Why You Must Underestimate Yourself When Practicing the Piano

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I’m Robert Estrin and this is LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Store. Today’s topic is, “Why You Must Underestimate Yourself When Practicing the Piano”. Why would you ever want to think less of yourself? You might be thinking it would be harder to figure anything out if you underestimate your intelligence. It’s actually quite the opposite, particularly with adult beginners. It can feel as though things are harder than they should be sometimes. Why is that? The fact of the matter is, people who play at a high level have figured out how much they have to break things down in order to achieve desired results. It’s really important that you don’t overwhelm yourself.

If you accept your limitations, that’s when you can be truly productive!

You’re always better off taking smaller sections, or taking a slower tempo and really perfecting something. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, because that’s the surest way to get discouraged. If you’re learning a piece of music and you focus on a section that’s just a bit more than you can absorb, you’ll keep working at it, but you may leave the piano feeling dejected. So, instead, you might try going to the piano and focusing on sections half as long. You may slow down the tempo and learn just one hand at a time. Then, you can really nail things down. It is extremely satisfying to get something perfected, even if it’s just a small part. By taking small sections and building them up and taking slow tempos and gradually getting faster, you will develop tremendous security in your playing you won’t achieve by overestimating what you can do.

How do I practice?

I have a video on how to approach a new piece on the piano in which I take Chopin Mazurka at random. I literally flipped through the book and started memorizing a piece.

Here is the link:


You’ll see how many times I go over even the smallest sections to learn them. I treat myself very gently in my practice. I don’t over exert my mind. I try to just give myself something I know I can accomplish in a short amount of time and repeat that process again and again. This is how to sustain a long, productive practice.

Know your abilities.

So remember, when you sit down at the piano and think, “Why can’t I do this?” Try something simpler. Try a smaller section, maybe even a simpler piece. Maybe you’re working on the last movement of the Moonlight Sonata when you should be working on a Bach minuet! You’re much better off learning a piece suited to your skill level and being able to play it on a high level than butchering a harder piece of music.

Keep yourself humble.

That’s the secret, not just to piano playing, but in life itself. Don’t overestimate your abilities. Give yourself a break. We’re all human. You have certain things that you’re going to excel at and some things that will take longer for you than other people. If you can accept that one basic fact, you can be very productive. Just give yourself what you can master at that moment, and you can sustain a long practice. This method is much more satisfying.

I hope this is helpful for you. Any of you who are beginners or just feel your practice isn’t going well and you think something’s wrong with you, there is nothing wrong with you. It’s just hard! You’ve got to realize that. So break things down and put things together. You will be rewarded with much better performances and the satisfaction of doing something really well.

I’m Robert Estrin, thanks for joining me here at LivingPianos.com.

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