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#2247388 - 03/16/14 10:46 AM Been at it 14 months and...
eighty80eights8s Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/18/14
Posts: 14
OK, I started taking piano lessons last year at age 57. I played the guitar for years and even dabbled on the keyboard so I had a little background. I like my teacher and firmly believe she's a good one. I get a mix of Alfred lesson books, exercises, and songs that she selects (and a few I select). I am retired and am lucky to be able to practice 3 hours daily in 3 one-hour blocks. I have 'learned' about 26 songs since I started except I can almost NEVER make it through any of them without mistakes, wrong notes, fingers fumble and hit the neighboring key in addition to the one I'm supposed to hit. I learned them by reading the music, figuring out the fingering, gaining the feel or muscle memory for it then I basically just stare at the sheet music but am really playing from memory. I guess I use the sheet music as a guide but I'm not actually reading it and playing from it. If I don't practice every song every few days, when I go back to it, I have to relearn it or parts of it. It seems I will never be able to play the piano, but will probably always practice at it. Is this the way it's supposed to be? I could never sit and play for someone knowing that there is NO chance I will play with no mistakes, and I mean even for very simplistic songs. Any input would be appreciated

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#2247391 - 03/16/14 10:57 AM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: eighty80eights8s]
peterws Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3795
Loc: Northern England.
You`re right. You`ll never ever play without making mistakes. The good news is everybody else is much the same. Recording artists will use several takes of a song and splice the good bits together; that`s the difference between recorded and live music.

I`ve played in a few restaurant situations; the second (consecutive) night is always better. What you must do, is learn to work through the mistakes without stopping or hitting the buffers. A dropped note, or wrong chord may not sound so good (nobody seems to notice) but it`s soon forgotten.

I`ll never know why I played in this place for as long as I did without getting the ole heave ho. Maybe they had no one else to compare me to . . .

Just don`t be disheartened! We`ve all been there, and some of us still are. For myself, I just don`t care! Have fun . . .
_________________________
"I'm playing all the right notes � but not necessarily in the right order." Eric Morecambe

""

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#2247394 - 03/16/14 11:02 AM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: eighty80eights8s]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5638
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
I gig 3 or 4 times a month. I have everything memorized, and do a little (very little) essentially by ear. I *never* get thru *any* piece without mistakes.

It's all about the recovery. The essence of life is in the recovery, much less piano playing, no?

So it's fine to practice it without mistakes. It would be a miracle to perform it without them laugh

Performance really is an additional skill, and I think everyone here will tell you that every performance has mistakes. It's only the engineered recorded music that is "perfect" - with the mistakes fixed.

For me, the (most often seamless, but not always) recovery is about having the music constantly moving in my head, so that the mistake just bobbles for a moment, but my playing keeps up with the music in my head. It's not where I've *been* that makes a difference, it's where I'm *headed*.

Others will have some great tips about how to practice to make this happen more reliably.

But if you don't make it thru without mistakes it's because you're like 100% of other humans laugh Play them like you meant them and your audience will think you're terrific.

Cathy
_________________________

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#2247404 - 03/16/14 11:19 AM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: eighty80eights8s]
Whizbang Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/12
Posts: 815
Originally Posted By: eighty80eights8s
I have 'learned' about 26 songs since I started except I can almost NEVER make it through any of them without mistakes, wrong notes, fingers fumble and hit the neighboring key in addition to the one I'm supposed to hit.

I learned them by reading the music, figuring out the fingering, gaining the feel or muscle memory for it then I basically just stare at the sheet music but am really playing from memory. I guess I use the sheet music as a guide but I'm not actually reading it and playing from it.

If I don't practice every song every few days, when I go back to it, I have to relearn it or parts of it. It seems I will never be able to play the piano, but will probably always practice at it. Is this the way it's supposed to be?

I could never sit and play for someone knowing that there is NO chance I will play with no mistakes, and I mean even for very simplistic songs. Any input would be appreciated


Wow, your musical brain works just like mine. Hello, brother!

Is this the way it's supposed to be? Well, yes, actually. The movies would make you think that you study the piano, sit down, pop off some florid tunes effortlessly, then go mingle with the rest of the party.

Truth is, for most people, it ain't like that. Why do you think that SO many kids who take up piano lessons never get past a couple years?

