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Self taught and trying to organise practice


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I last took keyboard lessons six years ago, and after a few years' break I've tried picking it up again - self taught this time - but I'm having trouble getting myself organised into doing regular practice. I think the main reason (other than general laziness ;) ) is that I'm not sure what to do! Does anyone have any tips for practising? How much time should I be trying to spend playing per week?


(I'd try and find a teacher, but I'm going away to university in a month so I'm not sure there'd be much point.)



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One important thing, practice even if you don't feel like it - make the time and make everything else second in your life.


I personally aim for 15 hours a week as measured by a stopwatch. You'd be surprised how much time is wasted when you think you're practicing.


I spend 50 minutes every day doing various warm ups. I try and vary that daily. The rest of the time is whatever I want to work on. Ask any other piano player and you'll get a different answer.

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.


In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.


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At least a couple of hours a day if you want to get somewhere. Any less and you will likely stagnate.


It sounds like motivation is a bit of a problem so don't spend the whole time doing exersizes. Play some songs, even if you can't play them well. I find learning new songs all the time really keep the practice time fun.


DigitalFakeBook Free chord/lyric display software for windows.
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I can't recall who it was I saw in Keyboard who said that as a kid, his parents made him sit at the piano for at least half an hour every day. I found lately that I was letting myself get distracted (oh yeah, need to take the meat out of the freezer for dinner, sounds like I just got an e-mail let me go check that, etc.) and this reminder helped me to focus a bit more.


It's good to challenge yourself, but let yourself do some fun stuff that you might already know. It can be a nice confidence booster when you play through something and think, "I remember not too long ago when I struggled with that." This also makes sure you don't forget something because you hadn't played it for a while.


When you took lessons, hopefully your teacher showed you how to practice new/difficult parts by breaking down the piece. I think it's good to try a piece all the way through the first time, but then focus on the parts where you have trouble. Play the hands separately, then together, slower then gradually speed up, add more of the piece from the immediate area so you can play into and out of the problem area, etc.


Most of all, have fun!

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck


"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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I'm new too...about a couple of years...but I bought a couple of books and one with a DVD tutorial.

That really helps!


Go ahead and like with any instrument...pay your dues or get your basics down first.

It will really help down the road if you learn an instrument properly the first time.


I started on banjo back in the 80's and THOUGHT I was teaching myself for the first year.

I never could progress so I bought a book and found out that I was going at it backwards.

I started over but it was much more hard having to stop my OLD, BAD habits.


Book with a DVD tutorial...that's my suggestion.


Oh yeah, and good luck!! :)



"Just play!"
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I'm self taught and started when I was 40, I have never had the benefit of a good teacher, so I have had to motivate myself. My biggest advantage was bieng a musician before I started ,so it was more of a kinetic thing,but there was still the mental. Every instrument has it's differences :idea:


If I had to give advice to stay self motivated,it would be to learn what you want to learn ( I learned Steely Dan ,Micheal McDonald songs) in the context of learning the fundementals. The thrill of learning something new ,and learning something I thought I could never play is what keeps me going . But the motivation is increased by learning what makes it work. What scale am I playing ? What is the chord sequence,? What rythym do I need?


When you can take those elements and play in other keys,and expand into your own style than it is very motivating.


Than you'll see spending 20 -30 minutes a day on scales as not a chore,but as sharpening your tools. " I need to learn this scale because I am going to whip out a solo over this chord progression".


It is important to work on the basics every day(scales ,chord progressions ,rythym exercises,etc..)

It is also important ,at least for me ,to try and learn new songs and techniques. I have to avoid the rut of "I play the same stuff over and over"


I always like to think of practice in thirds,1/3 is basic fundementals,1/3 is reviewing songs and working on cleaning them up and 1/3 is learning something new.

Believe it or not the learning something new takes the most motivation to pull off but is the most rewarding as far as maintaining motivation to play. It's work to go find materials and spend time grinding away.But that's when your learning :idea:


I could see where a teacher could have helped me ,especially when it comes to technique,and that is mostly in fingering.I have had to learn to correct my bad fingering and it still may not be by the book ,but I have had fun learning :thu:


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Practice, what's that? :confused:


But seriously, folks......


I don't practice near as much as I should. In fact, the only time I practice is in rehearsal. If I did I'd probably be a lot better than I am.


I wind up getting new ideas and new techniques and approaches in live performance, and from the music I listen to on the way to the gig. Since pretty much all my playing is in a band situation, that's where I prefer to practice. When I do sit down at the piano at home, it's usually not for practice, but for fun. At the computer, for writing.


Of course, I'm the anomoly.


"In the beginning, Adam had the blues, 'cause he was lonesome.

So God helped him and created woman.


Now everybody's got the blues."


Willie Dixon






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I only practice when I have to learn something new these days, and time is running out. It's sad. When I was younger, I'd practice for hours and hours just for fun. When I'd stop I wouldn't even know what time it was, and was usually surprised at how late it had got. It's sad. It's a getting old thing I think. If you have to force yourself to practice, you must be getting old too.
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Thanks for the reply, Dave Horne. I'm not aiming to play at a professional level, so I think 15 hours a week might be a bit much for me, to be honest! :eek: The warm ups are a good idea, though. Do you know of any books or places online that might have some? I have a book of finger exercises for the violin (my first instrument), but I doubt they'd apply to keyboard as well - they're only in the treble clef, for a start.
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Thanks for the reply, Mike Warren. Like I said to Dave Horne, I think that amount of practice might be a bit much! But there should be a few days a week I'd manage over an hour, at least.


That's a good idea. I don't have very many songbooks, but there are still some pieces in the ones I do have that I haven't tried yet.

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Thanks for the reply, Joe Muscara. Half an hour a day seems manageable. ;) There should be some days I can manage more, though.


That's true! I've found it helps to play old pieces if I've had a bad practice session with my violin.


He did, yes. I still try and learn pieces that way now.



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Thanks for the reply, Strategery. That's a good idea about a book with a DVD tutorial! How much choice do you get with the pieces in them, though? One of the reasons I gave up on lessons was that I didn't enjoy the pieces I was being asked to learn...


That's true. I really will need to learn the basics with the left hand...I was never taught how to read the bass clef in keyboard lessons. :( I learnt enough to get me through my violin Grade 5 theory, but that's all.


Thanks! :)

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Thanks for the reply, Trill. I was playing the violin for about four years before I started keyboard lessons, so I'm sort of in a similar situation.


That's good advice, and it's what I've been trying to do. I don't know much theory, though, so I'm not sure about chord progressions. :blush: Do you know any good books/sites for those and/or rhythm exercises?


That's true about avoiding playing the same pieces over and over as well. I like your way of organising practices! :)


Well, like you say, at least you've had fun. :thu:

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Good advice from everyone. I'll just add a couple of tips:


- If you have played for a while, then stopped for a few years, don't rush to try playing your old pieces again. Your brain could remember the movements, but your hands are not up to it anymore; as result, you force your hands to an excessive effort. Try starting with slow, simple technique, and add a little bit of practice time and difficulty level every day. Give your physical apparatus some time to get used to keyboard playing again.


- Try to play every day, or every time you can. if only for a few minutes. I'd say that continuity is the single most important element in practicing an instrument. Playing two hours once or twice a week is not going to make you progress too much.






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Thanks for the reply, marino. That's a good point...there are some pieces I own that I haven't touched for years...http://planetsmilies.net/shocked-smiley-9480.gif


I'll certainly try! I should be able to manage a bit of time every day, although how much time might vary.

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