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Offline pies

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on: December 29, 2004, 09:46:38 PM
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Offline goldfish

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Re: Concentration/mentality at the piano
Reply #1 on: December 29, 2004, 11:31:31 PM
What (I think) is my problem at my piano (other than lack of a teacher) is that I can't seem to put full concentration on whatever I'm playing, resulting in almost carless mistakes. I can tell when I'm fully concentrating - after I finish a piece, with few or no mistakes, I end up sweating and dry-mouthed, which I don't notice while playing. But this happens rarely. How can I achieve such a good state of total concentration more often?

Maybe have shorter practise sessions but more of them.

Or perhaps introduce penalties for making mistakes - I recall seeing on a website somewhere someone saying that they position their pencil at one side of the music stand and move it one step at a time to the other side each time they play through correctly. When the pencil gets to the other side they can move on to something else but if they make a mistake the pencil goes back to the start. This forces you to concentrate becase if you don't then you will have to play the same section over and over.

There must be better games than that - piano snakes and ladders ?  :D

regards

-- goldfish

Offline pies

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Reply #2 on: December 30, 2004, 12:17:12 AM
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Offline doofus

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Re: Concentration/mentality at the piano
Reply #3 on: December 30, 2004, 03:56:59 AM
I read some stuff in psychology where they say the more you practice something the easier it gets (often).  It's kind of hard to explain how detailed they get about this.  But I saw some documentary once where they showed someone who's starting out as a marksman compared to an expert.  The expert marksmen show less brain activity in the same areas of the brain.  Also when you start doing something new like driving a car, you'll find it hard to do something else like talk on a cellphone.

Offline pies

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Reply #4 on: December 30, 2004, 07:58:13 PM
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Offline offenbach

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Re: Concentration/mentality at the piano
Reply #5 on: January 01, 2005, 12:08:22 PM
I'm certainly no expert Pies, but a few thoughts came to mind when reading your post.
First of all, are you mentally focused on practicing BEFORE you actually begin? Meaning, have you mentally prepared yourself with a set goal in mind to accomplish prior to starting? I have always found it useful to begin every practice session with a mental checklist of what it is I will actually practice, what I want to gain, and thought about HOW I will practice. I get as familiar with the piece at hand as possible prior to actual hands on playing, by listening to a recording (or several), reading thru the score, reading thru while listening, and dividing it up for practice sessions.
For me anyway, if a piece is particularily difficult, and I take too much on at first, I know I tend to get frustrated which will cause a lack of interest, and loss of focus. So by choosing to learn only as much as possible at first, before even sitting down, I don't set unrealistic goals, therefore, I almost always accomplish what I set out to achieve during practice. It may be a page, a measure or only a short progression of several chords or notes, depending on difficulty. My REWARD is that by doing this I acquire a successful practice session, which encourages and inspires me to continue.

Next, do you plan your practice sessions at times when you are most mentally focused without distractions? If you are rushing between jobs or classes, and only have a few minutes, TV is on, people around, dog barking (you get the idea), it would be very hard I would think to focus. Also, are you as free as possible from stress and mental fatigue. It's hard to practice when one is tired, not feeling well, etc. I've also found that a brisk walk, excercise, shower, short nap will do wonders before practice if I'm tense and preoccupied beforehand.

I don't think penalizing yourself for making mistakes is necessarily a positive move. I think it far better to reward good results, than punish bad. By setting a small goal, and preparing yourself and the environment in which you practice prior to beginning, this should be possible.

Also, the times that you say you have really been focused and able to concentrate, do you recall what may have been different during those times? Possibly time of day? Type of piece you were practicing? Length of practice time?

Do you enjoy what you are practicing? Are they pieces that you have to learn, or do you pick whatever you enjoy? I assume, as you said you currently do not have a teacher, that you pick what you play. Is it possibly that while you like the piece, it may be too difficult, which makes it hard for you to focus, or that you are taking on too large a chunk of it at one time. It may help if you only choose 1 or 2 measures or lines before you practice next time, and decide to make that your goal for that particular practice session. Go over the piece without actually playing it. Think about how you will play it, how you will have to move your fingers, wrists, etc. and take some time to mentally prepare yourself for the practice session. Make sure you have time to practice, and are not rushed or in a hurry to do something else.

I hope this helps alittle, good luck!

O :)

Offline Bacfokievrahms

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Re: Concentration/mentality at the piano
Reply #6 on: January 02, 2005, 06:25:24 AM
try lifting your tongue up to your palate while you play or covering your teeth with your gums and biting down such that the part of your mouth above and below your lips are pressed against each other

Offline rafant

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Re: Concentration/mentality at the piano
Reply #7 on: January 03, 2005, 05:09:28 PM
Try by hearing carefully the quality of every sound you are producing. This prevent the mind of thinking in something else.

Offline quasimodo

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Re: Concentration/mentality at the piano
Reply #8 on: January 04, 2005, 01:09:34 PM
I think there is always one or more reasons that prevent us to be concentrated on the thing we are doing. So the main thing is "find why you are not concentrated and then fix it".

So let's try to list the reasons that might affect our concentration:

- being bothered by external factors. For example the noise or movement around you. This is the worst case because it's a big effort to forget those things, it takes habit and a strong will, but it's also a great strength to get able to concentrate and just play in a noisy or messy environment, regarding performance-ability. I can't say much about this one. The idea is to have your attention focused on something very specific that helps you forgetting what is happening around you, but it's easy to say and very hard to realize.
A true story which happened to me is that I used to play in front of a rather strong light but I weren't conscious that it was affecting me. When I realized the thing and turned off that light, my concentration increased a lot.

- being bothered by internal factors. Here, we have two possibilities :
(a) the problem is physical, it might be a health issue, or lack of sleep or tiredness. It might as well be in connection with your position : bench too high or too low, too close or too far from the piano, or something in connection with your morpholgy and/or posture which instils some tenseness. If you feel sore in a part of your body, try to figure out why this happens not only it will help your concentration but it will avoid you some serious injury.
(b) the problem is moral/psychological... there's not much to say about this. Each person has her own way to sort out this kind of problems, so nothing I could say would really be useful. The ideal is to find some relief in music so you do both things : you forget your problems and you work on your music in the same time. But I guess everyone is not capable of this.

- being frustrated by the practice itself: you can't manage to play a passage properly after many weeks. Then, first check if your practice method is really efficient (read all the threads about practice on this forum, read Chang's book and compare with what you actually do). If after this step, you consider that your method is not the problem, then maybe it's the piece itself : it might be too hard for you (then drop it for now and acquire the skills you need to be able to play it), or maybe you really don't like it (then drop it definitely, except if it's a piece you must learn for a competition, then find motivation and concentration by thinking about the competition and not the piece)

So, to summarize, investigate all the possible causes of your lack of concentration and find a suitable solution to them.
" On ne joue pas du piano avec deux mains : on joue avec dix doigts. Chaque doigt doit être une voix qui chante"

Samson François

Offline mound

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Re: Concentration/mentality at the piano
Reply #9 on: January 04, 2005, 02:44:24 PM
*eagerly waiting for an insightful and elaborate response from Bernhard*  :)

He has already posted several throughout the forum..  Maybe some of the links here will help you:

https://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,5767.msg56133.html#msg56133

-Paul

Offline bernhard

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Re: Concentration/mentality at the piano
Reply #10 on: January 18, 2005, 12:14:44 PM
*eagerly waiting for an insightful and elaborate response from Bernhard*  :)

Have a look here:

https://pianoforum.net/smf/index.php/topic,2082.msg17230.html#msg17230

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)
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