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#1093669 - 12/16/08 03:30 PM Discouraged ..
caracantabile Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 65
Loc: USA
To preface: I have issues with performing in front of people so try to get things to the point where I can play things automatically without having to think about them --- every time I play in front of people (even just one) I get anxious and flub things unless it's something I can play in my sleep.

I had my lesson last week, and it didn't go as well as I had hoped -- I was very tired and a little sleep deprived, and fumbled around a lot during the allocated pages in the method book as well as the usual scale / arpeggio practices.

And that's after I'd studied for seven or eight hours that week! Stuff that I could play smoothly in practice I was halting over and reading twice during my lesson.

Is that just simply too little? It's not that I feel like I'm not making any progress.. it's just that I feel like I *never* have enough time to practice before the next lesson.

I have another lesson in two days and I'm already feeling a little panicked because I don't feel like I've improved all that much in what my teacher has allocated for me to do. Am I just not practicing enough? How much is enough? At the moment I practice one to two hours a day on weekdays, two to four on the weekend-days.

My teacher is very encouraging and sweet, she's not at all a dragon so it's not like I'm afraid of her. But yes, I do desperately want to do well, each time I go.
_________________________
- C.C. -
"It is dreadful when something weighs on your mind, not to have a soul to unburden yourself to. You know what I mean. I tell my piano the things I used to tell you." - Chopin

Currently memorizing for class: Debussy Prelude #8

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#1093670 - 12/16/08 03:57 PM Re: Discouraged ..
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
Don't take it personally. It happens to everyone. Remember your lessons are for learning and not performing in front of your teacher. I know it's hard not to do that, but it's true.

Remember you're going to have good days and bad days no matter how much you practice or how much or how little sleep you get. Right now I'm going through some physical problems that have me pretty discouraged most of the time because I no longer play even close to where I did before. So when I have a great day, I take it in stride and love every second of it. When the day isn't so great, I try to forget them and hope for the next day to come.

Performing in front of someone or an audience is very difficult and takes time to get accustomed to doing. For some people they never get acustomed and this becomes a thing of frustration more than anything.

So take the good days when they come, and don't try so hard. Sometime the more we try at something, the worse the outcome.

John
_________________________
Nothing.

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#1093671 - 12/16/08 04:08 PM Re: Discouraged ..
Kymber Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/25/08
Posts: 1348
Loc: MA
Caracantabile,
You would be surprised at how much our thoughts can hold us back. You might be putting too much pressure on yourself to do well. It's like a self fulfilling prophecy-you worry about messing up so you do because that's were your attention is focused. I know it's difficutl but once you eliminate the self defeating thoughts things will be alot easier.

Instead of thinking about and anticipateing things going "wrong" envision yourself playing well instead. Even come up with a mantra if need be. "I play the piano effortlessly and easily" or something like that. An repeat it over and over until THAT becomes your automatic thought- I found that once I shift my thinking to positive things instead of worrying I do much better.

Now, keep in mind there will be times you will mess up b/c your human. Just accept that sometimes things will not go as you anticipated (sometimes we hold ourselves up to very high standards) but that's ok b/c that's how we learn. (this is hard to say coming from a recovering perfectionist-LOL)

This is a book I am reading that you might find helpful.

http://www.amazon.com/Inner-Game-Music-B...29461435&sr=8-1

There is no magic number as far as how long you should practice. Although it is often advized you practice every day.

Maybe also try some relaxation techniques.

Good luck and keep us posted on how you are doing.


\:\)
_________________________
“The doubters said, "Man cannot fly," The doers said, "Maybe, but we'll try,"
And finally soared in the morning glow while non-believers watched from below.”
― Bruce Lee

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#1093672 - 12/16/08 04:15 PM Re: Discouraged ..
BB Player Offline


Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 2717
Loc: Not in Texas
 Quote:
Originally posted by caracantabile:
But yes, I do desperately want to do well, each time I go. [/b]
This is possibly a big part of the problem. You're putting an enormous amount of pressure on yourself to play "perfectly" so it will be obvious to your teacher how hard you're working.

1-2 hours per day is a huge time investment and more than enough to show results. If you're playing is improving, even if it's only when nobody is within earshot, then it's paying off. Your teacher is surely used to having students who are nervous and don't play to their full potential in lessons and I expect she's still able to see your progress even through the errors.

I know it's easier said than done but relax! Don't put so much pressure on yourself. The exercises in the book Kymber suggested might be of help to you.

