The Power of Perseverance in Learning to Play Piano: Why Musical Progress is Not Linear

Genius is eternal patience.
~ Michelangelo

perseverance_pianocareerWhat do you think – which is the most important quality for a musician?

Is it ‘musicality’?
A good hearing maybe?
A flexible mind?
A prolific imagination?

Yes, all these abilities are important (and all of them can be developed with practice).

However, there is ONE quality that ‘rules them all’ – and that quality, my friends, is PERSEVERANCE.

Without perseverance, everything else is ‘dust in the wind’.
Without perseverance, our dreams and goals crumble under the ever-changing realities of life.
Without perseverance, even the most ‘talented’ musicians will inevitably fail.

WHY is that?

Because mastering an art is not a one-time event. Mastering an art is a lifetime journey – and this journey has plenty of ups and downs, and LOTS of challenges that will really test your commitment to the instrument.

Musical progress is NOT linear – and without the magical powers of perseverance, we risk getting stuck each time we hit a ‘rough spot’.

Do you want to learn more? :P Watch the video below!

The Power of Perseverance in Learning to Play Piano:
Why Musical Progress is Not Linear

Video highlights:
00:02. Introduction. Musical progress is not linear.
00:55. A musician’s journey is like a roller-coaster. The importance of understanding how things really work.
02:08. It’s the hard days that will really test your commitment to the instrument!
02:48. Learning to see things in perspective. A painting metaphor :).
03:49. The role of perseverance in this process.
05:08. A gym metaphor.
06:03. What are plateaus – and why sometimes we get ‘stuck’ on the same level. Transforming quantity into quality.
08:00. An important warning: ONLY quality work (detailed mindful practice) can lead to great results and help you to overcome a plateau!
08:36. Understanding the causes behind the ‘zigzag’ pattern of our progress. Everything happens in cycles – including our learning.
10:21. We usually only see what happens on the surface. Examples of less obvious ‘variables’ that affect our productivity.
11:14. Conclusion. Always try to keep things in perspective… and persevere.

Recommended tutorials:
When to Take a Break in Your Practice (available on
The Key Principles of Correct Piano Practice: a Step-By-Step Holistic Guide.
Piano Playing is a Lifetime Commitment!

Do you want to take your piano skills to a whole new level of mastery? Join my Piano Coaching Program at and get instant access to many hundreds of exclusive, in-depth tutorials for ALL levels (including step-by-step courses and interactive projects) that will transform your playing, and help you to acquire a whole new perspective on our amazing art! 8)

Keep moving forward 8),

P.S. Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter (and now also on Pinterest!) to get instant updates, support and motivation! ;)


If you enjoyed this piano tutorial, here are some other similar piano practice topics to help improve your piano playing:

No Time to Practice? 5 Powerful Solutions for Lack of Time

21 Responses to “The Power of Perseverance in Learning to Play Piano: Why Musical Progress is Not Linear”

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  1. Lilly-Petra Post says:

    Dear Ilinca,

    Thank you so much for your intelligent and holistic tutorials and most of all for your understanding, inspiration and persevererance! It helps me really a lot to understand my life long ‘ups and downs’ in my piano practise!
    All the best for you in a very musical and happy 2017!
    With love, Lilly

  2. Prasana says:

    Hi Ilinca madam,
    Perseverance-this is the one quality I need to develop.I really enjoyed watching your video it contains useful information and ideas.I have a dream of getting an Yamaha upright Piano for myself.Thanks for sharing.

  3. Audrick says:

    Excellent advice! It will work for any discipline.

    • Ilinca says:

      Thank you, Audrick!

      Yes, indeed – the path to mastery is very similar in all arts (and if we persevere, we can accomplish anything we put our mind to) :D.

  4. Israel E. Tettey says:

    I do enjoy your lessons or your video very much,but the question here is, can i afford to buy all these videos? The simple answer here is NO.I cannot even pay for $1.00.But i like to be a piano player.I want to be your student.

    Israel Enam Tettey

    • Ilinca says:

      Hi Israel!

      I’m sorry to hear that you have financial problems! If you can’t afford to join my Piano Coaching Program at (which offers its members many hundreds of detailed tutorials, step-by-step courses, interactive projects etc.) – then I recommend reading/watching all my free tutorials (45+ at the moment)! Find all of them in our Archives.

      Good luck – and I hope that everything works out for you, so that you can pursue your piano dreams! 😉

  5. Rudolf Boukal says:

    Hello Ilinica,

    I have been following your short videos for some time. You have such a wonderful and accessible way of communicating. This current video of perseverance – amazing! You hit it right on the spot! You presentation is very clear and understandable – you explain everything so well. Thank you. I have been a composer/pianist for many years and I am still learning. Your presentations and the manner in which you deliver the insights/information is excellent – you are still teaching me. I will be checking out some of your presentations and programs. Thank you for offering such wonderful and concise programs to we musicians who are eager to learn and wanting to persevere our joy and love of music. – Rudi

    • Ilinca says:

      Thank you so much for your appreciation, Rudi – it means a lot to me! 😀 😉

      By the way, the hundreds of tutorials available on are not so concise LOL- most of them are very detailed, in-depth and quite long haha.

