how can i stop these thoughts

Posted by: zYe

how can i stop these thoughts - 10/16/12 11:58 PM

sorry if this comes across as whiny or annoying to any of you guys but i just needed to place to get this off my chest.

i am curious about the level i am at. ive noticed progress with my playing but i am unsure of where i stand, in terms of, how much further i have to go until i can expect to start looking at some of the music i really want to be capable of playing.

i can play this piece almost as good as this guy



but it still takes me quite a long time to get a piece like that to that level. id say it took me about 4-5 months to be able to play it at that tempo without mistakes. (and i was working on other pieces during that time, still, they generally take a long time to play well).

but i want to study bach, scarlatti, hayden, beethoven, mozart, shubert, schumann, chopin, mendelson, liszt, rachmaninoff (the music of theirs that is in its maturity)! i can only play material at the level of the little preludes of bach, or the album for the young of schumann (first few pieces) or say the first 4 sonatinas of clementi. i understand there is a learning curve but i'm already at the point where i feel like there is no hope in ever even approaching the level of music id like to play.

ive been practicing at least 4-5 days a week every week for about three years now. i still practice but its the kind of practice that is drenched in resignation.. its going through the motions and forcing yourself through the necessary maneuvers that you know result in progress but have become so very repetitive.

i feel as if the more i learn the more i can see the steepness of the learning curve rise. i feel like the difficulty is growing exponentially, and as it becomes more difficult it also results in an increased time of learning for that particular step in ones musical ability.

the only thing keeping me attached is youtube. everytime i watch an incredible performance of someone i am filled with inspiration again but i always lose hope after hours of frustration and repetition.

i have this discussion going on in my head everyday of trying to convince myself that i am just being pessimistic, but everything in my mind tells me i am a fool for expecting to ever reach such great heights on the piano.

whenever i reflect upon rachmainoffs three year drepression due to his first symphony, i bubble over with jealousy that his greatest failures are still most likely impossibilities for me to even achieve. the same goes for so many musicians relative to me most likely.

i don't even like to call myself a musician (even though i think about it constantly) due to being so limited.


(random video)

Robert Schumann - “The study of the history of music and the hearing of masterworks of different epochs will quickly cure you of vanity and self-adoration”

yes it is humbling. but it is too humbling to me. it leaves me feeling incompetent.

(random video)
Posted by: kayvee

Re: how can i stop these thoughts - 10/17/12 12:19 AM

You are at your own level. It will take you the amount of time it takes you to play the music you want to play. Get a teacher.

Really, there is no other answer than the above.

If you can play those pieces well after just three years, don't feel bad. You are already at a pre-early-advanced/college-auditioning material level. If you've worked on a handful of Little Preludes, you may be ready for the Inventions or French Suites. If you've played four Clementi sonatinas, you may be ready for some easier Beethoven Sonatas/inas and easier Haydn sonatas, as well as many variations and other pieces. If you can play some Schumann pieces for the young, some easier Chopin waltzes and mazurkas may be possible for you to start.

If you're looking for someone to tell you "go ahead and learn your hard pieces because you are ready!", then you are grasping at air. No one hear (sic) can tell you that. If you aren't enjoying the process, then you need to ask yourself if you'd enjoy the end result. It doesn't become easier once you are at a higher level, even if the pieces you are playing are more 'mature' sounding.
Posted by: zYe

Re: how can i stop these thoughts - 10/17/12 12:49 AM

I just need some sense of hope. I've had a teacher all along and she is great. Does anyone else play and practice for a long time and walk out of the practice room everyday thinking "this instrument is the hardest thing I've ever tried" or think that, although I am learning it still feels as those first awe inspiring pieces that first made me want to play piano seem just as far away today as they did three years ago. I know I am closer but they are so damn hard they are still an unquantifiable amount of time blood and sweat away from my level. How do you preserve?
Posted by: kayvee