Good luck!
_________________________
Greg

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#1093673 - 12/16/08 07:16 PM Re: Discouraged ..
SAnnM AB-2001 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/20/04
Posts: 2022
Loc: Canada
I've had these lessons often. I practice all week, proud of my progress only to fall apart at a lesson. I don't beat myself up over these any more. I don't like them but accept that it will happen from time to time. This week with stress at work and Christmas to prepare for, I'm not sleeping well and unable to concentrate properly at the piano. My practice was not productive and I know it showed at my lesson today. My teacher is intuitive and extra patient during these 'bad' lessons (and maybe a little generous with compliments).

I'm sure your teacher knows how hard you work and sees improvement even when you are sure you've made a mess of things.
_________________________
It's the journey not the destination..

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#1093674 - 12/16/08 08:50 PM Re: Discouraged ..
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Don't worry over-much. The exact same thing occasionally happens to me when I play for my teacher. It's maddening, but it is always best to just take a deep breath and try again.
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#1093675 - 12/17/08 01:09 AM Re: Discouraged ..
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by caracantabile:
To preface: I have issues with performing in front of people so try to get things to the point where I can play things automatically without having to think about them --- every time I play in front of people (even just one) I get anxious and flub things unless it's something I can play in my sleep.
Did you know that famous pianists, when they feel pressure, try to do the same thing?

They TOO open with things they feel they can play in their sleep. The idea is to loosen up, on stage, by starting with things that they have known for decades and play with absolute confidence.

NO one plays as well under pressure. But very fine players learn how to fool you into THINKING they do.

Horowitz, for instance, was usually much more accurate in his studio recordings than in live performances, at least later in his life. Why would this be? Because he didn't know how to play in public? ;\)

I think this is terrible that you are feeling so much pressure. Could you spend at least one lesson talking about this with your teacher?

EVERYONE has things go wrong under pressure. We all play our best when no one is around, and the only people we play in front of with absolutely no tension are people we start to feel are part of the environment, no longer paying attention.

Here is a suggestion, and it might seem really radical. Try, just one time, evaluating a "performance", even a run-through in a lesson, on how relaxed and natural you look. You don't want to do this all the time, but just try it once. Talk about it with your teacher. Try to play through, with no noticeable tension. Let the mistake fly. Then pretend you are on stage and you are playing absolutely perfectly. (Don't do this often, because it turns into something ghasty if it becomes a habit.)

But I'm thinking of a live performance by Rubinstein when he had a major memory lapse. To me it was horrendous. He was in the middle of a Brahms piece, and he just made up chords for a few seconds until he finally faked his way back into the music.

The people around me said, when he finished: "Wasn't he WONDERFUL?" Well, in a way he was. He was rather terrible, at that moment, but he gave NO evidence in his face or body that anything went wrong. And I hear he was great the next night, but the point is that part of playing is to learn to keep your cool.

Then, if you are really ticked, you can kick something back stage. ;\)
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1093676 - 12/17/08 01:24 AM Re: Discouraged ..
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Gary, great post!!
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#1093677 - 12/17/08 01:33 AM Re: Discouraged ..
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Doesn't sound as though you know the music too well. You're spending too much time building up your 'muscle memory' and not enough on analysis. Can you read out the chord progressions? Can you play any chord progressions? I'll bet you're not playing the music but the printed page instead. If you were asked to recite the alphabet in those circumstances, could you do it? Would your mind be clear?
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1093678 - 12/17/08 10:28 AM Re: Discouraged ..
Kymber Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/25/08
Posts: 1348
Loc: MA
Gary D makes a good point.
When I as interviewing my teacher I told her I have a hard time playing in front of people (my last teacher accused me of not practicing when I would mess up). She said she got nervous too and liked to have ample time to practice something before having to play for her teacher.
I think just knowing that this happens to a lot of people-even professional pianists might help to make you feel better. Like it's a normal thing and so maybe it won't affect you as much.
_________________________
“The doubters said, "Man cannot fly," The doers said, "Maybe, but we'll try,"
And finally soared in the morning glow while non-believers watched from below.”
― Bruce Lee

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#1093679 - 12/17/08 10:32 AM Re: Discouraged ..
Krysse Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/16/08
Posts: 3
Loc: Toronto
My husband who's been playing drums live for 20 odd years says performing infront of people is the hardest thing to do, but once you can get used to it, it's the best thing in the world.

I had a really hard time buying my piano because whenever I went to try one I could feel the other shoppers listening so I stopped playing!

