Mise en place

I just finished reading an interesting book called Practice Like This: 35 Effective Ways To Get Better Faster by Jonathan Harnum, PhD. It’s a book about practicing in general– sports, games, painting, music, cooking, etc.– but the author is a trumpet player, so his practice strategies are all applicable to the musician. In the coming weeks I will share what I think are the most valuable practice tips for us piano players.

As a passionate foodie, I was immediately attracted to Harnum’s use of the chef’s term, Mise en placeMise en place is a French culinary phrase which means “everything in its place.” It refers to the set up required before preparing a meal as well as the organizing of a kitchen.

My daughter runs an amazingly delicious Mediterranean restaurant in the Hamptons area of New York called Calissa that features an open kitchen (see photos!) I find it fascinating to watch the chefs as they create their gorgeous meals. Though they are feeding as many as 250 people at any given time, everything they need seems to be at their fingertips. As Harnum writes: “When things get hot and heavy in a busy kitchen, there’s no time to hunt for your cracked pepper or your sharpened paring knife.”

A good chef, baker or cook knows that in order to be efficient and focused, they must assemble all of the tools and ingredients they need before preparing a tasty dish. 

 A kitchen must be clean, and well organized so that the chef knows where everything is and feels inspired to work her culinary magic.

Likewise, says Harnum, for a musician: “If you adopt the mise-en-place approach in your practice, you can toss off a quick practice session with no setup time.”

As pianists, we don’t always have a lot of choice as to where we can put our pianos, but they should ideally be kept in a place where we can readily sit down and play for 5 or 10 minutes. It’s best to keep your instrument in an area where you will constantly see it; people whose pianos or keyboards are in basements or converted garages tend to practice less, because they simply forget about it! On the other hand, if a piano is in the same room as a television or another popular family entertainment feature, our playing might be prevented or interrupted, and the practice opportunity is lost. If your piano is in a living room or den, you might want to consider purchasing a small keyboard with headphones that you can keep in your bedroom and play anytime.

I keep antibacterial wipes and a microfiber cloth nearby to clean germs and dust off my keys regularly. Never spray anything on your keys, just use a damp microfiber cloth to remove dust, and a non-toxic non-bleaching disinfecting wipe such as Seventh Generation to remove germs (see links at the bottom of this post for my recommendations). 

© creativecommonsstockphotos ID 87589627 | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Most importantly, we must put our mobile phones away. 

We can’t focus when we are hearing the bells of incoming messages and seeing the flash of our latest instagram LIKES. A good strategy is to put the phone in another room with the sound off. If you know that you only have a certain amount of time to practice, set the timer to ring in 20 or 30 minutes and forget about it, just as you might do while meditating. 

Using natural light or a piano lamp with a full spectrum or soft light bulb instead of harsh LED light also creates a more inviting learning environment. A vase of flowers or herbs (mint is easy to grow and makes a refreshingly fragrant bouquet), and candles (beeswax aren’t smoky) make your playing space feel special. I love playing the piano at night by candle-light. Music-themed or other pleasing artwork on the walls can also be inspiring.

One important element in creating the feeling of a sanctuary or sacred space is to clear our piano area of clutter; when I moved music books and sheet music to a file box next to the piano instead on top of it, the piano area looked much more appealing. Clearing clutter from our pianos, helps to de-clutter our minds.

Before you start playing, you might fill a spill-proof flask (I love Kinto’s) with water (with cucumber slices?) or a hot drink such as Teeccino (an herbal coffee substitute) or other herb tea near (not on!) the piano to stay hydrated in between pieces (not coffee- it’s not great for hydration!) And if you might get hungry, put a small bowl of raw almonds, walnuts or carrots close by so that you can have a quick snack without needing to wash your hands. 

Likewise, we piano teachers need to take stock of our studio space, with the goal of providing a clutter-free, quiet, and calming environment, conducive to the joyful expression and creation of music.

Students walk in with all of their worries and pressures, and I hope that at least for the duration of our lesson, they are able to put their concerns aside, and connect to their music. New studies are showing that listening to “happy” music, in particular “promotes more divergent thinking.” I hope that when students leave their lesson, their mind feels a little freer. And through the brain enhancing magic of music, maybe even a few new creative solutions to their problems might pop up on their ride home. 

Take a look at your piano and see if it feels welcoming. Think about what you might do to create a Mise en place practice space. Please leave a comment sharing your ideas and observations!

