Piano Journal: Past, Present and Future - 3.5 years - Shiny Contest Submission

Piano Journal: Past, Present and Future - 3.5 years

Authors: Peter Hontaru

Abstract: In 2018, I made the decision to pick up the piano as an adult. I've been tracking my own practice time for most of this period and built an app to visualise my progress + predict how long it will take me to learn a piece based on various features.

Full Description:

the why

Learning a piano piece is a time-intensive process. Like with most other things, we tend to overestimate our own ability and then become frustrated that we cannot learn and play that Chopin piece like a concert pianist after only 30 minutes of practice. Fortunately, unlike what you might hear on Wall Street, previous performance is indicative of future success.

While the prediction tool will aim to help others understand a realistic timeline to learn a piece, the overall progress will hopefully provide a source of inspiration for other people that have always thought to themselves "one day I'll learn a musical instrument". Any other skill qualifies here, though. I aim to be doing this by, at the very least, allowing for visibility into my own journey. If this is what you want, why not give it a try?!

the what

Can we predict how long it would take to learn a piano piece based on a number of factors? If so, which factors influenced the total amount of hours required to learn the piece the most?


I started playing the piano in 2018 as a complete beginner and I've been tracking my practice time for around 2 and a half years (first 10 months are estimates). I've now decided to put that data to good use and see what interesting patterns I might be able to find and hopefully develop a tool that others might be able to use in their journeys.

To help with the context, here's an example of a recent performance - I mainly play classical music but cannot help but love Elton John's music.

Outside of the app, I also conducted an in-depth analysis (through which I built the model that fed into the app).

To put something visual to the progress numbers, here's a compilation of random videos from my first year of practice (the above Elton John video is 3 1/2 years after I started).

Keywords: skill acquisition, skill, piano, journal, education, visualisation, dashboard, music, machine learning
Shiny app: https://peterhontaru.shinyapps.io/Piano-Journal/
Repo: GitHub - peterhontaru/Piano-Journal: 🎹 Human Learning meets Machine Learning - 1,200+ hours of piano practice. Predictive modelling on my own piano practice data.
RStudio Cloud: RStudio Cloud


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