I guess you just have to perserver and know that it will get easier with time. Don't put too much pressure on yourself, just keep your mind focused on the music and enjoy it.

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#1093680 - 12/17/08 03:15 PM Re: Discouraged ..
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by Krysse:
My husband who's been playing drums live for 20 odd years says performing infront of people is the hardest thing to do, but once you can get used to it, it's the best thing in the world.
I don't think it's either the hardest thing to do or the best thing to do, but it is something that needs to be done many times in order to get good at it. \:\)
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1093681 - 12/17/08 04:50 PM Re: Discouraged ..
Bachrocks Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/19/06
Posts: 94
Loc: New England
My drummer son is the opposite. I asked him how he deals with stage fright,and he looked at me as though I have two heads. "Mom. WHAT stage fright?? It's FUN to play for other people!" I try to remember to repeat that to myself, at lessons and during my hospital gigs, when I feel myself getting too self-conscious.

And listen to Krysse. She is right.

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#1093682 - 12/17/08 05:10 PM Re: Discouraged ..
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by Bachrocks:
My drummer son is the opposite. I asked him how he deals with stage fright,and he looked at me as though I have two heads. "Mom. WHAT stage fright?? It's FUN to play for other people!"
Drummers live in another world. ;\)
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1093683 - 12/18/08 01:22 PM Re: Discouraged ..
caracantabile Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 65
Loc: USA
Thank you for the replies. Maybe the problem is that I don't play in front of people except during my lessons, and this could be part of the problem --- I think way too much while playing when there are people around (Don't screw up! Remember this transition! etc) and I can't seem to stop, and it's distracting.

But it makes sense, that playing in front of the very thing you fear would make you better at it. So obvious -_-

keyboardklutz, the majority of my lessons are for sight-reading and theory --- I am a terrible reader compared to what I can play once I've learned a piece, so it's kind of a two-edged sword: I need to practice to get better at reading, but I can't memorize the pieces I'm practicing because then I would be playing them from memory rather than the score.

I could easily, with how simple the pieces are, memorize the previous week's homework (usually 4 or 5 short pieces plus scales/arpeggios) and probably play it much better but I'm not supposed to be cheating at reading :| The only thing to be memorized are scales and arpeggios fingerings -- and those go out the window when I start panicking about making mistakes.

I will also be picking up that book mentioned by a few people --- have been reading C.C. Chang's piano fundamentals book but maybe I need something more psychological.

Thanks again for all your kind replies. I know I sound whiney but I was stumped, glad to see other people also have these problems.
_________________________
- C.C. -
"It is dreadful when something weighs on your mind, not to have a soul to unburden yourself to. You know what I mean. I tell my piano the things I used to tell you." - Chopin

Currently memorizing for class: Debussy Prelude #8

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#1093684 - 12/19/08 03:49 AM Re: Discouraged ..
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Try not to be intimidated into playing anything faster than you can perfectly. Tell your teacher - "This is the best tempo I can do."
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1093685 - 12/19/08 04:07 AM Re: Discouraged ..
charleslang Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/13/08
Posts: 2084
I agree with keyboardklutz's posts, and I would add that in performing you shouldn't do anything that's harder than saying 'Hello my name is X and I like riding the bicycle'. The fact is that no matter how big your audience is, you can always say 'Hello my name is X and I like riding the bicycle'. If your piano pieces strike you as being harder to play than that, then you should try to think about them differently. Analyze the chords and only bite off as much as you can chew. For me, analysis of the chords, chord changes etc. is the only thing that makes memorization of piano pieces possible at all. Working on pieces without working on the structure is like memorizing Shakespeare without knowing what the words mean. Extremely time consuming and never fully successful. A simple piece played well is 10 times, no 100, no 1,000 times better than a difficult piece played badly.
_________________________
Charles Lang

Baldwin Model R; Hardman 5'9" grand; Rieger-Kloss vertical

Jazz, pop and classical

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#1093686 - 12/19/08 08:16 AM Re: Discouraged ..
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11808
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
Can you read out the chord progressions? Can you play any chord progressions?
I've just seen this. I've just walked into unfamiliar territory, so I'd like to know more. First, what does it mean? Do you mean being able to say I IV iii viio etc? Or CEGC FACE EGBE BDFB? or C F E B ? Does this mean while reading the score, memorized, or both? Is this what people are supposed to do, or is it one approach among several?


Currently I would struggle to do any of the above. I have no trouble reading music, or committing it to memory if I choose to. I do not play music before studying it and understanding it, but obviously I'm doing something else since the above is unfamiliar - hence the question.

