help more than long scarce ones to learn the piano. This has been proven by different studies in neurobiology and neuropsychology

- you can focus on a specific technique and difficulty and make more progress than if you play more loosely for 1 hour.
Repeating for 7 to 30 minutes a difficult part where you make mistakes seems to improve neuroplasticity, that is the capacity of your brain to form new connections that will allow you to play this part. To make it even more efficient, I recommend that you have fun making those mistakes: smile or even laugh at them. This seems to trigger the release of neurotransmitters (molecules) in your brain that also favor new connections.
Also, it makes your practice more enjoyable!

Keep on learning and playing smile


Your guide to learn how to play the piano and keyboards:
https://www.guide2music.com/play-the-piano/

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