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#1990846 - 11/25/12 10:30 PM Need help with stress!!
ju5t1n-h Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/13/12
Posts: 179
Loc: Vancouver, British Columbia
Okay so I've been learning piano for a year now and have made it to RCM grade 4 in this time. I know the progress has been quick and I've been happy..... but now I've got to a point where the progress is slowing down because its getting harder I've been getting very frustrated that I am seeing slower gains.

I knew this point would come, but its still making me stress out, rather then enjoy. I'm definitely NOT going to quit as I do love playing, but I don't feel I'm getting things as quickly, but I know I am progressing.

I have a great piano teacher and he sees my progress each and every week and all the hours I put in, but I'm not seeing my progress as well as he does.

Anyone else in the similar situation, or anyone got any way to cure this new found frustration?

Justin
_________________________
Essex EUP-123S


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#1990849 - 11/25/12 10:39 PM Re: Need help with stress!! [Re: ju5t1n-h]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
This happens frequently with students who make it past the beginner level.

You have to adjust your view to get a proper perspective of the expanding situation. Beginner pieces are easy, and can be learned in a very short time.

As you progress, the pieces get more difficult to learn, take longer to learn, require more skills, and more care to play well.

Also, you have to adapt your practice regimen and time expected to learn bigger pieces. For example, a beginner might practice 15-20 minutes a day, whereas a more advanced person who wants to get better should practice considerably longer, and in a more varied and structured way.

It is not uncommon for people at your level to be working on several pieces at once, with some pieces taking quite a while to learn, others not so long.

The key is to know that you are making progress, and that what you are experiencing is normal.

Also, having a good teacher as you have is golden, because you have an experienced person gauging your progress.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1990858 - 11/25/12 10:53 PM Re: Need help with stress!! [Re: ju5t1n-h]
fizikisto Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 02/13/12
Posts: 433
Loc: Hernando, MS
Here's a suggestion, it won't help in the short term but might help later on. Start keeping a journal. Make a record of your struggles. Also make note of your successes. It doesn't have to be extensive. But it might be illustrative for you to look back at it 6 months from now and see things that will be easy to you then but are real problems for you to overcome now. If you can make some actual video or even audio recordings of your playing, that might help too. When growth and progress are slow, they can be hard to perceive. Having a record of how much you've achieved can help give encouragement.
_________________________
Nord Stage 2 HA88
Roland RD800

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#1990861 - 11/25/12 11:09 PM Re: Need help with stress!! [Re: ju5t1n-h]
ju5t1n-h Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/13/12
Posts: 179
Loc: Vancouver, British Columbia
thanks rocket and fizikisto for your replys. To fizikisto my teacher actually writes a journal for me in what we practice for the lesson and what he wants to to work on for the next week. When i do look at it, I can see that I am progressing. I think I may be more visual (audial in this case) so maybe your idea of recording/videos would help me see my progress clearer.

thanks
_________________________
Essex EUP-123S


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#1990863 - 11/25/12 11:11 PM Re: Need help with stress!! [Re: ju5t1n-h]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5296
Loc: Philadelphia
When you say your progress is "slowing down", what do you mean?
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#1990869 - 11/25/12 11:20 PM Re: Need help with stress!! [Re: Derulux]
ju5t1n-h Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/13/12
Posts: 179
Loc: Vancouver, British Columbia
Originally Posted By: Derulux
When you say your progress is "slowing down", what do you mean?



I mean like I am not seeing as quick gains now as what I have been seeing from a complete beginner to grade 4.
_________________________
Essex EUP-123S


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#1990874 - 11/25/12 11:37 PM Re: Need help with stress!! [Re: ju5t1n-h]
BenPiano Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/09
Posts: 1171
Loc: US
Originally Posted By: ju5t1n-h
I mean like I am not seeing as quick gains now as what I have been seeing from a complete beginner to grade 4.


Being in sort of the same situation (except I don't have a teacher), I can relate to your frustration.

