1. Keeping your phone volume on

It happens to everyone... You are practicing and focused. Then, you get a call or some kind of notification on your phone.

Even though we try to fight it, there’s always the human part of us that is curious: “I should check it. Maybe it’s something important…”

We give in and check it, and without even realizing it, we end up wasting half an hour watching random posts on Instagram.

Solution: Silence all notifications (or put your phone on airplane mode) and place it out of site.

2. Repeating passages “ad nauseam”

Something is not sounding good. You repeat it over and over and over again.

If after one hour it still sounds bad and you see no progress, then we're sorry to tell you, but you are doing something wrong!

Instead of repeating mindlessly the same thing 50 times — STOP! Think. Analyze. "What is wrong? Left hand? Right hand? Which notes are giving me trouble? Why?"

Save yourself time by breaking down the passage and identifying the problem. Repeating the same thing “ad nauseam” will not make you a better piano player.

3. Delaying fingering a new piece

You are learning a new, fast piece. You start practicing at a lower speed, using just “random” fingerings. It works! You are managing to play the piece.

But then, as you speed up, the passages get harder. You repeat and repeat. Eventually, you find out the obvious: your “random” fingerings were not efficient.

At this point, you now have to learn the whole piece again, this time with a more effective fingering. A “waste of time” as we would say.

Of course this happens all the time, even with professionals. We change fingerings a lot of time.

On slow pieces, this usually does not constitute a bigger problem, but fast, “flashy” pieces need to be carefully studied and analyzed before even trying to speed up.

4. Beating yourself up

This one is a very personal but important point to be aware of because many people suffer from this problem.

It’s good to always be striving to improve, but are those thoughts actively driving you to become better? Or are you just getting sad and frustrated instead?

The truth is that we all have limitations.

We all could “be better.” Our technique can always “be better.” Our sound can always “be better.”

It’s a never ending journey. The important thing is that we enjoy ourselves along the way.

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Dave McLellan

Concert & Chamber Musician

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