With love and music, Gaili

Author, Upper Hands Piano: A Method For Adults 50+ to SPARK the Mind, Heart and Soul



Resolve! blog.UpperHandsPiano.com

If you’re like me, you love making new year’s resolutions. The year ahead is a clean slate, filled with possibility, and it’s important to me that I feel that I keep growing, keep improving, keep learning.  Musicians form short-term goals to improve our skills; we practice playing a difficult musical passage smoothly, our exercises, memorizing a short piece, or learning the minor 7th chords in all 12 keys, etc. But all makers of art also need to resolve to develop an enduring plan for maintaining the good practices we cultivate while working towards our creative goals.

To maintain a music practice, we might speak in terms of intentions rather than goals. Life coach/author Jennifer Louden writes that the word intention comes from the Latin “intendere” which means “to stretch toward something.” Louden suggests that while a goal drives you toward a future outcome, an intention helps keep you in the present: 

 The goal feels positive, but closed, almost a should, and it doesn’t inspire the imagination nearly as much as the intention, which feels open-ended, expansive, encouraging….

Instead of, or in addition to setting a goal such as, “I will learn this piece in 60 days,” you might want to form an intention, such as, “I am folding piano practice into my life at least four days per week,” or, “I am exploring improvisation in my piano studies this year,” or “I am going to halt negative self-talk by celebrating my accomplishments,” etc.

Write down your intention. Then come up with a structure to support it. You can adjust your expectations and intentions as you go along, but a written intention and structure acts as a roadmap. For example, if your intention is to become a better note-reader, your structure might be to open one of your piano books and play one random line a few times each day at the beginning of your practice session, and to draw random notes on lines, spaces and ledger lines on manuscript paper, then write the letters next to the note heads, four days per week. You might also make some flash cards for the ledger line notes you consistently have trouble reading. Whatever your intention(s), find a structure that you can embrace. Setting unreasonable expectations is counter-productive.

When you have to leave town and won’t be able to practice, set an intention to put practice aside until you return, and name the date that you will resume your practice routine. That way, your travel becomes part of your intention, and not an aberration.

When days or weeks pass in which you didn’t fulfill your intention, let regrets go. Start fresh the following week doing your best to reinstate your structure. This isn’t about perfection, it’s about process. Keep it light and enjoyable. Intentions are about how you want to live your life.  Your intentions are driven by your values. A little guilt is ok if it keeps you aligned with an intention, but don’t let yourself slide into shame and self-recrimination.

Be brave enough to live creatively…. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You…get there…by hard work, risking and by not quite knowing what you are doing. What you will discover will be wonderful: Yourself.      –Alan Alda

I hope you are enjoying new found resolve in 2018. I took a long, wonderful trip in December/January, and though I was missing playing my piano and working with my dear students, I was still learning as I listened to a lot of music with wonderful exotic flavors. I also journaled during the trip. You might consider keeping a music diary or journal, recording your thoughts and feelings about playing the piano, or writing about your successes and challenges, and especially writing about a practice technique that is working for you (i.e. playing before bed, or leaving a difficult piece and coming back to it after a walk, etc.)

If you missed my last blog post and would like to see/hear what I saw/heard in Morocco and Tunisia, click here. I hope you are enjoying a beautiful winter’s day wherever you are. 

I love your comments; please share any piano practice intentions you are forming for  2018 so we can support you!

With love and music, Gaili

Author, Upper Hands Piano: A Method for ADULTS 50+ to SPARK the Mind, Heart and Soul


Why Do You Play the Piano?


Piano Brain! UpperHandsPiano.com/blog

I am studying the effects of piano lessons on the brain at the University of Washington, and have found a host of scientific studies showing that piano instruction enhances mood, quality of life, movement, and Executive Functioning in the brain. Executive Function is kind of like the CEO of our brain and is located in the frontal lobe. Amongst other tasks, it facilitates attention, learning, memory, organization, decision-making, perceiving and estimating time, planning and executing plans, multitasking, problem-solving, analyzing, flexibility and reasoning.

You can read three of these fascinating studies here: Piano Lessons Increase Executive Function and Memory, here, and there.

Many are drawn to the piano because they have heard that it is an awesome brain workout, but I think you might agree that there has to be additional motivation in order to keep us doing the hard work of learning to play the piano. What gives you the willingness and courage to keep a piano practice?

