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I feel like I need to rein in my desire to learn new pieces, but I’m always finding pieces I hear and want to learn. In the last few months I decided to learn Manuel de Falla’s Nocturno (heard Ganddalf play it on an ABF recital), Bach’s Arioso (heard Constantine play it on the next ABF recital), Piazzolla’s Oblivion arranged by Saul Cosentino, which I heard on YT performed by Josh Wright. Then in my attempts to improve my sight-reading fell in love with Mozart’s Sonata 331 and want to learn the entire sonata. These pieces are in addition to the ones I’ve been working with my teacher, who I see only about once a month. Even though I would like to believe I can manage learning a new piece every other week, I can’t keep pace with my list. The Bach Arioso was not difficult so done with that piece. The others require much more time.

Does anyone else have this issue of accumulating pieces they want to play, but realistically, it is difficult to pull off? My approach is definitely not sustainable.



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Lol
I go through spurts where I hear new music that IMUST play. I will sometimes track down and purchase the music and sometimes will just add it to my mental wish list. I now have a list of over 200 pieces to do—/ and I know that will not be the end of adding more.

I’ve come to terms with it all — and just force myself to choose what is manageable to work on and play well. Everything else will just need to wait for another day— at least I don’t try to actually work in more than I can manage.

I’m always amazed when someone here asks ‘what should I learn’. Makes me wonder if there are those with no wish lists at all.


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I have a couple drawers full of sheet music that I wish I could play.
I'm just not focused enough to practice that hard, that long, every day.
Maybe someday...


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I have this problem with the additional issue of continuing to choose pieces that are too much of a stretch, so it takes me forever to get them sounding approaching how I want.

I am going to make an effort of no more stretch pieces for a while and then limit myself to one at a time. Let’s see if I can do that.

Then I think all I will have is pianoGrlNW’s problem of just wanting to learn too many things.

You are so right focus and discipline is needed to limit yourself.

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This happens to me after every recital - so many pieces that I want to learn, and just not enough time.

I'm starting lessons again, and I am hoping that will reinforce the need for discipline.

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Originally Posted by PianogrlNW
though I would like to believe I can manage learning a new piece every other week, I can’t keep pace with my list. The Bach Arioso was not difficult so done with that piece. The others require much more time.

Does anyone else have this issue of accumulating pieces they want to play, but realistically, it is difficult to pull off? My approach is definitely not sustainable.
I long ago "solved" the problem of trying to ('properly') learn too many appealing pieces all at once: I don't wink .

More specifically, the pieces that I can sight-read reasonably easily (which includes most slow music as well as a lot of pieces from the Classical era) I don't 'practice', unless I'm intending to memorize them for performance. For many others, after playing through a few times after the initial sight-read, I can play them fluently from the score, so I don't spend time practicing them either, because they don't have specific difficulties other than 'getting the notes under my fingers'.

Therefore, I can devote all my practicing time on the pieces that I like enough to want to learn thoroughly, to keep in my performing rep indefinitely (which doesn't preclude me from ditching them if I get bored with them in the future), almost all of which pose technical challenges which make practicing them interesting, as well as enjoyable to play. Mastering technical difficulties in new pieces in order to get them sounding fluent from beginning to end - eventually - is a big part of the appeal of practicing.

So, I have a happy medium - for me - of just 'learning with minimal practicing' pieces that are easy enough not to require spending much time on them to get to a decent (though not 'performance') standard, and which I can return to easily in the future, while spending my real practicing time on those that require dedicated work but repays with the satisfaction of "completing a challenge" as well as having new pieces to add to my performing rep.

When I retire, this method may well change, but for the present, it works well enough to keep making progress on piano, as well as having interesting new rep to enjoy playing, while fitting my practicing around a busy job.


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Why would you expect to learn a new piece every other week? I normally work on 2 pieces with my teacher at one time. I would expect a piece to take 2-4 months depending on length and difficulty.

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Originally Posted by Moo :)
Why would you expect to learn a new piece every other week? I normally work on 2 pieces with my teacher at one time. I would expect a piece to take 2-4 months depending on length and difficulty.


