If consistent, daily practice is the number one key to success as a piano student, is it ever okay to take a break from piano? And if you do take a break, will you be able to come back?
Of course you can come back to piano after a break! A lot of things may keep people away from the piano for a while. A busy summer vacation, a move, big projects at school or work, or maybe deciding to try out a new hobby – any of these may lead you to set aside piano practice for a time. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get back to it. No matter how long you’ve been away from the piano, you’ll never entirely forget the music that became part of you. With a little patience and persistence, you’ll be able to get back to where you were when you left off and go beyond!
Tip #1 – Take It Slow and Easy
When you first return to piano, you might find that you can’t practice for as long as you used to. That’s okay! The amount of time you spend practicing is not as important as the fact that you do practice every day. If five minutes is all you can do, then do five minutes. Some days you may feel like practicing longer, so practice longer on those days.
One of the hardest and most important things will be to return to a habit of daily piano practice. Focus on the daily habit, not on the amount of time you practice, and slowly work your way up to the amount of practice you were doing before.
Tip #2 – Bring Back Old Favorites
Another good thing to do when you return to piano after a break is to go back a few levels and review some songs you enjoy that still feel easy to you. Remembering the fun of playing the piano will inspire you to get back into learning.
When you come back from a break, don’t expect all the skills you’ve learned to still be there. Instead of jumping right in where you left off, take a few steps back. Make it easy for yourself at first and you’ll be more motivated to get back into playing every day.
Tip #3 – Spend Time on Finger Power
If it has been a while since you played the piano, spend a little extra time on your finger power exercises to help rebuild your foundation. When you don’t play the piano for a while, your fingers lose some of their dexterity. Likewise, some of the pathways in your brain that interpreted music and sent instructions to your fingers will have faded. The best way to rebuild these physical and mental abilities is by doing finger power exercises. Pentascales, scales, arpeggios, and chords will help your brain and muscles get back into shape.
Tip #4 – Be Patient With Yourself
If you’ve been away from the piano for more than a few weeks, some things that used to be easy may feel difficult at first. Don’t let that frustrate you. You learned it once and you’ll be able to do it again.
On the other hand, you may find the opposite to be true: things that used to be difficult for you are now easier to do! This can be especially true if you’re young enough that your hands are still growing. Our brains are learning and developing all the time, and they keep processing the music we’ve learned even if we’re not actively practicing it. You may be surprised at what you’re able to do once you get back into playing piano.
Tip #5 – Look Forward Instead of Looking Back
Don’t worry so much about getting back to the exact same spot where you were when you were last playing the piano. Instead, move on and explore new music and new experiences. Maybe before you took a break you were focusing on sight reading, but now you want to do more playing by ear. Or perhaps you only played Classical music before, and now you want to branch out to other genres. Take this as an opportunity to try something different.
Tip #6 – Remember the Delight
When coming back to piano after a break, be gentle with yourself. Expect there to be some challenges, but instead of letting those challenges cause discouragement, remember the delight that piano playing gives you. Think about why you started piano in the first place. Choose to make music a part of your life again because of the happiness it brings to you and those around you.