As a kid, for whatever reason, I persevered using the approach you mention. As an adult, I stayed in a holding pattern for decades with that approach. Like you, something about what I see on the page eventually acts like this huge glyph that triggers the muscle memory to play--or not play--the notes.

So lemme take 20 years off your piano study right now with some advice.

* DON'T JUST PLAY YOUR PIECES BEGINNING TO END OVER AND OVER AGAIN HOPING TO WORK OUT THE KINKS. IT DOESN'T WORK.

What happens is that you 'burn in' your mistakes. For folks like you and me, you need a really meticulous approach. You have to dissect the music. Now there are ways to do that, but an important part of that is dissecting the passages physically.

Say you're sort of reading through the piece to start and you've got a handle on the notes and you're moving your hand for a chord or crossing your thumb under for the melody and you hit a clunker.

Well, you can power through that and keep on with the piece, and, like as not, you'll hit that clunker the next time, and the next time, and soon, you'll have learned that clunker.

Or, you can get out a pencil and circle that clunker, and some of the previous and following notes. Then, immediately or later, go back and start patterning out the hand movement, playing as slowly as possible to hit the notes in the right rhythm until you can get it two or three times (some people do five or seven or ten!) You want to really be aware of what your hand is doing and consciously work on a movement pattern.

If you can't get it to work, then, either you circled too large a section and need to work on a subsection... or your hand is somehow strategically misplaced due to a previous passage and you might have to analyze how to get into better position.

Now there are other ways to analyze your music. With your guitar background, I'm sure you understand the importance of chords. And memorization of a piece from a structural point of view is also a very good exercise.

But it's the bad habit of just playing through pieces that's wasted years of my time at the piano bench.

Some other things to think of:

"Every difficulty slurred over at the keyboard will become a ghost to disturb your repose later on." -- Chopin

Chick Corea demonstrating practicing. He 1) doesn't cut himself slack but 2) doesn't beat himself up over his mistakes either



By my reckoning, I've saved you at least ten years of misplaced effort with the above advice, so that comes to $50 * 52 * 10 = $26,000. I take cash or check.
_________________________
Whizbang
amateur ragtime pianist

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#2247409 - 03/16/14 11:28 AM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: jotur]
Sand Tiger Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 1083
Loc: Southern California
Thanks for your story. What I have learned during my two years is to slow it way down in practice and to practice performing. For performance pieces, is it best to get to know a few pieces intimately. Not only memorized, but with the eyes closed, with the sound off, and to be able to recreate a song away from the piano.

If I add those three additional levels, without sight, without sound, without touch, and I am much closer to performing those pieces without errors at least some of the time. I understand that more complex pieces may not get to 100% on all three, but segments can be done.

That isn't to say the piece will be perfect. Beginners tend to sound like beginners for a wide range of reasons, even if my obsession to get note perfect is achieved. Enjoy the journey. So I say don't despair. If a person sets a goal to have one or two pieces at a higher standard, they can move towards that goal. 26? That is a bit many for beginner repertoire.

/edit to add: what Whizbang wrote about practice is worth a lot. Slow it down, break pieces into segments, isolate, go slow enough that mistakes fade away, do each short segment 5 to 10 times without errors before moving to the next. This is separate from practicing performing, where a person does play the complete piece, and doesn't stop. Spend more practice time on the segments than on the entire piece. Playing the complete piece is mostly reserved for the end, because it tends to be a less effective way to learn than repeating short segments without errors.


Edited by Sand Tiger (03/16/14 11:33 AM)
_________________________
my piano uploads

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#2247413 - 03/16/14 11:41 AM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: eighty80eights8s]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5638
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Ah. I just read your thread from January.

It seems to me there may be more than one issue here.

One is error-free playing. That's the one most of us have addressed.

But the other is - what does it mean to "be able to play the piano"?

I have asked myself this more than once.

Is it really having 26 (or 40, or 100) separate pieces that I can just sit down and play?

Or is it something different?

To me, and it sounds like to you, it has something vague about being so at home with the piano that the music comes naturally. Not being tied to the sheet music.

I started memorizing music because I didn't want to have to have sheet music with me at all times. For many years I played with a band and just comped while fiddles played the music. But I still had to have the chords written out in front of me. So I started memorizing the chords.

But even with memorizing pieces and accompaniment I was still tied to the sheet music, eh?