I'm trying to think what I *do* do in terms of understanding the music. I'll look at the whole piece and notice ABA patterns. There are like themes or stories which are like little paragraphs that open, tell, and close again, consisting of patterns. The sentences themselves have patterns which repeat themselves, have versions of themselves, answers to questions - they tend to find another version in the next section, maybe in a minor key if it was in a major key, or modulated up a fifth. These are the things that I notice.

Phrasing is also ultra-important, and it goes with the idea of a musical story being told. I will look for and notice the phrasing.

I think that maybe the melodic line appears first to me, and the chord structure is a logical structure suggesting itself and sitting underneath. Above all, the music has to make sense to me in the form of story-telling patterns - they can be quite abstract.

So that is what I currently do. How does analysis of the chord structure fit in, and is this like chord progression? Do the chords simply get memorized? Does the idea of phrases and stories enter into the picture?

Sorry for the many questions - this is new to me. I've seen "analysis" mentioned before in PW in juxtaposition to a mention of chords but have never thought to ask.

If I think of how I approach music, understanding that music seems to be crucial - playing a succession of notes, or even memorizing it as a complete package of music (heard, recorded) would not work well for me. Your advice to analyze and understand the music makes a lot of sense. It is the analysis itself which is unfamiliar to me and maybe something I could pick up on.

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#1093687 - 12/19/08 08:41 AM Re: Discouraged ..
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3243
Loc: Virginia, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gary D.:
I don't think it's either the hardest thing to do or the best thing to do, but it is something that needs to be done many times in order to get good at it. \:\) [/b]
The inspirational speech from Blues Brothers 2000: "no pharmaceutical product ever invented can equal the rush you get when the band hits the groove, the crowd is jumping and swaying" or something to that effect, been awhile since I've seen it. Good movie, I recommend it, one of the few cases where the sequel was equal to or better than an already classic movie.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1093688 - 12/19/08 08:47 AM Re: Discouraged ..
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3243
Loc: Virginia, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by caracantabile:

I had my lesson last week, and it didn't go as well as I had hoped .

And that's after I'd studied for seven or eight hours that week! [/b]
Well, you did your part. You put in your practice time, sounds like you did more than the majority of students.

After that the results are not within your control. They are what they are.

If you'd been lazy and watched tv instead of practicing, then you'd be justified in feeling guilty. You'd deserve poor results.

But that's not your problem. Accept that you did the best you could, given your current state of talent and skill. That's all you CAN do, and all your teacher expects.
_________________________
gotta go practice

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#1093689 - 12/19/08 08:59 AM Re: Discouraged ..
Ivory Dreams Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/08
Posts: 210
Loc: Central NC
By now, you have learned from the forum members that you are not alone in this quandrum.

My teacher is Great! She truly walks on water, If I only had her talent and her patience........

With all these praises for her goodness out of the way.... sometimes I have too many pieces to learn in one week. I just can not get them down with the practice time I have available. So at the beginning of the week I work on a couple of assignments until I believe I have them pretty much down, and then I add the next to the following days practice. I focus on the new piece, play over the first pieces and proceed from there. If it is time for my next lesson and I still have one piece that I can't play..... then I simply say so and that is my first assignment for the following week.

When I have more confidence with the pieces I am playing at my lesson... It is easier to get it right, and everything just goes smoother.... In fact, usually I play them as well as if I were at home and playing for myself. It might not work for everyone..... but it worked for me.

Good Luck.... Gotta go practice.

_________________________


You can own a Chickering, Christifori, or Steinway, but if you can't play it.... It is just a piece of eye candy.

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#1093690 - 12/19/08 11:16 AM Re: Discouraged ..
MVB Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/17/08
Posts: 89
Loc: San Antonio, TX
I fall into the same category. I'll be doing fairly well at home and when I get to my lesson I get clumsy. My teacher is wonderful and I have no complaints really but the result of this is that it sets me back. She'll assign other pieces that are intended to help with the current piece. I know that intimadation plays a big part and am doing my best to feel more relaxed. There's no question that in the time I've been taking lessons that there has been some progression but got to work on the self-confidence. It really plays a big part in your progress.
_________________________
MVB

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#1093691 - 12/19/08 12:28 PM Re: Discouraged ..
Ivory Dreams Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/08
Posts: 210
Loc: Central NC
I forgot to add:

Another member gave this suggestion on different thread. (Possibly already mentioned here.... sometimes they run together). But I incorporated it into my own lesson a while back and my teacher felt it was appropriate.