Like Rocket opined above - as one progresses, there becomes so much more to learn. Like the more you know and learn, the more you realize there is to know and learn. (it's a deep hole!)

It's a good thing you have a teacher guiding you - trust him to guide you! wink
_________________________
Learning to play since June 2009.
My piano diary on You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/user/afpaSTU1096
<- 10+ ABF recitals

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#1990879 - 11/25/12 11:58 PM Re: Need help with stress!! [Re: ju5t1n-h]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
As you know, progress is gradual. There are many aspects to learning to do anything including piano. There are bright people who can't seem to be coodindated enough to play the piano. There are others who are average but do quite well given enough time.

I read recently that the fingers are fast the but brain is much slower at processing and remembering actions. You haven't said what is stressing you out. I am currently learning a piece and it is going slowly so I play once with a few mistakes and leave it for 10 or 20 minuets and play it 3 or 4 times. It may take a week or more but like you said, you aren't going to quit and that is good. And I am just a beginner so the road will be long and most roads that are long are occasionally bumpy.

Everybody is different. But for me, if I click on youtube and watch Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue Jack Gibbons
or Horowitz plays Carmen Fantasie, or Beethoven "Für Elise" by Valentina Lisitsa or chopin funeral march piano by Horowitz it calms me down and I realize that I want to be part of that no matter how small and so I continue on the journey. You have to realize that these pianists have had their moments of frustration and they kept on going.

For instance some people don't have an acoustic piano to play. Some people don't have a place to play or a place that if they try to play people will and do complain. Some people have missing fingers or a missing arm but they play. Some people have a stroke and can't play. When we look at the bigger picture, usually we discover that our frustrations seem smaller. cheers

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#1990915 - 11/26/12 02:44 AM Re: Need help with stress!! [Re: ju5t1n-h]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: ju5t1n-h
Anyone else in the similar situation, or anyone got any way to cure this new found frustration?



Perhaps I could provide some perspective. I made it to RCM grade 4 a little less than 2 years ago. I started piano near the end of 2009, so I also made it to grade 4 RCM in a year or so. The amount of time is not important. My point is, I got there about the same time as you, but have then spent nearly 2 years at it.

First of all, I changed jobs two years ago, and with a new job, a significant amount to learn for the job in the evenings after work, and with graduate school at the same time at one point also, so it slowed things down a bit. Still, I felt level 4 suddenly became much harder than anything before it.

In retrospect, as I am now finishing level 4 and moving to level 5 soon, I realized that what happened was that as an adult, I had many other skills to lean on to progress, a disciplined mind, understanding rhythm, counting, willingness to practice, etc. In a way, everything before level 4 was just a warm up for the real thing. I was seeking my level, and I met it at level 4. From that point on, the real hard work of learning piano began. It wasn't as if I didn't learn anything from 0 - 3, on the contrary, much of the lessons supported me at level 4, but here my innate coordination was simply no longer sufficient. From now on, I must develop coordination and control only pianists have. That will take time and effort.

I have talked to a couple of teachers, and they agree that for adults, many progress very quickly to level 3, then at levels 4-5, they seem to hit a wall. This is where children seem to glide past without effort, but they paid their dues by climbing level 1-3 much slower.

Basically at some point, we exhaust our natural abilities and must build new ones. If you are well coordinated it may be at level 4 or 5. There are adults who takes 5 years to get to level 4, but chances are they will not hit any walls there as they hit their wall in level 1. Don't be frustrated. You were supposed to hit a wall, could be at level 1 or level 6. Now, you need patience and discipline.
_________________________
Art is never finished, only abandoned. - da Vinci

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#1990929 - 11/26/12 04:26 AM Re: Need help with stress!! [Re: ju5t1n-h]
Marco M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/28/12
Posts: 451
Loc: Europe
So, fortunately your brain circuits have been readily organized to quickly bring you to grade 4. Well, now you are hitting the learning phase in which inner optimization is needed, and this needs time. You need to keep on practicing, for stimulating the reorganization process in your brain over and over again. Then the stimulated brain will need its time, at its very personal pace, to better optimize on the job. Not being patient with the active but hidden biological processes can result in frustration...
Think about a mechanics working on the gear drive of his racing car. During that process he does not run his car at high speed at all, but if he is patiently finishing his job, then it will result in a performance win - to be seen later... Unfortunately we can´t see our brain progressing, as the mechanics can see the progress of his handcrafting works. So maybe not the best example. Well, but you got the idea?

