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#2032292 - 02/13/13 06:41 AM Helping a returning pianist!
vardister Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/12/13
Posts: 3
Loc: Israel
Hello dear forum people!
I have just joined the forum to seek help, and I'm in despair.

I'll give you a little background history about my situation. I started playing the piano at the age of 8, with a teacher and all of that but never had the passion in me to play the piano except when the teacher was teaching me. Never did my homework, always never practiced but kept at it because i listened to my parents telling me that I will be grateful in my later years. At the age of 16 I really started appreciating the piano and began playing nonstop at home and at school. Some Debussy and Chopin, sometimes a bit of Schumann and Beethoven. I was in ecstasy! I finally found the greatness of this instrument, I finally felt the excitement!

But then at the age of 19 I was called to do my service in the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) for 3 years. I was enlisted as a soldier at the anti-tank unit. For 3 years I barely saw home. I was allowed a 4 days vacation every 17 days I was at my base. My routine was rough, barely any sleep, ate badly, no time for reading, no time for playing, no nothing. And every-time I was home I never could put myself to playing since I was so depressed and down that all I could do is try and get the most out of my vacation time and go out and party and meet my friends, to appease my lack of freedom.

3 hard years have passed and I got released from the army yesterday, and first thing I did was kiss my mom and sit down by my piano. This was the thing I missed the most, playing the piano. I want to re-feel the passion, the excitement, the sadness, the happiness, everything that comes with playing the piano.

I sat down and put the Nocturne No.9 Op. 2 infornt of me and tried to play it. Surprisingly it was really hard for me to remember, to read the notes, to play fluently, I was stuck every second bar! And then I tried Clair de Lune by Debussy and encountered the same difficulty! I didn't expect that after 3 years of not touching my piano that it would be so difficult!

And here finally comes my question to you guys.
What pieces should I try to play to get back my ability to play the piano again? What should I practice? Where should I restart?

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#2032308 - 02/13/13 07:32 AM Re: Helping a returning pianist! [Re: vardister]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5277
Loc: Philadelphia
Firstly, welcome to the forums. smile

Secondly, I must start by asking a question: when you reviewed these pieces, was it general technique that you felt you had an issue with, or was it simply remembering the notes in those specific pieces? What would happen if you were to 'tinker' a bit without sheet music? Play some chords, jump around a bit, maybe a couple scales? Would it come back more fluently than those pieces?

The answer may change my advice.
_________________________
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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#2032309 - 02/13/13 07:36 AM Re: Helping a returning pianist! [Re: vardister]
bennevis Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4797
You should just relearn all those pieces you used to enjoy - just don't put any pressure on yourself, because you're a bit rusty, so take your time. When you've done that, you can start learning new pieces, maybe by the same composers - pieces like Schumann's Arabeske in C, Debussy's Arabesque No.1, Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata perhaps. And maybe on to Fauré's Romance sans paroles Op.17/3 (http://youtu.be/cv_Lj1kNyvs), Mendelssohn's Lieder ohne Worte Op.19/1 (among others), Grieg's Lyric Pieces (e.g. Wedding Day at Troldhaugen, Arietta Op.12) etc. All tuneful and about the same standard as the Debussy Clair de lune and Chopin Op.9/2.

I had several years away from the piano (on several occasions) over a few decades, and that's how I always start back. It never took me longer than a week or two to get back to my former level, including in sight-reading.

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#2032312 - 02/13/13 07:40 AM Re: Helping a returning pianist! [Re: vardister]
woodog Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/12
Posts: 375
Loc: Bowling Green, KY
Because the passion for piano is OBVIOUSLY there, you'll be fine and the search will take care of itself.

I would recommend finding a teacher you 'click' with. Learning with an 'Adult <-> Adult' paradigm is quite different from the 'Student<->Teacher' paradigm and (to my way of thinking) it's a good thing.

Enjoy!

Forrest
_________________________
Graham Fitch's Piano Pedagogy Site
(A WORTHY RESOURCE!)

--------------------
current studies:
Debussy: Suite Bergamasque
Beethoven Op. 78
Bach WTC 1, C# Major (#3)

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#2032318 - 02/13/13 07:55 AM Re: Helping a returning pianist! [Re: vardister]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11403
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I think getting a teacher is a great idea as well. They will be able to choose music for you to help much better than people on a forum can.

My recommendation until then is to look at easier pieces. 3 years of no playing is no irreparable but it will take some time and patience on your part. It will not be as slow as the first time you got to ply at the level you want to play, but it's unrealistic to expect it to stay with you that long, too.

Pick out intermediate pieces like Anna Magdalena Bach or some of the Bach Little Preludes, Kabalevsky, Batok, Tchaikowsky, and other various composers of intermediate repertoire. Don't be judgmental about these pieces, they are quite lovely and entertaining even if they aren't as complex as the more advance rep. You need to give yourself time to remember.
_________________________
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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#2032375 - 02/13/13 09:49 AM Re: Helping a returning pianist! [Re: Derulux]
vardister Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/12/13
Posts: 3
Loc: Israel
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Firstly, welcome to the forums. smile

Secondly, I must start by asking a question: when you reviewed these pieces, was it general technique that you felt you had an issue with, or was it simply remembering the notes in those specific pieces? What would happen if you were to 'tinker' a bit without sheet music? Play some chords, jump around a bit, maybe a couple scales? Would it come back more fluently than those pieces?

The answer may change my advice.