Re: how can i stop these thoughts - 10/17/12 12:53 AM

Originally Posted By: zYe
I just need some sense of hope. I've had a teacher all along and she is great. Does anyone else play and practice for a long time and walk out of the practice room everyday thinking "this instrument is the hardest thing I've ever tried" or think that, although I am learning it still feels as those first awe inspiring pieces that first made me want to play piano seem just as far away today as they did three years ago. I know I am closer but they are so damn hard they are still an unquantifiable amount of time blood and sweat away from my level. How do you preserve?
I remember that they're the reason I want to play, and that I'd hate myself for quitting before getting to that level. The best bet you have is to do something out of character for practicing - try a different style, improv, new (easy) piece... anything to help you feel comfortable or uncomfortable, but to renew interest at what you can currently do.
Posted by: LoPresti

How can i stop these thoughts - 10/17/12 01:19 AM

Originally Posted By: zYe
I just need some sense of hope.

There is real hope here! After only a short dialogue with a Linguistics Major (KV), you were able to transform this :
Originally Posted By: zYe
i am curious about the level i am at. ive noticed progress with my playing but i am unsure of where i stand, in terms of, how much further i have to go until i can expect to start looking at some of the music i really want to be capable of playing. . . . . i can play this piece almost as good as this guy

. . . into a fully capitalized and punctuated this :

Originally Posted By: zYe
I've had a teacher all along and she is great. Does anyone else play and practice for a long time and walk out of the practice room everyday thinking "this instrument is the hardest thing I've ever tried" . . .

Like magic!
Ed
Posted by: kayvee

Re: How can i stop these thoughts - 10/17/12 01:24 AM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti
Originally Posted By: zYe
I just need some sense of hope.

There is real hope here! After only a short dialogue with a Linguistics Major (KV), you were able to transform this :
Originally Posted By: zYe
i am curious about the level i am at. ive noticed progress with my playing but i am unsure of where i stand, in terms of, how much further i have to go until i can expect to start looking at some of the music i really want to be capable of playing. . . . . i can play this piece almost as good as this guy

. . . into a fully capitalized and punctuated this :

Originally Posted By: zYe
I've had a teacher all along and she is great. Does anyone else play and practice for a long time and walk out of the practice room everyday thinking "this instrument is the hardest thing I've ever tried" . . .

Like magic!
Ed
Posted by: LoPresti

How can i stop these thoughts - 10/17/12 01:34 AM

KayVee,

I was hesitant because of the absolutely spot-on advice you gave in your very first reply above, and did not want to detract. I took the chance -- glad you enjoyed it.
Ed
Posted by: jasperkeys

Re: How can i stop these thoughts - 10/17/12 10:31 AM

You'd feel even worse if you quit. I know about the feeling in being hesitant to call yourself a musician. I'm 58 and I feel there just isn't going to be enough time to learn as much as I want to. I've took my first piano lesson at age 19 and at the time the possibilities seemed limitless. However through the years I slowly realized I was never going to be as good as what I'd envisioned. I began to wonder if I was even meant to play the piano as I didn't feel like it physically didn't seem to come naturally to me. I do have a decent ear and I know basic theory and chord knowledge but I know more than what I'm able to play.

I think there comes a time when you have to to be comfortable in knowing there are going to be people who play better but you'll be better then some. People tell me I play well and this make me feel good but on the other hand, unless they play, they have no idea how much practice this all took.

I love playing the piano anyway. Despite what I feel sometimes I have to remember why I started playing in the first place: it just sounds so good to my ears. I remember that music is a pleasure to the ears and not just a series of obstacles in trying hit the right notes all the time. I sometimes ask people if they play the piano and many will say that they used to but just left it behind. They say that they wish they would have kept it up. I've never heard anybody tell me they were so glad not to play anymore. We're very fortunate you know, to be able to have a haven for our souls and minds in the music we play for ourselves. Most people don't have that.
Posted by: BruceD

Re: how can i stop these thoughts - 10/17/12 11:10 AM

Originally Posted By: zYe
[...] How do you preserve?


Preserve? Did you perhaps mean persevere?

One can persevere by choosing works that are reasonably within one's grasp and that, at the same time, are really enjoyable works to play. That may take some judicious choice of repertoire, but surely you teacher can help you with that. Forget - if you can - about what you can't (yet) play and concentrate on the enjoyment of pieces that you soon can play. The rest will come with time.