I want to be able to "hear" the music, and have it come from "me".

To some extent, for me, I can do that whether reading the sheet music or playing from memory. I can make music that people dance to, or tap their foot to, I can make music that isn't the same every time I play it, but has different moods and different evocations.

But it still feels like something is missing.

So - I'm going to learn to play more by ear - to *hear* the music, rather than *see* the notes on the page. To improvise, to let it flow.

The harmonies are harder for me than the melodies. I would bet that you, too, can sit down and play simple melodies by ear - tunes you know in your sleep from childhood. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Mary had a Little Lamb. If you can do it with those, you can also do it with It Had to Be You, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, or any tune/song you want to play. It might take a little longer, and you might find you don't know the melody as well as you thought you did, much less where you are on the keyboard. But you can do it.

The lessons you have now can stand you in good stead - keyboard geography, learning something about the harmonies and how they work, so it's not time wasted.

But for some time every day cut yourself loose. That time will be the most important.

Rerun, as he said in your other thread, started learning to play by ear at 60. He's using Piano Magic to explore the basics of music and how it actually works, rather than how notation works. It might be a perfect place for you.

And if you thing Mary Had a Little Lamb is too silly to start with, here's my all-time favorite ABF thread:

Mary Had a Little Lamb

Read as far as when Seaside Lee starts playing variations. Then listen to everyone. What a treat!

Cathy

P.S. I'm 68 smile







Edited by jotur (03/16/14 12:07 PM)
_________________________

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#2247415 - 03/16/14 11:48 AM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: eighty80eights8s]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5638
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Oh, and all of the advice about slowing it down, being aware of mistakes and correcting them with awareness it just as valid in "spontaneous" playing as it is in playing memorized music. Chick Corea is a jazz player, the essence of improvisation. You might read the Autumn Leaves beginners jazz thread here in the ABF - jazzwee is our embodiment of the being-aware-while-putting-in-the-work playing piano guy. There's no free lunch. It all takes focused practice.

Cathy
_________________________

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#2247416 - 03/16/14 11:53 AM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: eighty80eights8s]
ShiroKuro Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3514
Loc: not in Japan anymore
You've already gotten some really helpful comments that address the importance of playing through/beyond mistakes, so I won't repeat those except to say I agree 100& that instead of setting a goal of a mistake-free performance, a goal of being able to maintain the musical thought or story through to the end is a much better (and more attainable) goal.

Also, remember that a year is a very short time in piano-years (like dog years, except the opposite? wait, not the opposite? This metaphor is not going to be very helpful, better abandon it! smile

What I' trying to say is that, instead of thinking "I still make mistakes even though I've been playing for a whole year," you're better off thinking "I've only been playing for a year, and look how much I can play."

After starting piano as an adult, I have now been playing piano for about 15 years. I have worked with a piano teacher almost the entire time and continue to have a weekly lesson. The level of difficulty of the pieces I play has steadily increased, and when I play pieces at the outer edges of my ability, a flawless performance is never an option.

But when I play pieces that are much easier (for me, for where I'm at), I can actually get pretty close to mistake-free playing, especially just in terms of playing all the right notes at all the right times (which is not IMO the same as perfect or flawless playing). My last recital piece is an example of this, I pretty much played it mistake-free, but when I listen to it, I hear other problems (connected to dynamics, interpretation, phrasing etc). But that piece is a joy to play, and when I play it for friends (and when I shared it in the recital) I always get lots of really nice compliments (thanks PW friends!) But that is not because I'm so good I can play mistake-free all the time, it's because I've played long enough that there are now pieces below my current level, and that piece is one of them.

But, having said all that, if you want to play relatively mistake-free, you do need to work on that in and of itself as a goal. The trick is to be able to tell which pieces that is a reasonable goal for, and which pieces are too far at the outer ranges of your ability.

This is one of the reasons why I continue to have a mix of harder and easier pieces going all the time, because with the harder pieces, I have to focus on building technique and new skills. It's only with the easier pieces that I can focus on getting the mistakes out. I do this by working on my concentration, attention to the musical thought or storyline, and also by following up memorization with a re-acquaintance with the score so that I can actually "read" the score instead of just looking at, and forcing myself to not play from muscle memory.