Believe that you advance, although you can´t see it right away!
_________________________
learning Piano on my Roland HP-505
before playing Drums in adults bluesband on handpicked set; before crashing E-Guitar in kids garage band; raised on home entertainment Organ and Keyboard models Eminent Solina P240, Farfisa Maharani 259R, Technics KN800, and on Mouth Organ, Recorder and Accordion

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#1990990 - 11/26/12 09:35 AM Re: Need help with stress!! [Re: ju5t1n-h]
ZoeCalgary Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/01/11
Posts: 748
Loc: Calgary Alberta
Hi. I too started playing about a year ago. Because I had some background on organ as a kid I wondered what 'level' I was when I transferred what i remembered to piano. Surely not a pure beginner but what? I asked my teacher at the time and she didn't really answer me. I picked pieces and just started playing. She suggested I start at level 2 supplementary books. Which I did. Then I wanted to do RCM exams and started at grade 2. It was here that she suggested I was not at 'my level' and suggested I move on to level 3 or 4. We settled on 4 and for awhile I thought aha this is 'my level'. (just as 4evrBegnr said above). Everything suddenly seemed so hard. I couldn't get through as much material in the same amount of practice time. Each piece had more problems to solve and I had to find ways to get through those problems. I had 'met my match'. But amazingly after a couple of months I could sight read through many of the pieces. I could pick up sections of new pieces fairly quickly. Perhaps this was not my level. But I felt there were gaps in my learning and so I stayed at level 4 until completed.

Now that I have restarted working on level 5 I think I am now at my real level. And I feel this is where I will experience a big breakthrough in my learning and playing. I can't breeze through pieces but I can certainly find ways to work through them. I need to find more efficient ways to practice because there is more material and more challenges. I feel the progress is slower but when the learning has had time to settle in I feel a big leap in my playing and ability in learning the next piece. It suddenly does not seem as daunting.

You are lucky you were were able to progress so quickly. Just think of this level as to where your real work starts. You have found your level and you need to keep working to push through it.

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#1990995 - 11/26/12 09:49 AM Re: Need help with stress!! [Re: ju5t1n-h]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11663
Loc: Canada
I'm really ambiguous reading this thread. I took up a new instrument almost a decade ago, and I advanced 4 grades in one year as well. Then things went sour, and having started on a poor instrument was only part of it. What had happened I think is that there are skills in each grade, and we had skimmed through that part. The pieces at those low levels are easy, so you can breeze through them, but the real things that you are meant to learn don't get learned. Later on I went back to get at the basic things that had been missing. Having those things made higher level pieces (grade 7) manageable, plus I knew how to approach pieces in a mature way. Somebody in another thread wants to do a jump: grade 1, grade 5, grade 8 with nothing in between, and that makes me uneasy too because of that experience.

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#1991032 - 11/26/12 11:09 AM Re: Need help with stress!! [Re: keystring]
Barbareola Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/30/12
Posts: 67
Loc: Germany
Originally Posted By: keystring
What had happened I think is that there are skills in each grade, and we had skimmed through that part. The pieces at those low levels are easy, so you can breeze through them, but the real things that you are meant to learn don't get learned. Later on I went back to get at the basic things that had been missing. Having those things made higher level pieces (grade 7) manageable, plus I knew how to approach pieces in a mature way.


I'm curious about what skills you feel you didn't touch on enough. Were they more technical or more about expression? Did it take longer to develop those jumped-over skills later on than if you had learned the truly earlier?

