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I hope you don't mind a story. If you just want to answer the question, by all means.

The Story

9th Grade was probably the most interesting time of my life. Prior to that, like most Asian kids, I was mostly forced by my parents to play the piano. I didn't dislike it, but it just wasn't a priority for me. This year was particularly important for me, as it was the year I quit piano (for good?).

I developed an unhealthy addiction for a particular video game, my mother (who had been managing my piano studies) went back to Taipei, and it was just me and my laidback father. She prepared me well for my Royal Conservatory of Music Level 9 exam, in which I memorized all the pieces beforehand and played them pretty well. I was aiming for a 90+, since that was my mark for previous exams.

By the time she got back, right after my exam, I had to break the news; I couldn't remember most of my pieces, my form was sloppy, and I played with a mechanical jitteriness. I got a 73 or so on that exam.

Did I mention I had a really passionate and great teacher? I never contacted her again after my 73, not a message, call, or a scheduled class after I told her that I got 73 through a really brief text message. I couldn't bare to see her reply, so my mom took the brunt of it.

I was still deeply involved in music; I played the trombone for the senior and orchestra at my school, I took Harmony and Counterpoint, studied for Music History, but I never graced the piano with my torn fingers again.

What hurts me the most was that during that time when I was studying for Music History, my mom bought me entire bookshelves of Chopin's nocturnes and marzuka's, Lizst's most beautiful works (those two were my favourite), talking about how I was gonna come back and get back into piano for RCM 10, but I never did. I feel like she was deeply saddened by this, and I am too.

It took the 10th grade for me to realize what a mistake I've made, but my resolve was a bit shaken and I didn't have the time to go back. I'd give up nearly everything to be able to play the piano again.

After hearing so many great pieces after that time, I sorely regret not being able to sit back on the piano and start sight reading music I truly cared for.

End of Story

Hence, this is why I want to learn piano again. My peak level was RCM 10, romantic era pieces were my favourite, but now I feel like I don't remember everything.

My right hand still remember the first few measures of Mozart's Sonatina in C that I played back in RCM 7 or something, but everything else is gone, nothing but a distance memory to me now.

How can I learn piano again, and can I even do it still?

I'm in university now. I have co-op terms every 4 months, and after work, I really want to spend all my time learning the art of something I have taken for granted so bad.

Edit: went back home for a bit, played Chopin's Noc in C# minor (my favourite as a kid) and remembered nearly everything, except for the end with the scales lol, but other than that im surprised how quickly my hand remembered the piece!

  • 1
    Somehow I’m glad for you asking in this waste way. Otherwise I would have probably tried to give an answer. So I know you play ten times better than me and all that I can say: be grateful that you aren’t addicted to video games anymore! Just play piano. You have a good fundament. – Albrecht Hügli Feb 13 at 7:29
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    This seems to be more a question about frustration and guilt than about music. Perhaps a different forum would be better for resolving the hard parts of this question? I know Interpersonal Skills has many questions about this sort of theme. – tripleee Feb 13 at 8:30
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The answer is the same as if it were a 5 day break. It's a simple answer and probably annoying so: just start playing again. You don't need our permission. It sounds like you want to. So do it.

And the way you learn is the same way you learned before:

  • Play every day
  • Try to improve on the previous day, learning from
    where you made mistakes.

I'd suggest an additional step though:

  • What and why do you want to learn? If you know what you want to learn and why, it should be fairly easy to set a goal and deconstruct what it will take to accomplish that goal into a set of manageable steps.

So imagine if I wanted to fix my faucet with only goal being that I just wanted to be able to use the faucet again. First off, do I actually want to learn this or do I just want the faucet fixed? Do I want to feel like I fixed it or do I actually care why it was broken in the first place?

(Forgive the metaphor here, but what I'm saying is do you actually want to play piano or do you feel some sense that you failed expectations unfairly put upon you)

Let's say you really do want to fix the faucet and you want to learn how to do it yourself. So you'd deconstruct the problem.

  • What is your starting point and what is your goal? Is your goal to "sight read", to compose, to learn, or what? That narrows down what you need to know, greatly.
  • How do you get from from A (starting point) to B (goal) as quickly as possible? Maybe you start with "I need to learn music theory". Well how can you break that down further? Keep breaking it down into smaller and smaller chunks until it's something you can learn or practice right now.
  • What background information do you need to learn to connect those two points?
  • What resources are available to provide that background information?
  • Do you still have more specific questions? Maybe there is a forum (called music.stackexchange.com) to ask those questions?

That sounds overly simplistic, but really, it is a simple process. You just have to keep at it. I've been playing music for 25 years and reading what I've just written sounds reductive. But in all that time the process hasn't changed. You evaluate where you're at today and try to improve tomorrow. Put in the time and try to make that time as effective as possible.

How can I learn piano again, and can I even do it still?

Yes. You can. As an extra bit of inspiration, this is my first post back at music.stackexchange.com after surviving cancer. I used to post here frequently, though anonymously, and mostly on the jazz questions.

I was an (amateur) jazz guitarist and pianist for 20+ years until I was hospitalized for a couple months. Then chemo and surgery and recovery, etc. In all, I went about 9 months without any regular practice and another 6 months ramping up to some practice every day. Even today with a regular practice schedule I have problems with peripheral nerve damage from the chemo.

But I'm back to where I was and maybe even slightly better. You seem like a smart kid. So if my idiot-ass can do you it, you can, too :)

| improve this answer | |
  • Also wenn mein Idiot-Arsch es kann, kannst du es auch :) (I know, they don't like commentaries like this, but I'd like to say: me too! – Albrecht Hügli Feb 13 at 9:27
  • Thanks for the detailed response. I want to play a particular contemporary arrangement of a song. It's not terribly complicated, but it somehow looked overwhelming to me. That's my short term goal. – capital ends Feb 13 at 19:17

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