This is also why I decided to get back into the habit of participating in the ABF recitals again, because knowing I want to record something changes how I think about it when I practice. Playing (almost) mistake-free requires a different type of concentration and this concentration can be trained and improved just like any other skill. But I find that I can't even focus on this type of concentration if the piece is too hard, so that is a balance I am always paying attention to.

What I'm trying to say is this: you are on the right track, don't get discouraged. Piano does take time, but as you advance, you will find the easier pieces do become easier to play. Then if you decide to make it a priority, you can start working on ways to reduce the number and obvious-ness of mistakes in the easier pieces.

Good luck! And do consider playing an already-learned piece for one of the ABF recitals.
_________________________
Started piano June 1999. My recordings at Box.Net:
https://app.box.com/s/j4rgyhn72uvluemg1m6u




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#2247419 - 03/16/14 11:57 AM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: eighty80eights8s]
Mken Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/09/13
Posts: 96
So ? everybody makes mistakes.

Look at Vikagoeswild on youtube.... she's been playing for 30 years and now and again in her videos she makes mistakes, several live ones too.

Also you have to remember that every single video you see on youtube will not be the 1st attempt. The person playing will have made MANY takes at playing the piece and will put on their best video performance.

And as long as you learn from your mistakes there isn't really any problem.
_________________________
I want to be so good at Piano like VK, that Roland gives me a free piano too!

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#2247444 - 03/16/14 12:37 PM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: jotur]
Rerun Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/07
Posts: 627
Loc: Louisiana
Quote:
Rerun, as he said in your other thread, started learning to play by ear at 60. He's using Piano Magic to explore the basics of music and how it actually works, rather than how notation works. It might be a perfect place for you.

And if you thing Mary Had a Little Lamb is too silly to start with, here's my all-time favorite ABF thread:

Mary Had a Little Lamb

Cathy



Heh, heh, heh great thread ... thanks for digging that out Cathy, it started 3 months after I joined PM. So many folks in it were responsible for me playing by ear.

88, I'd like to tell you that playing by ear is a gift, but I'd be lying if I did. Try using your ears more with your playing and see what happens. When you get your ears in the game, you change how you think about playing music on a piano ... it sneaks up on you, you begin thinking about what ear players think about plus listen for when they are playing. Memorizing or forgetting notes on a sheet "may" become sorta obsolete in some instances (wouldn't know for sure, I can't read music).


Edited by Rerun (03/16/14 12:52 PM)
_________________________
Rerun

"Seat of the pants piano player" DMD







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#2247468 - 03/16/14 01:28 PM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: eighty80eights8s]
Maarkr Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/14
Posts: 56
Loc: Maine, USA
i'm in my late 50's and 'Mistakes' is my middle name.
i consider myself a beginner in most aspects, but look at this as a continuing learning and improvement process. i bounce from easy to moderate to guitar back to piano and song chords... are you sticking just with songs to learn basic piano and sight reading or to play songs? I can't take the beginning piano routine and have learned/played lots of pop/rock songs because i get satisfaction out of playing these popular songs... my songbook is now over 200 songs, most of which i can play, but i still struggle with most piano basics, and altho i would love to know how to do the basics, i would not have it any other way, mistakes and all.
_________________________
Privia PX-5S, XW-P1, Roland Juno-G, Roland Lucina Axe, Korg MicroSampler...

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#2247527 - 03/16/14 03:20 PM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: eighty80eights8s]
AZ_Astro Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/12
Posts: 477
Loc: Tempe, Arizona
Originally Posted By: eighty80eights8s
OK, I started taking piano lessons last year at age 57. I played the guitar for years and even dabbled on the keyboard so I had a little background. I like my teacher and firmly believe she's a good one. I get a mix of Alfred lesson books, exercises, and songs that she selects (and a few I select). I am retired and am lucky to be able to practice 3 hours daily in 3 one-hour blocks. I have 'learned' about 26 songs since I started except I can almost NEVER make it through any of them without mistakes, wrong notes, fingers fumble and hit the neighboring key in addition to the one I'm supposed to hit. I learned them by reading the music, figuring out the fingering, gaining the feel or muscle memory for it then I basically just stare at the sheet music but am really playing from memory. I guess I use the sheet music as a guide but I'm not actually reading it and playing from it. If I don't practice every song every few days, when I go back to it, I have to relearn it or parts of it. It seems I will never be able to play the piano, but will probably always practice at it. Is this the way it's supposed to be? I could never sit and play for someone knowing that there is NO chance I will play with no mistakes, and I mean even for very simplistic songs. Any input would be appreciated


Hi there 88.