For me it is a deep connection to music that feels like a spiritual practice. When I’m playing a piece I love I feel a sense of delving deep into my core. As I practice something challenging, I strive to become fully engaged in the notes and fingering and whatever set of skills I need to gain in order to learn the phrase. To me it’s worth all of the trouble, to get to the place where I can play and understand the music.

I haven’t always felt this way, however! As a child there were weeks (and maybe months) that I tried to quit piano lessons; it was sometimes so difficult to find the time to practice, or my teacher moved away (my beloved teacher Judy Lloyd moved to Australia to be with her boyfriend, and it broke my heart!), or I just wasn’t sure I was committed.

But I would soon begin to feel incomplete and disappointed in myself; stopping lessons left a hole in my life and I missed working on my piano skills. I missed the engagement, I missed the connection, I missed the music.

I often ask my students, “Why do you play the piano?” Here are some of the answers I have received:

“I play because I love music”

“It’s my therapy; it calms me and helps me to stay focused in general. I’ve definitely noticed that I have better concentration since starting lessons.”

” It’s a goal I set for myself to learn how to play the piano and understand music.”

“It’s fun!”

What brings you to the bench? Of all the activities you have to choose from, why do you choose the piano?

With love and music, Gaili






Distractions! blog.UpperHandsPiano.com

You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.
― Winston S. Churchill 

Today while I was studying for my Psychology of Aging class, I realized that I had forgotten to take my calcium supplements a half hour ago with my lunch. On the way to the kitchen I heard the mail arrive and went outside to collect it. Amongst the letters I found a renewal notice for my business license. I walked back to my office intending to pay my renewal fee online but saw an email from a friend telling me about her upcoming gig. It had a link to her Facebook page where you can sign up to attend the event. When Facebook opened I saw that I had a message from an occasional student who wants to schedule a lesson. So I picked up my iPhone to look at my calendar when I saw that it was my turn to play Words With Friends (an addictive phone-app game!) I started to take my turn when I received a text from my daughter asking me to send a photo of my turkey meatball recipe. So I walked to the kitchen to find the recipe, where I found, my calcium tablets….

Does this sound familiar? I am extremely prone to distractions. There are so many fascinating activities to explore, in addition to the many household tasks we must accomplish. I am reading several books and magazines at once, trying to learn French, playing the accordion to prepare for upcoming gigs, learning how to cook paleo, practicing food photography, cleaning the house, exercising, and wanting to watch the new Masterpiece Theater series, Victoria (which I can combine with ironing!) amongst many other activities that tempt me away from my central focus: practicing the piano.

The good news is, that a Northwestern University study found that people who are more susceptible to distractions were more creative! Don’t you love studies that justify and even celebrate our faults?! But it’s still a bad habit, and I am trying to break my stream of consciousness distractibility by narrowing in on just a few priorities this month.

Life is too full of distractions nowadays. When I was a kid we had a little Emerson radio and that was it.  — Stan Getz

There are so many demands on our time and attention. Especially for parents of school-age children, who can literally never give enough attention, or get enough done. The writer May Sarton wrote in her book, Journal Of A Solitude,

I hardly ever sit still without being haunted by the ‘undone’. I often feel exhausted, but it is not my work that tires (work is a rest); it is the effort of pushing away the…needs of others before I can come to the work….

But no matter what the demands on our day, we must carve out some measure of time to devote to our music. We can’t make the mistake of thinking that our music practice is dispensable, or less important than everything and everyone else calling our name. Can you handle leaving some household chore undone for a day? Setting up an appointed time to return phone calls and emails, and not checking messages until that time? Limiting social media to three times per week? Scheduling piano practice on your calendar and sticking to it? Turning off your phone while you practice? These are the difficult choices we make every day, in order to progress musically.

It is important to prioritize our to-do lists. Ask yourself if everything really needs to get done today. Or can some tasks wait until you have had your time to sit at the piano and play? If you feel yourself getting pulled in many directions (as I did today), just stop and take a minute to think about what needs to get done now. Find a way to put your music into that equation. And while you are playing, if you start to think about your grocery list, a bill you have to pay, a phone call you need to make, what you feel like eating, some topic you want to google, or last night’s argument, pull your focus back to the piano; the sound of your music, the feel of the keys beneath your fingertips, and the feeling the music evokes…

Next time I go to the kitchen to get my calcium and hear the mail come? I will take the supplements first, then bring the mail in, but look at it after I have finished the task at hand. This requires a lot of will power for me. But will hopefully cut down on me running from room to room looking like a cartoon character!

By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination. —Christopher Columbus

What distracts you, and how do you keep your focus? Please leave a comment below!