      Thank you again for your positive feedback!!! 😉

  6. M. Takinami says:

    You are very encouraging.
    Thank you.

  7. Amy says:

    Hi Ilinca,

    Your articles and videos are so helpful and inspiring to me! I feel like your insights have transformed my piano playing journey – thank you!

    I have just recently begun teaching piano lessons – last month, in fact. I have a twelve-year-old student (a beginner) who is very unenthusiastuc about piano. She is only taking lessons because her parents want her to. She practices and does her work, but her heart is not in it, and I can tell she doesn’t enjoy it. I’m not sure if it’s a lack of confidence on her part – that she thinks she isn’t good at piano and can’t do it – or that playing piano simply doesn’t interest her or appeal to her.

    I’m very passionate about music myself, and it’s difficult for me to understand how anyone could NOT love playing the piano!

    What would you suggest that I can do to help her enjoy the piano more?

    Thank you, and have a lovely day! 🙂

    • Ilinca says:

      Hi Amy!

      Thank you for your appreciation! 🙂

      The topic you brought up (a child not enjoying her practice) is too complex (and delicate) to be fully covered in a short comment. Anything I would say (in a paragraph or two) would obviously be too shallow (and potentially do more harm than good, as I don’t know anything about your student, or the exact causes behind her lack of enthusiasm). You can certainly do your best to inspire her (by making your lessons captivating, engaging, by transforming every piece into an interesting ‘musical story’ etc.) – but you have to also be aware that some people are simply not very interested in music, regardless of what the teacher does 🙂 (while for others, the pressure coming from their parents literally kills their inspiration – and this is sadly outside of our control as teachers).

      You can find more informative articles on this topic (how to make your lessons more interesting and fun when teaching children) in the Members Area of :).

      • Amy says:

        Hi Ilinca,
        I just wanted to let you know that the student I mentioned has been enjoying her piano journey much more lately – in fact, this week she was out of town and didn’t have a lesson, and she told me that she would miss our lesson! She said that she is enjoying piano more now – I think she may have just been nervous starting out! Thanks so much for your help!

  8. keith says:

    Dear Ilinca,

    I KNOW this sounds creepy—coming from a total stranger—-but, you must be the most BEAUUUUTIFUL piano teacher in the whole world!

    With that out of the way, I just want you to know that I’m 83, took about 2 years of lessons over 35 years ago, and just recently began revisiting the piano.

    I think that your use of the word ‘mindful’ is the key to productive practice. Every time I sit down to practice, I begin by asking myself what I would like to be able to do, or do better, and, why can’t I. Usually I’m able to answer that question for myself. When I can’t, I’m lucky enough to have musician friends who I can ask. This enables me to spend my practice time in a very focussed and purposeful way. I’ve seen too many friends kids who seem to do nothing other than robotically play a piece, or part of a piece, mindLESSly as if the sheer repitition alone is going to generate improvement and progress.

    Love your site; so glad I found it.

    Cheers, Keith in the USA.

    • Ilinca says:

      Hi Keith!

      Thank you so much for your appreciation! :)))

      By the way, physical beauty is something very impermanent (and also relative), so there’s no point in getting too attached to it hahaha. The inner beauty (and the skills we form through serious and mindful work) can last a lifetime! 😉

      I’m really happy that you enjoy my tutorials and my teaching approach!

      Thank you for your comment – and have a very inspired practice! 😀

      • keith says:

        Thank you Ilinca.

        There are so many helpful books available on Amazon. Right now I’m starting Czerny-Germer’s Selected Piano Studies (among other things) which I find helpful in building ‘strength’ (I don’t know if that’s the most accurate word) in my 4th and 5th fingers. Sometimes those fingers fail to strike keys sharply/clearly enough. When I watch pianists like you play, I marvel at how relaxed and effortless your/their playing seems. Two of my favorites on You Tube are Yuja Wang and Valentina Lisitsa.

        Again, thank you so much for your extremely helpful site. Having read so many comments, it’s pretty obvious that I’m not the only one who values your expertise, help and encouragement.

        Thank you once again.

        Keith G.

        • Ilinca says:

          Hi Keith! I will share with you a very important professional secret: finger strength does not come from the finger itself. It comes from using arm weight correctly. Shortly – the more weight they learn to ‘carry’, the stronger our fingers become. Studies (such as the ones you mentioned) can be very helpful indeed – but ONLY if practiced correctly :).

          You can find super-detailed tutorials on all these topics in the Members Area of my Piano Coaching Program at 😀

  9. John M. Pickering says:

    Thanks for this Ilinca, it’s a reaffirmation about this habit that piano practice becomes. At first it’s hard, and then after a while, it can’t be done without. But also as you say there can be diminishing returns if you practice when tired and without focus. You have probably heard of Charles Cook’s Playing the Piano for Pleasure, a guide for the piano hobbyist who seeks access to the colossal hoard of jewels that comprise the piano repertoire since Bach, much of which I’ll never grasp (looking at you, Pavane por Infante Defunct), but in the cool knowledge that some players like you, will, and do.
    Your description of the plateaus musicians feel and likening that to athletic training is spot on. Practice makes perfect, or at least approaching perfect. As are you, thanks again

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