It seems that at the root of your problem is impatience and the failure to realize that there are many very satisfying works to play that are not at an advanced level, however inspiring those advanced pieces may be.

Regards,
Posted by: Talitha Hardjuno

Re: How can i stop these thoughts - 10/17/12 11:16 AM

If you don't mind me asking, how many hours do you spend to practice? I don't really recommend practicing for like 5 hours a day, 1 to 2 hours is enough but it should be efficient. I usually make a goal, such as having 1 page finished in 1 day or 2, that should help. But no matter what, don't just give up on a piece and stop learning it. What I can assure is by the time you master it, you will be very satisfied with yourself. Hope this help! smile
Posted by: Chopinlover49

Re: How can i stop these thoughts - 10/17/12 11:32 AM

I envy you. I am assuming you are much younger than I am. (63) You have a lot of time to improve and it sounds like you are already progressing very nicely. It is common to be impatient, but while you are improving, you can choose some non-classical pieces from composers like Gerschwin, Porter, and Arlin to explore for fun, along with your more serious studies. They offer beautiful melodies, nice harmonies, and the chance to embellish a bit with the things you are learning in your classical studies. It's nice to play something perfectly, but sometimes being able to play around a bit can free up your creativity and you will play with more spontaneity. Try it. Or, if you dislike popular songs, you can try improvising at the piano, or take a jazz lesson or two. There are many options to try. Your classical studies will take you where you want to go, but it takes time. Usually things that are worth having, take a little effort.
Posted by: boo1234

Re: How can i stop these thoughts - 10/17/12 12:01 PM

You should stop trying to compare yourself to other poeple and just play for recreation. The ceiling on what you can play is different for every individual. It's a sad fact, but you may never be able to play some pieces and that's ok.
Posted by: zYe

Re: how can i stop these thoughts - 10/17/12 12:29 PM

I meant persevere. I enjoy the pieces I play, I just wish i could learn more quickly. It seems that my rate of learning is so slow that I will always be struggling. In order to be an adequate performer I feel one would need the skill of learning more quickly. It seems I am just really critical of myself. I practice about 2-4 hours 4-5 days a week to clarify. Like with Rachmaninoff I assume its going to easily be another 5 or so years before I could even attempt playing any of his music. Thoughts like that continually bother me. I want to do something professionaly with the piano but I am so far behind. I had to change majors due to my limited ability and that constantly bothers me. I finally found my passion and love for something (which is the piano) yet it seems that I and doomed to it being a hobby. I look at all my friends pursuing their passions in school professionaly yet I am forced to choose something realistic in a functional and financial sense. The reality of my current circumstance generates my impatience. Ill keep trying no matter w
Posted by: bennevis

Re: How can i stop these thoughts - 10/17/12 12:31 PM

Originally Posted By: boo1234
You should stop trying to compare yourself to other poeple and just play for recreation. The ceiling on what you can play is different for every individual. It's a sad fact, but you may never be able to play some pieces and that's ok.


After only three years, the OP is a long, long way from reaching his 'ceiling', IMO. He or she has already progressed faster than most young pianists in such a short time.

When I was young, I too was impatient, wanting to play the Waldstein etc long before I had the chops to do so. Then, in my late teens some years later (after Waldstein), I thought I'd never be able to play Gaspard, even badly...and decades later, I'm now playing it (- badly grin).
Posted by: BruceD

Re: how can i stop these thoughts - 10/17/12 01:22 PM

Originally Posted By: zYe
I meant persevere. I enjoy the pieces I play, I just wish i could learn more quickly. It seems that my rate of learning is so slow that I will always be struggling. In order to be an adequate performer I feel one would need the skill of learning more quickly. It seems I am just really critical of myself. I practice about 2-4 hours 4-5 days a week to clarify. Like with Rachmaninoff I assume its going to easily be another 5 or so years before I could even attempt playing any of his music. Thoughts like that continually bother me. I want to do something professionaly with the piano but I am so far behind. I had to change majors due to my limited ability and that constantly bothers me. I finally found my passion and love for something (which is the piano) yet it seems that I and doomed to it being a hobby. I look at all my friends pursuing their passions in school professionaly yet I am forced to choose something realistic in a functional and financial sense. The reality of my current circumstance generates my impatience. Ill keep trying no matter w


Perhaps you will - eventually - be grateful that you are "doomed" to having the piano as a hobby. With the difficulty - extreme in so many cases - of making a decent living out of the piano, apart from teaching, you might have found that not having to make your living from the piano is a blessing.

