Piano Forum logo

Restarting Piano (Read 953 times)

Offline bohemian_romantic

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Restarting Piano
« on: July 11, 2019, 09:23:57 AM »
Hello all, first time post so allow me to introduce myself and my particular conundrum.  :)

I'm in the need for some particular advice regarding restarting the process of learning piano (although it's more complicated than that). Backstory is needed here. Put briefly, I attended roughly 6 months of piano lessons when I was eleven years old, nearly fifteen years ago now. Unfortunately I was forced to drop out due to a then undiagnosed focus disorder that made it nearly impossible to practice anything I wasn't interested in. I adored classical piano though, and as kids with focus disorders are want to do I ended up hyper-focusing for several hours a day on pieces I liked, regardless of difficulty. By the time I finally received a diagnosis and treatment I was twenty-five years old and the most advanced pieces I had taught myself were a couple of Rachmaninov preludes.

Now that my condition is treated, I'm looking to restart piano from scratch. My ability to focus on the fundamentals has gone from nil to finding great joy in things as basic as learning scales. Now that I can actually study music in the way I always wished I could, I'm looking for any and all advice that other students might have for me.

Most specifically, I am looking for advice on how to deal with breaking nearly fifteen years of bad playing habits. I'm thinking going back to absolute basics, scales, arpeggios, finger exercises, and low level pieces is the way to go, but any advice would be welcome.

I have every intention of getting a teacher, but due to university commitments (another benefit of finally being treated, uni was impossible for me before) that will need to wait until December and I am eager to get started. Until that time comes I'm looking to design a structured 1 hour lesson for each day, going over scales, exercises, and simple pieces so I can work on basic technique. Advice on learning sight reading would be amazing also, as I'm truly atrocious at that.

Thanks everyone, all advice is welcome from students or teachers! It's been my dream to be able to play advanced classical piano, hence the hyper-focusing as a kid, so now that I can focus on the fundamentals I am looking to do this right.  :D

Offline outin

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 7978
Re: Restarting Piano
«Reply #1 on: July 11, 2019, 02:23:11 PM »
I am afraid bad physical and musical habits in playing are very hard to break without some teaching. You simply cannot see and hear what and how to correct. If you are willing to dedicate an hour a day to practice, you should be able to dedicate an hour a week or every other week for a lesson. It will be hard to start over with a teacher (many advanced self learners quit because there's so much to change) and even harder the longer you wait and drill things on your own.

Offline klavieronin

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 469
Re: Restarting Piano
«Reply #2 on: July 11, 2019, 02:38:32 PM »
Something to keep in mind is that it's less important what you play and more important how you play it. Scales, arpeggios, finger exercises etc. are all fine as long as you are playing them correctly.

With that in mind I highly recommend Max Cooke's "Tone, Touch, and Technique for the Young Pianist." It's not merely a book of exercises and studies but rather a manual on correct playing. Another good book (albeit a little old now) is Tobias Matthay's "The Visible and Invisible in Pianoforte Technique".

Apart from that I would just work on a lot of simple repertoire (whatever suits your taste), but polish them to the highest standard possible, and to a point were it feels as natural and comfortable to play as walking down the street.

Offline j_tour

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 591
Re: Restarting Piano
«Reply #3 on: July 12, 2019, 05:10:39 AM »
Well, I can (I think) relate to your issues with attention and so forth.

I'm not aa health proffesional, and I'm barely a teacher these days, but I think I struggle with the same problems, perhaps.

For me, my basic touchstone everyday is to play four or five of Bach's sinfonie every day.  Of course there are some which I rotate, and there's no list, I just picked up the Alfred Music spiral bound of the inventions and sinfonie for convenience.

There's no real reason, other than I think most of them are superior articles of music and most have some small technical challenges to keep me interested.

There are, as you know, quite a number of other pieces or movements from Bach's Suites or his WTC books that do about the same thing and are just as pleasing, if not more so.

But I try to stick to that basic regimen (it doesn't take very long), and just keep working down my list of tunes I can't remember, but want to, or tunes I canhalf-way remember, but need refreshing.

Sometimes just scales.

Most times if I'm tired from the day job, I might just have some beer and play some blues or something, just solo at home.  Not very rewarding, to me, but sometimes it gives me some good ideas to work on the next day.

Every single g****mned day.  I don't feel right with myself if I don't do a little something, even if it's just a little bit of stuff I've played a million times before.

Offline dogperson

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1119
Re: Restarting Piano
«Reply #4 on: July 12, 2019, 07:19:55 AM »
Since you only took six months of lessons, I would recommend that you buy a decent Method book and start at the very beginning. You need to start from lesson one, take your time and make sure you understand the concept before you move on. You do not need to be learning scales  until you learn how to read music. Sight reading is a skill to develop after you can read music fluently not at the very beginning.  Learn how to read the notes and play with the correct rhythm.  Download a free metronome for your cellphone; become  comfortable with using it. Become comfortable with counting out loud while you play.  These are great foundation skills.

I am not a teacher but I see Faber frequency recommended as  a method book.  Practice everyday; you do not need to practice for long hours!  But just consistently for about 30 minutes. 

If you show up with your lessons with your teacher and can find the proper key and can count rhythm, you will have a great start.