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What They Don't Tell You

First of all, let's give a shout out to everybody who's taking time in life to practice the piano and fill the world with good music energy. Kudos to you. It's no small endeavor-- not for the faint of heart, I like to say. But, isn't it worth all the work to be able to enjoy the beauty that comes from it? It's magical.

Now, let's talk.

We know this: The adult brain learns differently than a child’s. Yet, I rarely see this acknowledged in articles written to help adult students with practice techniques.

I’m going to write a series of blogs devoted to practice approaches that oftentimes need to be somewhat modified for adults. (I should point out that even a year or two of study as a child can make a difference for an adult’s piano practice experience.) My suggestions will be most pertinent to adults who had no piano study during childhood. Of course, everyone is unique, but generally speaking there are some commonalities I find with adult students. Poor timing is at the top of this list of challenges -- but what does that mean? I want to know, what is it about the timing that is posing a problem? What are some ways you might go about addressing it? Generally speaking, wrong notes are at the bottom of our list. So, now you know! You can stop hyper-focusing on notes because they’re likely in pretty good shape.

When students learn to recognize the root cause of problems, they’re much better at resolving things, of course. Know that the practice habit is most frequently the root cause of a problem. Yes, you read that right. You need many tools in your practice tool kit -- and perhaps some of the tools you use most are not working particularly well for you. How will you know? Your teacher will tell you. Or, if you're working independently, your recordings (or friends/family) will tell you. Are you playing a piece painfully slow, for instance? Maybe this piece was a poor choice for your current skill level. Or maybe you just need new tools to help you speed things up a bit. Or, maybe I will just be honest here and say there is an upper limit to how fast an adult learner will ever be able to play. That's not really such a big deal, as there are so many things you can choose from that are not terribly fast. Choose your pieces wisely so you can play them well.

So, keep an eye out for this upcoming series. Students of mine, I’d love for you to share your thoughts on our Student Forum. I’ll be interested to hear what you have to say. Please, when posting, make a note whether you played at all as a child or if you began as an adult.

Happy practicing!

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