Of the hundreds - if not thousands - of brilliant young pianists coming out of conservatories and university music schools who can't find work in the field of their "passion," they are left with degrees and diplomas that may not help them keep a roof over their heads in the current economy. Their passion has led them to an impractical situation with regards to the necessities of daily living.

Those of us who have had the piano as a "hobby" find a lifetime of enjoyment from it. As a hobby, it hasn't kept us from striving to be our best, and it hasn't kept some of us from participating in advanced competitions. The very fact that our jobs mean (have meant) that we can't always be at the piano when we want to, results in our working better and enjoying it more when we can be at the piano.

Think on these things.

Regards,
Posted by: Vid

Re: how can i stop these thoughts - 10/17/12 01:42 PM

Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: zYe
I meant persevere. I enjoy the pieces I play, I just wish i could learn more quickly. It seems that my rate of learning is so slow that I will always be struggling. In order to be an adequate performer I feel one would need the skill of learning more quickly. It seems I am just really critical of myself. I practice about 2-4 hours 4-5 days a week to clarify. Like with Rachmaninoff I assume its going to easily be another 5 or so years before I could even attempt playing any of his music. Thoughts like that continually bother me. I want to do something professionaly with the piano but I am so far behind. I had to change majors due to my limited ability and that constantly bothers me. I finally found my passion and love for something (which is the piano) yet it seems that I and doomed to it being a hobby. I look at all my friends pursuing their passions in school professionaly yet I am forced to choose something realistic in a functional and financial sense. The reality of my current circumstance generates my impatience. Ill keep trying no matter w


Perhaps you will - eventually - be grateful that you are "doomed" to having the piano as a hobby. With the difficulty - extreme in so many cases - of making a decent living out of the piano, apart from teaching, you might have found that not having to make your living from the piano is a blessing.

Of the hundreds - if not thousands - of brilliant young pianists coming out of conservatories and university music schools who can't find work in the field of their "passion," they are left with degrees and diplomas that may not help them keep a roof over their heads in the current economy. Their passion has led them to an impractical situation with regards to the necessities of daily living.

Those of us who have had the piano as a "hobby" find a lifetime of enjoyment from it. As a hobby, it hasn't kept us from striving to be our best, and it hasn't kept some of us from participating in advanced competitions. The very fact that our jobs mean (have meant) that we can't always be at the piano when we want to, results in our working better and enjoying it more when we can be at the piano.

Think on these things.

Regards,


+1 Wise words indeed! I know it is a cliche but its more about the journey than the destination because ultimately in performance art you never reach absolute perfection.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: how can i stop these thoughts - 10/17/12 02:43 PM

I don't think you should be thinking of a career a performing musician if your level is what you've indicated. Everything Bruce wrote is good advice. Amateurs in a way can have more enjoyment from music because there is not the intense pressure that a performing career usually entails.

You may never be able to play the most demanding and complex works by the great composers but only a tiny percentage of people ever reach that level...I'd guess 1-2%. And the bottom of that 1-2% are nowhere near the level needed to have a performing career.

But if you start examining the piano repertoire you will see that most of the great composers wrote a rather large number of complete masterpieces that do not require the most advanced technical or musical level to play well. Many of those pieces will be within your reach in a few years, and some are probably within your reach right now.

