Learning to play the piano is an exhilarating journey that opens up a world of beautiful melodies and artistic expression.
It enables you to impress friends, jam with the band, or even earn a few extra dollars on the side.
But whether you’re a beginner or have been playing for years, there are times when maintaining motivation can be challenging.
The initial excitement may fade, practice sessions can feel monotonous, and progress just feels painfully slow at times. But fear not!
In this blog post, we’ll explore practical tips to help you stay motivated and inspired on your piano-playing adventure.
Benefits of Learning to Play the Piano
Playing the piano is a unique and rewarding experience that offers numerous benefits beyond musical proficiency.
It enhances cognitive abilities, improves coordination, reduces stress, and fosters creativity.
There is also ample research to support musicians being able to problem solve more creatively than other people.
And did I mention that whiling away the hours in front of the keyboard is simply a fun way to pass the time?
However, like any skill worth mastering, learning to play a musical instrument requires dedication, consistent effort, and perseverance.
Fostering the qualities that lead to success in the practice room or on stage also leads to success in life.
While motivation can ebb and flow, there are strategies you can employ to keep the flame of enthusiasm alive.
Whether you’re an aspiring virtuoso or simply enjoy playing for your own pleasure, this blog post will equip you with practical tips to stay motivated on your piano-playing odyssey.
So, let’s dive in and discover how to keep the keys singing, the fingers dancing, and the passion burning bright!
Find Your Why
Achieving anything in life requires hard work.
And no one equates “hard work” with “fun.”
The truth is that success means hours upon hours of drudgery.
Even so-called “child prodigies” have logged thousands of hours of practice before showcasing their musical skills.
Although there are ways to make your practice more exciting, real progress demands hours at the keyboard.
And to stick with it, you need a compelling reason.
- Do you want to play a specific piece of music?
- Or perform in a live concert?
- Perhaps you want to make your own YouTube videos.
Whatever the reason behind your desire to play piano, it has to be compelling, deeply personal, and strong enough to carry you through the inevitably dull parts of a daily practice routine.
Do some soul searching and connect with that deeper reason because it will carry you through the inevitable unique challenges you’ll face on your musical journey.
5 Minutes a Day
Five minutes doesn’t seem like much.
But when you compound 5 minutes a day over a year, it equals about 30 hours.
Think about how much progress you can make with 30 hours of practice. Crazy, isn’t it?
If you find your most significant barrier to practicing on a regular basis is a perceived lack of time, try sitting down for only 5 minutes a day.
Tell yourself that you are only required to play for 5 minutes, but if things are going well, you can extend that time.
Chances are that once you start, you’ll want to spend more time on the keyboard.
Establishing a new habit of practice requires a mindset shift. Still, by making the goal attainable, you’re more likely to find success.
Commit to a Daily Practice Schedule
I know it sounds overwhelming, but committing to a daily practice schedule is the best way to make meaningful progress at anything.
And your daily practice sessions can be short. Even a five-minute practice session counts.
One of the best ways to stay committed to my piano practice sessions is through the Modacity app.
The app effortlessly keeps track of your progress, including the total time you’ve spent practicing, your daily run streak, and the number of improvements you’ve made over time.
Modacity is a simple way to organize your practice sessions and the easiest way to give yourself the extrinsic motivation to keep practicing.
Danish culture is credited with the idea of “hygge,” which fosters a sense of contentment by creating a cozy environment.
You can use the basic principle of hygge to add coziness, peace, and tranquility to your practice sessions.
And the more peace and tranquility you can create, the higher the probability you’ll want to come back and play tomorrow.
Think about it. Your life is hectic. Everyone wants something from you, and they want it 5 minutes ago.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a place where you could just be in the moment? Where you could lose yourself in something without worrying about what anyone else thinks?
The good news is that you can create this space for yourself. Here are a few ideas for how you can infuse hygge into your practice sessions:
- Add a lamp (or lights that dim)
- Hang pictures that you find soothing in your practice space
- Add a rug
- Wear your comfiest pair of pajamas during your practice sessions
- Invest in a padded, adjustable piano bench
- Minimize all outside distractions during your practice sessions
- Reserve a mug of your favorite warm beverage for this time of day
In summary, create a warm and welcoming practice space you can’t wait to experience daily.
Sometimes the best way to get out of a practice slump is to find inspiration.
It might be a performance by a pianist you admire. Or maybe a podcast about the art of practicing.
There are so many sources of inspiration out there waiting to be discovered.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Search for past performances by your favorite pianists on YouTube. Here are a few of mine: Dr. Josh Wright, Yuja Wang, and Tiffany Poon.
- Listen to completely different styles of music than you generally choose. Try listening to jazz, pop, or rock if you love classical piano.
- Channel your creative energy into a new project. For example, try working on playing your favorite song by ear if you generally spend your practice time playing from sheet music.
- Listen to a podcast geared toward musicians. A few of my favorites are The Bulletproof Musician, The Mind Over Finger Podcast, and the Integrated Music Teaching Podcast.
- Attend a live musical performance. It doesn’t even have to be professional or a piano concert. Even attending your middle schooler’s orchestra concert can be enough to inspire you to take on your own next challenge!
Repetitive practice can become tiresome, but you can keep your engagement levels high by injecting variety into your sessions and exploring different musical genres and styles.
Nothing gets you into a piano practice routine like the perpetual fear of embarrassing yourself in front of another person.
