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lacking motivation to practice, how can I overcome and continue?

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Re: lacking motivation to practice, how can I overcome and continue?

Postby tacitus » Tue Aug 03, 2010 10:23 am

Life seems to me more like going up on a down escalator. You have to keep moving to stand still and you have to work harder to make progress. It may not be compulsory, but it's a human instinct to thrive rather than survive. Most people who have achieved great things keep on achieving more. Onward and upward, I say!
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Re: lacking motivation to practice, how can I overcome and continue?

Postby narcoman » Tue Aug 03, 2010 10:28 am

Mike Saville wrote:
narcoman wrote:Stop practising and start playing. I haven't "practised" in 20 years ( apart from working out new sections or phrases/actions). But I "play" for many hours a day.


Hmmm, not sure I can agree with this. The sentiment may be a good one. Hoever there is for me a definite difference between playing and practising. Playing is what most people do and they confuse this with practice. Practice is something planned and thought through to make your playing better - very few musicians actually do this. Playing is doing stuff you can already do.

Most have a vague idea of what they want to work on, are not quite sure how to do and even if they did do it wouldn't know when they got there.

However you think of it in your own mind it's important not to confuse simply playing with an activity that will actually make you better - i.e. proper practice.


ah - but it serves the playing; not the other way round. That's the point. If you think of the piano as a chore to be overcome - then what's he point? Unfortunately - most people think practising is going through set pieces, runs and scales!
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Re: lacking motivation to practice, how can I overcome and continue?

Postby narcoman » Tue Aug 03, 2010 10:30 am

Baldo wrote:
Narcoman, I have to say that I disagree with you. Practising is about learning to play. How can I play if I have not practised? Unless I play really easy pieces that I did years ago but that will not expand my repertoire. .



.... you've completely failed to understand the point !! If it's a chore - you will never "play". Get your "practising" to serve YOU - not the other way round. Take it from someone who earns a living from playing, not practising. ;)

Note the difference between playing and "playing"....as in "be into what you're doing".
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Re: lacking motivation to practice, how can I overcome and continue?

Postby grab » Tue Aug 03, 2010 11:58 am

My plan is to get to grade VI standard and then start learning Jazz piano, but that is another ladder to climb up just for the fun of it.


What's stopping you from starting playing jazz, this very evening, as soon as you get home from work...?

I think the big question has to be - what music would make you want to play? (And indeed, *NEED* to play...) Is it classical, jazz, boogie-woogie, Jim Steinman, Freddie Mercury, or what? What would make you go through the day looking forward to getting home and practising? If you're not playing that music now, then most reasons (especially "I'm only Grade whatever") are just excuses.

Granted, the fire *will* come and go a bit. That's life. Playing in a band (or orchestra) is a good way of mitigating this, bcos at the very least you're forced to spend one evening a week playing. Plus it pushes you technically an amazing amount.
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Re: lacking motivation to practice, how can I overcome and continue?

Postby KMuzzey » Tue Aug 03, 2010 7:00 pm

OK, at first I thought this was one of those snarky joke-postings, but it turns out to be real.

If you're playing for fun & hobby, but aren't enjoying it, then why do it at all? Perhaps you're lacking motivation because you're not enjoying doing it. I'd say it's time for a new hobby.

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Re: lacking motivation to practice, how can I overcome and continue?

Postby Baldo » Thu Aug 05, 2010 12:16 am

What's stopping you from starting playing jazz


there is nothing specifically stopping me from playing Jazz this very evening, (I have played some jazz pieces in the past) the same way there is nothing stopping me from trying to play for Manchester United!

Let's not try and conquer the world in one go. I want to reach my limit with classical piano and then switch to learn jazz. Lets not try and do everything all at once. This is a life long pursuit and it is good to have a plan and something to aim for.

I hope that I am making sense here.
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Re: lacking motivation to practice, how can I overcome and continue?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Thu Aug 05, 2010 12:26 am

Baldo wrote:
Let's not try and conquer the world in one go. I want to reach my limit with classical piano and then switch to learn jazz. Lets not try and do everything all at once. This is a life long pursuit and it is good to have a plan and something to aim for.

I hope that I am making sense here.

You're making sense, but it makes no sense! You can't "finish" classical then move to jazz, music just isn't like that! Every aspect feeds on and nurtures the rest.

Just a gentle reminder. You're here because YOUR way wasn't working :-)
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You don't have to write songs. The world doesn't want you to write songs. It would probably prefer it if you didn't. So write songs if you want to. Otherwise, dont bore us with beefing about it. Go fishing instead.

Re: lacking motivation to practice, how can I overcome and continue?