I've been at it, let's see, 28 months and - yup - I'm still making mistakes.

But my playing is still clearly improving. I'm certainly not satisfied but, I think, in another couple of year, I may be! [reasonably so anyway]

A lot will depend on how I am able to handle the flubs, as jotur suggests.

I'd say you're doing just fine and, as people here say, "enjoy the journey!"



Edited by AZ_Astro (03/16/14 03:21 PM)
_________________________
Kawai KG-5. Korg SP-250. Software pianos: Ivory II, Ravenscroft, Galaxy Vintage D, Alicia's Keys, et al.


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#2247566 - 03/16/14 05:04 PM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: eighty80eights8s]
earlofmar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1728
Loc: Australia
I am very similar, 56, semi retired, guitar background, and have been playing piano for 14 months and have a teacher. I can count on one hand the amount of times I might have played a piece straight through (just getting the notes right) and although it gets me down I remind myself I am a beginner and will sound like one for a long time to come.

As a way to monitor my progress I have started recording myself more the last few months. Although difficult knowing the recorder is "listening" it's good practice as it sharpens concentration and at the same time makes you more at ease with recording.

I am also doing the 40 Piece Challenge (you can google that) but essentially I am learning 40 pieces in one year. A mixture of current level pieces but the vast majority are much simpler short works I can learn in a week. There is the unexpected bonus I can play some of these pieces without mistakes which is a confidence booster. There is still the normal learning phase when even a very simple can't be played without mistakes but by the end of a week or two they become pretty secure under the fingers. So I think it's a bit like sight reading, I can't read my current level material but can read really simple stuff and so with mistakes. I am working at full concentration on my advanced works but when I switch to simpler material getting the notes right seems to be easier and I even start thinking more about dynamics.

Learning to polish a piece if you haven't done so already is a good key to note accuracy but the best tool seems to be just time. An average piece for me seems to be about two months, but a more ambitious work will take much longer before things start to fall into place. Which brings up another point, as true beginners our pieces are technical problems these are generally solved in the learning process but never mastered, is it any wonder we make mistakes.

I also forget music if I don't play it regular and my repertoire is one or two pieces (2 mins) worth. This doesn't bother me as I like to move onto new works as soon as possible and have no attachment to the old ones.
_________________________
I thought I understood endurance sport; then I took up piano
XXXV-6-XXX

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#2247638 - 03/16/14 08:25 PM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: earlofmar]
eighty80eights8s Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/18/14
Posts: 14
Hello all,

Thanks to everyone who replied and gave such good advice. I think the best thing about learning the piano is coming to this forum for support :)Everyone here seems so nice and willing to help. Funny but my teacher tells me the same things as the advice I get here and I do try to follow it but habits get in the way. Take playing each hand separately to learn a new piece. I do that when the piece looks over my head (although I guess they all are). But when I'm home alone, trying a new piece, my personality wants to know right away how it will feel and sound with two hands. It's like you're hungry and someone puts a juicy steak and lobster in front of you and says now just look at it, think about how you are going to eat it, practice cutting it with the knife but don't actually eat it. It's simply too tempting not to at least try it with two hands first. I think the most frequent question I get from my teacher is "Did you practice hands apart and with the metronome?" Hey, I want to learn to play before I reach Medicare age! I know as time wears on my memory, eyesight, flexibility although good now, won't get any better. Maybe that's why I'm so impatient, I want to learn to play while I still can smile Thanks again for all who gave such great advice smile

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#2247642 - 03/16/14 08:35 PM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: eighty80eights8s]
briansaddleback Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/27/14
Posts: 220
Loc: Irvine CA
Originally Posted By: eighty80eights8s
OK, I started taking piano lessons last year at age 57. I played the guitar for years and even dabbled on the keyboard so I had a little background. I like my teacher and firmly believe she's a good one. I get a mix of Alfred lesson books, exercises, and songs that she selects (and a few I select). I am retired and am lucky to be able to practice 3 hours daily in 3 one-hour blocks. I have 'learned' about 26 songs since I started except I can almost NEVER make it through any of them without mistakes, wrong notes, fingers fumble and hit the neighboring key in addition to the one I'm supposed to hit. I learned them by reading the music, figuring out the fingering, gaining the feel or muscle memory for it then I basically just stare at the sheet music but am really playing from memory. I guess I use the sheet music as a guide but I'm not actually reading it and playing from it. If I don't practice every song every few days, when I go back to it, I have to relearn it or parts of it. It seems I will never be able to play the piano, but will probably always practice at it. Is this the way it's supposed to be? I could never sit and play for someone knowing that there is NO chance I will play with no mistakes, and I mean even for very simplistic songs. Any input would be appreciated