With love and music, Gaili






Pledge To Play: 10 Minutes A Day

Dear Piano Peeps:

Today I hope you will join me in pledging to play the piano at least 10 minutes every day for the next 30 days (January 15-February 13, 2017). You don’t need to have a goal attached to your pledge, other than sitting down at the bench every day, and playing for a few minutes. Even if you were working all day and feel beyond tired, sit down for 10 minutes before you get into bed. Even if you are out-of-town, practice “virtually” by looking at the music and “playing” on a tabletop (which is surprisingly effective!), or spend 10 minutes listening to versions of your current pieces on YouTube, while playing along with your right hand (if it’s not too fast!) I chose this photo to remind you to take it one step at a time 🙂

Why is this an important pledge? Research shows that short daily practice sessions are more effective in long-term learning, than infrequent long practice sessions. The brain learns best with consistent exposure to the notes and keys. Another reason to pledge is to nurture the “habit” of practicing. When I was a piano student, I would be amazed at how quickly the week between lessons shot by. And I would wish that I had just taken a little time each day to practice my pieces. After 30 days of playing for at least 10 minutes, I hope that you will fold practice into your daily routine, and will feel the strong pull of the piano before bed, if you didn’t get to it during the day. 

Though 30 days might seem like a long time to promise to do something, people generally find that it goes by quickly; and playing daily gives them an increasing sense of accomplishment each day that they fulfill the 10-minute pledge. 

Practicing more than 10 minutes per day is great, but do try to get a minimum of 10 minutes on the keys every day. For my part, I will be writing some blog posts to help you practice happier and healthier. Besides playing the piano every day, I pledge to play the accordion every day (I have to strengthen those push-pull accordion shoulder muscles before the onslaught of St. Patrick’s Day gigs in March!) And I will be practicing at least 10 minutes of French each day. I have a 2-year online subscription to Rosetta Stone, and am loving it! 

If you do have a specific musical skill you would like to dedicate this month to, write it down in a music journal, and share it with us! Let us support your progress. But keep it small, and do-able. Rather than trying to “perfect” something, strive for something achievable such as increased smoothness in a musical passage, memorizing a couple of lines, working on hand-strengthening exercises, etc. Make your goals open-ended, working towards progress, not perfection. I will talk a lot more about “perfectionism” this month.  Thanks for joining our pledge. I look forward to hearing from you!

With love and music, Gaili

UpperHandsPiano.com   |||  Upper Hands Piano books are available on Amazon.com

What is a Practice?

Hello and happy new year! Are you, like me, pondering the question of which attributes and activities you would like to bring into your life, and which you are ready to let go of in 2017? My friend recently sent me a blog post entitled, 25 habits that psychologists have linked with happiness. Most everything the authors listed as sources for increased happiness resonated for me (ESPECIALLY #1 and #2 which are so pertinent to those of us over 50 studying music!) They refer to these habits as “practices,” because, as with the piano, we need to extend some consistent effort and attention to the routines and personality traits we wish to fold into our lives. A practice suggests continuity. In her book Better Than Before, author Gretchen Rubin reminds us that a practice is ongoing, without thought of a “finish line.”  We practice in order to keep growing and learning; To become who we want to be, and do what we truly value. People speak of a meditation practice, a yoga practice, or a spiritual practice because there is an inherent acknowledgment that it is open-ended, continuing to develop and deepen. We practice music, painting, dancing, cooking, sports, law, and medicine, understanding that we continuously study and progress with time and effort. (Though thankfully, artists and athletes can’t be sued for MALpractice!)

I am fascinated by the concept of practice, because it has been such a charged word for me in the past. As a young child it was a struggle for my parents and piano teachers to get me to practice the assigned pieces and exercises. I wanted to play Beatles songs, movie themes and ragtime, but the hours I spent on those genres didn’t count as legitimate “practice time.” I set out to become a piano teacher who would honor all time spent playing the piano as worthy, creative practice. I am currently writing a book called, Passion Practice, because I have been interested in exploring all of the elements that contribute to our ability to pull ourselves away from the multitude of demands on our lives, to get to our practice. What a gift it is to ourselves (and others!) to take the time and make the effort to learn something creative.