Postby DaveFry » Thu Aug 05, 2010 1:00 am

Can you "learn" jazz ?
Classical is great for acquiring technique which you may need to play what you really want to play, but the skill of making -it-up-as-you-go-along can't be taught. The only way to develop a creative process is to keep doing it. Sometimes when I'm doodling I hear something I can't play - I know how I want it to sound but I don't have the technical skill. So I figure out the fingering and practice that because I want to. It's enjoyable because I want to do it. Play your own jazz now, find your own sound, create something original and new, and you'll motivate and teach yourself. Simple, original and with authentic emotion beats flash every time.
Bill Evans -The Creative Process And Self-Teaching ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEHWaGuurUk&feature=related
Keep it simple, tune in and technique will come of itself.
Enjoy the now.
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Re: lacking motivation to practice, how can I overcome and continue?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Thu Aug 05, 2010 1:22 am

DaveFry wrote:Can you "learn" jazz ?
Classical is great for acquiring technique which you may need to play what you really want to play, but the skill of making -it-up-as-you-go-along can't be taught.

Rubbish! Only people who DON'T do it take this sort of mystical attitude. Practical musicians know that all styles of playing respond to analysis and practice. Whether you're learning by listening to and imitating your favourite players, or following a more structured course of instruction at Berklee, you're learing and you're being taught.
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You don't have to write songs. The world doesn't want you to write songs. It would probably prefer it if you didn't. So write songs if you want to. Otherwise, dont bore us with beefing about it. Go fishing instead.

Re: lacking motivation to practice, how can I overcome and continue?

Postby hollowsun » Thu Aug 05, 2010 1:55 am

Baldo wrote:I hope that I am making sense here.
Making total sense to me, Baldo.

Practicing is a means to an end. The more fluent you become at playing scales and arpeggios, etc., with ease, in any and every key, in left/right unison, in opposition, in intervals of thirds and sixths, etc., between both hands (however dull and tedious that MAY seem), the easier it will be to play the music you want to play so that you can just do it without thinking and not having the frustration of having to work out the best way to do it.

Think of it like decorating a room - the work is in the preparation. Get that sorted and the job's a lot easier than having to stop and bugger about with each obstacle you run up against.

I'm a fine one to talk. I had piano lessons when I was a kid and like so many people, didn't see the point in scales and arpeggios and playing classical music. BORING!!! And I gave up (my teacher was a cruel and sadistic bitch so that didn't help either).

But I now have a young daughter. She showed some aptitude on a little Casio keyboard as a toddler picking out tunes so we started her with piano lessons when she was about 7 or so. She's 13 now and Grade 8 and I can see the method in the madness - there's a reason for all the boring scales and tedious arpeggios and chromatic runs, etc.. It builds and reinforces 'muscle memory' so your fingers just fall in the right place at the right time without you thinking about it, it makes you familiar with all key signatures so that you don't have to think how to play/finger something when you see three sharps or six flats on the left of the manuscript - it just happens - and by playing these scales and arps properly, fluidly and evenly, it teaches you time keeping. And all the contrary motion scales, etc., develops left/right co-ordination. Bit by bit, developing in complexity grade by grade.

Also, a lot of music/melody IS scales and arpeggios (especially in the classical canon) and arpeggios are 'broken chords' so they teach you all the chords as well so when you're presented with something, you don't think "How the f'ck do I play this?" and have to work it out, your brain (subconsciously) tells you "Amin second inversion arpeggio to a IV-I cadence in the left with a descending chromatic run in the right" and all that muscle memory and fingering you acquired in those tedious practice sessions just come into play and you can just 'do it' without having to work out how to do it, note by tedious note and figuring out the fingering and the co-ordination, etc..

In other words, the tedious 'off-line' (for want of a better description) practice sessions now mean you don't have to have tedious practice sessions for each and everything you're faced with in the future (IYSWIM). That's the big difference between my daughter and I - I have to work out every little riff or chord progression and figure out how best play it and practice it; she can just play it!

I used to think the classical regime was stultifying and even restrictive but if you can see it through, my god it will pay off dividends in the end. I envy my little'un's ability to just sit down and play pretty much anything you throw at her when I have to work everything out ... and still f'ck it up and/or play it badly!

Of course, she has youth on her side - brain like a sponge and fresh new limb co-ordination to train. It's harder when you're older, of course. But also, she has us to say "Come on - practice time". Do you have someone there to say the same to you and hold you to it and not accept any excuses, someone to force you to do the tedious shite? That's a very significant factor which kids maybe have but which adult learners don't.

Sorry for the long ramble but I have had a complete and utter 180º turnaround of my opinion of a classical training now that I have seen it in action. As I say, there is a method in the madness and it is carefully structured to develop technique and the ability to 'play' without thinking... much like most of us drive a motor vehicle. In fact, that's not a bad analogy - you do the tedious lessons and learn how to negotiate a roundabout or reverse park or turn right across oncoming traffic... you don't have to pull over and work out how to do it every time you encounter a new motoring situation in a town you've not visited before. Ok ... maybe not the best analogy but I am sure you get the gist!

Don't let the Technics put you off. It's not ideal maybe but (to continue the motoring analogy) it's a bit like saying you can't take a driving lesson because it's only a Ford Ka and you had a go in a Bentley - the basic principles are common. I understand why you can't accommodate an upright. Understood.

Do try and stick with it, Baldo - you're doing well. Yes - it can be tedious and boring but it's a means to an end and will pay off in the end if you can persevere. Having good technique will open so many more avenues to explore. And if you can't motivate yourself, maybe you have someone who can say "It's 7pm - come on ... practice time" and who will not take 'no' for an answer.

