I have been a self-learner for most of my life. In school I would attend classes but almost never listen to what was being taught. College didn’t have mandatory attendance, so I skipped all my classes for all 4 years. Whatever little I learnt, I did by deciding myself what was the best resource for me, and how to go about learning. This definitely would have been sub-optimal, but that’s the way it has been.
I bring the same attitude to learning Piano. The school would prescribe one thing, and I would decide that I need to try out other stuff as well. So when I went to class this week, I told my academy founder the following:
In one week, I have been able to learn only half a piece from the new book that you gave me, that too not at speed. There are just too many hand movements in the piece and the Grade 1 book that I just completed hardly had any hand movements. I am not able to make the transition easily. I think I should work more using another book in parallel. I am also not spending the same amount of time on the piano as I did before, because practicing the same piece again and again, bit by bit, gets boring.
Her response was this:
Do you want to learn more pieces or learn to play better? If you want to learn to play better then you will have to work on harder pieces and they will take more time. What I have given you is not too difficult for you. And its not too easy either. It’s at the right difficulty level for you to make progress. I am not asking you to learn Moonlight Sonata because I know even if you try to learn that one piece for 5 years you won’t be able to. But the difficulty has to go up and that means you need to practice harder. That’s what it takes. And it’s you who feels that you are going slow. I am totally fine with your speed. Even if you learn to play three pieces perfectly from the book I gave you, by the end of year, it would be an achievement. I have a classical guitar student who has been with me for over a decade. He is at grade 6 now. He has been learning the same piece since January of this year and still its not done. I myself have spent 3 years on a piece that I had to perform in a concert. Right now you might feel that spending all this time on one piece is not efficient, but trust me, 6 months later when you look back you would realise that you learnt a lot. So I am not giving you another book.
The advice is sound and I am grateful the she doesn’t give in to the whims of her students. But I cannot turn off the part of my brain that tells me what I should be doing. So for my peace of mind, I will continue to learn from my John Thompson book, and work on this new book. I will try and spend more time on the new book though.