I’m surprised you don’t add some pieces that you can learn quickly, rather than having all long-term works. You mentioned previously that you tend to get bored before the music is polished—- add something short term and see if that helps.


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Lol..it’s a common phenomenon. It happens in spurt. I have so many pieces loaded up in my ForeScore. Now, I am better at recognizing the ‘dizzy’ signs of overload and get myself into meditation and walk away! Thankfully, routine is centered around 2 pieces at a time with 3rd piece waiting on side line to some in as one piece is declared ‘done’. I am mixing it up between exam pieces and non exam pieces to keep piano playing joyful. That said, in my spurt of excitement, I have a pile of music books out that now needs to go back to my music bookshelves. It is just a sign that piano passion is alive and well!


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I started a new way of practicing earlier this year which you might find interesting.

What I do to avoid getting bored is to learn many pieces at the same time, but not like you think; I don't spread myself too thin. What I do is that after the initial stage of getting a piece relatively fluent, which for me takes about a month, I let it rest for a while but still play it once every day. Then after some time I work on it again for 2 weeks and put it to rest again. I repeat this a few times until the piece is performance ready. At any given time I'm only practicing 3 pieces but I rotate them every other week out of a pool of 6-8 active pieces. This has the advantage of keeping things interesting and also I have more pieces to show off if someone asks. Each piece takes longer from starting to performance-ready although objectively I think I get more pieces done within the same time than when I had only 2-3 concurrent pieces.

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Originally Posted by dogperson
I’m surprised you don’t add some pieces that you can learn quickly, rather than having all long-term works. You mentioned previously that you tend to get bored before the music is polished—- add something short term and see if that helps.

This is what I learn in lessons. I personally have been more successful when I learnt less pieces and kept them for longer. I wouldn't personally work on more than 3 at a time.

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I play with a music group in church. Over the years I accumulated a lot of music. Some pieces I'd work on for just 1 performance and would never touch them again.

Over the years, I downloaded sheet music off the Internet. I'd limit my collection and would try to play the pieces already in my possession. Some pieces are very time consuming to learn that I wouldn't be playing another piece at a similar level for a while. The pieces I downloaded are usually short & repetitive.

The last 2 pieces I had for a few months including the Jazz tune "What a Wonderful World" & the Bach-Marcello Adagio in Dm I haven't touched in order to focus on a Bach piece that I put off for 2 years. A lot of Classical pieces was downloaded for free or for a low fee so I wouldn't worry about not playing them.

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I'm reminded of a line from Steven Wright: "You can't have everything. Where would you put it?" smile

PianogirlNW, you have a good "problem!" Better to have a whole pile of stuff you want to play than to be a a loss as to what to do next. But, yes, if you go at that pile, things can get out of hand. You could try making a pile (or list) of pieces you want to play, all of which look good to you right now, and let them rest. Then go back in a month or so and re-sort the pile. Some will still look good to you, but others may have slipped. Some will keep coming back to the top of the pile. This could still be an unsustainable number of pieces, of course! Nothing for that but to apply steely discipline.

I usually have four or five pieces going at a time. Four of the pieces I will be playing for my teacher at my lessons (though I rarely get to all four pieces at a lesson) and the other piece is one I will work on as time permits but won't be playing for my teacher. It's not a lot of pieces, but it's what I feel I can do justice to with the amount of time and ability that I have right now.


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Originally Posted by KevinM
I have this problem with the additional issue of continuing to choose pieces that are too much of a stretch, so it takes me forever to get them sounding approaching how I want.

I have that problem too of picking pieces that are a stretch. I end up shelving them and some of them never see the light of day. I figure even if I could not play them well I probably learned something in the attempt.

Originally Posted by Moo :)
Why would you expect to learn a new piece every other week? I normally work on 2 pieces with my teacher at one time. I would expect a piece to take 2-4 months depending on length and difficulty.
I usually spend anywhere from 1 to 6 months learning a piece. I have one that I have been working on for 18 months, which is part of my frustration.

