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I am just beginning to learn to play the piano on my own. I seem to have much difficulties keeping the beats and play the notes at the same time. For example, I have been practicing on this same measure for 2 hours and there is absolutely no progress at all. It seems okay with 1 hand, but when I combined the 2 hands, I either miss this or that. Is it just me, or should I practice harder? Granted, it's a romantic classical 4/4 piece, the bass clef has uniform 8th notes, but the treble has a variety of quarter, 8th, and 16th notes; some are dotted, making the timing even harder.

I guess I wanted some assurance that spending several hours to learn 1 measure is not too much. Or maybe I should move on to some other hobby that is easier.

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Have you tried slowing down the pace extremely? It's pretty normal that you are having trouble as a beginner. I had a lot of trouble myself. I remember the teacher asking me why I was fighting with the metronome. :D The only trick is to play really slowly. Hands separate first. Make sure you know both hands separately. You should be able to play them blindfolded even. –  Raskolnikov Oct 28 '11 at 8:36
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Someone want to comment on the downvote? –  jadarnel27 Oct 28 '11 at 23:33
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2 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

A couple of possibilites come to mind when I read your question.

It's possible that you are starting with a piece that's simply too difficult. I don't think it's a terrible thing that you've taken hours to learn one measure (all piano players started somewhere!), but it's a strong indicator that you might be trying "too much, too fast".

If you go to a music store, you can often find "graded" piano books (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced). Start with a "Beginner" book. The songs may seem too easy, but give them a chance. They are a good way to give yourself some practice on the keyboard - and with reading music.

Also, as @Raskolnikov mentioned in the comments, playing a piece very slowly is often helpful. Play it slow enough that you can get every note correct, then speed up gradually as you get more comfortable.

Another thing that helps me is to listen to the song I'm learning. Become familiar with how it sounds. Listen to both the left and right hand parts. Read along with the music as it's playing. I find this to be a great exercise, very helpful in getting comfrtable with a new piece I'm learning.

Finally, this answer to another question has some great tips for practicing a piece.

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The process of performing on any instrument requires learning to do several things at once. This is why you have to start out with simple musical excercises and progress through more challenging ones. It is called "learning to walk before you try to run". It can be very discouraging to beginners but it is necessary.

So please do not be discouraged. You are encountering the same problems that all musicians encountered when they were beginners.

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