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Joined: Jun 2017
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sheana Offline OP
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Hi everyone,

After a long absence, I've finally gotten back to my practicing. It's really discouraging, as my fingers feel uncoordinated and weak like overcooked asparagus. I've even forgotten the fingering of pieces I used to play quite well. What suggestions does anyone have for getting my technique back in shape? Hours of Hanon exercises, scales and other drills? Any sharing will be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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Hi Sheana!
Personally, I would start with a couple of easier favourite pieces and relearn them. Then start on more difficult favourite pieces. Or start afresh with a couple of rather easy pieces that I feel like learning. I would also add some scale practice and slowly build it up again. I would definitely not spend hours with Hanon exercises and other drills. Enjoyment first. smile


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Give yourself two months to get back into shape, and don't overcook things.

Start with the pieces you once played easily, go easy on yourself and throw in scales & arpeggios if you once played them. I'd ditch the Hanon and similar stuff if you never played them before. (I never did.)

FWIW, when I restarted piano in 2010 (after almost complete absence of several decades when I had no access to any piano), I just began by practicing - very clumsily - all my old favorites. Within a few months, I was already a better pianist than I ever was when I was a student.

OK, it did help that I finally had my own piano that I could play on day or night......


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I have started to practice piano again last year after a very long absence. My experience is really to avoid Czerny Hanon etc, they are not only ugly but also hurt fingers.
Bach is very good, you can play them quite relax.
Don’t practice more than 1.5h per day in the beginning.


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It kind of depends how far you got in your playing before your break how fast you will regain things. However, from my own experience, don’t solely focus on relearning pieces. Also pick up some new ones, otherwise you will get stale fast, and feel like you are going nowhere.

Relearning is a different skill, even if it seems you barely recall it now, it will come back at a different rate than an entirely new piece. Do relearn pieces, but always try to do a little bit of sight reading and a new piece in rotation. If you fell long & hard, like I did, you may have to back up a lot to find the appropriate level for a piece you could learn in say one week to a month (whatever length isn’t too long to motivate you).

The new pieces, even if many levels easier, will shoot you forward faster in relearning than relearning old pieces alone.

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Originally Posted by sheana
Hi everyone,

After a long absence, I've finally gotten back to my practicing. It's really discouraging, as my fingers feel uncoordinated and weak like overcooked asparagus. I've even forgotten the fingering of pieces I used to play quite well. What suggestions does anyone have for getting my technique back in shape? Hours of Hanon exercises, scales and other drills? Any sharing will be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Scales! Scales and more scales!

I came back to the piano after a finger injury that occurred when I was 19 finally gave out in university. I rarely touched a piano for 30 years. in 2004 I tried to make a comeback and began practicing scales in preparation for some videos I wanted to put on YouTube. Scales got most of my technique back in about 2 months. Unfortunately the injury returned, but not because of the scales.


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I can tell you from bitter current experience that taking your time to build up strength is important.

A few weeks ago I had to stop playing the lovely but tricky new pieces I had started on because I seriously over-worked my tendons. So I've ended up with, hopefully mild, tendonitis.

I now have to wait at least 2-3 more weeks before I can get back to them. I was probably going over-board though. Sometimes playing them for 2-3 hours, a few days a week.

I'm not a fan of scales as a means of strengthening though. If you are playing for your own enjoyment then why ruin a perfectly nice hobby with busy-work? laugh I'll probably get in trouble for saying that....but there are plenty of pieces with scales in them that I prefer to use as training exercises....

Re-learn your favourite old pieces, and learn new ones, but either steer clear of anything too taxing, or keep your practice sessions on them relatively short until you are confident your arms can take it.


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"It's a marathon, not a sprint!" - a mantra from a current TV program in my neck of the woods (though I don't live in the woods).

I'd modify it to say: 'It's an ultra-marathon, not a mere marathon!' (Longer than the Comrades in S.A.)


"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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Originally Posted by bennevis
"It's a marathon, not a sprint!" - a mantra from a current TV program in my neck of the woods (though I don't live in the woods).

