an adult learner, HELP - FRUSTRATED

Questions on learning to play the piano, and piano music.

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ilovemypiano
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an adult learner, HELP - FRUSTRATED

Post by ilovemypiano » 25 Mar 2009, 00:08

hoping to get lots of encouragement and advice from you guys.

I took up the piano 6 months ago from scratch after a lifetime in love with the instrument. When I hit a milestone birthday, i got myself a beautiful upright acoustic (Yamaha U1) and got me some lessons. I want to work through my grades (Royal Irish Academy of Music) starting with G1 later this year. Am learning 3 pieces that include a piece from Bach and Mozart.

I try to get one hours practice a day but it's not easy cos am mum to a demanding 3-year old and i work part time. I average about 5 hours practice a weekplus a lesson with a fab teacher.

With me, i'm very aural and pick up stuff "by ear" really fast BUT i want to read sheet music fluently and apply sheet music to my playing. I am being trained classically and want to apply the classical model to my style of playing. At some stage i want to be able to pick up a piece and just play it. Will that ever happen, doesn't feel like that at the moment? My sight reading is slow at the moment and i'm frustrated with my poor sight skills.

Playing hands together? Fine playing RH only, HT and it falls apart.

i seem to have hit a playing brick wall and want to know, need to know, this is part of the learning process. That yes, it's ok to be slow, ok to be a bit ploddy, cos that's what i am. That fingering skills come with time, that fluency with reading music comes with experience that making the brain move the hands in completely different ways, comes with time. I had a s*** lesson last friday and dreading the next cos i feel "stuck" with my progress.

Am beginning to think am devoid, not just of talent but of any musical ability and that is a horrible thought.

HELP? (sorry, didn't mean this to be so long)

I am in Ireland :lol:
:piano; (i really really do love my piano,it is my soulmate)
i really, really love my piano - a Yamaha U1.
Living in Ireland, learning since September 2008 and heading for G1. Goal is G8 and a Baby Grand, yeah!

Moonlight
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Re: an adult learner, HELP - FRUSTRATED

Post by Moonlight » 25 Mar 2009, 15:45

Hi ilovemypiano ( nice name! :) )

My advice is for now, try to familiarise youself with all the notes on all the clefs so you know what they are almost straight away, learn a few note names at a time and recite their names everyday when you pick up a piece of music. Then try to read very very very slowly at a steadly pace the most easiest pieces you started off with 6 months ago. Chances are its a very easy piece where hands play separately and remain in the same postion (five finger position).

I also recomend you get a book called Improve Your Sight Reading! by Paul Harris for grade 1, its a very good book with sight reading exercises for you to do everyday, and you can do some with your teacher. Learning to sight read is a very slow and long proces so don't be sad about it. I have been learing for a year and 3 months now and still my reading is painfully slow but I think its getting better.

The key to doing sight reading is to do it VERY slowly (at first) and to keep a steady rhythm going, look ahead as you play to the next note or bar so you know what you will be playing in a few seconds time, and to try to Ignore the mistakes. Grade one sight reading for ABRSM only requires your hands to play one at a time and they stay in the same position. So you shouldn't at this stage be trying to play with both hands together when sight reading, I think when sight reading you should pick pieces that are a few levels down from your grade level / abillty. Its a very slow process so you need to start off really easy, if you do some everyday you will make progress! :) 8) .

Hope this helps :mrgreen:

ilovemypiano
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Re: an adult learner, HELP - FRUSTRATED

Post by ilovemypiano » 26 Mar 2009, 15:42

hi guys, thanks for your replies.
i've managed to download a book called Secrets of successful sight reading (old, 1980s, now out of print but managed to get an ecopy) and will pick up the Harris too.

Frustration under control for now but lesson in the moring, we'll see what teacher thinks of my week's work!
i really, really love my piano - a Yamaha U1.
Living in Ireland, learning since September 2008 and heading for G1. Goal is G8 and a Baby Grand, yeah!

Gill the Piano
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Re: an adult learner, HELP - FRUSTRATED

Post by Gill the Piano » 26 Mar 2009, 18:45

Ilovemypiano,
Do you remember being a sprog and watching your dad pick up the newspaper...and just READ it?? No fingers running along the page, no forming the words soundlessly?? And thinking you'd neverevereverever do that? And now...?
Reading music's just the same. One day you're muttering 'FACE is in the spaces, f...a...C! It's a C!' and the next day you'll spook yourself by just playing a C as soon as you see it.
Honest!
Keep on keeping on; you'll do it!
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

Otto
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Re: an adult learner, HELP - FRUSTRATED

Post by Otto » 28 Mar 2009, 20:48

What you are aiming to achieve is to see a note on a stave and know immediately which one it is on the keyboard.

