For a while now I have been stuggling with my piano practice, just not knowing where to go with it. I have discovered long ago that if I am going to stay active in my practice and keep up the creativity, then I have to keep myself inspired. I practice the most when I listen to instrumental music by CD or YouTube, as well as instructional videos online since I haven't taken lessons in years.
Since observing their style I am about to determine that it is a good idea to practice classical music. It isn't the first time I've seen the benefits of clasical music, but it was never enough to convience me to learn it. You see I am very goal oriented when it comes to the piano. Ever since I was eight years old I knew I wanted to play the piano and sing in church. That was my desire so I never put much thought or effort towards anything else. Sure, I can play Fur Elise and a Waltz or two, but besides that I am not at all familiar with classical music. My piano teacher was a pastor's wife with obviously the same idea, because other than a few Rag Time songs, I learned mostly hymns. Now I wish I had been more disciplined and taught myself.
In the mean time I have been practicing heavily in my finger exercise book . . . much to my family's dismay! (I don't know why they don't like hearing the same 6 notes played over and over in different octaves.) This is something else that was never stressed to me, most likely because my teacher never had a use for it in the playing that she did in her small country church. Of course, I am extremely grateful for my teacher because had I went to anyone else they may not have taught me the beloved hymns I wanted and needed to learn so badly. She gave a thorough knowledge of hymn playing in the congregational setting which has proved very rewarding over the years. I have seen students, from other teachers, that struggle in hymn playing, and I must say I would most definitely rather struggle with classical music than hymns. With that being said, it is still good to know both.
I finally feel like I know where I need to go with my piano practicing. Instead of trying to put together hymn medleys that are cluttered and not smooth, it would be in my better interest to focus on finger exercise (which has already improved my arpeggios and runs tremendously), and buckle down and learn some classical pieces.
So my word of encouragement is this: no matter what area you are looking to improve upon, keep looking and God will show you the direction you need to go.