Should I give up learning the piano POLL comments welcome

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Should I give up learning the piano permanently?

YES
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NO
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Total votes: 8

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dave brum
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Should I give up learning the piano POLL comments welcome

Post by dave brum » 04 Apr 2015, 08:34

Rightie ho then, I've spent the previous couple of days thinking long and hard again, and even popping into churches and praying/seeking God's guidance on this but everything once again seems to be getting too much for me and I am on the verge of sending that terminal email to Mabel. But before I do, I feel I should blog first. The question I have been persistently asking myself is why am I bothering to try to learn the piano at all if it's causing me this much heartache and agony that I could do without in my life??

The answer to this question is that the heartache is caused by me. The difficulty is my own attitude to not just learning the piano, but to life in general:

1. I hate myself

2. I often wonder why the hell I'm here

3. Live gives me absolutely nothing positive, which is why I'm beginning to wish I were dead more and more often

4. Everybody wishes me to fail, whether it's the local mental health services, the Department for Work and Pensions, the person to whom I am married or Fanny Fosdyke

5. I am defeated.

6. I do not enjoy doing anything any more. All these negative thoughts all shape my view of myself, the world and ultimately learning the piano.

Okay, so I am an open nihilist - however I am also a balanced liberal and I have been trying to put forward reasons why I am learning the piano, and why I've stuck at it for so long:

1. I AM musical and I refute any allegations to the contrary. Learning the piano is something I wanted to do long before nihilism ensconsed my soul, but had not been given the opportunity to do so by my mother. Who knows what might had happened if she'd had said yes. I would have been a musician with all 8 grades and a B.Mus instead of a failure on benefits sat here writing this tosh.

2. A few months ago, I found somebody who does NOT want me to fail. His name is Allah/God.

3.The more I discover serious music, the more I like it. My love of rock music, Black music and collecting vinyl in a previous life had blossomed into a classical and jazz enthusiast and a collector of classical CD's

4. I would consider myself to be intelligent and a thinker. I am fluent in Welsh, I couldn't speak a word of it before 1991 but I persevered in learning it WITHOUT negative thoughts and fear of failure. Imagine trying to learn a second language if you tell yourself you're going to fail all the time! I am not stupid. I read books and The Guardian. I listen to Radio 3. I vote in elections. And yet I sometimes think I think about things too much and allow stuff to fester in my head. Sight reading for instance - or Fanny Fosdyke. Therefore, the harder I try with SR the more I fail. Attitude.

5. I have the time to devote to a hobby such as collecting classical CDs, faraging round charity/antique shops or learning the piano. However only one of those hobbies make me anxious. I do not feel one iota of anxiety when I'm partaking in a darn good farage through a pile of Naxos in Solihull Oxfam Books and Music. I never ever think 'I'll never have all the Deutsche Grammophon Klassikon series' or the Decca 100 Best Tunes series or replace that Bach Guitar music CD that 'management' scratched for me (even though I am still cross about it months after it happened). Only learning the piano makes me anxious. Why is this?? Again, it's attitude on my part.

So after the questions come the solutions. If I don't give up, how do I correct a mindset that has been rooted for too many months and years? How do I enjoy the things I to know how to put myself in a position where once again I can feel positive and that I can cope withdo? How do I take control of my life again, to take up my bed and walk, to manage the frustration and to deal with years old negative points of view? I've cried for help for years on this particular subject and nobody has heard me, yet alone me. Only God/Allah has said to me 'I know the answers, Dave'. I need out turning to nihilistic humour which reinforces things.

Honestly I am in such a frustrated mess I could go on for page after page after page. I have not heard from Mabel and tomorrow, Easter Sunday, I am barred from going to church to ask The Risen Lord what to do as my wife will think I'm down the Premier Inn with a 'tom' or engaging in some sort of holistic enjoyment whilst she's sat in front of her silly television feeling lonely and sorry for herself...for which she will blame me. So, should I give up learning the piano when all of those criteria are taken into account??

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Post by dave brum » 04 Apr 2015, 14:11

Here are some more thoughts on what the outcomes will be after the decision is made.

1. Vote yes,

Not doing any piano practise or going to lessons will kill off a major source of my anxiety but only in the short to mid term. This will leave a hole where the piano learning once was and with a musical interest, coupled with nine years of trying to learn the piano, the hole will be replaced by guilt. That I have failed at doing something I have always wanted to do - which will fester over time and turn into lifelong regret at not having learned the piano at a younger age. Which will not solve the problem, of course.

