by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
Scroll down to watch the REPLAY of my Tuesday Piano Tips LIVE on how to (safely) handle injury or pain without interrupting your piano momentum.
This topic is SO relevant for many piano learners. Dealing with injury or pain impacts our mental well-being, too.
But whether you have a temporary injury or chronic pain, you can safely continue strengthening your musical skills.
Shout out to New and Returning Piano Learners Facebook group members Tina and Alex for recently sharing honestly about their struggles with hand pain.
I have dealt with periodic bouts of chronic tendonitis. My issues stemmed from my overachieving personality. I have a life-long lesson to learn about balance and self-care.
Not being able to play piano due to pain has taught me valuable solutions.
1. Prevent causing physical pain:
Make sure you sit at the proper height when at your keyboard. Your forearms should be parallel to the floor.
2. Use mindfulness when you can practice.
Mindfulness requires attentive awareness of what you are doing on the keyboard. Not just the musical elements or analysis you are thinking at the piano. A mindful piano practice also includes what you are doing physically.
Pay attention to your breathing, sense any tension or unnecessary stretching, and be aware of your posture. Taking a mindful practice approach will help you attune to whether you have any physical tension. Being attuned to yourself is the first step of finding the solution.
Tension and stretching are not habits of the successful piano player. Learning to be mindfully aware of yourself goes a long way toward resolving any tension.
3. Progress Doesn't Just Happen At The Piano!
Most importantly for those experiencing pain, recognize that piano progress does not just happen at the piano.
And it is not just a physical activity.
My mantra for piano practice is MIND SPENT IS BETTER THAN TIME SPENT. But this does not mean that all learning happens at the piano.
A note about REST:
(Pardon the double musical pun there!)
Two of our wonderfully supportive group members and peer piano players stressed the importance of taking a break from playing the piano when you have pain or an injury.
I agree with Natalie and Alex regarding the importance of rest periods. The most important thing is your health and wellness.
If you have pain, you need to rest. Don’t push yourself at the piano until the pain is gone. You will risk further or permanent damage.
Listening, Reading, and Thinking:
Keep Your Piano Progress When You Can't Play
While you take a break from work at the piano, you can use LISTENING, READING, and THINKING activities to keep your momentum going.
(See my most recent REPLAY from May 3rd for specific activities you may use. Check out the GUIDES section for REPLAYS with even more ideas for practicing away from the piano keyboard.)
Why Repetition and Consistency Matters To Your Brain:
And for your piano learning success
We know that repetition forms neurological pathways in our brains that help us learn and memorize music. When we have time gaps between practice sessions, remembering the music or the physicality of playing the music is more challenging.
We know that consistent, regular piano practice accumulates. We know that the combination of our physical, cognitive, and aural memory skills creates a strong foundation for piano playing.
How To Keep Your Piano Progress Going
Even If You Can't Play!
But don't be afraid of losing momentum in your piano advancement when you cannot physically play the instrument!
If you have pain, you should not play the keyboard. But, this does not mean you must lose your progress in music learning!
Using listening, reading, and thinking activities away from the keyboard keeps your musical soul nurtured and your mental health encouraged. You will also eliminate the loss of your musical gains by staying engaged with music in new ways.
Your brain, ears, and even physical memory will keep your musical memory engaged even without being at the piano.
All three of these types of memory can strengthen your musical skills even while you are away from the keyboard.
Your Brain Has NO Idea Whether You're At or Away From The Piano
Your brain does not know the difference between envisioning an activity versus actually doing an activity.
So listening, reading, and thinking about your music in different ways will increase your musical skills.
When you cannot physically play the piano, you also have the perfect chance to practice envisioning your performance confidence and success.
When you return to the piano again, these activities will have built a solid foundation for your continued success at piano playing.
Let me know if these tips were helpful by leaving me a comment!
One More Thing That Matters For Your Piano Playing Success
I am writing the second draft of my book, Start Piano: What You Need For Successful Learning. Keeping myself accountable, I want to report that I write every morning for 90 minutes. I also practice the piano daily for about the same amount of time.
This week I have been finishing the introduction to the book to let you know my backstory and why you can trust me to lead you the right way when it comes to starting or returning to piano learning.
I will pop in later this week to give you a sneak peek by reading an excerpt from the intro to let you know a bit about my piano learning journey.
Let me know if that interests you with comment!
Thanks For Your Help!
What questions do you have about how to start or return to the piano?
What questions do you have about a supportive piano practice routine, setup, or tips for learning, memorizing, and performing music?
I would love to hear from you about this.
In case I have left anything of importance to you out of my book! Your input may be helpful!
Also, I'd love to invite you to join the New and Returning Piano Learners Facebook group! My goal is to expand and strengthen this wonderful musical oasis for quality peer-to-peer support in our piano learning journey.
I want to reach 200 members by the end of this month! Please help me by sharing with those who may be interested in learning or improving at the piano!
Thanks so much!
In my PIANO blogs, you'll find ways to overcome boredom, get past musical and mental blocks, explore the creative process with piano, and improve musical progress through piano teacher recommended best practices and effective piano practice tips.