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Thread: tension headaches

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    Senior Member Razumovskymas's Avatar
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    Default tension headaches

    I have been teaching myself some piano for about 4 months now and I've been suffering from tension headaches more or less from the moment I started practicing more intensively.

    Anyone with the same experiences? advice?
    Last edited by Razumovskymas; Apr-17-2017 at 14:59.

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    Senior Member quietfire's Avatar
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    Self-teaching piano is highly not recommended. Because nobody will point out mistakes to you that you cannot see yourself, and so you will just get worse and worse because:

    Practice doesn't make perfect.

    Practice just makes whatever you play more ingrained, meaning the mistakes that you make will become part of your playing forever.

    This is why players who don't have a teacher won't get anywhere, just going in circles.

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    Senior Member Razumovskymas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quietfire View Post
    Self-teaching piano is highly not recommended. Because nobody will point out mistakes to you that you cannot see yourself, and so you will just get worse and worse because:

    Practice doesn't make perfect.

    Practice just makes whatever you play more ingrained, meaning the mistakes that you make will become part of your playing forever.

    This is why players who don't have a teacher won't get anywhere, just going in circles.

    Apart from the advice of not self-teaching piano (thanks for that advice) do you have any advice in case that I don't follow your first advice and keep continuing self teaching the piano?

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    Quote Originally Posted by quietfire View Post
    Self-teaching piano is highly not recommended. Because nobody will point out mistakes to you that you cannot see yourself, and so you will just get worse and worse because:

    Practice doesn't make perfect.

    Practice just makes whatever you play more ingrained, meaning the mistakes that you make will become part of your playing forever.

    This is why players who don't have a teacher won't get anywhere, just going in circles.
    This is true. I "practiced" golf for many years and never improved until it was pointed out to me that all I was accomplishing was deeply ingraining my swing faults, since nobody in the know was there to help correct my flaws.

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    Senior Member quietfire's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Razumovskymas View Post
    Apart from the advice of not self-teaching piano (thanks for that advice) do you have any advice in case that I don't follow your first advice and keep continuing self teaching the piano?
    Ok, if you are adamant in self-teaching, then I have a few tips for you to digest...

    First tip:

    Learn to play evenly.

    There is nothing more that tells apart an amateur and professional.

    You would soon learn that certain fingers play more loudly than others (e.g. thumb and middle finger tends to play louder than the fourth finger) - and you have to account for the human engineering to the musical engineering, which does not account for human bias.

    Evenness in playing goes a long way, and a piano teacher or an 3rd party would help a lot because it is sometimes hard to hear yourself. What you hear while you play is quite different from what sounds you actually produce. So recording yourself play is one option.

    Second tip:

    Play on a grand piano.

    Why? The touch is even along each key and throughout all the keys. The sound is much better and would help you progress much faster. Do not underestimate the instrument in helping you progress.

    With upright pianos, the key is usually harder to push down at the top end of the key (near the black keys), so this is counter-productive to the goal of playing evenly.

    I won't even mention about the disadvantages of electronic pianos.

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    Senior Member Razumovskymas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quietfire View Post
    Ok, if you are adamant in self-teaching, then I have a few tips for you to digest...



    I won't even mention about the disadvantages of electronic pianos.

    Ahem....

    I practice on a midi keyboard, I think it's just one step above fisher price. My plan was if I keep practicing for one year with decent discipline I would look for something more expensive that emulates the key-action of a real piano better. But a grand piano or upright is no option.
    Last edited by Razumovskymas; Apr-17-2017 at 18:38.

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    Perhaps you're tensing up your shoulders/neck when you play? I notice that my piano students often do that - when they're concentrating on a difficult passage, they tend to hunch forward and scrunch up their shoulders. That kind of posture, with the neck craning forward, could definitely cause tension headaches. When you practice, you should be mindful of your posture, and be sure to stop and take a break if you feel tension creeping into your body.

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    Senior Member Razumovskymas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bettina View Post
    Perhaps you're tensing up your shoulders/neck when you play? I notice that my piano students often do that - when they're concentrating on a difficult passage, they tend to hunch forward and scrunch up their shoulders. That kind of posture, with the neck craning forward, could definitely cause tension headaches. When you practice, you should be mindful of your posture, and be sure to stop and take a break if you feel tension creeping into your body.
    Possibly, although I pay attention to relax now and then. I would think that if my playing was really the cause of my head-tension, it would be a common complaint among pianists but I virtually found nothing on the ENTIRE internet. Hence my post.

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    Senior Member quietfire's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Razumovskymas View Post
    Ahem....

    I practice on a midi keyboard, I think it's just one step above fisher price. My plan was if I keep practicing for one year with decent discipline I would look for something more expensive that emulates the key-action of a real piano better. But a grand piano or upright is no option.
    Find a music school and beg them to let you play the grand pianos? You don't always have to own an instrument to play them, find a way...

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    Senior Member quietfire's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Razumovskymas View Post
    Possibly, although I pay attention to relax now and then. I would think that if my playing was really the cause of my head-tension, it would be a common complaint among pianists but I virtually found nothing on the ENTIRE internet. Hence my post.
    Because they don't have those problems, very simple.

    It might be your piano set-up. The height of your chair relative to the keyboard, and where you place your music if you use any.

    You see, you really do need someone who is more experienced to tell you the problems. Don't be shy, just ask someone in your city/town for help.

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    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    Could the sound coming from the keyboard be too strident so that it hurts your ears and gives you a headache. I wear earplugs when playing the violin because the sound is right under my left ear and violinists often suffer from deafness or ear problems in their left ear.

    Or it could be that the concentration is making you screw up your forehead. In that case, the answer is do it in short bursts with breaks in between - that in any case is good for the fingers. Taggart takes breaks when practising the piano because he got that advice when he first started.

    I had piano lessons for three months a couple of years ago but gave up because I just don't have the time for piano as well as the fiddle which is my first love. I can say, though, that a lot of things about using my fingers were a surprise to me. I do think that having a teacher would be beneficial to you. If you can't - I suppose you are using close up videos and internet teachers who explain what you need to do physically?

    Hope you soon feel better & good luck.
    My fiddle my joy.

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