2. Vote no.

I will carry on with learning, becoming more and more anxious and frustrated at the fact that I cannot sight read, which would lead me to believe that my brain is decaying, or that I have musical dyslexia, or that Fanny Fosdyke was right. This would lead to me becoming more and more masochistic, less enjoying and of course, more frustrated. The result, a reinforced bad attitude and a feeling that I will never ever succeed at learning the piano which in turn will push me further and possibly take over my whole life and make me a nervous wreck.

It really is a lose-lose situation as far as I can see - giving up would not make things better either.
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Post by dave brum » 04 Apr 2015, 16:57

Two votes to one so far, and even though she has not registered 'Management' has just voted no, making two for lifelong regret, two for nervous wreck. What can I say.
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Post by dave brum » 05 Apr 2015, 11:36

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Here is a case in point. Today is Easter Day and after an earnest farage around on my bookshelf, I found this easy play version (from 'The Easiest tune Book of Hymns' arranged by Eleanor Franklin Pike). It's easy peasy stuff, if you've been nine years trying to learn the piano, you should be able to play it reasonably well. THREE attempts at it and I still couldn't sight read it. All the notes came out wrong. Do you see what I mean??

I might be able to READ MUSIC, i.e about what note lengths are, how they're written, signs, Italian terminology etc. but when it comes to making a tune out of them after nine sodding years then that's a different kettle of fish.
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Post by dave brum » 05 Apr 2015, 12:03

dave brum wrote:
It really is a lose-lose situation as far as I can see - giving up would not make things better either.
The only positive thing I can do is try to devise a coping strategy to deal with the guilt and eventual regret post 'yes' decision. But how do I do that?? I'm going to have to sneakily see the vicar behind Adolfina's back.
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Post by dave brum » 05 Apr 2015, 14:49

I really need to speak to Mabel over this matter, but I think she may have gone away for the holidays. I'm not scheduled to see her for another fifteen days though, not sure whether she's seen my email of the 31/03 as a communications blackout is in effect. Fifteen days I could have all my music down at the Oxfam or sent anonymously to Fanny Fosdyke, Mabel or any other local piano teacher?
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Re: Should I give up learning the piano POLL comments welcom

Post by dave brum » 05 Apr 2015, 16:03

OK, decision made.
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Post by Gill the Piano » 06 Apr 2015, 16:53

Don't you DARE, you plank - good grief, a few days in bed with pneumonia and I get up to find you've gone loopy!!
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Post by dave brum » 06 Apr 2015, 22:15

Profuse apologies. This is what you have to put up with every day if you suffer with third degree neurosis, depression, paranoia and negative mind states. I wouldn't wish them on my worst enemy. I am not giving up the piano. Just as I say with me if I were to run out of tea bags or something like that, it would feel like my whole world had come crashing down. I hate having it and I want to kiss it goodbye.
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Post by Gill the Piano » 07 Apr 2015, 17:03

As long as you're still with us....phew!
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Post by gizzy » 08 Apr 2015, 13:57

Hey, who voted yes, then? Apart from you, you cheating monkey?

If by learning you mean taking lessons, the outcone could be different, but you would keep on learning as long as you kept on pkaying.

One question to ask yourself us, "do I get any enjoyment out of the music I play, once I am getting it sort of at least nearly right so I can hear what should be there even if my fingers have walked on the cracks?"

Do you?

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Post by dave brum » 08 Apr 2015, 18:32

Fanny Fosdyke said that I should ask myself why I'm learning the piano if I don't enjoy it. I do enjoy it but my obsession to getting it right has taken that enjoyment away. If I'd had not let disappointment rollercoaster into this then the enjoyment would still be there. Then there's the fact I feel like I'm the only person in the world trying to learn the piano.

A mystery person also voted yes. I'd be intrigued as to who that person might be - even though his/her opinion is very valid of course (says Dave the Liberal)
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Post by gizzy » 08 Apr 2015, 19:32

Ah, but I didn't ask if you enjoy kearning. I asked if you enjoy the music you're playing. I mean, if you had a set of simple Welsh Folk Songs on your piano, and you were getting through them with just a few mistakes each time, would you still appreciate the songs themsrkves, or would your inability to be absolutely perfect take away the enjoyment of the music itsekf? I mean, you can listen to music for its own sake and enjoy it for its own sake, yes?

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Post by dave brum » 08 Apr 2015, 19:37

Sometimes, I don't - even Welsh hymns. In fact you could say mostly I don't. To me, they're just learning fodder. However listening to a piece in a recital or on Radio 3 or something that I don't enjoy PLAYING would be a different thing. I would enjoy that.
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Post by gizzy » 08 Apr 2015, 19:50

I wonder if you'd enjoy singing lessons. Seriously. I mean the time I heard you, you had a pretty good set of baritone pipes, you could pitch in tune, you were rather loud but let's face it, a lot of snigging teachers have to work to get more volume from their pupils.

