Time away from the piano

I am going to be away from the piano for over two weeks. I have worked so hard to memorize 21 songs and play them every day. My fear is that I will lose them all! I am trying to look on the bright side and think that if I have to re-learn them then they will really get embedded in my memory. Any thoughts or experience with this? (On the bright side, I will be on a cruise ship and will be looking for the piano bar player!) I will be out of the loop for awhile, but would be interested in reading any responses when I return.

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Hi Celia :wave:

Good question.

My main piece of advice would be to utilise the time by listening to lots of jazz.

More specifically, try to create a playlist for each of your 21 songs.

I do this with my Spotify account… I compile all of the versions I like of a specific tune in a playlist. I then have my favourite recordings neatly organised in playlists for future listening and transcription study.

You can also do the same with YouTube and set the playlist as public or private.

This will have 2 benefits for you:

  1. Listening through the playlists will keep the tunes fresh in your mind whilst travelling

  2. It will give you a library of inspiration for future practice time. Perhaps one day you could focus on 1 song and spend all of your practice time listening to and transcribing from the recordings you have compiled .

I’d look at your ‘mini hiatus’ as an opportunity to delve deeper into listening. Without the piano in front of you, you should find it easier to fully immerse yourself in listening and aurally studying the recordings.

Also make notes on your favourite parts:

It’s also nice to make note of things you like. Perhaps you could have a Word document or Excel spread sheet where you note down things you like about each of the records.

You could make notes with timestamp format (00:00) on the parts of the record you like. For example:

01:20 - i like the phrasing of the melody
or
02:04 - interesting melodic fill
etc…

Then when you get back to your piano, you will have an outline of exactly what material you want to transcribe from the recordings and the exact time so you can find it easily. It might sound a little overkill - but I find it effective.

Whatever it is that piques your ears, make note of it for further study when you return to the piano.

Let me know if that helps and enjoy your cruise! :sunglasses:

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Recline on one of those lounge chairs with your earbuds, and relax and listen to your favorites. And be brave and play a song on that piano at the bar when the piano player is not there :grin::musical_keyboard: :notes:. ( Sometimes I like to watch Hayden’s lessons away from the piano, I take notes and it keeps me from noodling while he is talking).

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Just this though about music in general …

You’ve spent hours memorizing music theory, taken your fair share of auditions, and played in a few bands. You were actually pretty good, but then you had to face the facts and get a job.

There was even a time when you had a solid practice routine, devoting multiple hours a day to your instrument, but that too fell to the wayside. Now you’re lucky to play a couple notes a few times a month.

Somehow life just got in the way and your instrument got lost in the shuffle. It happens to the best of us.

But deep down you know you’re still a musician and that music is still a part of your life. Now you’re ready for a comeback…

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Love the words Pierre. So very true!!!

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Thanks for this, Pierre. I especially liked this bit:

[A]ll of these concepts are useless without a solid musical foundation. It’s kinda like putting a fresh coat of paint on an abandoned shack – it looks better from the outside, but it’s still a broken-down shack. So save your money and your valuable time.

The skills that you want as a musician – playing longer lines, playing at fast tempos, and playing at an advanced harmonic level – all start with solid fundamentals. Listen closely at the solos of the best players and you’ll see what I mean. . . . [R]emember, the more you put off mastering the basics, the more you’re delaying your musical progress.

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I want to thank everyone for their great advice. Unfortunately, I posted late and did not get to see the responses. I got back the latter part of last week and had business to catch up on. As it turns out, internet availability was limited and very expensive on the ship, so I opted out of it. I brought my digital lead sheets and recordings fully intending to work on them in my head. I planned to attend the piano bar each night. But instead, this is what happened. I took a complete break from piano for three weeks! I focused my attention on all of Canada’s beauty and Alaska’s scenery, wildlife and my wonderful travel companions. I found that this complete break was actually healthy for me. I just started playing again a few days ago. Yes, I am having to review songs that left my fingers, but the music is coming back quickly and often, my reviews show me things I have missed. It will take me a little time to get everything back, but I think I am actually playing better than when I left!

As a note, I have my own company and seriously cut back our business the past couple of years. Prior to that, I had been working 60 plus hours, weekends and traveling extensively which left little to no time for piano. We still have our company and I still work…. but with greatly reduced hours! When I started PianoGroove last year, I was so eager and determined to catch up on all those missed years (which is really not possible). With my type A personality, I have been practicing many hours a day. I think I may have had some burnout. So, for me the complete break has been refreshing. I am so excited to be back at the piano with renewed energy. I am not saying a complete break is good for everyone, but it was good for me in my situation.

Again…thanks to everyone. This is a great board and group of people!

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Hi Celia :wave:

Awesome to hear you are back and feeling refreshed and recharged for the piano.

I can relate to the burnout feeling and must admit that it’s the worst type of mental block.

After reading your post, I did have one idea that others might find useful:

One of the reasons I love Spotify is that I can download my music, albums, and the playlists I have created and they are saved directly in the app.

If I’m ever on a road trip, or a long drive with limited connectivity, I always download my music into the Spotify app.

That way I have uninterrupted playback when there’s no internet/limited internet, and it also doesn’t cost me a fortune in roaming charges.

A very useful feature of Spotify and literally just the click of a button to “download” and the app does the rest.

Of course you do need an ongoing Spotify subscription to access the music you have downloaded into the app.

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Thanks Hayden!

I did not realize that Spotify had those features. I will need to check into it.

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Hello Celia: I have had very similar experiences. Namely, I have been traveling for 3 months for the last several years with almost no access to a piano. Result: coming back I was pleasantly surprised to see how quickly I re-learned a number of tunes to my satisfaction and, what is more, found myself playing them more ‘richly’. It seems that the “keys on the keyboard” element is not essential to a continuous progress in this domain.
Best, Smole

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Exactly Smole! I think I had become rote with some of my playing. Since I have returned, I am playing more slowly and putting myself into the music. What a difference!

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Really love this thread you started Celia. And also love the comments and tips - all invaluable and really useful! You have already memorised 21 songs (i mean from the year that you wrote this) and here I am, have only learned 2 songs and already have that fear that I might forget them If I don’t maintain the practice sessions hahah :blush: … Love to hear you are now putting yourself into the music, and have a good recall of those that you have learned or played… Awesome! Thanks for the share of thoughts. Take care.