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Areas I Struggle With Most When Practicing the Piano

Welcome back. The statement “things aren’t roses and sunshine around here” is only a small representation of what really goes on during my practice sessions.

As musicians, we all have areas in our repertoire we can surely improve but loathe to do so, shying away from the extra work we know we would need to put in to overcome whatever roadblock is blocking our access to whatever success means to you.

Whether it be a physical or mental problem preventing you from being all you can be, identifying them in the first place is the first step in the right direction. Refusing to acknowledge them ensures you will stay exactly where you are now. To be more, you have to do more.

One of the hardest concepts for me to grasp was both of my hands playing different melodies effortlessly. It looks simple in execution but I believe, in my opinion, it is one of the most difficult concepts to fully understand.

Specifically for your fingers.

My brain knows what it is my fingers need to do but they have a hard time making that connection and keeping up. They just want to do everything in tandem and it becomes super frustrating. By the way, your left hand playing a chord for 4 beats while your right hand plays the melody is not what I am referring to nor does it necessarily count. That is much easier to do and requires little to no effort or struggle.

One of the many ways my hand independence was tested was whenever my left hand would play a broken chord while my right played the melody. Again, it sounds fairly easy but, I guarantee you, it is anything but if you were to actually try it.

What would often happen is my right hand would play while my left hand would stop without me knowing it and vice versa. It would also throw my timing off, sounding nothing like the piece of music I was trying to replicate.

What I did to circumvent this issue was to focus on one set of notes at a time — one note from the treble clef and the other from the bass clef. I would spend minutes over the course of a few day selecting a specific bar and familiarizing myself with the different notes needed to be played.

I would not worry about playing in time, just building muscle memory and hand independence. It was tedious but worked tremendously well when I spent a good amount of time doing it.

Doing this felt so foreign to me in the beginning but I gradually improved my performance as time went on. No longer a novice player, playing two different melodies comes much easier to me though I still do struggle every now and then.

Due to my diligence and persistence, balking at complex pieces and compositions is now a thing of the past. Now I am filled with excitement that I have come this far in my journey.

There is just also something so satisfying knowing you can now do something you previously could not. The sense of accomplishment is enough to encourage the lowliest of beginners, or even advanced players. Those little victories will always lead to something much larger in the end.

I do not know if it is just me but I have the habit of playing the first half of any piece almost perfectly while the second half is kind of rough. I can attribute this to spending more time on the first section because everything is new.

The farther I go into the song, the lower the quality becomes. I believe part of that has to do with wanting to say I was able to learn the whole song, not really worried about making sure it sounds the way it should.

When you spend “x” amount of months or weeks on one song, the urge to reach the finish line overwhelms my sense of overall pleasure if I were to spend the extra time on the latter half as I did the former.

Also, there are a lot of different pieces I would like to learn during my lifetime and the desire to finally tackle those after a long while can be the final push I need to rush things past what I had originally intended.

Going over the more difficult sections feels like a pain and I would rather not do it. What I often forget though is these hard parts are what make me a better player, not redoing the easy sections almost anyone can play with minimal effort.

The ability to play a song effortlessly takes more time than I realized, especially in the beginning, but dedicating my focus and energy where it is really needed makes all the difference.

We all have struggle areas. All that matters is how you handle them when you encounter them, which you most certainly will. Approach them with open arms; use whatever tools at your disposal to extrapolate the lesson out of each of them.

We only learn when we struggle. Get used to feeling uncomfortable because that is when amazing things start happening. What areas do you mostly struggle in and how will you handle it?

Keep playing!


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