I'd modify it to say: 'It's an ultra-marathon, not a mere marathon!' (Longer than the Comrades in S.A.)

It's far more similar to a dead end unpaid internship that goes until you die. grin

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B major scale until you want to vomit, then scales and arpeggios in every key. Once you regain facility crack open some scores.

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Playing easier pieces to get a feel of the keys is a good idea. I got books with Classical & Jazz themes arranged for easy piano. They are good for sight reading and not very involved. The more difficult pieces are just 3 pages in large print.

Once I left piano for a few months my fingers got rusty. I started with a 4-part church hymn (4 lines on 1 page). Reading wasn't too bad but had to play at 50% the ideal tempo to get all the notes. You can start with Hanon & Czerny Etudes but some people find these boring. You can get all sorts of pieces with scale runs and arpeggios that you find in exercise pieces but more enjoyable to play.

The piece I'm working on the fingerings can be tricky. I have a habit of writing numbers all over the page. If I haven't touch a piece for a while, I know the fingerings that were used before. The difficult pieces I'd need slow practice at 50% tempo to get comfortable with playing. After playing a page for a few days, my fingers would naturally speed up without having to push the tempo up.

Today tracking my progress is a lot easier. I can put a pocket camera or a phone on the table next to a piano /keyboard and make quick recordings on the section I'm working on. When I'm not practicing I'd listen to the playback to hear if I like the playing and the things that can be improved. For a technical piece I'd set a phone on a mini tripod and record the fingerings I'm using than just writing numbers on a page.

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There are wonderful tips and expert advice that I will implement on my "road back". I don't mind playing some scales to warm up and get the finger muscles activated. I agree that I must limit my time until I build up endurance. I have plenty of pieces with runs, arpeggios and trills that are beautiful to play and build up technique.


I tend to try to play ahead of my technique, but then my playing is riddled with mistakes. After awhile, these mistakes get "cemented" in, and it's hard to get rid of them. What do you recommend to relearn the correct notes? I do super slow motion practice, hands separate and then together. But I find it harder to get rid of a mistake once it "sets in".

How do you deal with this problem? Thanks in advance.

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When it comes to mistakes, I have to reread my paper copies or PDFs. A lot of pieces I played ended with a recording for future reference. There was a Bach piece around 4 min that I haven't touched for 8 years. The notes on my last recording were mostly accurate except the counting was off. I went back to the sheet with a metronome and went through the piece 1 bar at a time without using my old recording as reference. The updated version is 99% accurate. Sometimes there is a note somewhere that you miss.

The last thing that is unavoidable when the Internet is everywhere: listen to at least 1 performance of the piece you're working on. Unless the piece is from the 14th century that nobody would perform, you're going to find recordings of most of the pieces online. Comparing performances is both for checking your accuracy and noticing what other people can improve on. There are photocopies of old scores (especially Classical pieces) that were scanned and posted online that are not clear. I'd use a recording to check specific bars for accuracy.

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If I realise that I've learned something incorrectly then I will generally isolate just that part, sometimes as little as the wrong note/chord/fingering plus 1 or 2 notes either side....and I will repeat them multiple times, over and over, until it starts to feel more natural.
Start slowly, to ensure you are playing it exactly as you should...then increase speed as it becomes more comfortable. Then repeat!! I will generally do this 2-handed, as long as you know the piece well, and are comfortable that your other hand won't distract you from the task.

After that, when ready, I expand the part to include the bar or so before the error, and repeat that multiple times. If you find you slip back into the error even once when you expand to play a larger section of the piece then return to step 1!

Depending on how ingrained the incorrect muscle memory is you may need to repeat this each day, for a few days.

It's basically the same process for me as when I find a spot in a piece which I regular fluff...!

Good luck, and enjoy!


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sheana Offline OP
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Chris, I think your protocol for dealing with mistakes is one I will have to employ to "rewire" ingrained wrong notes. That's what I get for rushing. But I've "practiced" my mistakes to perfection, so to speak."

I think of it sort of like planting a garden. If I keep digging up the soil to see if anything sprouted, I will ruin everything. So, no disturbing the soil....


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