Frustrated That I Can't Play Piano as Well as I Once Did

by M

Dear Dana,

This website was just a real pleasure to discover... I cannot wait to be able to play piano again!

I thought you could maybe help me with that. I started to learn piano when I was 10, and got the chance to have classes for 4 years. Then came a long period of no playing, because I had no piano anymore...

I started to play again 3 years ago (I am 34 !), and I keep being frustrated: I am very slow, and so far away from the level I had before. I can still read the notes, but the theory is long gone (probably burried in my mind: I just need help to get it out!)

I still love piano and dream of playing again. I need to get past this frustration. I tried guitar as an alternative, but the story is the same: I get frustrated.

Would you have some recommendations to help? Maybe I start with too difficult music, I am kind of lost.

Hello, M,

Honestly, I would recommend a teacher for a few months to help you set some goals (& I would not settle on a teacher until you had tried several...) but if that is not your desire, then you have to be your own teacher.

Music is a language. You won't be fluent unless you "speak it" every day. I would get one of your old piano method books that makes sense to you, and start AT THE BEGINNING again, 10 minutes a day. You WILL improve. The act of "reading" this non-native language will get easier & easier.

As for music theory, print off some lead sheets and start using theory in a HANDS-ON way. Go see if there's anything on my "Lead Sheets" page that interests you. Then go print off (from my Music Education Tools page) the 12 Major Scales pages, especially The Key of C. Try a melody such as "The Water is Wide," which uses every possible regular chord in the key of G, or the key of D (yes, that page is aimed at guitarists, but there is a melody line for other instrumentalists to follow, just like a simple lead sheet).

To get a really good handle on chord relationships, work on the "Louie Louie" sheet music pages. They will hammer in the I, IV, V chord relationships. Transpose from the key of C into every other key!

Don't give up! Fluency playing piano is a gradual process - you will get there!

Thanks for writing,


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