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Thread: After the initial learning, comes the real work

  1. #11
    pp Pianissimo samibe's Avatar
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    Oct 2015
    Bountiful, UT

    The balancing act for practicing things that are hard with less-than-instant results is to figure out how much time you can dedicate each week to make progress but also not cause you to burn out. If you felt confident that you could spend 30mins five days a week you would make faster progress, but if you burn out after the second week you wouldn't have made it past the "awkward/unfamiliar" stage. Also, some things you can practice without sitting at your instrument (tapping out rhythms, naming notes, naming chords and chord progressions, identifying key signatures and accidentals, looking up what different symbols mean, etc.).

    I'm not sure about what books to recommend. I would probably get Music Theory for Dummies to use as a reference. There is way more information than you'll ever need to know but it would come in handy if you come across something unfamiliar in a song you want to learn. I would probably get a book or two from Alfred's Basic Adult Piano Course (start with the level 1 lesson book and the basic sight reading book 1). The songs in these books are not the most interesting or fun which is why I suggest rewarding yourself with getting to play some other music after you get done with them. They are set up to teach specific concepts and then give you something to play/practice that will reinforce the concepts. You might also look into blues or rock real/fake books for some sheet music exposure to the genres you like. A real/fake book has songs with only the notes for the melody line, lyrics, and chord names written in. It's the bare-bones framework of a song that allows you to fill in the gaps with any style you want. Also, if you can find some easy piano books or sheet music of songs you like, that can give you something to read that is more fun and interesting but also a lot faster to learn.

    You're on the right track. Regular consistent practice will produce results eventually.

    So, all three of your frustrations stem from your brain having to use cognitive power to address something that you have been relying on muscle memory to do. By the time you have memorized a song, your fingers' and toes' muscle memory (subconscious brain) is doing the grunt of the memory recall so that your cognitive brain power can focus on other things (like how the song sounds, whether the instrument should be louder or softer, if you're doing it right, what's for dinner, etc.). As soon as you change something so that your muscles can't fire in the order they are used to, they forget what to do and your cognitive brain hasn't had to worry about it so it doesn't know either. This is why it is so important to learn a song as mistake-free as possible to begin with. The same thing happens if you try to say the alphabet backwards, spell your name backwards, or try to leave off the first letter of your name while writing your signature. It's hard because you have spent so much time doing it one way and your cognitive brain hasn't had to think about it for so long that it takes some effort for it to adjust.
    Last edited by samibe; 11-01-2017 at 08:13 PM.

    Home: Yamaha P22 (not enough pedals) and a modified Allen ADC-4500 ... for now.
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