4/25/11

Getting Motivated

This week I would like to revisit a topic we have discussed before, because it is something that I, personally, (and I am guessing a lot of you, as well, particularly if you are a parent with young children at home!) need constant work on, and is something that is so important to our success as teachers. I'd like to talk about Motivating OURSELVES to Practice.

This is something I struggle with a lot. I really do miss those days of long, uninterrupted practice hours. My current priority as a stay-at-home mom prevents me from achieving anywhere near that much practice time. In fact, there are so many days when my head hits the pillow at night that I haven't even touched the piano.

Ahh, the college days of practicing ALL THE TIME - I do admit that I miss it!
Lately I have been really wanting to change this! I love the piano, I love to practice, and I wanted to find some way to motivate myself and practice consistently (even if that meant only 30 minutes a day!). So, I am kind of a nerd but I ended up finding just the motivation needed for a dollar - I bought a new box of colored pencils, and downloaded a free iPod app, and apparently that was all that I needed! Let me explain:

1 - the colored pencils: In order to really sit down and practice and make some progress and find the joy in playing, for me at least, I really have to practice well. As I am learning a new piece, I write in all the fingerings, mark phrases and important voices, circle dynamic markings, etc. Hence the colored pencils :) This approach works great for me and I love it because I see so much progress, and I am truly able to make some measurable progress in a short amount of time (even if a small child is yelling for Mommy in the background!).

2 - the iPod app: I am so grateful to Anne Crosby Gaudet's post about this amazing free iPod app called Just Practice! It really helped me to organize my practicing and motivate myself to get it done daily. Granted, I am still not perfect and do miss some days, but there is just something about a calendar that says "Today's progress: 0%" that really makes me want to sit down and get it done. I try to practice at night after my son goes to bed, or I find him a fun activity he can do in the room with me for half an hour or so. If I was really good with technology I would share a sound clip with you (which I recorded on Just Practice! - there is a place where you can record yourself playing different pieces and then listen back to them later) of me practicing Chopin's Scherzo No. 2, with my son's little voice in the background, begging me to "turn around and LOOK!!" at something. It kind of makes me smile, and realize the difference between my practicing now and back in college :)

Now tell me.....What inspires you to practice? What tools help you? Are you motivated by a practice chart? By a list? By a timer? By a desire to instill the value of hard work in your students? In your children? In your unborn child (who, in my case, is listening to me practice every day!)? What can you take from your own practicing to use in the lessons you teach your students? What do you learn about practicing that helps teach your students to practice?


Stay tuned for more on this topic this week...including a wonderful guest contributor!


Feel free to take this short survey, or leave a comment below. I'd love to hear your input!


4 comments:

Susan Seale said...

Dear Jenny,
Thank you for the app info. I already have a couple of students in mind who might love this:)

Anne Crosby Gaudet said...

I am on my fourth month with my Just Practice app on my iPad. It's a great tool, but the real motivator for me has been to sign myself up for an exam, which is coming in 2 months.

I find that in the 20 years since grad school there have been years that I practiced a lot and some years that I barely played at all. It's all just part of the journey.

LaDona said...

I teach a lot of advanced students so in order to demonstrate adequately it is imperative that I keep my fingers in shape. Having said that, like Anne said, there are years or months that I practice a lot and then periods that I hardly do at all. Sometimes it's hard to force myself to sit down at the piano, but as soon as I'm there I love it. Human nature, I guess!

Wendy Chan said...

Hi Jenny,
Thanks for this wonderful post. With 2 kids and a considerably heavy teaching schedule, I too am struggling to find the time for practice. Perhaps it’s an excuse because I somehow find the time to blog :)
I make it a point to play at student recitals every year and parents do appreciate that teachers lead by example. It’s been a wonderful experience for me too since I have to set goals to work on my repertoire. This year, I’m going to try recording my performances as I find I’m learning so much from watching the choreography of the movements and listening to my own performance. Thank you for sharing your videos, it’s so motivating to listen to all the wonderful performances that teachers have shared on their blogs.

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