2 tips to help you avoid feeling overwhelmed when practicing piano

Hey Improvisers!

It’s very common these days to feel overwhelmed when we sit down at the piano. And yes, this is understandable because there’s so much we could practice. If we feel all of this at once, then we’ll usually feel overwhelmed.

We pianists, however, deserve better. Much better.

The piano is such an amazing instrument, we want to feel excited each time we sit down to play. Let’s begin by reminding ourselves that it’s called “PLAYing the piano!”

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by everything you’re being told you have to learn, then let’s reverse the situation.

First of all, I think you’re at a really exciting stage in your musical journey!

The “blank page” has endless possibilities but yes, at the same time, this same blank page can prevent us from experiencing these possibilities.

One way to experience the joys of learning piano is to take the composer Igor Stravinsky’s advice and impose a limitation on ourselves. For example, start by learning a specific left hand technique, such as a way to arpeggiate chords, or playing repeated chords, and start using this one technique on various pieces of music. Then, we’ll actually have much more freedom in a practical way.

The other big aspect of this which will help you greatly is to start collaborating with another musician, such as a flutist or vocalist, and/or to begin studying with a teacher (either local or online). We all need the inspiration that comes with continual interaction with other musicians, and this helps us become excited about every single thing we’re playing again, since there’s a feeling of meaning and connection with the other person and their musical journey.

To summarize: Focus on one thing at a time and forget all the rest. Also, find another musician who will inspire you (as you inspire them).

Have fun, and “let the music flow!


PS – And speaking of “one thing at a time,” here’s my newest Journey Through The Real Book video, which is Tadd Dameron’s bebop classic “Lady Bird.” I’m simply focusing on one tune each week or so, and we’re already up to number 202. If I had thought of all 202 tunes at the beginning, I might not have even begun!

It was fun diving into this great tune, and I even share a bit of detective work I did while speculating on the original version of the melody. Enjoy!

Ron Drotos: Lady Bird

Learn the 5 Essential Left Hand Techniques with my free ebook: Left Hand Techniques for Jazz Piano
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