The artwork on the title page from the first publication of Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag.

Since quitting piano lessons a couple of years ago, I’ve found it hard to maintain any sort of regular practice schedule. I’ve played in fits and starts since losing the motivation provided by having to pay a teacher every week.

That’s not to say I don’t want to play anymore – it’s something I miss terribly when I don’t do it – but between work, keeping up a grueling gym schedule, and just finding time to relax in the evenings with my hubby, my piano skills (such as they were) have suffered to say the least.

And I’ve found that laziness begets laziness. Initial laziness means causes you to lose some of the skill needed to play – fluency with reading sheet music, the dexterity needed to do scales, etc – which then makes it less fun to play because you just know you’re not as good. Which makes you WANT to play less…which leads to skills deterioration…It’s a vicious cycle.

Since returning from Africa, though, I’ve approached the piano with renewed vigour. I’ve decided to take it slowly and try to learn one new piece a month – and to only commit to practicing for 45-60 minutes, 3 (maybe 4) times a week. It’s been a bit of a slog, in part because I’m slowly re-developing what I’ve lost, especially when it comes to a facility for reading scores. Makes it hard to learn a new piece when you can’t even figure out which fingers to place where!

Plus I’m not willing to backtrack and learn easier pieces from earlier grades. I want to play at the level I was playing before I quit lessons.

And finally, the piece I’ve chosen is a rag by Scott Joplin – The Maple Leaf Rag – which is syncopated and jazzy, and fast, and in a style that I’ve never really played before.

There’s a lot stacked against me. But the piece is finally starting to take shape. It will probably take me another month or more to be able to play it through without too many mistakes, and at a constant speed, but I’m seeing progress, and that’s encouraging.

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5 responses »

  1. Steve says:

    That’s awesome! I think it’s important to have hobbies, which for me is flying. I can definitely relate to being out of practice, have just taken 4 months off from flying I know my skills have deteriorated. However, I just enjoy the experience of flying even if it’s to re-learn things I already knew. It sounds like playing the piano is similar for you.

    I have a lesson at 2pm today – look out overhead!

    Steve

    • RoC(k)r says:

      Good luck with the lesson. The big difference I see between our hobbies is that, if my skills deteriorate and I sit down to practice, I HAVE VERY LITTLE CHANCE OF DYING! Be careful, you.

  2. jandjsmum says:

    good for you for getting back into it…..its tough- but worth it me thinks

    • RoC(k)r says:

      It is worth it. Ever think of having the kids take music lessons?

      • jandjsmum says:

        Sure Ive thought about it…….There is just so much else going on right now….but I would LOVE for them to learn piano or some other instrument…..and I think eventually they will……I don’t want to wait too late either.

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