This is me right here.
and perhaps many others. I just get joy out of trying to play pieces I enjoy and just kind of getting lost in it. Many times I dont even recognize I am making mistakes (after learning the piece) but not sure if that is a good way to practice , but what I am saying is you are not alone. And I have many more years experience than you. you just started.


The thing is...as you push along your journey of piano...you will notice (in hindsight) the much improvement you have made over the years. I still fumble, stumble, phrase wrong , voice notes wrong, all sorts of errors...but they are less and less and also less egregious.
But it is an ocean of getting better and I won't ever get to the shore of superb pianistic playing.. but Iwill enjoy my swim toward it. However long it takes
_________________________

Cloches a travers les feuilles
Minstrels

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#2247645 - 03/16/14 08:50 PM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: eighty80eights8s]
shaolin95 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/12/11
Posts: 476
This is such a great thread and makes me feel much better about my own experience!
I think this video helps nicely on how to approach the learning process as well..at least it is helping me fix my previous learning mistakes. smile


Edited by shaolin95 (03/16/14 08:50 PM)
_________________________
*Young Chang Y185 6'-1"

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*Young Chang Y150 (Del F design) (gone)

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#2247672 - 03/16/14 09:56 PM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: eighty80eights8s]
dmd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 1921
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: eighty80eights8s
OK, I started taking piano lessons last year at age 57. I played the guitar for years and even dabbled on the keyboard so I had a little background. I like my teacher and firmly believe she's a good one. I get a mix of Alfred lesson books, exercises, and songs that she selects (and a few I select). I am retired and am lucky to be able to practice 3 hours daily in 3 one-hour blocks. I have 'learned' about 26 songs since I started except I can almost NEVER make it through any of them without mistakes, wrong notes, fingers fumble and hit the neighboring key in addition to the one I'm supposed to hit. I learned them by reading the music, figuring out the fingering, gaining the feel or muscle memory for it then I basically just stare at the sheet music but am really playing from memory. I guess I use the sheet music as a guide but I'm not actually reading it and playing from it. If I don't practice every song every few days, when I go back to it, I have to relearn it or parts of it. It seems I will never be able to play the piano, but will probably always practice at it. Is this the way it's supposed to be? I could never sit and play for someone knowing that there is NO chance I will play with no mistakes, and I mean even for very simplistic songs. Any input would be appreciated


A suggestion I can make is to try to put less emphasis on learning a lot of pieces fast and more on learning to play a few pieces very well. Practice them over and over and over without making mistakes ... (i.e. play them slowly). Take more pride in how well you are playing as opposed to how fast you can "learn" a piece.

This will result in slower "progress" if more pieces learned is your measure of progress but may ultimately serve you better because you will take more pride in how well you play.
_________________________
Don

Current: ES7, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 audio device, SennHeiser HD555 Phones, Focal CMS 40 Powered Monitors, Ravenscroft275, Ivory II American Concert D, Pianoteq 5

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#2247690 - 03/16/14 10:38 PM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: eighty80eights8s]
rnaple Offline

Silver Supporter until April 24 2014


Registered: 12/23/10
Posts: 2107
Loc: Rocky Mountains
I just got a new teacher. Some advise I keep posting that he gave me:

If ya wanna get good at a piece. Ya gotta play it a billion times. Ya gotta play it till you're sick of it. The only reason you won't drop it because you're sick of it is that you love it. Then you will begin to get good at that piece.

Might I add.... Until you face the above fact. You're just gonna keep stumbling through pieces.
_________________________
Ron
Your brain is a sponge. Keep it wet. Mary Gae George
The focus of your personal practice is discipline. Not numbers. Scott Sonnon

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#2247692 - 03/16/14 10:46 PM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: rnaple]
briansaddleback Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/27/14
Posts: 220
Loc: Irvine CA
Originally Posted By: rnaple
I just got a new teacher. Some advise I keep posting that he gave me:

If ya wanna get good at a piece. Ya gotta play it a billion times. Ya gotta play it till you're sick of it. The only reason you won't drop it because you're sick of it is that you love it. Then you will begin to get good at that piece.