To help kickstart your year with consistent practice, I will be launching a Pledge To Play 10 Minutes A Day 30-day challenge, in a couple of weeks! Join us from January 15 – February 13, to practice at least 10 minutes each day. It doesn’t matter what you practice, as long as you get yourself to the bench every day. Research shows that short daily exposure to a skill is more effective than one long weekly practice session. And while we can’t expect to practice every day of our lives, hopefully this 30-day commitment will help you to make piano practice (or whatever your creative pursuit) a habit. Gretchen Rubin calls habits “the invisible architecture of daily life.” Rubin shows that while it takes will power to cultivate good habits, once we establish them we don’t have to rely so much on self-discipline.

When the Dalai Lama was famously asked what is the secret of happiness and living a meaningful life, he unhesitatingly replied, “Routines.”

During the 30 days I will be posting tips to help rejuvenate your practice routine! Until then, I hope you will embark upon another practice immediately: The practice of self-love. We need to practice treating ourselves with loving kindness everyday. In her book The Gifts of Imperfection, Dr. Brené Brown asserts that we can only love others as much as we love ourselves. Celebrate yourself today, sending love and gratitude to your body, your mind, heart and soul, your history, your pain and pleasures; because all of those things brought you to where you stand today, ready to greet a new year with love, hope and compassion. Please leave a comment about practice! What does it mean to you, and what do you like to practice best?

With love and music, Gaili



Passion Practice

summer hydrangeas

Now that July 4th has passed, you might be thinking about things you would like to accomplish this summer. Many students find it helpful to come up with a few musical goals to complete by Labor Day. (I always seem to organize my time in terms of seasons and holidays!) To put the passion back into your practice, focus on your favorite piece.

Research shows that we best remember what we practice first and last during our practice session, so play your favorite music first!  For example if you are playing two pieces, an exercise and some chords,

1st – Begin your favorite piece by practicing the difficult passage(s) 5x first, then start from the beginning and enjoy it from beginning to end. Keep going even if you make a mistake

2nd – Practice your exercise(s) to strengthen and improve your piano “technique”

3rd – Play your other piece, or the pieces you would like to review for your repertoire

4th – Practice your chords or do other non-reading musical activities

5th – Go back to your favorite piece. Practice the difficult sections again, then play it from the beginning. Enjoy the sound of your music without judgement. Don’t look for perfection; hear the beauty instead of fixating on the mistakes

If you would like to review the principles of practicing using what we know about the BRAIN, click on this post:

THE BEST WAYS TO PRACTICE Using The Latest Brain Research

I have stopped posting about the music/art/dance of Spain, Italy and Greece via my recent tour because I received many complaints and unsubscribes. It is not my intention to fill your email box with content that doesn’t interest you, and I am SO sorry if that was the case for you. If you would like to hear more about music in Spain, Italy and Greece please “reply” or comment below this post. Perhaps if I included one “musicology” post per month that wouldn’t be too much? Too me, all music information is good information! But perhaps you prefer me to limit this blog to practice tips, musical brain news and free sheet music? Let me know your thoughts.

With love and music, Gaili

7 Moving Pieces (For Inspiration)



Dear Friends:

I sometimes turn to moving music to get me through a difficult time, or to reflect my feelings of joy and appreciation. Listening to moving music is one of the greatest pleasures available, but we don’t do it enough! How often do you just sit and listen to music? Without doing the dishes, driving, or exercising? We’re all so busy, but just sitting and listening to moving music is like therapy.

We can get swept away by inexpressibly beautiful songs and pieces that release dopamine into our brains making us feel amazing!

We can turn to different types of music for the many emotions we are experiencing. Here is my list of 7 moving pieces that will hopefully inspire you to move forward with your dreams, desires, wishes and intentions.

1) Gabriel’s Oboe (Main Theme from The Mission, By Ennio Morricone)

2) Sonata Pathetique (Adagio Cantabile, By Ludwig van Beethoven)

3) Triumph of Time and Tide (Sarabande, by Georg Friedrich Handel)

4) Etude No. 26 in A-flat Major (By Frederick Chopin)

5) When You Wish Upon A Star (By Leigh Harline and Ned Washington)

6) Don’t Give Up (By Peter Gabriel, with Kate Bush)

7) Wonderful World (By Bob Thiele and George David Weiss)

What music do you listen to for inspiration?

Tomorrow,  7 Moving Pieces (For Happiness)

With love and music, Gaili

Check out our awesome books! UpperHandsPiano.com


Egoless, part 1


I had several lovely piano teachers growing up. The teacher that influenced me the most was Mildred Portney Chase. She wrote a wonderful book called  Just Being At The Piano that I reread every couple of years. Mildred studied piano at Julliard and also had a Zen orientation. Her personality was a synthesis of Eastern meditation with Western discipline, giving equal balance to the technical and the spiritual. Mildred’s introduction says,

This book is about being able to experience the instant at the time of its being.