It's, I think, a mistake to be worrying now about when you might be able to play a Chopin Ballade well. There are a huge number of pieces by Chopin, for example, that I think are within the reach of an intermediate player.
Posted by: UK Paul UK

Re: how can i stop these thoughts - 10/17/12 02:53 PM

Originally Posted By: zYe
I just need some sense of hope. I've had a teacher all along and she is great. Does anyone else play and practice for a long time and walk out of the practice room everyday thinking "this instrument is the hardest thing I've ever tried" or think that, although I am learning it still feels as those first awe inspiring pieces that first made me want to play piano seem just as far away today as they did three years ago. I know I am closer but they are so damn hard they are still an unquantifiable amount of time blood and sweat away from my level. How do you preserve?
right with you mate. Like everyone else seems to find it easier... i must be the only one... your not, love the music and enjoy the journey.
Posted by: UK Paul UK

Re: how can i stop these thoughts - 10/17/12 03:26 PM

Also the more we learn the more we appreciate what it takes to make beautiful music... if you really want to get frustrated have a listen to evgeny kissin playing rachs 3rd concerto at 17 years of age... just because some may have more talent, does it make your acheivments any less? The fact you've posted here rather than drift off into the the 'used to dabble in piano masses' should be applauded anyways. Chin up fella.
Posted by: zYe

Re: how can i stop these thoughts - 10/17/12 04:52 PM

Don't get me wrong I love the piano more than anything else and I have no intension of quitting. I just need to revitalize faith in myself on a daily basis and it is a very frustrating process. Ill try to stop worrying so much, although I expect ill collapse into self doubt many times in the future. Having such admiration for great music and its performers naturally leaves me wanting to aspire to the same heights. One step at a time it seems... it reminds me of running, in that, I am miserable knowing I have miles left ahead of me before II can allow myself to rest. Initially starting the run I dread, and in the middle i may be exhausted but in the end I feel relived and accomplished. I just want to approach the late stages of development knowing that learning piano is never over/complete but rewarding in the sense that there is a completeness in the artistry at that point. The stage at the point I am at now is that exhausted beginning phrase. I will continue on...
Posted by: zYe

Re: how can i stop these thoughts - 10/17/12 04:58 PM

Andi thank everyone for their encouragement/advic, I appreciate it.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: how can i stop these thoughts - 10/17/12 05:01 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

It's, I think, a mistake to be worrying now about when you might be able to play a Chopin Ballade well. There are a huge number of pieces by Chopin, for example, that I think are within the reach of an intermediate player.


So true, zYe. Are you extremely familiar with Chopin's music, or would you like some recommendations?
Posted by: zYe

Re: how can i stop these thoughts - 10/17/12 07:39 PM

I'm very familiar. I can play his Em,Bm,Cm,GM, and AM preludes and one posthumous waltz (E flat major). I am awaiting further instruction from my teacher regarding the next piece she recommends. I still have work to do on the g major prelude though. I can play the first few bars of the revolutionary etude but I stopped messing with that because it is far too advanced. I'm lookiing forward to learning so much more of his work though.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: how can i stop these thoughts - 10/17/12 07:47 PM

Originally Posted By: zYe
I'm very familiar. I can play his Em,Bm,Cm,GM, and AM preludes and one posthumous waltz (E flat major). I am awaiting further instruction from my teacher regarding the next piece she recommends. I still have work to do on the g major prelude though. I can play the first few bars of the revolutionary etude but I stopped messing with that because it is far too advanced. I'm lookiing forward to learning so much more of his work though.


Are you leaning towards learning the complete preludes?
Posted by: zYe

Re: how can i stop these thoughts - 10/17/12 09:04 PM

Eventually but they vary in difficulty. I'd say ill either learn emahor or raindrop next
Posted by: yhc

Re: how can i stop these thoughts - 10/17/12 09:33 PM

<quote>but i want to study bach, scarlatti, hayden, beethoven, mozart, shubert, schumann, chopin, mendelson, liszt, rachmaninoff (the music of theirs that is in its maturity)! ... i understand there is a learning curve but i'm already at the point where i feel like there is no hope in ever even approaching the level of music id like to play.</quote>

I'm not sure why you are limiting yourself to the materials given by your teacher. In you spare time, you can still play all you want. If a piece is too difficult, change to the other pieces. That difficulty only means your level is not up there yet, but in the meantime, you can still get some benefits of sight reading on that piece. Playing piano is both hard work and enjoyment. Impatience goes nowhere.
Posted by: daviel