Might I add.... Until you face the above fact. You're just gonna keep stumbling through pieces.


Nice.
_________________________

Cloches a travers les feuilles
Minstrels

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#2247754 - 03/17/14 03:08 AM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: briansaddleback]
Charles Cohen Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 1480
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
Quote:
. . . Hey, I want to learn to play before I reach Medicare age! I know as time wears on my memory, eyesight, flexibility although good now, won't get any better. Maybe that's why I'm so impatient, I want to learn to play while I still can . . .


Wait till you're in your late 60's -- _then_ you can talk about poor memory!

. Charles

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#2247772 - 03/17/14 05:11 AM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: Charles Cohen]
peterws Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3795
Loc: Northern England.
Originally Posted By: Charles Cohen
Quote:
. . . Hey, I want to learn to play before I reach Medicare age! I know as time wears on my memory, eyesight, flexibility although good now, won't get any better. Maybe that's why I'm so impatient, I want to learn to play while I still can . . .


Wait till you're in your late 60's -- _then_ you can talk about poor memory!

. Charles


Tell me about it . . .tell `er about it! But you can use it to your advantage if you`re devious enough . . .! grin
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"I'm playing all the right notes � but not necessarily in the right order." Eric Morecambe

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#2247778 - 03/17/14 06:22 AM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: eighty80eights8s]
Rerun Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/07
Posts: 627
Loc: Louisiana
Originally Posted By: eighty80eights8s
Hello all,

Thanks to everyone who replied and gave such good advice. I think the best thing about learning the piano is coming to this forum for support :)Everyone here seems so nice and willing to help. Funny but my teacher tells me the same things as the advice I get here and I do try to follow it but habits get in the way. Take playing each hand separately to learn a new piece. I do that when the piece looks over my head (although I guess they all are). But when I'm home alone, trying a new piece, my personality wants to know right away how it will feel and sound with two hands. It's like you're hungry and someone puts a juicy steak and lobster in front of you and says now just look at it, think about how you are going to eat it, practice cutting it with the knife but don't actually eat it. It's simply too tempting not to at least try it with two hands first. I think the most frequent question I get from my teacher is "Did you practice hands apart and with the metronome?" Hey, I want to learn to play before I reach Medicare age! I know as time wears on my memory, eyesight, flexibility although good now, won't get any better. Maybe that's why I'm so impatient, I want to learn to play while I still can smile Thanks again for all who gave such great advice smile



Offering to play piano for the social security agent to get a better monthly rate is probably not gonna work for you either, but it's worth a try. grin

Your enthusiasm for this tells me you are going to find success, but again a lot of these breakthroughs you are going to have sneak up on you, sometimes in the middle of the night. The next day, you just take off playing better, then you work some more until the next insight occurs. It may happen with the fingers, the eyes or the ears ... at least that's what I saw happening since I started.


Edited by Rerun (03/17/14 10:16 AM)
_________________________
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"Seat of the pants piano player" DMD







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#2247788 - 03/17/14 07:29 AM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: eighty80eights8s]
Ataru074 Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/11
Posts: 384
Loc: Houston, TX
1) Mark the sheet music with clear BIG BOLD letters or numbers. these are the starting points. I do mark any points where I do know I have memory or finger slips... usually after a quick runs.
2) don't keep playing over and over and over and over the entire piece... you will never learn it. instead first go through the whole piece, once, and after you did solve all the tricky passages.. than start learning it 2 bars at the time, from the end. if you can't remember 2 bar at the time, go to 1 bar... if one gives you trouble, do half.
3) at a certain point you will be able to play all the "units" ( group of 2 measure in the previous case ) without fumbling if taken one by one... start putting stuff together.. than do 4... if you can do without fumbling, good.. and expand to 8... if you keep having trouble, go back on the spot and isolate it. looks like a long process, but it's way faster than hoping to get a piece under your finger playing over and over.