What did she mean by that? Mildred dedicated her life to playing without judgement, without the negative, hopeless voices telling her that she was not good enough, that she was wasting her time at the piano. Sound familiar?

Sometimes I …wondered if this journey was rational…..I discovered ways that would work for awhile and then later fail….But there was a tenacity that never left me, along with a healthy degree of anxiety.

I see this mix of tenacity and anxiety in my beloved students. If this Julliard graduate was grappling with the complexities and frustrations of playing the piano, you can forgive your own perceived obstacles. Zen writings often explore the idea of mindfulness, which Wikipedia defines as “the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment.” Mildred said,

Just being–at the piano–egoless–is to each time seek to reach that place where the only thing that exists is the sound and moving towards the sound.

I would like you to experiment with practicing the piano in this attitude of the egoless self. If you hear voices telling you that you’ve made another mistake, you’ll never get it, you’re no good, etc., silence those voices, and just play. Just focus on the notes, the rhythm, the sound and the feeling of the music.

I am now able to reach a state of being at the piano from which I come away renewed and at peace with myself, having established a harmony of the mind, heart and body….Even if I have only fifteen minutes at the piano…if I can reach this state of harmony…it will nourish the rest of the day.

Don’t you just love Mildred’s ideas? If she were alive today, she would come to one of our piano parties (she came to my first two recitals in the 1980s!) and delight in the beauty of each and every one of my students. She would enjoy our music without judgement. And she would play Bach for us (he was her favorite composer) sweeping us away into her experience of the music.

Today, I hope you will play your piano and get swept away by your own music.

With love and music, Gaili

Check out our awesome books, free sheet music and videos! UpperHandsPiano.com

Pledge to Play 10 Minutes A Day

Pledge To Play 10 Minutes A Day

Today we start our pledge to play 10 minutes a day, for 30 days. Even if you can’t commit to playing every day, I hope you won’t mind receiving my emails for the next month, filled with practice tips and musical and motivational information. I love this pledge because it helps us to get focused and to develop good practice habits. We are often so busy that we don’t even have 10 minutes to sit down and do something for ourselves. However for the next 30 days, I hope you’ll make the time. Maybe you can play for 10 minutes before you go to bed, or first thing in the morning. (Research shows that we’re the most creative, receptive and open-minded at these times, when we’re a little sleepy! I believe it’s because we’re less self-critical and we just PLAY.)

So… if you intend on keeping this pledge, what will you do with that time? Ten minutes a day will add up to 70 minutes per week, and 280 minutes for the month, or 4 hours and 40 minutes! That’s a good chunk of practice time. And chances are, once you sit down at the piano, you’ll play for more than 10 minutes on most days, anyway. (But don’t feel that you have to; even 10 minutes will be great!)

Get out a piece of paper or open up your journal and think about what your goals might be. Be specific! Just writing, “I’d like to become a better piano player” isn’t going to help you to focus on clearly defined goals that can elevate your playing to the next level. Here are some suggestions:

1- Identify difficult passages in your music where you make mistakes, or you hesitate. Practice those few measures every day for 10 minutes until you can play the whole line of music without hesitating. Then do the same with other difficult passages.

2- Decide which one of your songs or pieces you love the best, and practice it every day for 10 minutes. Make this your go-to song when someone says, “play me something!”

3- If you’re a more advanced player, open any music book and sight read for your 10 minutes.

4- Work on an exercise or review your chords in all 12 keys.

5- Formulate other specific goals such as,

 I will learn one page of my current piece by the end of the 30 days

I will learn a new (short) song

I will learn an exercise in all 12 keys without looking

I will improvise every day

I will write a song about ___________

Write down a couple of goals for your pledge now; you can add new goals as you accomplish these. Remember, practicing more than 10 minutes is wonderful. But this pledge is about playing every day. Dedicate the first 10 minutes of your daily practice session to your goal. After your dedicated 10 minutes you can either stop playing, or go on to playing other things.

If you feel like it, share your goal(s) with us (in the comment section below) so that we can support you and you can deepen your commitment to your goal.

Thanks for taking this pledge with me! We can do it together!

With love and music, Gaili

Check out our awesome books, free sheet music and videos! UpperHandsPiano.com