But in all seriousness, finding a good teacher can help you set goals, up your skill level, and attain your most audacious musical goals.
And some adult students thrive on the extrinsic motivation that comes from the need to prepare for a weekly lesson.
It’s also true that practice can fall by the wayside when your playing feels stuck or stagnant.
Although you can make significant progress in learning to play piano by yourself, your progress is faster with a mentor.
A mentor can help you set small goals and improve your technique in ways not possible on your own.
And thanks to technology, you can find a motivating teacher in any musical genre.
Your options are no longer limited by geography.
You can even find a teacher willing to give lessons on a casual basis if committing to weekly lessons feels too constricting.
If you’re looking for more tips on finding the best piano teacher for your interests and goals, check out this past blog post.
Find a Community
Sometimes the motivation to practice can come from watching others.
And a great way to get this experience is by joining an online community.
Communities are the ultimate place to find new ways to learn, grow, and share.
Chances are that your spouse and friends don’t play the piano, much less any musical instrument.
And although they may share your joy in finally nailing that entire Beethoven sonata, they don’t truly understand what goes into mastering the 3rd movement of the Moonlight Sonata.
But other people who play the piano get it. They understand the ups and downs of endless scales, chord inversions, and finally, getting what it means to play effortlessly without tension.
And you can find online communities for all musical genres.
My favorite community is Dr. Josh Wright’s ProPractice course.
This community is built around classical piano and is one of the most inspiring and uplifting ones I’ve encountered thus far.
If classical piano is your jam, check out my course review here.
Commit to “Learning” vs. “Failing”
The journey of learning an instrument is filled with ups and downs, and it’s crucial to approach challenges with a growth-oriented attitude.
And for perfectionists, a lack of motivation sometimes translates to feelings of inadequacy and failure.
It seems as if everywhere you look is a better pianist playing something at a level you feel you will never attain.
Although perfectionists are often celebrated for their attention-to-detail and high achievements, success often comes at the cost of crippling self-doubt, anxiety, and depression.
As a recovering perfectionist, one of the most powerful lessons I have learned is the value of “failure.”
Nothing in life can be considered a true flop if you learn something from the experience.
Every situation presents a lesson to be learned and a path to a better tomorrow.
The same is true of playing piano. There are many valuable lessons to be learned, even if you’ve been playing for a long time.
And playing should be as much about your enjoyment as anyone else’s.
So who cares if you can’t play something perfectly?
The only thing that matters is that you never give up trying.
If you, too, struggle with perfectionism, here are a couple of powerful books that changed my world in the best possible way.,
Ok, ok. Performing might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it can be an invigorating experience.
It’s a great opportunity to really learn a piece of music in a way that makes it your own.
And the performance itself doesn’t have to be at Carnegie Hall.
It can be a recording for your online piano community. Or as part of a worship band. You can even look for opportunities to perform with others or as an accompanist for a soloist.
But preparing for an upcoming performance is one of the best ways to infuse motivation into a practice routine.
And if you want to perform from home, try signing up for an exam.
The ABRSM offers opportunities to submit recordings for feedback.
If you’re looking for a live performance experience, check out the RCM exam.
Both offer unique opportunities to advance your musicianship and gain valuable performance experience without leaving the comfort of your home.
Give Yourself Grace
Practice slumps, setbacks, and a hectic schedule can nose-dive your piano motivation.
The most difficult thing about a lack of motivation is that you still have the deep desire to play and improve but can’t find the inner drive to keep playing.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is rest.
There are just times when life gets in your way. Your priorities shift, and you have little ones who need you.
Or when you go through seasons of hardship and loss and don’t have the emotional energy for anything above the basics.
Those are times when you need to step back from your more audacious goals and use the piano as an outlet.
Play only the pieces that make you happy. Don’t worry about the mistakes.
Play what your soul needs to hear.
Reach out to friends and family for support. Prioritize sleep, good food, and exercise.
Realize that there will be times when you need to step away from goal setting and give yourself the grace to rest and recharge.
Because once you do, you will be unstoppable!
And if you find yourself in a perpetual season of anxiety and depression, reach out for help. See a qualified medical provider for further guidance on the best treatment plan for your situation.
It’s Your Turn
There are so many reasons why practice motivation can nose dive.
Life is full of peaks and valleys, and learning a musical instrument is no different.
It’s normal to have seasons when piano practice takes a back seat to other obligations and responsibilities.
And there will be times when you don’t have the emotional energy to commit to a rigorous practice schedule.
Although you may need to adjust by spending less time practicing, never give up entirely on your piano dreams.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, scale back. Take the pressure off yourself and find ways to infuse fun into your routine.
The most important thing is to keep going and never give up!
And if you’re looking for more piano inspiration, check out one of the following posts:
- 8 Most Beautiful Classical Piano Songs Ever Composed
- 8 Best Books for Adult Beginners to Learn Piano
- 9 Most Famous Piano Pieces by Sergei Rachmaninoff
- 13 Piano Tips for Adult Beginners: 2023 Beginner’s Guide
- Piano vs. Organ: The Differences and Which is Better for You
- Baby Grand vs. Upright Piano: Which is Right for You?
- 13 Easy Classical Piano Pieces for Adult Beginners
- How to Practice Piano with Modacity: The Ultimate Guide
- Playground Sessions Review: Waste of Time or Worth the Hype?
- Can You Learn to Play Piano by Watching YouTube Videos?