It's a much more personal involvement, of course, as your whole person, physical and emotional, is your instrument. There are some teachers who reckon your singing ought to be "just so" but I've met a few whose mission was to help people find "their own voice". Could be worth thinking about.

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Post by dave brum » 08 Apr 2015, 19:55

Well, I certainly do enough of it in the shower, but you know me, too shy shy, hush hush eye to eye, in the words of Kajagoogoo. Mabel (whom also teaches singing) has heard me singing actually, at her old house in her smallest room. But she never suggested lessons so maybe I ain't that good!

I am informed singing is a great way to build self confidence, but do you think 'she who must be obeyed' will allow me to toodle into town to practise sessions of Brum's Choir With No Name??
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Post by gizzy » 08 Apr 2015, 20:25

Hmm, I know of at least one person who has said "how can you teach singing, I mean either you can sing or you can't" and SWMBO may of course take the same line. You might love it in a chour, too, though not everyone who sings is chorally minded. Would you be "permitted" to get involved in such a social activity? You could always join a male voice choir if she's concerned about the - er - competition.

Another suggestion, which might or might not go down well, would be to find a teacher who could also teach her. Now, many people wouldn't, they would require you to have shown evidence of a singing voice already, but some work along totally different principles.

Sleep on it. If it sounds at all appealing (with or without the his'n'hers element) you could always talk it over with Mabel and suggest a sabbatical from the piano (which you would still use to help your singing) :shock:

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Post by dave brum » 08 Apr 2015, 20:39

As I said, the blame lies fairly and squarely with me. My attitude. But because I think everything is a chore. I can correct this but if it goes too far then that really will be that. The only way to do it is to feed my enthusiasm for music, which would start with going to classical recitals at the Conservatiore, jazz gigs at Symphony Hall foyer, organ recitals, piano recitals etc. as well as finding out about Choir With No Name (Mabel has an adults choir but all of the members are trained singers and Fanny Fosdyke's in it so that's a nono even to go and watch).

You must be Joe King?? SWMBO doing singing lessons!! She's tone deaf, she cannot sing. She is to singing what Les Dawson is to piano playing or Stanley Unwin to oratory.

Mabel actually thinks I'm doing well. But could it be my paranoia leading me to thinking she's trying to butter me up? SWMBO thinks I'm coming on too but then again, she would say that, wouldn't she?? If I dared take a one month sabbatical from the piano, I'd be back on book 1 after that. Attitude, you see.

Linnychops, you're right when you say I'm my own worst enemy. I heartily agree with you. But I do not WANT to be so.
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Post by gizzy » 08 Apr 2015, 21:09

OK, try another take on the same idea: find a couple of songs with very simple accompaniment and sing at the puano. It's not easy singing sitting down, so it's a challenge to the voice. In my VERY dim distant recital days (40 years ago!) I worked singing at the piano and playing the accompaniment so it was so much easier when I just had to stand and sing. I often used to just split the left hand part between the hands to make it easier. You can use chord symbols if you prefer, I'm sure you can find triads.

About being tone-deaf, there are many (me included) who maintain that there isn't any such thing. Unless you're actually mutt'n'jeff in the first place. If you can accurately reproduce a vowel siund, you can actually very finely detect differences in pitch. Now I'm going to leave it up to your research to find out why that is!

There are singing teachers who like the challenge of working with so-called tone deaf pupils but the pupil has to want to in the first place.

Sleep on the idea of a male voice choir nevertheless. Or barbershop. YOU have social needs and shouldn't be denied them.

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Post by Gill the Piano » 08 Apr 2015, 21:14

dave brum wrote: Mabel actually thinks I'm doing well. But could it be my paranoia leading me to thinking she's trying to butter me up?
A good teacher won't do that as it does nobody any good, least of all the pupil. We've all seen the 'singers' on the X Factor whose 'teacher says I'm very good'. And who has benefitted from that? Nobody.
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Post by dave brum » 10 Apr 2015, 06:31

Mabel has far too much experience as a teacher to not know what's best for a pupil. She is by no means a 'bad' teacher and she has a wall full of qualifications, diplomas and citations. But I don't think she's ever come across somebody who INSISTS on practising earnestly every day as I do. She does not have to tell me to practice - nearly everyone whom she teaches have to be told. But then again, I'm the other extreme, obsessive and persistently finding fault with my playing.
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Post by gizzy » 10 Apr 2015, 10:41

So presumably she's had several chats with you about HOW to practise, not just what or how long? That playing through again and again doesn't work until the notes are every-time-secure? That correcting mistakes once you've made them doesn't work? How to distinguish between random and repeated mistakes? How to separate learning and improving and recognise they aren't the same thing?

