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Topic: Restarting after a long break--where to begin?  (Read 3243 times)

Offline windsong1

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Restarting after a long break--where to begin?
on: July 11, 2016, 09:51:45 PM
I played piano from ages 5 - 16, going through the California Certificate of Merit program past the advanced levels. I turn 19 later this year and had gone the last three years without touching a piano.

About a week ago I started playing again, and everything just feels stiff--my fingers aren't anywhere near as dextrous as they used to be, and even though my hands are bigger than when I quit three years back, I just feel clumsy and slow when playing.

I'm really not sure where to begin playing. I still remember plenty of my old recital/audition pieces and can play most of them (albeit poorly), and I have all my old books laying around (and I found some Hanon and Czerny exercise books from when I was younger that I've been working through) but I really need to get some speed back in my fingers.

Where do I start with this? If anyone has experience coming back to playing after a very long break and can offer any advice, it would be fantastic.

Offline bernadette60614

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Re: Restarting after a long break--where to begin?
Reply #1 on: July 11, 2016, 10:29:02 PM
I took a break of 30 years...

When I stopped playing in my early 20s, I was at a mid intermediate level.  Starting again in my 50s, I started in a community group piano class unable to read notes!  It took about a year before I was able to play simple pieces.  Now, about 3 years later I am probably at an early intermediate level.

Give yourself some time. Start with the easiest pieces and be patient with yourself.  It does come back.

Offline pjjslp

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Re: Restarting after a long break--where to begin?
Reply #2 on: July 11, 2016, 10:43:52 PM
I played from age 4-19 and then took a break of over 20 years. My dexterity was very poor and I felt too clunky to play any of my old pieces. I played pretty much nothing but the first 10 or 12 Hanon exercises for a few weeks, gradually building speed. I did not, however, follow his recommendations for hand/finger position, technique, etc. Just the notes in a way that was comfortable for me. It was a bit dull, but it truly was just 4 weeks or so before I felt fluid enough to really start playing again. It should come more quickly for you, as you are younger and likely not arthritic  ;). Welcome back to the wonderful world of piano! I had forgotten how much I loved playing; I hope you find a similar joy!

Offline louispodesta

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Re: Restarting after a long break--where to begin?
Reply #3 on: July 12, 2016, 11:14:13 PM
I played piano from ages 5 - 16, going through the California Certificate of Merit program past the advanced levels. I turn 19 later this year and had gone the last three years without touching a piano.

About a week ago I started playing again, and everything just feels stiff--my fingers aren't anywhere near as dextrous as they used to be, and even though my hands are bigger than when I quit three years back, I just feel clumsy and slow when playing.

I'm really not sure where to begin playing. I still remember plenty of my old recital/audition pieces and can play most of them (albeit poorly), and I have all my old books laying around (and I found some Hanon and Czerny exercise books from when I was younger that I've been working through) but I really need to get some speed back in my fingers.

Where do I start with this? If anyone has experience coming back to playing after a very long break and can offer any advice, it would be fantastic.
I suggest that you research the Dorothy Taubman, and also the Edna Golandsky technique.  Many changes have occurred in the area of piano technique since you last studied the piano.

Please holler at me by PM, if you want the specifics in regards certified teachers in your particular geographical area.  And, in case anyone is interested, other than my recommendation, I have no affiliation with either one of these organizations.

Offline 109natsu

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Re: Restarting after a long break--where to begin?
Reply #4 on: July 13, 2016, 01:31:00 AM
Hi windsong,

It's great that you are starting to play the piano again.

I think excercises are a great way to get your technique and dexterity back in shape, but they are never fun and it might take away your interest. What pieces have you played when you were 16? I would recommend learning pieces that are slightly lower level than the ones that you have been playing. For example, if you were playing Chopin's Revolutionary Etude, I'd recommend starting with the Aeolian Harp Etude. In my opinion, it is pointless to relearn a piece, because you have played it already and were satisfied. Always be on the new side, and keep improving.

*-*

Natsu Ozawa
Bloomington, IN

Offline indianajo

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Re: Restarting after a long break--where to begin?
Reply #5 on: July 13, 2016, 11:50:22 AM
Exercises can be great, but REALLY boring.
After my 16 year break, I started back learning 2 new Scott Joplin pieces, Paragon & Magnetic rags.
They have a lot of octaves so they require working fingers 4,5, which obviously deteriorate when you're not playing piano. 
I went really slowly one hand alone for months, but the pieces are fun to listen to so the practice wasn't as tedious as Czerny or Edna Mae Berman.  (I didn't even see Hanon until my 65th year). 
The speed of learning was complicated by the fact that I was in the Army and only practiced on weekends.  But I eventually got up to speed on those pieces, and when I did, the old flashy repretoire from when I was an adolescent came right back.  I hadn't forgotten the movements, I'd just lost the flexibility and strength to do them. 
I've recently been through physical therapy for a torn shoulder tendon, and they showed me some wrist flexibility maintaining exercises that were important while my arm was in a sling 10 weeks.  Rocking up & down was recommended.  What wasn't recommended was rocking from side to side, but I should have been doing that because after the sling came off my wrist was restricted in motion in that direction.  These exercises are slow, not kinetic, and can be done anytime & anywhere. 
Have fun learning the piano again. 

Offline bronnestam

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Re: Restarting after a long break--where to begin?
Reply #6 on: July 13, 2016, 05:17:37 PM
Restart with the humble attitude of a beginner, do not look back and start to compare with your former self. It will just result in a lot of pointless whining over "lost skills".

Plunging to quickly into the most advanced repertoire of your old days might also lead to injuries because you are physically also a bit out of shape.

Just begin from the very beginning again, small beginner's pieces. Why not learn something new from the easy repertoire? Of course you will work your way up to former greatness considerably faster this time than the first time, so you don't waste any time. Repeating the basics sometimes is really a good thing to do - for everyone. 

Offline evenstar749

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Re: Restarting after a long break--where to begin?
Reply #7 on: August 01, 2016, 09:56:13 PM
No advice,

I am also in this position, except I have been away for 20 years. Gosh how I wish I had started again in my mid 20's rather than mid 30's.

All the best, i'm sure it shouldn't take too long. Love to hear how you travel.

Regards, Sarah

Offline kuska

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Re: Restarting after a long break--where to begin?
Reply #8 on: August 02, 2016, 06:27:44 AM
I've just started again after 12 years. Well, I'm currently playing pieces I just liked which are mainly for grades 6-7 but I find it fun to play also pieces I played as a kid.

The grade system problem is that it tells you a grade 3 piece too easy if you're grade  8 but this is simply not true. There's a difference in technique. It's like with martial arts. You can do many things if you're a white belt but just record yourself and wait till black.

So I guess play whatever you want. Easier pieces are great to focus on your technique. I also struggle with some dissociative symptoms, so initially it was hard for me to remember what I was supposed to play. I also have some minor left hand issues which is not strictly flexibility but rather it doesn't want to listen to my brain at times. Somebody here told me about PianoMarvel and now I'm using it. Does a great job in my case. I'm even thinking of helping them to distribute. You could try it.

I guess also more structured way would be fine. So scales, an etude, Bach, a classical piece, Chopin and some modern stuff. This is the way I remember from music schools and it worked pretty well. The question is do you still have your books? I have all mine :)
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