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I just wanted to share a few thoughts about managing your practice time. Practicing the piano can be an overwhelming task if we don’t have specific goals in mind. There can be so much to think about that we can actually practice but not get anything accomplished. Should we learn scales, arpeggios, chords, improvisation, learn songs, or sightread music? This answer is Yes, but we have to have long term as well as short term goals. I believe the best thing we can do is to think of specific short term goals and do them daily. Get a notebook! write out the plan for the day, and make it a realistic goal. For instance, take this example from Blues volume 3. Learn it and really focus in. If you are more experienced, try to play it in different keys. Once you do this and check it off the list, you will build confidence. The more we focus in on our practice time the better we get at music, and at practicing. The result is that you get better faster with more enjoyment! So, have fun with this example and get something done today!
Bob Taylor

One thought on “Practicing to get better!

  1. Good post! To piggy back and reinforce your comment, I have found that many musicians limit their abilities because they really don’t know HOW to practice. Their time in the woodshed isn’t really productive because they get distracted. My background is in high performance mindsets, or simply put…The Zone. I’ve worked with many ‘performers’ be it sports, corporations, education, military, first responders, music, etc., and I have realized that there are certain characteristics that are inherent and relevant in distinguishing the nuance of ‘GOOD and GREAT’. That nuance is clarity Clarity is power…the more clear you are, the more powerful you are. So, in music for example, a lack of clarity about your practice goals and routines, the less powerful you will be. Over time that lack of clarity will start to manifest in frustration and lack of confidence in your playing.

    I say, “Achievement isn’t about Mind Over Matter; you just can’t wish that are great. Achievement is about Matter Over Mind…if what you want MATTERs enough, you won’t MIND what you have to do to make it happen!” If you are frustrated with your playing or learning progress, then perhaps getting better doesn’t MATTER enough at this point, to change your mindset about what you have to do. And that’s the other side of the coin. HOW do I change my mindset to create new habits and patterns, effective and efficient patterns, that inspire me and move me toward my intended goals. I suggest, as Bob reinforces, understand that it is a process, and allow yourself to BE patient and be OKAY with small chunks and incremental, manageable choices in you practice routines. I believe that the greatest distraction in obtaining and sustaining good progressive performance abilities is, EXPECTATIONS, Stress and frustration is the result of thinking something should be, different from what it really is. To reduce the stress or frustration in you practice, reduce the expectations you have about it. Again, if improving matters enough to you, you will want to ‘design’ the perfect routines that motivate not frustrate. Clarity is power. Get clear about what you want and design a plan to achieve it. Make it realistic and achievable within a realistic time frame. My favorite words of wisdom are, “Notice What You Notice!” it means be aware of what you want and notice if you are getting closer or further away from it. Then, notice what you have to do or change to get back into the zone.

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