Anyone else with ADD/ADHD have problems practicing for more than a couple of minutes at a time?
I get so frustrated. It's like my brain glucose gets sucked dry after a couple of minutes and I start getting very irritated and have to go do something else. I do keep cycling back to the practicing, but it's very chaotic and not efficient at all.
Any coping strategies?
I would add that the concentrating on intonation is the main culprit. It just saps me dry.
The fact that it saps you dry may mean that you're doing it well? Two minutes of total focused concentration seems fair enough.
Work with what you have. 2 minutes on, 2 minutes off.
Do interleaved practice with task-switching. It will help keep you focused. Explanation:
Thanks Lydia for the useful response. I was already thinking along these lines, so good to get confirmation. I already built a 4' wide music stand last night, so I can have several things out and in front of me at the same time.
I definitely have experience doing this. Personally, I have found the only thing that works is to structure your chaos so that it works with you and not against you. Instead of hunkering down trying to shred your way through a concerto until you get it right, I suggest planning 5-minute sprints of passage work with the different things you are working on. At the same time avoid chasing perfection. What you are looking for is improvement. At the time when your mind starts to wander and it becomes unproductive, you need to stop and switch to something else, or take a break.
For the repetitions that are so vital for progress, how about closing the eyes hard after each repetition, then opening wide to make the next one a "brand new" task. Kind of using the short attention span to good effect?
This is a very common thing, and I like all the suggestions so far! Make the attention span work in your favor through interleaving practice and by varying what you work on and how you work on it constantly (the "brand new task" idea of Adrian's reply) When we bore ourselves is when attention nose-dives, so repetition can be the real enemy. In my youtube channel for my students, I try to have many different ways to work on the same old proplems https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCR4pA_d2dYObAZKBLyL4ArA
Have the TV/talk radio on.
@Susanna, the egg timer thing is a good idea for me, but flip-flopped in its use for now. I could use it to make me play a little longer, so I could gradually up my time on something, or try to. Then switch. Right now I'm getting 30 seconds on trying to practice one passage. Will rush off to get one today.
Your problem is ontological. If you knew the world would still be there after your practice you'd be fine. However you don't. I'm sure there's a cure but that's a long story.
Bud, you seem to know a lot for someone who doesn't know anything about the subject.
(I reread my comment, and I know it sounds a little callous or judgmental, but that's not my intention. I think it's really a personal thing what you do to stay on task. The big thing that allowed me to start practicing more effectively was having a teacher I believed in, and making the connection where I started to believe that my practice would lead to results. The main thing that I see as an obstacle to getting better is the magical thinking that the thing we need to get better is a new violin/bow/rehair/rosin/set of strings/method book/etc...)
Christian, I was hoping to hear from folks with experience with the condition. It's not simply boredom or distractedness. For me it is an uncomfortable feeling in the front of the head. ANd people with ADD/ADHD, as I just read, have poor working memory. So, it is stressful, and feels like trying to run uphill all the time.
No Timothy, only one person was offensive. It wasn't you. I think I called them out on it.
I would like to reiterate that Lydia gave me good info too. And James T too. Somehow I missed that along the way.
I've written an MS Access Database where I have a list of tasks, and a related table of start and stop times for when I practice the task, and I'll be adding a table for notes for each task.
Sorry a teacher of over 30 years with ADHD has no contribution to make. I obviously can do better!
If I overreacted or got it wrong, my apologies, but your comment sounded to me quite snarky. And you gave no indication that you had it too.
Reminds me of those old American Sci-Fi movies where the first thing they do if they don't understand a creature is shoot at it!
Lydia thanks for that very interesting linked article.
I have some of that, and this may or may not be helpful.
Thanks Joel. I now have something similar, and need to start doing it. On another board for folks with ADHD, someone suggested I was tackling too many levels at once, and to save the intonation for separate effort, after I get all the rest down.
To all, I considered deleting this thread, due to slight embarrassment over my prickliness and defensiveness, but some good responses were made, and those responses might help someone else in the future if they do a search.
Here's an idea of how you experience the world through ADHD:
This was posted on a group in Facebook, and I think it ties in to my experience with ADHD. It is not ABOUT ADHD, but I think my fear of failure due to ADHD falls into this, and along with everything else, makes my brain shut down sometimes when trying to practice.
It would be edifying to see the people from that article talk about when procrastination is NOT anxiety.
continued,-- A relevant article just popped up on my computer screen, -"Productivity tips for people that hate productivity tips," Harvard Business Review. Thoughts: "Go with the flow"- if your mind switches from one task to another,just let it happen. Avoid deadlines on your appointment calendar. Instead enter project start dates, because the hard part is starting.
Joel's right - Go with the flow. David Mamet has a beef with Stanislavsky. Stan had plenty of techniques and practices for improving concentration. For Mamet an
I have so much to say about this. Don’t have time at the moment but I will reply in like an hour. I have ADHD also! Your descriptions of the “inflamed” feeling and the sensation of running uphill just to maintain normal attention - I feel the same. Except some key differences - violin is one of the rare respites where I’d had some success retraining myself to hyper focus productively... But this has taken ages to rewire. Meds have helped more than anything. Ok gotta get to class.
Lends a whole new meaning to "flamed maple".
As someone with this problem I learned to beat it by simply remaining single-mindedly focused on what I'm doing (if it requires serious concentration, not everything!)
I find often that the intense effort required for playing/practicing helps me to sustain focus better for violin than for most other tasks. I think a few others mentioned this too. It is often a relief to practice and feel my mind calming and focusing, other cares drifting away, rather than my usual flitting around/fractured attention, much like people describe with doing activities 'mindfully' although I don't do this on purpose, it more happens to me if that makes sense. My mind seems to become less scattered with the effort of honing in on only one priority, the bowing in one phrase, or intonation for one specific shift and so on. Maybe this is what people call the hyperfocus that many with attention problems can do. It is very pleasurable and I think it is alot of what brings me back to practicing. Someone on the current adult starter thread wrote how s/he was able to practice for hours when too depressed to do other activities, which I found interesting and maybe along the same lines.
Many people don't know this but I actually have ADHD so I can totally relate to your struggle. I believe this makes it hard to focus, and I do get into practice ruts at times.
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