Why I Stopped Playing Piano

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why i stopped playing piano

Intro

Hey guys, I haven’t seen you in a while, so I hope you’re all feeling good and starting the new year with the right foot! That’s also the theme of this post 🙂 One of my missions with this blog is to share my experience learning piano and I believe it only makes sense if I do it no matter how it goes, good or bad. So today I’ll tell you about some things that didn’t work out so well for me! In a way, it would be great not to write this particular post, but I believe it makes perfect sense to do it. I know that the same thing may happen with you at some point and it is good that there is a dialog about this kind of stuff. Keep in mind, I’m no expert and I’m not trying to come off as such. I’m simply having a chat with you as one would with his friends. So, let’s talk about why I have stopped playing the piano, what it means for this piano journey, and my strategy for the future. Before we jump in, though, I’ll just remind you that if you appreciate what I’m doing with the blog/channel, the best way to show it is by subscribing or bookmarking it if you haven’t already :p with that out of the way, let’s go straight to the point.

The Big Dilemma

When it comes to hobbies and personal plans, I have a problem with unfinished projects… There, I said it. It’s not something that’s new to me, although I admit I didn’t recognize it was happening with my piano hobby until recently.

So What does this mean? It means I love starting, planning, and setting out to attack the most interesting challenges I can find, and I do it! Usually with great success, because I have done all that initial analysis, preparing, studying what to do, learning the best way to do it…
BUT THEN… All that rush starts wearing off and it’s like all the plans and ideas I had in mind just go to the background and stay floating around waiting for me to bump into them, which more often than not ends up not happening. And I know: As with most things in life, you can’t expect your progress to be exponential. It’s more like an S curve. This means you get a slow start that may quickly start ramping up. That’s the rush I’m referring to – when you’re learning something new, and actually feeling yourself progressing at a fast pace. Well, I don’t know if it makes sense to you, but maybe it’s not really about the speed at which you are progressing – you may not be learning that fast – it’s more about the acceleration, the change you are feeling, that’s where all the excitement comes from. This feeling will eventually wear off, and you will find yourself climbing the S curve. Personally, it seems like whenever I get to that point (where progress is no longer exponential but becomes somewhat linear… The moment I break that rhythm (that is, when for some reason I stop practicing or investing time in whatever that hobby is) it becomes super hard to get back to it. 

I’ve identified this in myself and I recognize it makes no sense. I mean, just like when you’re driving a car, just because you’re not accelerating, it doesn’t mean you’re not going somewhere. If you’re going at a steady speed, you’re definitely going places! And it’s the same in piano, or whatever your personal project is.

Later in this post, I’ll tell you what I’m doing to fight this, but for now, having to describe my situation in a few words, I’d say this is the main issue that I have.

The Action Breakers

That’s not the only issue, though. There are a few decisions I made that turned out to make things a little harder on myself. As you know, there is more to it in this project. When I started this piano project, I set out to do a bit of everything: Video, MIDI, editing, Youtube, WordPress Blog, Discord, Instagram, … Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t get into all of that because I thought I had to. I just found all of those to be super interesting to get my hands on as well, and now each of those is like a side project on its own, that I have to do research on, troubleshooting, etc 😀 as if learning the piano by itself wasn’t challenging enough! Now put all of that together with the first problem I described, add to it the ever-present day-job (most of us have) and what happens is that I get into this spiral of inertia, where just the thought of everything that is involved with an activity is overwhelming, but not in an obvious way 😮 I guess I just start avoiding it subconsciously. Then, a week goes by, two weeks… And then you realize that it’s been one month or two months and you haven’t been dedicating yourself to something you like. Suddenly maybe to make things worse a new flashy hobby comes along and BAM, you’re out!

The Imminent Question

Let it drag for long enough and you may even find yourself wondering if you really love your project. I mean, it’s a fair question. If you’re not feeling like doing something, maybe you’re not that into it, right?

Well, I believe that’s misrepresenting the situation. It’s not that you don’t like it or don’t want to do it. Many times you do want to do it and you wish you were doing it, but for some strange reason, you don’t find the power of will to go ahead and just-do-it! 

How Do You Snap Out of It?!

