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How do I enjoy my hobbies more?

By Scott Houston
Sitting down at the piano and playing the songs you love without worrying about how you sound is a wonderful experience… but it’s easier said than done! Putting pressure on yourself when learning to play piano or pursuing any type of hobby is natural, and not always a bad thing. 

The right amount of pressure will help motivate us to finish the exercise, learn the melody line we love, and so much more! Too much pressure on the other hand, can add unnecessary stress and even cause us to dread a once beloved pastime. In this blog post, I’ll share some insight and tips to help you keep a healthy approach to your hobbies and prevent them from becoming “work.”

Unlearn perfectionism

When you think about setting goals, what comes to mind? From a young age, we are taught to strive for hard and fast measures of success—making the team, acing your exams, and getting regularly promoted. We are success-obsessed! 

Pressure to “succeed” at your hobbies can also come from individual characteristics like your personal reasons for wanting to play or your distinct type of work ethic and drive.

A hobby is by definition pursued for fun without a rigid end goal in mind, so it’s important to try and let go of these beliefs and definitions of success. If you’re having trouble enjoying the journey of your hobby rather than working toward an achievement, here are a few tips to help the mindset shift:
  • Prioritize action over result. Think “I’m going to play for a half hour today.” rather than “I’m going to play every day until I can play the song with both hands.”

  • Having an off day or week? Don’t force it. It’s good to hold yourself accountable and make sure that you’re not letting piano or any other healthy hobby fall to the wayside completely, but as with all things in life—it’s good to find a balance. When you’ve got other things going on in your life or if you simply feel like you need a day of mental rest, don’t make yourself play. Your hobby will always be there for you when you are ready.

Practice positive self-talk

You are your own toughest critic. In your everyday life (not just when you do your hobbies) I want you to pay attention to how you think about yourself. Every time you have a self-critical thought, pay yourself a compliment. At first, it may feel fake and forced, but pretty soon, it will become an automatic process in your brain. It’s a tiny practice, but it really holds the power to unlocking a healthier relationship with yourself, finding more confidence, and gaining optimism! 

Stick to what you enjoy

This one is piano-specific, but can be applied to pretty much anything. Learning piano based on vicariously imitating a musician you admire is not only an effective way to develop musical skills—it’s extremely motivating! For me, imitating my favorite records instead of trying to memorize some piece of sheet music that I didn’t emotionally connect with gave me the ability to have some actual fun while doing the hard work of figuring out the music. 

Learning music theory may seem like an overwhelming feat… and sure that may be true if you’re attempting to figure out Mozart or Bach. But when it comes to popular music from the past 50-60 years, the overwhelming majority of songs use similar chord progressions, making it easy to recognize and learn across your favorite songs and genres. For example, here are just a fraction of the songs that use the popular C-G-Am-F chord progression: 
  • “Let It Be” – The Beatles
  • “Don’t Stop Believing” – Journey
  • “Africa” – Toto
  • “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” – Elton John
  • “Take On Me” – a-ha

  • “With Or Without You” – U2
  • “Someone Like You” – Adele
  • “Forever Young” – Alphaville
  • “Time After Time” – Cyndi Lauper 
  • “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version

Even simpler, the chord-progression of C-F-G is an extremely popular rock structure that provides the foundation for these tunes and so much more:

  • “Folsom Prison Blues” – Johnny Cash
  • “Born In The USA” – Bruce Springsteen
  • “Hound Dog” – Elvis Presley
  • “Bad Moon Rising” – Credence Clearwater Revival
  • “Dead Flowers” – The Rolling Stones
  • “Red Red Wine” – UB40

How to learn to play with love

Going down the path of putting myself in the shoes of my favorite popular musicians that have relatively easy songs to learn in common chord progressions, I realized I had actually developed the ability to “play by ear” pretty well without even realizing it. 

The power of music is really something, so I found a way to share how I taught myself to play through Piano in a Flash. In my online piano courses, we learn together from hundreds of popular modern tunes and focus on one hand at a time so you never feel overwhelmed. Click the button below to get started on your first free class today.