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Finding Your Spark: Tips for Staying Motivated to Practice Piano for Adults

Updated: Feb 22

We have all had an activity where we start off super strong in the beginning and eventually start to lose momentum. The activity could be getting into running, learning a new language, or starting a new habit. Picking up a new instrument such as the piano can definitely be very exciting in the beginning when everything is novel and you see progress weekly. However, there will most likely be a point in your journey when things might start to feel stagnant and you don't feel as inclined to consistently practice during the week. What do you do when this happens? In this blog post, I will cover some tips that I share with my own students on overcoming this obstacle. Let's first start with the adult students! #pianopractice #pianostudent #practicemotivation

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  • Consider switching up your practice repertoire.

Have you not made much progress on a particular piece and you've been assigned to practice it for more than a few weeks? Sometimes it's great to have a "challenge" piece that is a bit more technical than what you're used to. But if you walk by your piano and dread even the idea of practicing that piece, just talk to your teacher! Be honest with how you're feeling about the piece and your teacher will work with you. He or she can offer suggestions on different ways to practice the piece, and if that doesn't help, swapping the piece with something else can be an option. There is no shame in doing so! Do you have a particular genre of music you enjoy? If you really enjoy jazzy piano music, voice this to your teacher. As a classical pianist, I enjoy teaching classical repertoire to my students but understand that not everyone enjoys Mozart or Beethoven. Keep a list of your favorite pop songs, film soundtracks, etc. and your teacher can work to find an arrangement that suits your level.

  • Find your optimal practice schedule

Try to figure out when you are most focused each day. For some students, early in the morning works best while others prefer in the evening. I used to have a student who kept a keyboard at her office and practiced during lunch hour. For myself, I do much better earlier in the day before my afternoon teaching because after a full day of teaching lessons, I get pretty tired in the evening and most of the time need to veg out on the couch! Experiment with different times of the day with your practicing to see what really works for you and then stick to it.

  • Find your optimal practice space

For students who have a digital keyboard at home, you have the luxury of moving your instrument around! Try different practice spaces within your home. If it's in your bedroom, try relocating it to the living room where you see it multiple times a day. This makes it more "convenient" for your practice habit to stick since you're reminded of the piano throughout the day and it's easily accessible. Like I mentioned earlier in this blog, I had a student keep a keyboard at her office so she could practice during her lunch break.

Students who have an acoustic piano that you can't move around, I suggest making the space as inviting and comfortable as possible. Have some warm lighting, nice decor, plants, or whatever makes you want to sit in that space.

For more ideas on how to make a habit stick, I highly recommend James Clear's book called Atomic Habits.

  • Track your progress

Whether you are working with a teacher or learning on your own, tracking your progress and keeping goals are helpful in the learning process. Visibly seeing your goals written down and even keeping a practice log can keep students accountable during the weeks and months down the road. I have a few physical and digital journal options available for purchase through Etsy. Make video recordings of yourself practicing a piece that you're working on and keep making recordings through your learning process until it is performance ready. When you've reached this point, you can look back on your video feeling accomplished and motivated to tackle a new piece!

  • Youtube: helpful or harmful?

Youtube has become such a helpful tool for learning. With the plethora of tutorials and piano performance videos, piano students are exposed to so many options. There are also numerous videos on little 3 or 4 year old prodigies playing complex pieces, which depending on who is watching these videos, might be more hurtful than helpful to one's self-esteem. Whether you're a beginner or advanced pianist, I've found that watching these videos are generally not very helpful. Sure, it is very impressive to watch. However, one must remember that each student has their own piano journey and there are many factors that go into seeing piano progress. What I do recommend is watching the great piano masters such as Martha Argerich, Daniel Barenboim, and Vladimir Horowitz to name a few! Watching live concerts in your area (doesn't have to be piano solo) can often be inspiring and a motivator for continuing practice at one's instrument.

  • Perform!

If you're taking lessons with a teacher, most likely he or she will offer studio recitals once or twice a year. By the way, recitals are not only meant for small children! It's a great opportunity to share what you've been practicing and having a performance date set can really motivate piano practice. Even better, invite your friends and family to attend your upcoming recital performance. If you don't work with a teacher, make a plan to perform for your friends/family. It can even be one or two pieces, but knowing you will have active listeners while you're playing can help to motivate more piano practice time leading up to the small performance.

  • Remember your WHY

Remember when you first picked up the piano and how excited you were to learn a new skill? What was your motivation behind learning a new instrument such as the piano? Did you have a goal of learning a specific song or classical piece? Did you envision being able to pick up any piece of sheet music and play it with ease? Did you want a hobby that would be something fun outside of the monotony of the work week? Whatever your WHY was, try to tap into this again. Writing your "Why" and future piano goals in a journal can be a great way to look back and remind yourself the joy of playing piano when you feel you're in an unmotivated mood.

If you're looking for a nice physical journal, here is a link to ones I have created! Or if you prefer to customize and print your own I have a few digital journals to choose from in my shop.

Final Thoughts:

All pianists have those moments when they don't want to practice, and I've definitely been there! Remember that you are on your own musical journey and learning piano requires much patience and persistence as with learning anything new and learning it well. Try at least one or a combination of tips listed above, and I hope that it helps you in sparking your motivation to practice!

If you found this information useful, please like and subscribe to Youtube/Instagram and my blog. Feel free to comment and/or let me know what topics you would like to read about next!

More content available at my Youtube channel and Instagram @ haparopiano

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