Have I ever recommend a method called Record Yourself Twice? It's quite good for identifying and eliminating repeated errors.

If I already did, then skip the rest of this.

Choose the passage you need to work on (probably not more than two lines or less than two bars)

Record yourself playing.

Play back following the score and mark where you stumble, hesitate, or otherwise stray from the path of righteousness. If you have to make a lot of marks, you're working on too long a section.

Record yourself again.

Follow again from the score carefully watching the pencil marks you made last time.

If you didn't mess up this time you've either fixed it or it was a one-off.

If you have any new ones, ignore them (for now)

What you need to focus on is the things you did twice. Your hands have at least started to mis-learn these movements. Remember it's only a "wrong note" if you meant to play it, so you've learnt the instruction wrong. But more likely it's a wrong movement, and from there you need to narrow right down to just one movement between two notes, get that right and then gradually expand outwards. But make sure of course that you work on that movement with the fingers you're going to use, or you'll just have to unpick it all.

This is partly what practice needs to consist of. There are bits you can get right every time (most of it in fact) and that's because you've trained your hands to do them. You just need to train your hands to do the other bits, but identifying them is a harder job than many students realise.

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Post by dave brum » 10 Apr 2015, 12:12

Mabel has told me off in the past about overpractising. A typical practise sesh for me would consist of 2 scales/arpeggios from my scales pot, Dozen a Day, homework piece/pieces, then repertoire. This would be changed every Monday and consist of one piece from book 3, three from book 2 and three from book 1. This in the morning and the evening. Sometimes if I'm struggling with a particular piece, like I am doing so now with 'Mechanical Doll' I'll practice it little and often whenever I get a free moment. The only thing is that practice sessions could sometimes last over an hour and I could find myself getting bogged down going over a particular phrase. Practise is working but it seems to be doing so slowly with the fear (that is usually true) that I'll forget these pieces if I don't practice them.
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Post by gizzy » 10 Apr 2015, 13:13

And up to the point where you get it right every time and now need to work on making it sound nucer, are your mistakes random or repeated?

It's quality of practice that does it, not quantity.

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Post by dave brum » 10 Apr 2015, 13:36

They're usually both. Remember the dots make no sense to me so I have to commit quite a lot to memory. But I try to follow the dots though.
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Post by dave brum » 21 Apr 2015, 06:29

Last night doing my practice, I tried something different - counting the rhythm as I played, so musical fluency, which I usually try to put first, was replaced by keeping in time. All these years I've been playing and I've NEVER counted as I play. Teachers say always do it from the outset, but as I've always concentrated more on the audio, I've allowed myself to stray here. And so my sight reading is rubbish - the rest does not need to be said.

I noticed these things last night when I was counting for every piece:

1. It was slightly easier to follow the music because I knew where I was.

2. Instead of stopping intermittently throughout whenever I made a mistake, ) the pulse I was keeping allowed me to resume as I was still keeping time when I stopped. If that makes any sense.

3. On the page I noticed things such as how notes and rests are grouped together to make beats etc, which will stay in my mind (they have already done as groggy as I feel at 0615) to help me with my theory work.

I really don't know why I've not tried this before - this is nothing to do with my teacher or her teaching style. But if I had started with her back in 06 from the very outset, then I think I would have been less likely to develop bad habits at the piano. I did try to teach myself before I contacted Mabel.
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Re: Should I give up learning the piano POLL comments welcom

Post by Gill the Piano » 21 Apr 2015, 16:52

If you look at your early vids, you WERE counting, but perhaps subconsciously; you bounced your hands up and down in strict time to what you were playing. I have always thought what an excellent sense of pulse you had for what you play. Glad you've found something that works for you!
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Post by dave brum » 21 Apr 2015, 16:55

Thanks Gill. By the way, who else has voted yes? Think I know whom it might be.....
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Post by filsgreen » 28 Apr 2015, 11:26

Hey Dave, sorry to see you appear to have become disillusioned on your journey. I know how you feel; I too have thought this is too hard and I have only been learning for a year. Have you been there, where you would rather hoover the carpet than practise? But as my teacher kept telling me, "It doesn't matter that you can't play a piece after two weeks of practise, what's the rush?" I think I would pay him just for his motivational skills because he's got his hands full with me; my cup is always half empty. Anyway I'm plodding on and I hope that you do to; I think you know deep down that you don't want to give it up. :D

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