Learning the piano can be tough at times and for those already on their piano journey, you will already know that a long practice session requires a lot of brain power, concentration and even physical demand on the hands. With this in mind, after a long day at work or school, you might not be in the right mindset to play piano, so take a day, two or even a week off from the keys…
…Suddenly you notice that after a few days you’re feeling ‘practice guilt’ where you feel like you should be practising, but can’t quite bring yourself to do it. Pretty soon you’re in a cycle of wanting to practice, but not having the energy or being in the right mental state to do so and soon another week or two has gone by without you even so much as touching your instrument.
Well, not any longer!
Overcoming this so called ‘practice guilt’ is easier than you think and if done correctly, can actually completely reinvigorate your passion for play. Today we’re going to delve into the psychology behind why taking a break can make you feel guilty, why it shouldn’t make you feel guilty and some the tips and tricks that you can start doing today to help prevent it from creeping back in.
Why Do We Get ‘Practice Guilt’?
Feeling guilty about not doing something is common in all aspects of life and is generally something that we all encounter on a daily basis, from not wanting to do a piece of work that needs doing, skipping going to the gym because you feel too tired, or not calling that family member or friend who you have been meaning to catch up with for a while, but can’t seem to bring yourself to arrange.
All of these things typically lead to a small form of unexplained guilt, usually because you simply don’t want to do them and so you leave yourself asking “Why don’t I want to do it?”, you know that the task won’t be that bad or could even be fun, but you simply can’t bring yourself to get in the right mindset.
The exact same can be said for piano guilt and luckily for us, because piano is often a leisure and relaxation activity, overcoming it can be slightly easier. As such, today we are going to be focusing on mindset when walking up to your piano and the approaches that can be taken to help you get over this mental hurdle of not wanting to practice and guilt.
It’s Okay To Not Want To Practice
We all lead busy lives and sometimes piano practice simply isn’t at the top of our lists. That’s why our absolute first tip here is to remind yourself that it’s okay (and perfectly normal) to want a break!
As we develop as people our interests and attentions change all the time and just because it isn’t 100% piano focused, that’s no reason to beat yourself up about it! Taking a break can sometimes be exactly what you need in order to reset your mind and reignite that passion for playing.
Draw A Line Under It
The next tip for changing this mindset is to draw a metaphorical line under your ‘guilt’. Perhaps you stopped playing because you became frustrated trying to learn a new piece that you couldn’t quite get the hang of and it has been bugging you that you can’t quite get it.
Well instead of spending any more time worrying about that particular piece, draw a line under it and forget about it it. We have written about this before in our guide to structuring your piano practice but the first step to overcoming any mental hurdle when it comes to piano practice is to shake up your routine.
Many pianists fall into the trap of making piano practice repetitive or boring. Instead, change up your warm up routine and ask yourself what you want to achieve from your piano practice. This will help reset your mindset and give you some new inspiration to get started, if you are still looking for a goal or aren’t sure what you’d like to focus on, that’s no problem either! Read our guide to setting yourself some piano goals here.
Try Something New
Perhaps you are trying to teach yourself piano or using an app as your learning tool. Whilst these are perfectly viable options for learning the piano, it may be worth trying to find a piano teacher. Having someone hold you to account to practice is a fantastic way to ignite motivation as you won’t want to let them down or feel like you are wasting their time.
This is particularly true if you have a piano tutor who is incredibly supportive and understanding of what you are looking to achieve from the piano, even when you are stuck, they will be able to help coach you through the process or adapt your way of thinking until you can get it.
Likewise, for those who are currently learning with a teacher but have perhaps either lost motivation or don’t feel like you are achieving what you would like to from the piano, don’t be afraid to contact other piano teachers to see if there is one out there who is more aligned with what you would like to achieve.
If you are unsure where to turn, read our guide to the best ways to learn piano here.
Start A Piano Diary
We have heard an incredible amount of success from those who have adopted the piano diary technique as it is a fantastic way to reset your mindset and give yourself clear concise goals. For those feeling guilty, the diary can also be a fantastic reminder of just how much work you have put into your instrument and can allow you to see how far you have already come.
Don’t Burn Yourself Out
This ties in with the first point we made that our interests and attentions change all the time. Piano burnout is common for those who practise everyday for hours at a time. Whilst piano is a passion led pursuit, when the fun stops, it might be time to take a break and re-evaluate your goals. When this happens, it’s important to remember not to feel guilty as chances are it’s just your body telling you to slow down and take some time off. We’ve covered this in our guide to over-practising piano, but if you are struggling with sore fingers, or aches, pains and headaches, these are all signs that you are likely practising too much or too intensely.
If you’re still feeling that practice guilt remember: Even virtuosos don't play every day of their life. Famous concert pianist Martha Argerich for example said that sometimes she couldn't manage to do something difficult even if she worked a lot on it. And sometimes, it comes out of the blue after a few days of not playing at the piano. Our interview with WKMT leader Juan Rezzuto also spoke about this heavily when discussing the Scaramuzza technique and how those under the Scaramuzza technique often are always looking to spend as little time practising as possible!
We hope you found this guide helpful and that it has helped reset your mind when it comes to piano practice. For more piano tips and tricks, explore our blog here, or if you are ready to upgrade your current piano, our showroom experts would be happy to help. Book your piano demonstration in our stunning Cambridge showroom today!