Originally Posted by Pianoperformance
Lol..it’s a common phenomenon. It happens in spurt. I have so many pieces loaded up in my ForeScore. Now, I am better at recognizing the ‘dizzy’ signs of overload and get myself into meditation and walk away!
That’s exactly what I am experiencing. Walking away is a good idea. Maybe I’ll take a 3 day break and reassess my situation.

Originally Posted by bennevis
More specifically, the pieces that I can sight-read reasonably easily (which includes most slow music as well as a lot of pieces from the Classical era) I don't 'practice', unless I'm intending to memorize them for performance. For many others, after playing through a few times after the initial sight-read, I can play them fluently from the score, so I don't spend time practicing them either, because they don't have specific difficulties other than 'getting the notes under my fingers'.
That is a skill I don’t have. I’m a terrible sight-reader. Working on it.

Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
What I do to avoid getting bored is to learn many pieces at the same time, but not like you think; I don't spread myself too thin. What I do is that after the initial stage of getting a piece relatively fluent, which for me takes about a month, I let it rest for a while but still play it once every day. Then after some time I work on it again for 2 weeks and put it to rest again. I repeat this a few times until the piece is performance ready. At any given time I'm only practicing 3 pieces but I rotate them every other week out of a pool of 6-8 active pieces.
This sounds like a reasonable plan. I do this sometimes out of necessity because there are only so many hours I can practice in a day. Sometimes getting a piece fluent takes me a lot longer than a month.

Originally Posted by Stubbie
You could try making a pile (or list) of pieces you want to play, all of which look good to you right now, and let them rest. Then go back in a month or so and re-sort the pile. Some will still look good to you, but others may have slipped. Some will keep coming back to the top of the pile. This could still be an unsustainable number of pieces, of course! Nothing for that but to apply steely discipline.

I usually have four or five pieces going at a time. Four of the pieces I will be playing for my teacher at my lessons (though I rarely get to all four pieces at a lesson) and the other piece is one I will work on as time permits but won't be playing for my teacher. It's not a lot of pieces, but it's what I feel I can do justice to with the amount of time and ability that I have right now.
Thanks Stubbie. That’s a good suggestion.



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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
I started a new way of practicing earlier this year which you might find interesting.

What I do to avoid getting bored is to learn many pieces at the same time, but not like you think; I don't spread myself too thin. What I do is that after the initial stage of getting a piece relatively fluent, which for me takes about a month, I let it rest for a while but still play it once every day. Then after some time I work on it again for 2 weeks and put it to rest again. I repeat this a few times until the piece is performance ready. At any given time I'm only practicing 3 pieces but I rotate them every other week out of a pool of 6-8 active pieces. This has the advantage of keeping things interesting and also I have more pieces to show off if someone asks. Each piece takes longer from starting to performance-ready although objectively I think I get more pieces done within the same time than when I had only 2-3 concurrent pieces.

Sound advice. Both of you are more advanced than I am, but, this describes my experience well. I have several pieces that I can play, that are nice enough to be recognizable, but which are not performance ready. I focus my practice on one or two of them for a couple of weeks, make some measurable progress, set them aside, and give some of the others a bump up the priority list.

This leaves me with a lot of music I like that I can play, a few to really dig into and grind out progress, and an occasional finished product. This keeps me happy.


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It’s out of my hands now, LOL, my teacher is picking my pieces again, now that I’m back to lessons. 😂😂😂


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Hear hear. It's much the same problem with books: all those people writing them and there's only one of me to read them all. How is one to cope???

With music I have a vague way of corralling them: I have about 4 pieces going at any given time and I ensure that they all belong to different periods, which does somewhat force pieces to wait for their turn (except that right now I'm not, but we'll keep quiet about that...).

I'm also doing the 40 pieces a year challenge, which means doing many that I learn in a week. I also have a collection of easy pieces and I sight-read a new one every day. This does not solve the problem of the more challenging pieces I'd like to learn, but all the new material does soothe the itch a little - and my sight-reading has improved significantly.


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