Great blog post by Dr. Noa Kageyama posted on The Bulletproof Musician about coaxing yourself to practice. Getting yourself to practice can be a challenging endeavor, especially when you have a to-do list the size of China, or a tempting, but imaginary to-don't list. (Who writes to-don't lists, anyway? They kinda just happen). Read this article, and change the way you view practicing, forever!
Nutella Cinnamon Cookies, Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie, Blondie Brownies, oh my! I love, love, love to bake. It's one of my favorite things to do. What type of baker am I? Well, I would say that I'm a "follow the recipe" kind of baker. The purpose of a recipe is to guide you. To help you make good and tasty decisions, all while leaving the guesswork behind. Since the holidays are approaching, quite rapidly, might I add, I've been inspired to create a delectable recipe for my students that can be used all year round. This recipe will give you the mental and physical tools you need to begin to practice effectively, before you even play a note!
Parents, please take these suggestions to mind when your child is practicing. Part of your role as a parent is to optimize your child's practice experience!
"No-Bake but Sounds Great" Practice Recipe
Time: One practice session
Serves: You! (and the people who are listening to you, but mostly you!)
2x as much Patience as time allotted to practice
For example: Practicing for 30 minutes? You need an hours worth of patience; this way, you'll never run out!
3/4 of a tank of Energy
Playing the piano makes you a bit of an athlete (and you can actually burn lots of calories doing it, too!) You must have both mental and physical endurance to effectively and efficiently practice. Choose your practice time to benefit your brain and your body, and your brain and your body will give you the results you are capable of achieving.
A Whole Ton of Faith in yourself
It is always a teachers duty to have faith in you as our student; to give you the tools you need to not only learn effectively, but to believe in yourself. I am well aware, however, that learning an instrument is not easy and it can be tempting to be hard on yourself. Remember, you are studying music. When you study something, you are learning it. Learning is a process that is sometimes easy and sometimes hard. Always be sure to believe in what you've accomplished and your ability to continue to persevere.
An Unlimited Supply of Forgiveness
Sometimes, the going gets tough. Sometimes, we have to work harder than we thought we would have to. Sometimes, we don't learn things as quickly as we would like (or at least our schedule would like.) It's okay to admit something is difficult and it's also okay to step away from it and tackle it again tomorrow. We must forgive ourselves for not being superheroes and start embracing our abilities for what they are, and use them to our advantage.
Mix the ingredients above with the most important ingredient: your Appreciation for music and your ability to make it.
This is really why you started to study music, right? Because you LOVE it! Be sure to always maintain your appreciation for music and your ability to play it, create it, understand it, and speak it! Always remember why you started studying music in the first place. As a listener, continue to listen, learn from, and enjoy the music of others, and as a musician, always appreciate and respect your awesome ability to greatly contribute to music!
Well, this recipe sure is scrumptious and it will definitely prepare you for a successful practice session. Add your own ingredients to make your practice sessions what you want it to be! Want to post some of your own "No Bake but Sounds Great" Practice ingredients? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Jennifer's Musical Moments
Finding time to practice piano can be a bit, well, challenging. Yes, we love music. Yes, after every lesson we have this yearning to go home and practice the OMGeezies out of a song until we feel as though we've become DiCaprio screaming with open arms on the top of that forsaken boat (Parents, you might have to explain this reference to your children). Then, reality sets in and we realize that we are mere mortals, going to school 8-3 or working our jobs 9-5. As children, our schedules have schedules (whatever that means). We resort to scheduling in "fun" like play dates or computer time. As adults, we work all day, then we come home to our families, and as much as we love them dearly, we work some more until the entire family crashes, probably at some undesirable time (7pm or 2am), and wakes up the next morning to do it all again. We are all very busy and our lives are all very full, but I believe that if you are taking lessons, there is a musical kind of hunger inside your soul that deserves to be fed, and just like you schedule in time for feeding your body (daydreaming about Nutella on Oatnut bread right about now), why not make it a point to schedule in time to feed your soul.
I am a professed scheduler; appointment books, dry erase boards, post its, calendars, and even text messages to myself. I do it all. When I have something written down, it automatically makes it important. This is why I encourage all my students to make practicing piano a routine. When something becomes routine, you EXPECT it to be happening. You expect that you will eat breakfast in the morning (or at least lunch in the afternoon). You expect you will brush your teeth afterwards. You expect to have soccer practice after school. You expect that your favorite television show will be on Wednesday at 8pm. As a piano teacher, I know my students expect to progress at learning piano (I also have that expectation for them). So if you expect to progress, then you should absolutely expect to be practicing. Pick a time, a time you know you can commit to, and as mega brand Nike says, "Just Do It." I guarantee that you will certainly begin to feel as though you are "DiCaprio-ing" your way to the top of that ship. Only difference is that after you've committed your time and you are making your musical strides, it will be smooth sailing.
Jennifer's Musical Moments