Am I pushing myself a bit too hard?


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I downloaded the app SimplyPiano to try and learn from there. It had an interesting method, but I found that the further I got through the course, the more difficult it was to get the microphone on my phone to pick up that I had in fact played the correct note, and I was frequently failing courses as it though I missed notes I had hit. Sometimes it would stop at the note, and I'd clearly hit the note hard, and it would still say I missed it, not saying that I hit the wrong note, but merely saying I didn't hit the note at all. Between how many sessions the program seems to have and the fact that if I didn't have this issue, I could likely finish all of the sessions within the first few weeks, and the cheapest subscription they have is 3 months, I've moved on.

I decided to start teaching myself Moonlight Sonata, as I love the sound of it, it's mild paced, and not overly complex (at least that's how it feels to me in comparison to other much more challenging songs I'd love to learn). I started practicing using youtube videos that showed finger positioning etc. I'm working on building the muscle memory to get my fingers to be in the correct position to hit the same notes on two scales every time, without having to look down at my fingers, and then missing what's coming up in the video.

That said, this song feels strange to me, because the treble clef plays a lot in the bass clef range, and I'm still trying to figure out the correct finger position for this song because of that oddity (to me).

Is this a bad song to learn on? Am I trying to perform far beyond my abilities, and this is a much more complex song than a newbie should be trying to accomplish? I can play things by ear, but I've never sat down and learned to read sheet music, nor have I gotten really used to using both hands independantly on songs. That said, I do have a programmer background and can type 100+ wpm, so my fingers are used to working independantly for that. The spacing is just a wee bit different ;)

Is there another song I should be learning on first that would better hone my skills that's this style of music? I'm not too keen on the whole "Mary had a little lamb" type thing. Not looking for single finger hunt and peck style.
 
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The issue about learning a single piece of music is that you develop muscle memory, you in fact do not learn to play the keyboard.

A practice routine with warm up, improv, scales, song play (time limited), new song selection, assessment and play limited to five minutes before moving on to another song.

In other words a varied routine will get your overall skill level built up.

When I bought my P121 it had a piano learning app, free for three months so I tried it and just connected my iPad to the keyboard and it picked up the sound via the connection not via the speakers (I play wearing headphones anyway). Maybe this system will work for you.
 
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The issue about learning a single piece of music is that you develop muscle memory, you in fact do not learn to play the keyboard.

A practice routine with warm up, improv, scales, song play (time limited), new song selection, assessment and play limited to five minutes before moving on to another song.

In other words a varied routine will get your overall skill level built up.

When I bought my P121 it had a piano learning app, free for three months so I tried it and just connected my iPad to the keyboard and it picked up the sound via the connection not via the speakers (I play wearing headphones anyway). Maybe this system will work for you.
I totally agree with this.
 
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After a bit of working and trying things.. I had been practicing on an app called Simply Piano. I liked it to a certain extent, but it was a bit less forward than it should be. It would tell you that you would play a specific song at the end of the training.. in the end, you played a few notes of the song with odd delays that threw you off if you knew the song as you expected the next note to hit and there was a 3 second gap.

Having past experience of playing by ear, I had taught myself some chords just figuring them out by listening and placing the notes. SimplyPiano ended up reiterating those chords I knew and adding a few others, using the black keys, but didn't explain why the chords were what they were etc. I came across a youtube guy called Werdemusiker. In the 40 or so minutes of his first two videos, I not only learned about chords, note progression and so on, but I also learned how a chord is built, what the pattern is, and so I can now create any major and minor chord I wish, with the understanding of the pattern of the chord. While it may take time to get used to the progression of switching between the every other white key format of the C Chord to using black keys in other chords, I can now produce any one I wish without having to have an app show me one new chord at a time.

I agree that you need some randomness to your playing, which I feel Simply Piano did offer, but it I feel it failed at the "making you feel like you are playing something" aspect because it didn't reference the content well enough. I'm going to try to work on these videos. I'm a huge fan of the song "River Flows In You", and this particular individual teaches the basic in easier to learn keys, then teaches a more advanced version that requires you to work chords in on both hands to make it work. That's the direction I've taken so far.
 
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The issue about learning a single piece of music is that you develop muscle memory, you in fact do not learn to play the keyboard.

A practice routine with warm up, improv, scales, song play (time limited), new song selection, assessment and play limited to five minutes before moving on to another song.

In other words a varied routine will get your overall skill level built up.

When I bought my P121 it had a piano learning app, free for three months so I tried it and just connected my iPad to the keyboard and it picked up the sound via the connection not via the speakers (I play wearing headphones anyway). Maybe this system will work for you.
This is interesting advice.
I have only begun playing again in September after many years away from piano.
I work on a song with my teacher for weeks. So you’re saying in addition to the piece I’m working in I should be playing a few minutes of other songs as well?
 

Rayblewit

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Lisa,
When I struggle with learning a piece (can't get it flowing, or miss time a bar or play wrong key . .) it all gets out of sync. and I get more frustrated the longer I try.

Often, if I discard the task and pull out another familiar piece to play or a few different ones . . take my mind off the frustration for a while . . then I have a fresh mind to pick up the pieces on the frustrations.

Usually works!
No longer in the rut!

Try that.
Cheers Ray
 
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This is interesting advice.
I have only begun playing again in September after many years away from piano.
I work on a song with my teacher for weeks. So you’re saying in addition to the piece I’m working in I should be playing a few minutes of other songs as well?
Yes.

You are learning by rote and not learning how to play.

Your teacher should be aware of that, if they are simply teaching you one complete a song at a time well that way would not work for me.

There are plenty of posts here on practice routines.

They all are varied in content, ie improv, scales, learning a song, practice a known song, reading sheet music and visualising how it is going to be played, then practice it. Then add in whatever you want.

There are no hard and fast rules just a system that works.

Constant repetition is not the way.
 
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Yes.

You are learning by rote and not learning how to play.

Your teacher should be aware of that, if they are simply teaching you one complete a song at a time well that way would not work for me.

There are plenty of posts here on practice routines.

They all are varied in content, ie improv, scales, learning a song, practice a known song, reading sheet music and visualising how it is going to be played, then practice it. Then add in whatever you want.

There are no hard and fast rules just a system that works.

Constant repetition is not the way.
Each week she gives me a new Hanon lesson for finger strength and a new scale. We are reviewing chords which i learned long ago.
THen we work on the song i am learning, section by section hands separate and then together.
She's a very accomplished teacher. The only one i've had so can't compare. Should i be requesting something different?
 
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Good to hear Lisa.

Finger exercises and scales is good.

Learning chords, inversions, introducing variations with the chord like playing a 2nd or 4th instead of a 3rd etc there are plenty of options as is arpeggiating a chord where again there are many patterns available.

Try transcribing your favourite song, print out the lyrics, listen to it being played and sung whilst marking the bar, then mark it again when there s a chord change, then when you are happy with it try to work out the actual chord on the first bar, then work out each subsequent chord. When you are happy with the transcription play along with the song.

When you are happy check your transcription against other versions on Guitar Tabs.

This is a good exercise for developing your listening skills, observing the beat, timing and chord recognition, plus it add another dimension to your learning.

Try adding as much variation in your practice as you can and even after a couple of months your skills will have increased markedly.
 
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I will definitely give transcribing a go. I have software that does it but it’s not very accurate a lot if the time. I will definitely try snd develop that skill myself.
 

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