Learning a new skill can present frustrations...
Don't let it get to this point
This is especially true when we really really want to develop a new skill, learn a riff, master a piece of music etc. When we become invested in something, the stakes are higher. This means that we can from time to time become frustrated when we aren’t making progress in a way that meets our expectations.
Here are some tips to help you avoid and deal with frustration:
Make sure you’ve got good lighting. Squinting to see the page will cause you to fatigue and get frustrated quickly. Set up your practice space to be as efficient and comfortable as possible!
When you are intensely concentrating, you can become intensely tense! Make sure you are sitting tall, feet on the floor, shoulders relaxed.
Don’t hold your breath. I am constantly reminding my students to breathe when they are concentrating really hard. If you don’t breathe, your brain kicks into fight or flight mode and trust me, not conducive to practice success.
My rule of thumb is to get up and move around every 10 minutes. Grab some water, stretch, and then back at it.
Isolate the problem
Where in the piece that you are working on do things go wrong? Once you figure that out, you can take JUST the part where you are hitting your wall, and break it down into manageable pieces. Break it down friend! Start with the rhythm. Do you understand it and can you clap it?
If there are notes that you are struggling to identify in your trouble spot, pencil in their names... There aren’t any note police that I know of, so go for it! Make it easy on yourself. I’m not saying to pencil in EVERY note name, just the ones that are giving you extra trouble.
Memorize the left hand
The bass clef serves as the foundation. If you can memorize this, you will be able to focus on the more intricate melody bits in your RH and it will be so much easier.
Backup a measure so that you begin one measure BEFORE your trouble spot. Now see if you can play to the end of your trouble spot without any problems. If so, you can keep going and repeat the above steps if and when you encounter another trouble spot. Honestly, there are pieces where I’ve needed to do this for every single measure. It was slow going, but so worth it!
Well, there you have it. I hope these tips help you keep your cool during practice time!