When hobbies fall to the wayside

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By kkmarais (Flickr: Streicher 1869 Grand Piano) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons 

Until I was in my mid-teens, I had regular piano lessons. I practiced almost daily, running through scales and arpeggios and my favourite pieces of music. But one day, I started drifting away from the piano, probably in part because I was busy with exams and focusing on getting the grades I needed for university.

I used to take great joy in playing the piano, and there was always a piano in the house when I was growing up. Somewhere in the boxes of family photos, there is a photo of a four-year-old me playing the piano and grinning, with some unusual headgear. I have been told, with great amusement, that I used to wear a plastic colander on my head every time I sat down to the piano when I was little. Who knows what was going through my four-year-old brain?

Now, after years of barely playing at all, I struggle to remember the pieces that I used to be able to play from memory. My ability to read sheet music isn’t as strong as it was, and I’m frustratingly slow if I try the more complicated pieces that I could once play. It takes years to achieve a high level of skill, and regular practice is a must.

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Public domain image from Pixabay

This year, one of my goals is to restart the piano and get back into the habit of playing. It’s a hobby that I allowed to fall by the wayside, but it has stayed dormant for too long.

Do you have any hobbies that you gave up and would like to start again? Have you ever stopped playing an instrument and then picked it up again a few years later?

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23 thoughts on “When hobbies fall to the wayside

  1. I’ve never been very gifted musically, but I am pondering about getting back into speaking Japanese. It’s a similar thing I think – I know somewhere in the recesses of my brain it is all locked in there, I just need to find a way to let it all back out into my consciousness.

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    • It’s too easy to forget a language if it isn’t used — I studied Spanish at university, and I’m determined not to let it go the way of the piano. “Use it or lose it” is the rule, I suppose. Do/did you speak Japanese a lot?

      The brain is a fascinating organ. If only there was some kind of switch we could press to reactivate the skills that have grown rusty…

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    • It’s so hard to find the time to do everything, isn’t it?

      I have a list of things that I’m hoping to turn into regular habits (playing the piano, speaking Spanish, salsa dancing, going to Pilates classes…). I just need to be more disciplined with myself about finding time to do them.

      Did you start playing the piano at an early age?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I had lessons from the age of 7 to 18 but stopped when I went to University. When you don’t have a piano in the house it’s hard but I need to make the effort to bring the keyboard down in the evening and play rather than watching telly!

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  2. Same, I took lessons for the majority of 13 years and now I know I’d struggle to try and read music again. I want a piano again someday but in the meantime I don’t have the opportunity or means to practice and I feel a bit guilty about it. As soon as we no longer live in a shoebox I’ll probably find a way to buy a weighted keyboard but until then my music books are gathering dust. Filed under things mom was right about, being grateful for music lessons someday…

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    • Congrats on the move! 🙂

      I’m lucky to have space for a small upright piano, but weighted keyboards can be just as good. I’ve always longed for a drawing room with a Steinway grand. I like looking at the Georgian houses and country estates advertised in magazines like Tatler and Country Life. Alas, my bank balance doesn’t stretch to a few million. But one can dream… 😀

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  3. I totally feel you on this. Pretty sure I mentioned this before but I played piano starting from about age 3 and all the way until I graduated high school. Once I moved out of the house, I didn’t have the luxury of playing whenever I wanted but when I did go home on weekends, I’d run through the few pieces I still had muscle memory for. When I save up enough money, I definitely want to get a keyboard. It’s not the same as my piano at home (and I was very lucky because my parents were able to invest in a grand piano for me and my sisters) but at the very least I’d be able to play and hopefully work on new pieces. I’m definitely much slower in picking up new pieces or sight reading but if I could do a little each day, I’m sure I’d get there. I’ve recently started going to dance classes again and it’s been such a joy, so I really hope going back to the piano will give you the same satisfaction I’ve experienced going back to dance. 🙂

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    • Wow, you started young! I didn’t start having lessons until I was about 7 or 8. I think restarting piano as an adult will be different — as a child, my teacher helped me prepare for each grade but now I plan to simply play for fun. In the UK, we have the ABRSM system which spans Grades 1-8. The grades refer to musical proficiency rather than age, and the exams include sight-reading, music theory and playing. I reached Grade 5 before I stopped, but I’m certainly not at that level now! Do you have a similar music exam system in the US?

      Glad to hear that you’re enjoying your dance classes. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes we do! It was called Certificate of Merit which has the same components as the ABRSM as you described it. There were 9 levels, followed by an advanced level and then Panel, which was semi-competitive and went all the way to the national level. I actually went through all of those and made it to the state semifinals for Panel before being eliminated. I didn’t mind though because by that point I was just ready to be done haha. I also competed very occasionally up until high school but I never got as much enjoyment as I did just playing for myself. I’m very much prone to stage fright especially for piano because one mistake is just so audible! But I agree, learning as an adult because we want to, not because we have to prepare for anything will be a very different and probably more enjoyable (if challenging) experience. 🙂

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  4. I think I am one of those who got interested in learning new things after reaching the age of 30!! I have tried learning dancing(failed miserably), tried the Spanish guitar(gave up after 5-6 months due to paucity of time), presently am learning a new language( French, and i am the worst student in class) and will keep trying out new things….and I just might revisit the guitar lesson someday in the future! 🙂

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  5. I think it’s simply amazing that you could play the piano at such a young age! And your headgear? That is so cute, haha!

    While I have never been musically inclined (though I was in choir even though I can’t read music, lol) like my siblings are, I have had hobbies that have fallen to the wayside. The first one that comes to mind is scrapbooking. I think with technology, it is so easy to just put pictures online and call it a day. I would love to get focused and get back into scrapbooking at some point!! Thanks for inspiring me 🙂

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    • Oh I didn’t know how to play properly at that age. I just used to like pressing the piano keys and making noises! 🙂 I think I was seven when I started having lessons and learning how to play.

      I agree — sites like Pinterest and Instagram make it easy to collate and share pictures. But it’s so nice to have something tangible rather than digital. I’m glad my post inspired you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I really like this post! I used to play the piano and the flute but have no musical talent whatsoever. I later found out that while I may not like music itself, I like performing TO music, and have since explored dance, figure skating, and aerial gymnastics! Nonetheless, I really wish I could sing and play the violin 🙂

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  7. Throughout High School I’d gotten into cartooning. It started as a simple return top drawing from childhood and within 4 years I greatly improved to a point where I had my own Wacom tablet and everything, I couldn’t help but draw! But then I went to college. And keeping up with fun past-times in life became incredibly difficult. I sometimes drew, and also took an art class once and felt so reconnected. But in general I miss out and even though I have the time now its hard to me to get past my perfectionist self to just doodle. I’d like to work on returning myself to pencil and paper.

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