This will only come with endless practice, I'm afraid - and yes there will be periods when you feel you're not making any progress at all. I'd like to add a couple of thoughts to the above posts, which may help.

First, read the music slowly and don't spend more than 10 minutes on it at a time, and no more than 4 or 5 sessions a day. Lots of little sessions are much better than a solid hour batting your head against a brick wall. Second, remember that the name of the note is no more than a crutch for the beginner. When I play it's completely automatic now, and I'd have to stop and think if you wanted me to give you the name of the note.

Ultimately (and I don't there are many of us here - I'm not really one) reading the notes and playing them is done by the sub-conscious. The conscious is listening to what's being played and how it fits in with their idea of an interpretation.

Some musicians are in a league we will never attain, and we just have to admire them. As a choirmaster, I had a temporary accompanist for an evening and we were singing some Bach. We provided him with a score to play from, and after 20 minutes of faultless playing I noticed he had a second copy of the work on his lap. He managed to turn the pages of both scores at the apporpiate moment without missing a note. Eventually I asked him what he was doing. He replied that the two copies were different editions and he was comparing them as he went along !
Otto

JPhoenix
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Re: an adult learner, HELP - FRUSTRATED

Post by JPhoenix » 22 May 2009, 02:41

Your sight reading will always be slow at first. It WILL improve with time, so don't give up. A few years from now you'll be reading it just like you read a book - without thinking about it.

KBO

markymark
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Re: an adult learner, HELP - FRUSTRATED

Post by markymark » 05 Jun 2009, 00:45

Definitely pace yourself! When anyone starts the piano, gaining confidence, accuracy and concentration is an uphill struggle until you get used to it. Think about taking a 20-30 minute practice each day and plan what you are going to do to make the most out of that lesson.

Scales and arpeggios are a must and I would recommend you start off a session with those for say 5-8 minutes. This helps loosen up your hands as well as toning them. It also helps gain confidence in the key signatures.

bluedianthus
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Re: an adult learner, HELP - FRUSTRATED

Post by bluedianthus » 25 Jun 2009, 11:17

Hi ilovemypiano,
i'm kind of envious that you can read music sheets, as for me, i saw the music sheets as i see some bean sprouts (frankly to say), so i hope that u wont give up your piano lesson. Maybe after i finished my master degree i will take the piano lesson formally. It's better late than never. ilovemypiano too....heheh

markymark
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Re: an adult learner, HELP - FRUSTRATED

Post by markymark » 26 Jun 2009, 18:19

There are some online games you can play to start developing competence and speed at reading notes.

Do a search on Google. There is also the Note Fanzine game but may be a bit hard to start with (see Games forum for more info).

lamp_abi
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Re: an adult learner, HELP - FRUSTRATED

Post by lamp_abi » 01 Mar 2010, 05:01

I learned how to play the piano when I was little, maybe a decade ago it already is. I want to learn how to play the piano now that I'm older but I don't know how much of a help will my "stored knowledge" be. I haven't played the piano in years. I actually regret not continuing on my piano lessons.

Lottie
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Re: an adult learner, HELP - FRUSTRATED

Post by Lottie » 06 Jun 2011, 20:36

I have just joined this forum as I was searching the Internet for help. I had my first piano lesson aged 50! I had lessons for two years and did grades 1 and 2. I got distinctions in my theory tests, but my nerves always let me down in the practical tests, where I only got a Merit. Other things in my life took over and I stopped having lessons, occasionally tinkering here and there. I have now decided to start again (aged 63) and am currently trying to find a teacher. It's quite obvious that I am not going to become a concert pianist so I was hoping to find someone to teach me in an easier way. My sight reading is slow and as other members have mentioned i can play hands separate quite well - it all becomes very plodding with hands together. I have been practicing every day for about the last month, and occasionally, I can be quite pleased, but there are lots of other times when I wonder why I bother.

I have no one to discuss any of this with as none of my friends play. I gave my children and grandchildren the opportunity to learn, but they never lasted very long.