So what am I doing about this, and what are some actions that may help you?

I definitely want to keep playing, no doubt about it. So what can I learn from other areas of my life to avoid getting in this situation again?

Well, professionally, I find none of this actually impacts me, since I am focused on my tasks and there is a constant feeling of responsibility and accountability. That really gives you something to reflect on while trying to fix this problem. The thing is, in hobbies, most of the time you’re on your own, free to do as you wish, whenever you’d like to, so it’s much easier to get sidetracked.
I believe the most important step is recognizing that even in hobbies we love, life is not always a dopamine rush. I guess it depends on what your hobby is, but, if someone wants to be good at something like playing the piano, dedication is key. You’ve got to do the grind! Yes, you need to get your ass to the piano bench and pick up that piece you’ve played a hundred times already, or pick up that finger exercise that you’re still struggling with, practice sight reading… And yes, I’m totally projecting this to you, this is what I have to tell myself, but it is universally true! Oh by the way – if you asked me what the hardest part is in getting back to piano after a big break – to me, it is reading the music sheet :D(my brain gets super laaaazyyyy if I don’t practice :D)

Anyway, above all, I believe it takes commitment and consistency. How can you achieve these?

Achieving Commitment and Consistency

One way of being committed, and I’ve mentioned this in the blog before, is getting a teacher. It’s not something I’m doing right now, but if it works for you, you should definitely go for it.
There are, however, other ways to do it. Tell a friend or a family member about your plans. It makes it less likely for you to fail on that goal – I guess my version of this is telling you!
Oh and make sure you book the time for it. Don’t just decide that you will play for one hour, actually plan in advance at what time of your day you’ll be doing it. I like to do it in the morning, before any other activity. Maybe you’d rather do it before sleep. Whatever fits you best, but plan it and add it to your calendar app or write it on a note somewhere to make it official!

Putting it on your schedule ahead of time will also help with my other point, consistency!

About consistency, one thing I would say from my own experience is, obviously, don’t take long breaks. But if you do, get back on track asap. (When you practice consistently (say, one hour every day) you build up momentum. I find it becomes kind of automatic, and you gradually build up your practice habits. That’s precious! Because in the end, it’s how much you practice that makes the difference. Talent? Hmm, I don’t like the word talent. Cherish those habits! If you feel that you’re starting to get a little routine going, keep it up! Don’t waste it!

To help with consistency, I also use an app to track my practice hours. That’s how I always know how many hours I’ve practiced for, whenever I make a progress video. It also shows me if I’m accomplishing my practice goals, which may help as a motivator or as a reminder. I’ll eventually cover that in detail in another post 🙂

Habits, Habits, Habits

Look, I’m in no way an expert in any of this, I’m just sharing some tips that have worked with me in the past. I have a hundred ideas I’d love to bring to this channel and if I want to make them happen, I have to make sure I am consistently focused. Following my own advice, from now on I will be actually allocating time in my daily schedule for these tasks

Still on the topic of building habits, I recommend you check the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. It’s a very pleasant read and it gives you truly actionable advice on how to build lasting habits.

Hoping it will motivate you as much as it did me, I’ll read you a quote by James, the author of the book:

"If there is ever a gap between your goal and your system; if there’s ever a gap between your desired outcome and your daily habits, your daily habits will always win. It doesn’t matter how good your intentions were. It doesn’t matter what you hoped to achieve. It’s what your habits are carrying you toward. And the great irony of all of this is we all so badly want better results in life, we all so badly want to make more money or to reduce stress or to find love or to be more productive but the results are actually not the thing that needs to change. It’s the system that precedes the results. It’s the habits that precede the outcome. Fix the inputs and the outputs will fix themselves."
james clear
James Clear
Author of Atomic Habits

Closing Thoughts

I’m very interested in your take on it. Is this something you’ve gone through yourself? What helps you get back on track? It would be awesome to have a big thoughtful discussion on the topic in the comments below, so don’t be shy. If you’d rather have a chat about it instead, just hop on my Discord – you can always find me there along with other folks interested in piano learning. In any case, remember: There is only so much time, so you better spend it wisely doing good things you enjoy and that will be meaningful to you in the long run.

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