Note:
my teacher says that to have a Chopin piece safe for performance you need to hold onto it for at least one year after you finish reading it and you have it at speed... so, the theory of getting bored of it somehow fit the envelope.
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Brahms: Op 118
Mozart: Kv330
Beethoven: Op 14 #2
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#2248078 - 03/17/14 08:12 PM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: eighty80eights8s]
eighty80eights8s Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/18/14
Posts: 14
I'm kinda new to this forum and not certain if this is the way to add to my own post, by replying to it. If not, my apologies, please advise if there is a more appropriate way. This could be another new thread but I thought it best here. About the metronome and dealing with tricky rhythms such as dotted quarter or dotted 8th notes. I find the metronome stressful to deal with. It seems to only help in letting me know if I am started and ending each measure on the beat but within the measure, my brain can't keep track of playing the correct notes and trying to count between the ticks of the metronome. My teacher had me trying to mentally divide and count one tick into 4 'sub-ticks' and hit the next note on the 4th of those 4 sub-ticks (I think I was dealing with a dotted 8th note). Also, sometimes I can play much better without the metronome because it becomes a stressor for me. If I slow it down to deal with the more difficult parts, it's like being late for an appointment and being stuck behind a slow driver doing 20 in a 45 zone. I can look at the notes and know intellectually how the notes are to be played but making that connection from my brain to my fingers in due time is very difficult. Sometimes you just need to feel it to play it rather than try to count it in a clinical fashion. What is the best way to deal with the dreaded metronome?

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#2248168 - 03/18/14 12:27 AM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: eighty80eights8s]
hreichgott Online   happy
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/13
Posts: 1202
Loc: western MA, USA
Regarding mistakes, yes, they just creep in to anything we haven't played in several days. Except maybe with pieces we've performed many many times over a period of years. (And then sometimes even in those.) Pieces get rusty and that's why daily practice is important. Don't worry about trying to keep your entire repertoire in performance shape all of the time, but you might find it rewarding to choose maybe a few every week that you enjoy and revisit them every day so you can enjoy playing them fluidly and well. Change them out for other old favorites if you get bored.

As Dr. Suzuki said, knowledge plus 10,000 times equals ability smile

Metronome: Why not set the metronome at the eighth note or 16th note? I do this all the time. For example if the quarter note is supposed to be 72, you can set it at 144 to hear eighth notes. I find an eighth note metronome helpful in getting accurate dotted rhythms -- easier to mentally cut an eighth note in half than a quarter note into four.
_________________________
Heather W. Reichgott, piano http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com
Working on: Schumann/Kinderszenen
Daily 16th notes: Chopin Op. 10 no. 2, Pischna
I love Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and new music

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#2248179 - 03/18/14 01:23 AM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: eighty80eights8s]
briansaddleback Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/27/14
Posts: 220
Loc: Irvine CA
That's right. I recall some famous pianist (or cellist?) once said, "If I don't practice one day, I notice. If I don't practice two days, everyone notices" or something of that sort. Maybe someone can help.

But we are all human.
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Cloches a travers les feuilles
Minstrels

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#2248182 - 03/18/14 01:43 AM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: briansaddleback]
Sand Tiger Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 1083
Loc: Southern California
Originally Posted By: briansaddleback
That's right. I recall some famous pianist (or cellist?) once said, "If I don't practice one day, I notice. If I don't practice two days, everyone notices" or something of that sort. Maybe someone can help.



"If I miss one day of practice, I notice it. If I miss two days, the critics notice it. If I miss three days, the audience notices it."

http://quotationsbook.com/quotes/tag/practice/

credits that to Ignacy Jan Paderewski (November 6, 1860 - June 29, 1941). He was a Polish pianist, composer, diplomat and politician, and the third Prime Minister of Poland.
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#2248185 - 03/18/14 01:52 AM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: eighty80eights8s]
briansaddleback Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/27/14
Posts: 220
Loc: Irvine CA
Thanks! that was quick smile
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Cloches a travers les feuilles
Minstrels

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#2249277 - 03/20/14 05:52 AM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: eighty80eights8s]
compianist1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/13/13
Posts: 121
Loc: Banned
14 MONTHS? I AGREE

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#2253787 - 03/29/14 01:05 AM Re: Been at it 14 months and... [Re: eighty80eights8s]
angelsong Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/06/13
Posts: 81
Loc: NW England
This is a great thread!! Like 'Musical Therapy'! Thanks

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