I think my main problem right now is remembering the notes and especially chords. I have just tried playing bennevis' advice Romance sans Paroles Op. 17 No. 3 and I succeeded in playing in, not masterfully, but it went quite fluently. So technique isn't an issue. My only problem when playing that piece was the chords, it took me a couple of seconds to position my hand correctly to play the chords.

By the way, I don't think taking a teacher will be possible for me right now, since fundings are short (I got payed 180 dollars a month by the army while serving), so solo will be my main focus.

Thanks a lot for your replies, I have looked on the pieces you advised me and will try playing some of them. Already started with Romance sans Parole No 17. Op.3 by Gabriel Fauré and it's going quite well! My smile has gone up again on my face!

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#2032459 - 02/13/13 12:45 PM Re: Helping a returning pianist! [Re: vardister]
kuifje Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 11/20/11
Posts: 110
Originally Posted By: vardister
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Firstly, welcome to the forums. smile

Secondly, I must start by asking a question: when you reviewed these pieces, was it general technique that you felt you had an issue with, or was it simply remembering the notes in those specific pieces? What would happen if you were to 'tinker' a bit without sheet music? Play some chords, jump around a bit, maybe a couple scales? Would it come back more fluently than those pieces?

The answer may change my advice.


I think my main problem right now is remembering the notes and especially chords. I have just tried playing bennevis' advice Romance sans Paroles Op. 17 No. 3 and I succeeded in playing in, not masterfully, but it went quite fluently. So technique isn't an issue. My only problem when playing that piece was the chords, it took me a couple of seconds to position my hand correctly to play the chords.

By the way, I don't think taking a teacher will be possible for me right now, since fundings are short (I got payed 180 dollars a month by the army while serving), so solo will be my main focus.

Thanks a lot for your replies, I have looked on the pieces you advised me and will try playing some of them. Already started with Romance sans Parole No 17. Op.3 by Gabriel Fauré and it's going quite well! My smile has gone up again on my face!


you will be back to your previous level in no time!

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#2032577 - 02/13/13 04:47 PM Re: Helping a returning pianist! [Re: kuifje]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5277
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: kuifje
Originally Posted By: vardister
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Firstly, welcome to the forums. smile

Secondly, I must start by asking a question: when you reviewed these pieces, was it general technique that you felt you had an issue with, or was it simply remembering the notes in those specific pieces? What would happen if you were to 'tinker' a bit without sheet music? Play some chords, jump around a bit, maybe a couple scales? Would it come back more fluently than those pieces?

The answer may change my advice.


I think my main problem right now is remembering the notes and especially chords. I have just tried playing bennevis' advice Romance sans Paroles Op. 17 No. 3 and I succeeded in playing in, not masterfully, but it went quite fluently. So technique isn't an issue. My only problem when playing that piece was the chords, it took me a couple of seconds to position my hand correctly to play the chords.

By the way, I don't think taking a teacher will be possible for me right now, since fundings are short (I got payed 180 dollars a month by the army while serving), so solo will be my main focus.

Thanks a lot for your replies, I have looked on the pieces you advised me and will try playing some of them. Already started with Romance sans Parole No 17. Op.3 by Gabriel Fauré and it's going quite well! My smile has gone up again on my face!


you will be back to your previous level in no time!

I agree. It sounds more like you just forgot the pieces than anything else. And forgetting the pieces isn't surprising after a 3 year hiatus. You'll pick them back up very quickly.. just keep at it. The first one will be the hardest.
_________________________
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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#2032578 - 02/13/13 04:47 PM Re: Helping a returning pianist! [Re: vardister]
ChopinAddict Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6092
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
I agree with bennevis. You should start again with the pieces you used to enjoy and gradually start learning pieces which are more challenging or that present new aspects to you.
It is normal to feel a bit rusty, but you will remember pretty quick!
_________________________



Music is my best friend.


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#2033531 - 02/15/13 05:06 AM Re: Helping a returning pianist! [Re: vardister]
Ragip Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/28/10
Posts: 33
Loc: The Netherlands
I think you should find a teacher and explain this situation to him. If he's a good teacher he will no doubt know what to do.

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#2033754 - 02/15/13 01:57 PM Re: Helping a returning pianist! [Re: vardister]
DameMyra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/21/04
Posts: 1940
Loc: South Jersey
Originally Posted By: vardister


I think my main problem right now is remembering the notes and especially chords. I have just tried playing bennevis' advice Romance sans Paroles Op. 17 No. 3 and I succeeded in playing in, not masterfully, but it went quite fluently. So technique isn't an issue. My only problem when playing that piece was the chords, it took me a couple of seconds to position my hand correctly to play the chords.

By the way, I don't think taking a teacher will be possible for me right now, since fundings are short (I got payed 180 dollars a month by the army while serving), so solo will be my main focus.

Thanks a lot for your replies, I have looked on the pieces you advised me and will try playing some of them. Already started with Romance sans Parole No 17. Op.3 by Gabriel Fauré and it's going quite well! My smile has gone up again on my face!


I am glad to hear that you are feeling better and smiling again. Realize you took a significant break from the piano, three years. And those three years were emotionally and physically draining. Be kind to yourself and don't put too much pressure on yourself. It will all come back, and it won't take all that long. Trust me, I've been there.

Play pieces you feel comfortable with. Don't worry about them being perfect. Just enjoy your hands on the keys.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher
MTNA/NJMTA/SJMTA

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#2034623 - 02/17/13 07:46 AM Re: Helping a returning pianist! [Re: vardister]
vardister Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/12/13
Posts: 3
Loc: Israel
Well, thanks everyone for your inputs! You've gave me my confidence back! I will try all your recommendations.
Back to playing!

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