The piano has to first be learned through a learning experience, so if you’ve seen something on YouTube, you’ll be a lot further along the learning path if you get into practicing a few songs, then going through the songs and practicing them on new keys while listening to the video – that’s kind of like the “learning curve.” I think the longer you keep working at the piano, the more naturally it will be a part of your everyday life. Once you know the keys and can play something, then you can even learn a melody for it (and not just use it for yourself) – there’s just more to it.
Would studying music in school or elsewhere have an advantage?
No, not as much as some people believe. I think what really helped me was learning to play the piano by myself, and that’s still my preferred way to learn. I like to study music because it helps me understand how the piano can be used to express ideas. So yeah, I think I really benefited from studying at least a little bit. I know it sounds crazy and stupid, but I think in a certain way you really feel like, “OK, I’m going to dedicate my life to that piano, so there’s absolutely no way I’m going to get discouraged even after I can play it well enough to get on stage.” You feel like you’re finally getting there, and you’re going out into the world. Music is just like that – there’s no better way to enjoy yourself.
What’s the best way to get motivated?
One way of getting motivated is to be mindful: paying attention to thoughts, sensations, feelings, and experiences when you’re at home. When someone says to get on your computer, pay attention to your own breathing until you reach a comfortable state, where you can do whatever you want without thinking about it. Then you can think about it. Then when you’ve done something, your mind will go to the next activity. It’s so much easier than you think: no worries that you’re going to forget a key, you’ve ruined your voice, or whatever. In my case, it’s about knowing what’s going on in my head when I’m not concentrating on it. And it’s going to help me get into the habit of noticing when I’m “missing” something, and then thinking about it until it comes back.
What’s the single best way to train yourself in something new?
There’s a lot of tricks – especially
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