As autumn approaches each year, I feel the same surge of excitement I felt when I was a kid in school. September has always been the time for new beginnings: new classes, new clothes, new school supplies, new projects, the bountiful fall harvest, and the gradual drawing back within our homes and ourselves as the climate cools. Besides loving the stunning colors of fall I enjoy the quiet time between the busy summer and holiday seasons because it can be an optimal time for focus and intention. If you are like me, “more piano practice” has always been at the top of my fall to-do list. Let me tell you a little bit about my early experiences with piano lessons…
I started taking piano lessons when I was 5 years old with Mrs. Dorothea Waite every Thursday at 6:30, in her dank, dark living room. Her talkative Siamese cat Wolfie (named after Mozart) was a source of great distraction as I tried to stall off playing my pieces for as long as possible. That’s because, even though I loved music and loved playing the piano, I hated practicing, and it showed at every lesson.
Why is it that we love to play the piano yet we hate to practice? For me there were several things that made practicing a drudge. For one thing, my family’s piano was located in our living room which had a nested door at its threshold. Every time I started to play I would hear the door’s scraping sound as someone in my family shut me away from the rest of the house. Another reason I didn’t enjoy practicing was because I was forced to play music that I neither liked nor understood. (That’s one of the main reasons that I became a piano teacher, because I felt so strongly that students should be able to play songs and pieces that they love!) Worst of all, practicing made me face the fact that I had a long way to go before I would gain the mastery over the piano that I desired. But in spite of my suffering I persevered on the piano, and am so glad that I did.
What keeps you from the keys? If you feel that learning to play the piano is an impossible task, let me assure you that I have taught many children as well as adults who have started lessons late in life, and all who stuck with it learned to play beautifully.
If it is a feeling of isolation or wanting to avoid facing a difficult challenge, I have a solution for you! I am launching a new 30-day online support group for students, teachers, and musicians who need a little nudge and a loving community to support your efforts at practicing. It’s called:
PLEDGE TO PLAY: 10 Minutes A Day!
Here’s how it works. You sign up for the program by clicking on the phrase “leave a reply” at the top of this blog post just below the title Pledge to Play…. You will be asked to sign in by typing in your email (which will not be visible to anyone except me, and I will never give out your email to anyone.) You will also type in your first name and last initial (or write in a nickname if you prefer!) It’s completely free and you won’t get any spam. If you don’t mind getting my posts by email (practicing tips and practice motivational messages) click on the bottom bubble below that says you want to get posts delivered to your email. You will then get an email at the address you provided. You can choose the frequency of delivery of my posts, or decline them altogether and just check back at the blog to view the latest practicing tips.
If you commit to sit for 10 minutes every day for 30 days, go to the blog each day or at least once per week and reply with a sentence or two after you play for your 10 minutes. It can be as simple as, “I did it!” Or you can write something you noticed about your progress such as: “Today I was able to play the 2nd and 3rd measures without stopping!” Let your community celebrate with you! You can be honest: “Today it felt difficult, and even 10 minutes seemed long.” We will support your trials as well as your triumphs! But limit your reply to a sentence or two.
When you join our group, I will give you many ideas and incentives for motivation on the blog. Everyone who completes the 30 days will be featured either on my website or in Upper Hands Piano BOOK 3 with a photo of them playing the piano (or will receive a certificate of congratulations if you prefer), and a compilation of the practicing tips I posted during the 30 days. If you post a reply every day you will receive a free Upper Hands Piano book!
First, let me say that you should focus on small goals. Think of improving a small section of a piece you are learning, or some other small goal such as increased flexibility of the 4 and 5 fingers through daily exercises. 10 minutes isn’t very long, but thirty 10-minute sessions add up to 300 minutes (5 hours!!!) of practice by the end of the month. That’s a substantial chunk of time!
We will begin on Sunday September 15th, and keep going until Tuesday October 15th
(OK technically that’s 31 days! So you can take one day off!)
Please join us!
With love and music, Gaili
P.S. Even if you already practice every day, or if you practice more than 10 minutes most days, I hope you’ll join our PLEDGE TO PLAY: 10 Minutes A Day community, and leave a daily or weekly reply about what you are working on. It’s a great way to make sure that you get to the piano EVERY day, it will help you keep track of your progress, and you can be an inspiration to others!