Re: how can i stop these thoughts - 10/17/12 09:35 PM

Just my take on it, but I would forget about all this "how long does it take" stuff. You have a teacher, ask your teacher about all this. Don't fabricate an alternate universe stationed in the future and mired in the past. Try to learn how to enjoy everything about practicing and playing the piano. Stay in the present. Find pleasure in what you are doing and learning. Pay attention to what music is in front of you. Slow down. Quit grading yourself (you really have no reason to criticize yourself, and you are not qualified at only 3 years into "the life" to rate how you're doing). Stop ruminating on "I cudda been a contender" and learn to enjoy practicing, your lessons, the beauty of the whole scene of trying to play the piano. Stay in the present. You'll be happier about it, and probably learn more. Just suggestions. I hope you can workout a way to be happier about studying piano.
Posted by: Sand Tiger

Re: how can i stop these thoughts - 10/17/12 10:50 PM

Virtually no one answered directly the question "how to stop these thoughts?" Meditation and Yoga are two concrete things a person can learn to do that will help with those thoughts.

The negative thoughts will come, however a person can choose to dwell on them or let them go. A preacher gave me this line "I may walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, but I don't have to build a condo there." The original poster seems to have chosen to focus on their weaknesses.

There is also the Zen credo, chop wood, carry water. In the simplest deeds, a person can find peace and fulfillment. It is the mind, not the deed itself.

Comparisons are a tough thing, but after three years and playing those kinds of pieces, that is likely better than the vast majority of beginner pianists. If top 10%, or top 25%, or top 50%, isn't good enough to be happy, it has more to do with the person than the activity. If being in the top group, but not at the very top, makes a person feel inadequate, that is more about the person than about competency.

There was the line about hope. Hope for what? To be able to play the most difficult pieces that take most pianists a decade or more of dedication to master, if they can do it at all? That is a fine aspiration, but in three years? It doesn't happen that way for 99.999% of beginners. If a person dreams of being that one-in-a-million talent, or one-in-a-thousand, that is a fine dream, but no reason to be discouraged, or depressed. Again, it more about the person than the activity when these kinds of negative thoughts become the focus. That's why I suggest learning to meditate or taking up yoga. Both can be a way to clear the mind of these kinds of thoughts.

There was another very long thread on the beginner's forum about a person that has taken lessons for six years now with various teachers and felt that they were still at the level of a typical first year pianist. That person wanted to sell their piano and quit. The comparison won't likely bring much joy to the original poster, but it does give some perspective.

I can add a bit of my personal story. I play what I can. I find simple joy in the simple pieces that I tend to compose. Some others derisively call the instrument I play on a toy, and my kind of pieces "kindergarten" level. Fine. I still find joy in the activity of writing and playing.
Posted by: daviel

Re: how can i stop these thoughts - 10/18/12 12:12 AM

Stopping the thoughts? OK - maybe you're short on serotonin -- "Serotonin ( /ˌsɛrəˈtoʊnɨn/) or 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) is a monoamine neurotransmitter. Biochemically derived from tryptophan, serotonin is primarily found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, platelets, and in the central nervous system (CNS) of animals including humans. It is popularly thought to be a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness."

Get checked out by a psychiatrist. Low serotonin may contribute to rumination and other troubles and can be treated by Rx.
Posted by: zYe

Re: how can i stop these thoughts - 10/18/12 12:23 AM

I never claimed that I thought it would be reasonable to be very advanced in three years time. I just am worried about my speed of progressing. The projected rates Iset get reevaluated the more I learn. When I learn something my vision grows but what it reveals is there are many more stepping stones and complications than I previously realized thus lengthing the projected goal I had set for reaching a certain level. See the pattern? The knowledge I gain results in an exponentially growth of the path that remains uncharted.

Regardless what I have gathered from this thread is that I need to just keep practicing because this is just the nature of learning and progress. And I think I might be depressed and fleeting and anxious which I already suspected. You guys all said that my mentality is not rational so ill stick to that. I just have trouble not getting stuck in my normally negative mindset.



So. Once again I appreciate the discussion. I wish you all happy practicing!
Posted by: lilylady

Re: how can i stop these thoughts - 10/18/12 08:35 AM

When I taught, I would often see a 3 year hump. That is work, work, work, and then all of a sudden things would start falling into place.

I also find that the more I learn, the more there is to learn.

It is a life long ambition. Don't be discouraged.