Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

SEARCH
the Forums & Piano World

This custom search works much better than the built in one and allows searching older posts.
(ad 125) Sweetwater - Digital Keyboards & Other Gear
Digital Pianos at Sweetwater
(ad) Pianoteq
Latest Pianoteq add-on instrument: U4 upright piano
(ad) Pearl River
Pearl River Pianos
(ad) P B Guide
Acoustic & Digital Piano Guide
PianoSupplies.com (150)
Piano Accessories Music Related Gifts Piano Tuning Equipment Piano Moving Equipment
We now offer Gift Certificates in our online store!
(ad) Estonia Piano
Estonia Piano
Quick Links to Useful Stuff
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers
*Organs

Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano Accessories
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Piano Books
*Piano Art, Pictures, & Posters
*Directory/Site Map
*Contest
*Links
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Screen Saver
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords
Topic Options
#2027427 - 02/05/13 12:44 PM What improves when you hit a plateau?
WannabePT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/11
Posts: 35
I'm sure most of us have been through this before, when we reach a certain level in our piano playing, and each tiny little step of progress seems to be taking forever. A lot of times, we tell ourselves, just keep going, we will reach that end of the tunnel, we will finally improve.

My question is, during those times we continue practicing when we're at our plateau, what actually improves? I know it's different for different people, but I was thinking of a non-exclusive, subjective list.

For example, since I am trying to play some pieces that are very difficult for me, I focus on it so much (takes so much time) that my old repertoire is now a mess. It's like a 3 step forward 2 step back (or 3, or 4) kind of thing. The thing is, what I'm learning now is even harder than my old repertoire, so does that mean I didn't improve at all, and I was just beating myself into learning something? Does something even improve? Touch? Evenness? Is it just having to remember what you used to play, but it will come out more musical once you're able to play it again?

I don't know if I'm being clear, or if this is a stupid question, but it will surely give me some encouragement especially when I think that my progress is soooo slow, even after daily practice (and I do focused practice, too, not just playing stuff I know over and over again).

Or..maybe another way to look at it is (unless this is another question), what did I "bring back" to my old repertoire that I can't even play anymore?


Edited by WannabePT (02/05/13 12:48 PM)

Top
(ads P/S)

Sauter Pianos

#2027463 - 02/05/13 01:43 PM Re: What improves when you hit a plateau? [Re: WannabePT]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5440
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
I think one that improves is the ease of playing - familiarity, comfort zones, particular techniques that are more difficult for an individual. The time spent on the plateau reinforces all the current stuff.

Yes, it does seem sometimes that the previous stuff is going backwards while the newer stuff crowds out our focus. But I think that's jusst the distraction of the newer stuff.

For me, any way, I am amazed at what comes more easily now that used to take incredible amounts of time and still had tenseness associated with it.

Cathy
_________________________

Top
#2027470 - 02/05/13 01:54 PM Re: What improves when you hit a plateau? [Re: WannabePT]
BenPiano Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/09
Posts: 1171
Loc: US
Originally Posted By: WannabePT
My question is, during those times we continue practicing when we're at our plateau, what actually improves?


Every time I've hit a plateau (I call them piano funks), I've found myself taking a step back and working on easier things.

The easier pieces are faster to learn, I can focus more on details, and generally they're just as satisfying of an experience to learn. A lot of time also, these pieces are from varying eras - for instance, I'm in the process of learning a Japanese anime transcription, which I never imagined doing.

So, even with the "easier" stuff, I'm always learning something new, filling in gaps and just sort of rounding out more my experience at the piano.

And I usually emerge from these funks a little more well rounded, confident and motivated than before.
_________________________
Learning to play since June 2009.
My piano diary on You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/user/afpaSTU1096
<- 10+ ABF recitals

Top
#2027589 - 02/05/13 05:44 PM Re: What improves when you hit a plateau? [Re: WannabePT]
fizikisto Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 02/13/12
Posts: 264
Loc: Hernando, MS
These kinds of plateaus occur when learning any kind of skill. There's a famous paper in psychology called something like "the magic number seven" which shows that for many types of tasks, we basically have 7 available slots in our short term memory. This is why standard phone numbers are 7 digits long, an average person will be able to hold only about 7 numbers in his or her short term memory. So, let's say you want to keep a phone number in your short term memory. you can think of 357-2422 as 3 5 7 2 4 2 2 and use up all 7 slots, or you can chunk the numbers together...maybe like 357 (three hundred fifty seven - as one number) - 24-22. In that way you're holding only 3 numbers in your short term memory. Obviously that's a simplistic example, but this kind of chunking of data is essential for our learning.

Another example of how this can work is driving a car with a manual transmission. As you first start to learn to drive a car with a stick, it's really hard. You have to coordinate a lot of different things (hearing the engine pitch change, looking at the rpm gauge, pushing the clutch in the right distance, shifting to the right gear, etc...). It's very taxing and your brain has to work really hard to manage all those things simultaneously. But eventually all those things get chunked together into one integrated skill. You no longer have to think about any of those individual things, you just do them.