Go for it! You've got this far - go the extra mile.

Sorry to ramble and not trying to lecture ... just sharing my observations as a once cocky teenager who thought he knew best, gave it up and now struggles to play anything compared with someone who has run the course and can play effortlessly like a demon ... and who will only get better!

Good luck!
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Re: lacking motivation to practice, how can I overcome and continue?

Postby Baldo » Thu Aug 05, 2010 9:19 am

Hollowsun,

This so called ramble has to be the best, most encouraging and inspiration post that I have read. Thanks ever so much for taking the time to articulate your thoughts on this.

I agree with you 100%. I could comment on your points 1 by 1 but think that is not necessary. 3 words are enough, I agree wholeheartedly.

I try and spend about 15 mins doing scales & arps and at least 15 mins doing sight reading at almost every practice session. Scales & arps are boring but easy. Sight reading is a challenge so it is the one thing that I devote the most amount of time to.

People find classical rather structured and stifling but I, like you, believe that it will pay huge dividends down the line.

thanks again for your wise and encouraging words.

BTW you have done an excellent job in managing to get your daughter to grade 8. That is something that you should be proud of. You have also given her a very special an valuable skill that will enrich her for life. well done on that.
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Re: lacking motivation to practice, how can I overcome and continue?

Postby grab » Thu Aug 05, 2010 10:42 am

Can you "learn" jazz? ... The only way to develop a creative process is to keep doing it.

The way to play jazz is (a) to listen to good jazz and hear what they're doing, and (b) start playing a lot of very bad jazz yourself until you've figured out what does and doesn't work.

Baldo, I get what you're saying. But you're only developing one skill here, which is keyboard technique. Improvising is a whole new skill in itself. Now you could spend 20 years learning classical, but then you'd literally have to come right back to "do-re-mi" kind of exercises for improvising.

It's an incredibly common problem for amateur classical players. If you look at pro-level players, they're *always* the ones involved in improvising and creating - in fact, they're required to do that if they're studying music. But at lower skill levels there's a *HUGE* problem where people get taught instrument skills to grade 7 without having ever deviated from the dots in front of them. And after 10-15 years of that, they find that they're literally unable to do anything else - the concept of playing anything not written down is completely alien.

To avoid this trap, it's a very good plan to bake improvisation and "playing around" into your schedule *now*. Otherwise you probably aren't going to be playing jazz in 20 years time - and if you're losing enthusiasm with your current path, you might not even be playing anything in 20 years time.
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Re: lacking motivation to practice, how can I overcome and continue?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Thu Aug 05, 2010 11:10 am

There's a very simple response to all this! People who WANT to improvise at the keyboard will be doing it already, and were probably doing it before they ever had a lesson. How could anyone have possibly stopped them? Why would you even think of taking lessons unless you were the sort of person who couldn't walk past a piano without annoying everyone with "chopsticks"?

Just do it!
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You don't have to write songs. The world doesn't want you to write songs. It would probably prefer it if you didn't. So write songs if you want to. Otherwise, dont bore us with beefing about it. Go fishing instead.

Re: lacking motivation to practice, how can I overcome and continue?

Postby BJG145 » Thu Aug 05, 2010 11:37 am

Mike Saville wrote:Practice is something planned and thought through to make your playing better - very few musicians actually do this. Playing is doing stuff you can already do.

Wise words.
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Re: lacking motivation to practice, how can I overcome and continue?

Postby hollowsun » Thu Aug 05, 2010 3:37 pm

Baldo wrote:Hollowsun,

This so called ramble has to be the best, most encouraging and inspiration post that I have read. Thanks ever so much for taking the time to articulate your thoughts on this.

:)

Baldo wrote:I try and spend about 15 mins doing scales & arps and at least 15 mins doing sight reading at almost every practice session. Scales & arps are boring but easy. Sight reading is a challenge so it is the one thing that I devote the most amount of time to.

You're not alone. Just keep at it - it gets easier over time. I say that as a frustrated observer rather than as one who actually ran the course.

But it's like everything in life - it's a struggle at first but gets better with practice.

Baldo wrote:People find classical rather structured and stifling but I, like you, believe that it will pay huge dividends down the line.

Yup. The little'un's playing pop tunes, Gershwin and Porter show tunes, Harry Potter and other film themes, making up her own tunes ... all because she has 'the grounding'. I can vamp and improv better than her (she's only 13) but she'll get that as well in time and no doubt leave me standing.

Baldo wrote:thanks again for your wise and encouraging words.

I am very happy to have helped in whatever small way. DO stick with it - you know it makes sense!

Baldo wrote:BTW you have done an excellent job in managing to get your daughter to grade 8. That is something that you should be proud of. You have also given her a very special an valuable skill that will enrich her for life. well done on that.

I can't take the credit for it - it's down to her! She's down there now, effortlessly rattling through scales. Makes me sick! ;)

Errmmm ... she's also Grade 8 violin and Grade 6 viola!!!

I'll get my coat! :beamup: ;)
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