When you begin your lesson..... first play something that you absolutely have down. This gets your fingers aclimated to the teachers piano and also calms your nerves down a bit.

If you don't feel confident beginning with one of this weeks asignments.... then do something from a previous assignment.
_________________________


You can own a Chickering, Christifori, or Steinway, but if you can't play it.... It is just a piece of eye candy.

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#1093692 - 12/19/08 12:41 PM Re: Discouraged ..
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3174
Just about every one of my students has the same problem. (And so do I)

I try to help them with the following:

1. I tell them that just about every one of my students has the same problem. (Most people think everyone else plays better than they do, and does not have such problems.)

2. Also, at lessons, they just rushed into the lesson from a busy day, whereas at home, they are more comfortable, and probably not so rushed.

3. At home, they have what is called in sports "Home Field Advantage"...at the teaching studio, they don't. Its a different piano, in a different room, and probably they are playing at a different time of day.

4. Worst of all, the teacher, perhaps the hardest person on the planet to play for, is right there!

About the only way I have found to help students with this is to give them time to warm up. So I step out of the room for about 5 minutes. That helps them get in the groove, and acclimated to the piano. When I hear them playing something fairly well, I come in and give them applause.

And tell them I have the same problem playing in front of others, especially people who are better than me.

I play in a blues band, and the worst thing for me is when other musicians whom I consider either my peers, or better than I, are in the room.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1093693 - 12/19/08 04:18 PM Re: Discouraged ..
FormerlyFlute Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/21/06
Posts: 235
Loc: Maryland
I usually feel the most nervous at the beginning of my lesson. As I warm up, it decreases, but never goes away. They say a little nervousness is good for your performance. Anyway, one thing that helps me is asking my teacher for help on specific trouble spots, even if she doesn't comment on them. I think it reminds me that the lesson is about me, and the service I am paying for.
_________________________
Piano: Brodmann PE 187 Strauss
Flute: Sankyo CF-201 with RT2 headjoint

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#1093694 - 12/23/08 07:47 AM Re: Discouraged ..
Eighty8 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/08
Posts: 88
Loc: Dayton, OH
One other thing that helped me, was to change my practice time. When I practiced at night after work and everything else that had to be done that day, I was too tired to concentrate.
So I changed my schedule and got up a half hour earlier and practiced before going to work. Being fresh and alert really helps the focus factor. It also seemed to put me in a better mood at work and if I had some time in the evening I would "play" the piano which is different than practicing and working on improving.
Mistakes are a signal to slow down, focus and forgive yourself. So, get more sleep. Schedule a workout on the piano before work and have fun.
_________________________

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#1093695 - 02/05/09 04:23 PM Re: Discouraged ..
enfrançais Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/09
Posts: 111
Sorry to bring up an old thread, but this kind of thing is why I joined this forum. I'm extremely new to the piano (7 months) and I became debilitatingly frustrated at a recent lesson due to my inability to play what I had spent HOURS practicing the week before.

I have a wonderful teacher who lent me a good book, something like "the Perfect Mistake" by William Somebody. Rocket88's previous post gave some useful advice. It's getting to the point where lessons are a negative place to be, full of bad energy (again NOT the teacher's fault).

I guess what I'm looking for is more practice/lesson tips. To help me do better in lessons. Thank you.
_________________________
"L'art est le plus beau des mensonges." -Debussy

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#1093696 - 02/05/09 05:09 PM Re: Discouraged ..
guest1013 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/13/07
Posts: 1239
Are you too tense, messing up under pressure in the lesson, or did you not get it correct at all during your practice?

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#1093697 - 02/06/09 01:05 PM Re: Discouraged ..
enfrançais Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/09
Posts: 111
I suppose I get too tense...when I practice, I don't move on until I can play the piece the way I would like to play it during lessons.

My piano teacher makes excuses for me. It's a different instrument, different room, different audience, etc. But those feel just like excuses, and poor ones at that. How can I make the most out of lesson time? and make lessons positive again?

Thank you guest1013.
_________________________
"L'art est le plus beau des mensonges." -Debussy

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#1093698 - 02/06/09 01:11 PM Re: Discouraged ..
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/06
Posts: 2368
Loc: Denver, CO
I think this book was "The Perfect Wrong Note" - very good to learn to apply this.

"The Inner Game of Music" is another good one to read and learn to apply.

Rich
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