What’s your biggest problem with practicing piano?

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

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yjieim
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What’s your biggest problem with practicing piano?

Post by yjieim » 22 Aug 2011, 10:10

Hey everyone!

-What’s your biggest problem with practicing piano?

Just thought I’d put the question out there, so that we could help each other overcome our challenges. If we see another member’s problem that we know how to solve, or have solved in the past, we can reply to their thread and help them out. Hopefully someone will do the same for our problem’s as well!
So let’s get posting everyone! We can use this thread to help out our fellow members, and also get guidance from other members in turn. Let’s see how many fellow members we can help! =D

Jie

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MarkGoodwinPianos
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Re: What’s your biggest problem with practicing piano?

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 23 Aug 2011, 16:38

I should stop and practise when there is a bit that I get stuck on. Instead, I carry on to play the easy bit because that's more fun.
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Gill the Piano
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Re: What’s your biggest problem with practicing piano?

Post by Gill the Piano » 24 Aug 2011, 17:28

We should ALL stop and practise when we make a mistake. Personally I shout a rude word and charge on... :mrgreen:
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

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grademusictutorscom
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Re: What’s your biggest problem with practicing piano?

Post by grademusictutorscom » 22 Sep 2011, 14:24

Probably not moving onto other areas that need practice. I focus on the same thing ad infinitum until I'm sure it's perfect.

Cascade
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Re: What’s your biggest problem with practicing piano?

Post by Cascade » 05 Oct 2011, 01:42

I think my problem is i just like to play things through once from start to finish and not go over specific sections/repeating them etc. I suppose technically this isnt practicing but just faffing around but i want all the glory without the 'hard work'. I just find going over the same section over and over spoils the enjoyment of the sound or 'flow' for me. A bit like listening to the same CD track over and over again. But thats just my humble opinion. I would like to know what the most effective practice methods are though (hands separate first? from memory etc.) and how they can be done without the mind wandering or getting bored/ tired too easily...

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Re: What’s your biggest problem with practicing piano?

Post by Nutroast » 25 Oct 2011, 16:17

yjieim wrote:Hey everyone!

-What’s your biggest problem with practicing piano?
Definitely reading notes in bass clef is the hardest thing for me. After only doing violin and descant recorder for all my life up to piano days, I have to plod though the base line of every piece at a snail's pace for ages. I've also realised that I played extensively by ear, I could play what I heard, but only read slowly. So sight reading is also very poor.

Also, according to my former teacher, I have ill-disciplined right 4th and 5ths :lol: they always seem to curl under. I also keep raising my left thumb. I know for a fact that both those faults come from they way I do touch-typing, which is another entrenched habit at typing is something I used to do day in day out.

Doesn't bode well for me does it :piano; :lol:

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Re: What’s your biggest problem with practicing piano?

Post by Firefox1701 » 13 Nov 2011, 13:17

My biggest problem: not nearly enough hours in the day.
Second biggest: probably concentration. Depending on what you believe, you should either be completely focussed on every note you play ( which is virtually impossible because hand-eye co-ordination takes around 0.5 seconds, which would mean that anything more than 120 notes per minute would make this unachievable even with the best powers of concentration in the world ) or you should let 'muscle memory' do the work and just let the music flow. Either way I find my mind tends to wander, especially playing scales or other repetitive stuff.
Third biggest ( for me personally ): not having a teacher. Finances dictate, I'm afraid, but having only one's own mental yardsticks to measure by is a very mixed blessing.

For what it's worth, I would offer the following thoughts:

For the lady (?) with the ill-disciplined 4th and 5th: whilst I'm nowhere near qualified enough to make a professional observation, I would say that you might do well to watch Keith Emerson play, at least in recent years. I have to say that I don't know how he does it, but one thing's for sure - curling the 4th and 5th under don't seem to be causing him any problems. In no way am I meaning to contradict your teacher - simply saying that it may not be the worst thing in the world. Indeed, if you watch Emerson, followed by Rick Wakeman ( who often seems to play almost entirely flat-fingered ) followed by Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater ( who somehow seems to manage to play with fingers so curled that the level of his palm almost seems to be lower than the level of the keyboard itself ) you quickly realise that whilst pedagogical teaching may say otherwise, beyond a certain point it seems to become a question of what works for the individual.

I personally practise almost everything with my eyes closed, mainly for the reason given above re hand-eye co-ordination. Even if you could follow what you were doing at any speed in excess of 120 notes per minute, if your hands are much further apart than about an octave at the very most, you couldn't follow them both at once in any case. Human vision is designed to work in such a way as to have both eyes focussed on the same thing; anything outside of a fairly small radius of the central point of focus becomes increasingly peripheral. I find that practising with my eyes closed, if nothing else, gives me a heightened sense of the geography of the instrument; as a touch-typist ( as I myself am ) I would imagine you'd understand what I mean.

I can read music, but I can't sight-read, so I can't really comment on that. For that reason I learn things from sheet music first and then get them 'up to speed' once I've committed them to memory.

I have an almost obsessive desire for perfection, which of course is almost unattainable in the short or medium term. If I play a piece and one note is wrong, then it's not perfect. I tend to look at it as, "if I were a concert pianist and I did this, the audience wouldn't be likely to say, 'oh well - he got 99% of it right, so it was definitely worth £75 a ticket'". I totally sympathise with Gill's method: I couldn't begin to list the things I've called myself, usually at considerable volume, when practising in the studio alone. Suffice it to say that questioning my own parentage, my resemblance to certain parts of both male and female anatomy, and comparisons between my I.Q. and that of various pot plants have been regular features of my practise sessions.

I hope this has been of at least some help, or if not, has at least provided a little light relief.

Nutroast
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Re: What’s your biggest problem with practicing piano?

Post by Nutroast » 14 Nov 2011, 11:03

Hi Firefox, thanks for that. I've stopped worrying too much about my fingers' behavioural problems these days :) I accept that they will probably always be like this and as I just aim to be a good enough player to enjoy myself, I'm never going to one of the world's greats.

It's interesting what you say about practicing with your eyes closed. We are very visual animals and it's easy to play without listening, if you see what I mean. I find my playing is much worse if I watch my hands, so I rarely look down. I can't close mine though, especially if I'm learning a new piece, I just don't/can't take my eyes off the music for a moment, else I simply lose my place.

I know what you mean about finances dictating things. It's a shame really. Having said that, folk will happily spend £££s on a new gadget, whereas as soon as I have £120 burning a hole in my pocket, I'll convert that into a block of 10 lessons for my daughter. It's not too bad if you say it quickly!

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