, i also have a work to go to everyday and a wife and three small children to take care of at home. consequently, i feel i don't have the time needed to fulfil my dream of jazz piano. at maximum i can play some twenty/thirty minutes per day which don't give me time to learn new songs, learn scales and harmonies, transcribe solos, just improvise and have fun at the piano. is there any hope for me as a jazz piano player?
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what is "your dream of jazz piano" ?

i'm in the same situation. the kids are a lot of work. i'm still able to find close to an hour everyday. i don't do all those things you say everyday. i do what i can. i don't have a fixed schedule.
i may not have the most efficient approach, but it works for me. i won't be the new mccoy, but so what?

i don't have that long term dream thing, i just enjoy playing and learning new things.

i am also in a the same situation.  everyone is going to find different amounts of time depending on their family dynamics.  keep in mind that having young children at home is a particularly difficult time of your life, and my experience is that it gets much easier later on, so be patient.

another thing is to make sure you are really using your time wisely.  are you watching much tv or spending much time online?  those are things that eat up your time in a big way.  i leave for work before everyone else wakes up, and practice for 1/2 hour at a piano at my church.  can you practice during your lunch break at work?  maybe take a keyboard and practice at a nearby park?  do you use your time driving to work to do some ear exercises (like identifying notes in songs you know)?

be creative, but above all keep a positive attitude.  if you make your family miserable through your own unhappiness or not spending enough time with them, it's not going to be worth it.  you may have to wait until the kids are much older to really get a chance to practice much.
get a melodica. you can practice anywhere!

try to avoid feeling like you have to practice everything each time you practice. define attainable goals for each practice session. - tunes, scales, voicings, etc...  

i'm a big believer in getting your repertoire together first (memorize some tunes)  ya really feel like a musician when you can actually play tunes. if you can play tunes you can actually get gigs and use them for practice.  

internalizing and understanding the tunes is the foundation on which to develop your improvisational skills.  at that point, scales, transcriptions and such would probably have more relevance and be a more rewarding venture.

just my thoughts...

~groove on
small steps will get you there faster than no steps at all.  if all you have is a half hour a day, fine, focus your practice on something important for that time.  like the good dr whack says, you dont have to practice everything each time you sit at the piano.

focus on something you want to improve, and just get into it, or if you want to have more fun, sit down and play fun stuff for a half hour.  always remember to just jam on your piano sometimes, you know?  make music that you enjoy making, jazz, rock, whatever.

keep it fun and you're ahead of the game.
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hi everyone, thanks a lot for your wise words and advices. i think knotty identified my problem quite well: this dream of jazz piano probably means that my ambitions are too high, given the time that i have. i have never been a fan of those "small steps" that scot writes about, which i realize is a great problem. thanks again!
d/f - i'm another in your situation (although i've only got two small kids).  i'd add that it is important to try and get in a playing situation.  that might be as modest as a once a month jam with a singer or a bass player to get a set together, or it might be a regular gig. if you have the external pressure of getting songs together for your jam or gig, you'll find your playing improves more quickly.
d/f  your best bet is a good teacher to help you organize the time that you do have.  and judging by other questions you have asked you need a good a teacher to help you decide exactly what to practice with the amount of time you do have.
similar situation, but i have no kids, and i get about an hour or two a day.  problem for me is that if i go out with friends and stuff, it quickly cuts down average practice time.  but i figured a virtuoso with no friends is kind of sad, so i prioritize socializing over practicing..

anyway, with limited practice time, and also limited time you can spend thinking about jazz, the key is perseverence i think.  it's a battle of keeping yourself focused, and motivated.  not like change the world motivated, but more like "i'll start packing for the move a week ahead time" type of motivation. (little by little)  

i think no matter how many hours you spend practicing, learning this stuff takes time.  so at times i think "if i only had another hour", but thinking back, adding another hour probably wouldn't have done any better.  i think it's more important to have a 1-2 hour, full brains, full concentration practice.  i can't do it all the time, like i can't concentrate when i'm upset about something, etc..  but it's very, very hard, and demanding to be fully concentrated and metally engaged for 2 hours.  of course, when i have more mental stamina, maybe i can actually make full use of a 4-5 hr session if i could have one.. but for now, i don't have enough mental strength.

i think 30 minutes is a little short, but a consistent 30 minutes every single day, is still better than my "2 hours here and there" habbit.  it's easy to doodle around and warm up for 30 minutes and not really accomplish anything, so you need to sit down, get concentrated, have all your "todo"s lined up, and just get down to business.  knock off the check list one by one, and make sure you're brain's not wandering around.  i think 30 minutes with 0 disturbances will be very effective in the long run.

from your other posts, it seems like you've already got lots of stuff down (unlike me) so i think if you consistently add to your foundation, you'll hit a point where you've covered enough bases, and all the pieces start to come together.  i haven't hit that point yet.  i probably won't for another year or so according to my lesson plans, but that's okay.  if you have a road map, and know exactly where you are, it's much less overwhelming.

underlining what everyone else said about a good teacher..  a good teacher will definitely help you draw that road map, and also will give you a better picture of where you are, how long it'll take to get to the next check point, etc. etc.  so he'll, definitely help in terms of planning, and building concrete expectations.

hope this helps.  scheduling is very hard.. i spent lots of time thinking about about it, and still do.  i always think of how to make my practice more meaningful.  constantly trying to imagine what my "dream" practice session would be like, what i want to accomplish in the next session, etc..  it gets very frustrating especially when i can't master something specific i want to work on...  but you know, i guess you just keep trying.  if you don't quit where everyone else might quit, it'll make you just that much better.
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