Now, our longer term memory obviously has much greater capacity, but the same kind of chunking occurs there as well. when you start to learn something new, you start feeding your brain all this data....then it reaches a point where it wants to chunk and integrate that data together. The brain is processing the data to find connections (especially connections to things you've already learned) among the data. At this time, it seems that your ability to add additional data has greatly decreased, because the brain is sorting through the pile of data you've already given it. Eventually the brain sorts things out and then you can start to add new data again (until you "fill up" again and hit another plateau).

So what's happening during these learning plateaus is that your brain and nervous system are working in a different way...but learning is still occurring. But instead of learning new things, your brain is temporarily focused on making the things you have been learning previously more solid and integrating those skills together.
_________________________
Nord Stage 2 HA88
Yamaha P-250

Top
#2028088 - 02/06/13 12:58 PM Re: What improves when you hit a plateau? [Re: fizikisto]
Toastie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/10/12
Posts: 210
Loc: UK
Fizikisto that's a really great explanation.

thumb
_________________________
Complete Beginner August 2012
'Play Piano' Book 1 - finished
'Play Piano' Book 2 - finished
Grade 1 Sight Reading - finished
Grade 1 Exam Pieces
Grade 1 Scales
The Easy Piano Collection Classical Gold
Yamaha U3

Top
#2028570 - 02/07/13 07:17 AM Re: What improves when you hit a plateau? [Re: WannabePT]
WiseBuff Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/03/05
Posts: 796
Loc: Brighton Colorado
Plateau? Wannabe, I can relate. Yes it does feel like walking on a treadmill sometimes with no forward progress. I'm there now and have been there before. The hard part is the emotional sense of fog that descends and makes the journey arduous. The pieces I'm working on vary substantially...some level 2 and 3 stuff (trying to get them up to speed) some contemporary music, some hymns, a Chopin mazurka that may take a long time, and all the pieces I'm trying to have ready to take the RCM level 5 exam. Am I learning? Probably but the increments seem pretty small.

To answer your question...or maybe reflect on my experience...is that those small increments are such things as tone, speed, relaxation, comfort level, and precision on the dynamics.
_________________________



Love to learn

Top
#2028593 - 02/07/13 08:05 AM Re: What improves when you hit a plateau? [Re: fizikisto]
dannac Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/07
Posts: 595
Loc: USA
Interesting answer fizikisto ... thanks !

Top
#2029371 - 02/08/13 03:46 PM Re: What improves when you hit a plateau? [Re: WannabePT]
personne Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/24/12
Posts: 123
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Originally Posted By: WannabePT
For example, since I am trying to play some pieces that are very difficult for me, I focus on it so much (takes so much time) that my old repertoire is now a mess. It's like a 3 step forward 2 step back (or 3, or 4) kind of thing. Does something even improve? Touch? Evenness?


Do you have a piano teacher or are you learning on your own?
I never had platos, rather progressing pretty smoothly from level to level.
May be you just picking pieces which are too hard?
You cannot jump until you learned certains skills. Once you are ready, the progress is very smooth and stable. IMO.
_________________________
Playing on Roland HP-507RW

Top
#2030233 - 02/10/13 02:53 AM Re: What improves when you hit a plateau? [Re: personne]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
Before taking on a difficult piece, learning the techniques required for the piece is key. Playing etudes that prepare for the difficult piece is really important. Unfortunately, it is impossile to pick the right etude and teach it to yourself. Only a qualified teacher could choose and show you the techniques that you need to master in order to play an etude correctly. Short of that, it may be just a long struggle to learn a diffult piece instead of seeing elements that you already mastered in etudes and applying it to the new repertoire.
_________________________
Art is never finished, only abandoned. - da Vinci

Top

Moderator:  BB Player, casinitaly 
What's Hot!!
> Robin Spielberg Playing in Maine! <
-------------------
75,000 Members and Growing!
-------------------
HOW TO POST PICTURES on the Piano Forums
-------------------
Sharing is Caring!
About the Buttons
-------------------
Forums Rules & Help
-------------------
ADVERTISE
on Piano World

The world's most popular piano web site.
Ad (Seiler/Knabe)
Seiler Pianos
(ad) HAILUN Pianos
Hailun Pianos - Click for More
Sheet Music
(PW is an affiliate)
Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale
(125ad) Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad) Lindeblad Piano
Lindeblad Piano Restoration
Who's Online
102 registered (Ben Boule, BachMach2, AndrewJCW, barbaram, BB Player, 36 invisible), 1397 Guests and 21 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
75473 Members
42 Forums
156050 Topics
2291518 Posts

Max Online: 15252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
New Topics - Multiple Forums
My fingers know what my brain has forgotten
by PatrickBl
Yesterday at 08:30 PM
Fully-Rebuilt Pianos Versus New Pianos
by Paul678
Yesterday at 08:12 PM
How do you identify the melody on a sheet of music?
by Alex1
Yesterday at 07:38 PM
Fugue in b Minor
by Ritzycat
Yesterday at 05:34 PM
Missing Pedal rods for Bramburg (1890-ish?)
by Paul678
Yesterday at 04:22 PM
(ads by Google)

Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
| Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World | Donate | Link to Us | Classifieds |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | Press Room |


copyright 1997 - 2014 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission