How to keep playing the piano when it’s “too late”… – from the 1st to the 6th year

This is the second part of the previous article Piano for adults which is supposed to show you the way what happens when you are “too old to start playing the piano” 🙂

So, the first year.

The length and intensity per week of your classes depend a lot on the power of focusing your attention. I would recommend 1 lesson of 45-60 minutes per week for an adult having a professional activity on the daily basis. Two lessons of 30-45 minutes per week are also suitable and even better for a steady advancement. Piano teacher‘s most huge “luck” is working with students whose hands take the right playing position on their own. The wrists become easily relaxed, as shows the next video. Karin, at her 50-s, is blessed with naturally soft wrists; it’s easy for her to get a better coordination and finger’s flexibility.

If you have a previous experience with an other instrument (a guitar for example), or some of musical intuition, rythm’ feeling, that can definitely help. Together with singing with your teacher during the lesson – don’t be shy, it helps amazingly! The singing of the melody (the right hand in the score, for example) while playing the left hand’s line is the more difficult task but leading to the best results.

On the next video you can see Axel, 45, who has never played piano (it’s his first year) but played a lot of guitar. He plays the “Russian danse” from the russian teachers’ Bible – the “Method of piano playing” by Anna Artobolevskaya. I give this book to the students whose progress is rather fast. Without experience or inner musicality this Method may be quite difficult.

The “old-aged” student’s hands though mostly stay tensed and his movements – awkward during the second year. One of the best way to relax is to include to the repertoire some well-known or easy-to-remember by ear songs, as this one played by Jade, 30 y.o.

One of the most frequent question that worries my adult students is – “I have no musical hearing at all. Is it still possible to learn piano?”. This is a common way of thinking, a fear that may prevent people  from starting piano lessons.

The answer is: the fine musical hearing is not mandatory to start playing an instrument. You can progress by your regular work at home between classes, effort and diligence, read as much of small scores as you can, and – of course – SING with your teacher in order to develop your musical memory. The most difficult task for you will be rather to find time to practice after your main activity and not to be lazy :)). Fabrice, 45, is an example of such kind of regular work, he had very clenched hand at the beginning.

After the 3rd year of studying. The inner anxiety and constant panic may prevent a student from being relaxed and free during his performances. The hands in this case stay still rather clenched, so the hand’s velocity decrease. Helene, 30, presents constant signs of panic. At the 5th year of studying  our progress with her is veru slow, and the level of her musical pieces is below the average level of the 5th year. But thanks to the regular work at home she is able to take pleasure from her results.

After 5 years of studying much more pleasant and interesting repertoir gets accessible for students, as Webber’s “Memories” from “Cats” or “The Entertainer” on the next two videos by Nathalie, 35.

Eventually, after 5-6-7 years of piano studies there are two possible ways for a student:

– stagnation, stop progression (reaching the “ceiling”) in case of average, not very thorough practicing due to the main professional activity or home life’ routine. This is the most common option, followed by the extention of repertoire in quantity, but not really in quality. Still all kinds of medium piano pieces, pop-music and soundtracks are accessible to read. – extention of the repertoir up to the higher level of piano playing. The daily and thorough practicing, a huge motivation, natural or acquired softness of wrists and fingers contribute to increasing quality of reading and playing. This option is available if the mode of life allows it, as cruel as it sounds :).

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