Any input would be great fully received. :piano;

Gill the Piano
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Re: an adult learner, HELP - FRUSTRATED

Post by Gill the Piano » 07 Jun 2011, 17:01

Everyone feels 'ploddy' when they first put hands together at the keyboard, it doesn't matter if you're learning Three Blind Mice or rachmaninov! We are all learning at the extent of our capability, and the higher grades are struggling as much as the lower, but in a different way. So you're not alone; we're all in the same boat, Lottie! I'm learning the classical guitar and there are days when I could do a Pete Townshend with the poxy thing! :D
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

Lottie
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Re: an adult learner, HELP - FRUSTRATED

Post by Lottie » 07 Jun 2011, 20:21

That made me chuckle - I saw Pete Townsend at a club in Manchester in the 60's. I don't think they were in their smashing things up phase then.

I practised all my scales today - I struggled to remember them and had to refer to my Grade 2 book. I have ordered the sight reading book recommended on this forum and have also read the Ten Amazing free tips for sightreading. I think it will be better when I have found myself a teacher as I have so many questions and I am hoping that lessons will give me more direction. I have also taken on board the advice about playing my pieces very slowly.

Thanks

josephcush39
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Re: an adult learner, HELP - FRUSTRATED

Post by josephcush39 » 17 Aug 2011, 08:36

I have been doing the Paul Harris sight reading course for G1 that my old friend Moonlight mentions and if you work through it at a steady pace, it will open your eyes to little aspects of sight reading[quote][/quote]


I agree.....

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To buy silver or gold bars for sale & static caravan insurance now

Squidatlarge
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Re: an adult learner, HELP - FRUSTRATED

Post by Squidatlarge » 29 Apr 2012, 09:03

Re adult learner

Thank you all for posting your views! Am new here and appreciate the support offered
...feels like it all speaks to me. (Yes, I might be a closet narcisist!)
I am a adult piano student started taking lessons 3 years ago at 45.
Wanted to comment on a couple of recent "Aha!" moments
I should admit at this point that I don't practice regularly, maybe a couple of hours a week (on a good week)
Also haven't bothered much with scales but see that in my future. I have an easy going teacher.

The latest and greatest discovery is though I see myself playing popular music
and enjoy it, not much compares with the couple of itty bitty classical portions
of pieces I know. So the current leaning is away from the stuff I thought I wanted to
learn like Nora Jones/John Hiatt and Adele though I still want to play those
Classical music speaks to so much more of my life. The complexity and passion feels almost
like brain candy!

Also one of my most memorable moments was when I looked back at the first little pieces I
was able to play with ease and remembering how I thought I'd never get this (reading music
is still a bit like reading Chinese for me) But I love the analogy of remembering when we were
little sprogs watching Dad read the newspaper and marvelling at how he could do that so effortlessly...
Look what you're playing now, compared to when you first started! Sometimes the only way to tell
how far we've come is to look back at when and where we started. Blessings, Thank you so much
for your sharing and fun stories. NEVER, NEVER give up!

Squid-at-large
p.s. I'm 3/4 of the way through Alfreds book 2

gizzy
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Re: an adult learner, HELP - FRUSTRATED

Post by gizzy » 06 May 2012, 21:21

Squidatlarge wrote:Re adult learner

p.s. I'm 3/4 of the way through Alfreds book 2
Hi Squidatlarge!
Would that be the brown bordered Alfred Basic Course book 2, or the adult course (which I don't really know well)?

If it's the basic book, you're following a good track; these Alfred books are ever so well structured, so that with each new thing you learn,you should be able to play the new piece with no difficulty

And if you're 3/4 of the way through the brown book (although I think the adult book deals with the same things, but in a slightly different order), have you reached the part with the primary chords yet? That's probably the most important part of the entire series, becasue once you get the hang of those, you can find them pretty easily in every new key as you learn them, and if you're at the stage of being able to pick out tunes you know on the piano, you will soon be able to choose harmonies and textures to use with them as an accompaniment. This is playing by ear and is a Good Thing. Don't listen to anyone who suggests it's not.

I think Sight-Reading <genuflect, genuflect> as demanded by grade exams, is a bit overrated. Of course it's necessary to be able to work out from the notation how your music goes, and the quicker the better, and eventually it's good to be able to do it on the fly without stopping; but that stage will come when it's ready. In the meantime I'm on a campaign to get people to re-evaluate the perceived relative importance of sight-reading and playing by ear. Playing by ear isn't repeating parrot-fashion, it's reproducing on the instrument (or on paper) music you can hear in your head. Playing by ear was considered a real no-no when I was young (and I'm oooold)as it kind of suggested that you couldn't or wouldn't read from the notation. not true. I always did both.

Meanwhile, there's nowt wrong with the occasional bit of rote-learning. Here, catch! :D

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wia3wzkNOWA

Gizzy in Cambridge

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