I have met a girl that started taking lessons when I did. We don't meet very often, maybe every half a year, but every time we do we compare our progress. I don't understand the RCM levels so far, but from what I can judge, her teacher is having her do more complicated pieces by now. However they sound very... rugged? Unpolished?

I am struggling with my own discontent about my slow progress, blaming sometimes me for not practising more, sometimes my teacher, for not challenging me more. When I heard the girl play, for the first time in a long time I was glad that my teacher didn't push me too far to quickly. My teacher insists, that even an easy piece should be played as if intended for an audience and works me hard on expressing dynamics and such.

I suspect that girl's teacher has different priorities and seems to be content if the piece is played ruggedly instead of musical and I hope that will not be a hindrance for her later on.

Justin@ I can understand that you are not happy about progressing more quickly. Climbing up from one grade to the next is something tangible to hold on to and to motivate you. Playing "better" or "more musical" is a lot less tangible progress in comparision. But as long as you have a teacher that you trust to challenge you, you will progress. More slowly than you'd like, yes. But possibly you'll also built a much more solid base to progress on.
_________________________
Currently working on: Venetian Gondola song by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy

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#1991060 - 11/26/12 12:13 PM Re: Need help with stress!! [Re: ju5t1n-h]
ju5t1n-h Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/13/12
Posts: 179
Loc: Vancouver, British Columbia
thanks again everyone for the support, you've all been great help and it's nice to know that other people know what I'm feeling. I'm just going to keep moving forward slowly, keep track of my progress and be more patient. I knew that the quick progress would slow eventually, and I know that it's about the journey, I just have to keep saying that to myself when in times of frustration.

laugh
_________________________
Essex EUP-123S


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#1991106 - 11/26/12 02:01 PM Re: Need help with stress!! [Re: Barbareola]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11663
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Barbareola
Originally Posted By: keystring
What had happened I think is that there are skills in each grade, and we had skimmed through that part. ...


I'm curious about what skills you feel you didn't touch on enough. Were they more technical or more about expression? Did it take longer to develop those jumped-over skills later on than if you had learned the truly earlier?

It was a different instrument, and each instrument has its own character and needs. But piano also has its own. You can get some picture when you read the teacher forum about transfer students. It is possible to focus on completing pieces and, in RCM / ABRSM etc., studies, scales etc. It is also possible to focus on how to approach a piece by chunking, by analysis. This is not needed for easy pieces at a beginner level played by an adult, but they are invaluable for higher pieces when they are a habit. Understanding theory in a practical manner and applying it. Being able to analyze music in a practical way that facilitates playing. Technique, and also knowing how to break down technical difficulties. You don't need these things at a beginner level, but when you hit grades 5, 6 or somewhere there, then those tools pull you through. If you don't have them, and you still approach pieces as you could do at the lower levels, it becomes much harder than it needs to be.

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#1991377 - 11/27/12 08:25 AM Re: Need help with stress!! [Re: ju5t1n-h]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11800
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I agree with what rocket88 has said. This is natural that it will take longer to learn these pieces you are playing - and it will just increase as you improve! But don't despair, because there are some good things that come from this:

1) You get to be MORE creative in your practice time. Please don't think about minutes or hours of practice, think more about goals you wish to accomplish.

If there is one measure that is tough, just spend as much time as you can on that one measure until it's easy as the rest. And be sure to be creative with how you practice it! The more ways you can think of how to play that measure incorrectly (different rhythms, blocked chords, backwards, alternating LH/RH notes, etc.) the more fun it is and the more efficient your practicing will be. Your teacher should be giving you these pointers at your lesson and working through these ways of practicing with you, but don't assume you can only do them in your lesson. Do the same thing at home and you will be much happier with your practice time.

2) The rewards are greater because the music is much more satisfying (usually). Sometimes you'll have to work on a clunker every now and then, but there may be a good reason for this - a particular skill your teacher needs you to learn - before you can progress to that piece you really would love to do. In general, however, the more complicated music that you are experiencing now has much more depth to it, and much more emotional capability that makes it all worth the effort.

The key is to enjoy the whole process, not just the end result. wink
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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