Tuesday, October 7


Two weeks ago, I posted a list of the piano repertoire I hoped to begin work on. This week, I have a confession about that music- I've hardly touched it. I've practiced a grand total of 5 hours since I committed my goal to the internet 12 days ago. That's an average of 25 minutes or 0.4 hours per day. Compare that to my senior year of college (3 years ago) when I was practicing an average of 30 hours a week. That is approximately 4 hours a day.

Now, obviously there is a problem here. Allow me to dialogue with myself for a moment.

Is it that you don't like your music?
No, I picked it out myself- it's thrilling music
Is the music too difficult?
No, I am a good judge of my abilities and am confident that this repertoire is challenging, but not impossible. 
Is it that I don't have time? 
I have the time and desire to commit one (1) hour a day to practice. Just one. It's not like I'm trying to give Evgeny Kissin a run for his money. 
Perhaps it could be that you simply aren't interested?
Absolutely not. Music, and specifically piano is my greatest passion!
Ahh, is it that you just don't know where to start?
Yes.... that's exactly it.

So we have the problem now. Where to begin? This is always my struggle, and I am convinced that I am not the only one who struggles with how to begin a task. After all, when you are staring at the equivalent of an hour's worth of advanced, difficult music, where does one begin?

Today, let's take a clue from Maria in The Sound of Music. "Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. When you read you begin with A-B-C..."

So, to start learning the music and providing ourselves with a steady foundation for this repertoire, start with the notes. The letters of music, the very building blocks. An obvious place, to be sure, but one that I often overlook.

My challenge to myself this week is to learn the notes of the first page of every piece at a reasonable tempo, being sure not to neglect patterns of expression such as dynamics and phrasing. A reasonable tempo is one at which a pianist can play steadily, without hesitations or rushing. It is key to discipline oneself at this stage and not follow every musician's tendency to play the easy parts fast and the hard parts slow. Also, it is important to observe expressive marks. If one learns the entire first page at a steady mezzo-forte (mf), it will difficult to break oneself of that habit when later realizing that there are 6 distinct dynamic markings on that page.

My incentive/motivation to practice is more severe this week than it was last week. Last week, I simply told myself, "you are going to practice one hour a day". That was all. There were no qualifications, no incentives, no rewards, no punishments. Since that obviously failed, I'll add some more points to my practice goal.

- I will practice one hour a day.
- I will strive to practice at 11:00 a.m. every day
- I will not be allowed to use Pinterest or Facebook the next morning if I fail to practice the previous day.
- For every hour that I practice, I will earn 30 minutes time to devote to creative writing and graphic design (2 of my other hobbies)
- My practice goal is to learn one page of every piece by Monday (Oct. 13)

This will cause much more favorable results. In this journey of picking up practicing again, I am already learning things about myself. This week I learned that I am not very good at disciplining myself, and now I am working to change that. Thank you for reading along on my blog, and as always, please leave comments! Do you struggle with discipline or knowing where to start on a task? Please share your solutions!

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like you have well identified the issue and made a plan to work through it. It's what 80-90% of people don't do. We don't take enough time to pause and think through a matter to identify the problem AND then work through a doable plan. Knowing the next step to a goal is essential.

    This has a practical application in the church. Progress and positive change is often elusive in the church context because it hasn't identified the root problem. Even if it does, all to frequently, clear steps to resolve it are not made. The church doesn't know the next step and never takes it.

    Thanks for the good post, C.