Saturday, May 15, 2010

One Step at a Time

Baby Steps. We have heard it so many times - when you are overwhelmed, take baby steps. When you can’t see the end of the work you’re tasked with, take baby steps. If you feel you aren’t succeeding, notice the baby steps!

When I woke up this morning I thought, “This is what I want to do: an hour and a half of yoga, go running when the thunderstorms clear, cook a delicious vegetarian dinner for a friend for tonight, memorize three French pieces for a performance on Sunday, practice the piano for an hour besides that, walk my dog, write and mail postcards to friends I haven’t seen in a while, teach inspiringly for five hours sending each student home excited about what he/she is working on, write a blog posting, check out what my friends are doing on Facebook, oh - and shower and get dressed!” And this is AFTER I had pared down my real goals to ones that are clearly more practical.

By tonight though, when I’m having a glass of wine and enjoying whatever dish I came up with to make with a good pianist friend of mine, I’ll be able to tell her that I did 15 minutes of yoga, put off running until tomorrow, practiced those three French pieces, ran through the rest of my repertoire, walked the dog to the mailbox reminding myself that one of these days I want to write to my friends, taught for five hours with hopefully at least one moment of inspiration in each lesson, and yes, checked in on Facebook.

I will not be disappointed.

I’m thinking about this today because of a lesson I taught last night. A student of mine has reached the age where baby steps are well, just too babyish! We can easily tell a six-year-old how proud we are of her for being able to play two notes legato. It is sometimes hard as an older child or adult though to hear that someone is proud of you for learning a three chord sequence when the entire rest of the piece sits in front of you - daunting in its size, composed of how many baby steps?! But it worked out for us - this week.

After eighteen minutes of practicing together - my student got the three-chord passage. Hurrah! And you know what? As it turns out, that is
all that was left for him to learn of that piece. We celebrated by playing the whole piece together. Looking back on that last baby step, that had such huge results, was satisfying.
Take some time this week to look back on what you and your child have accomplished together. It is amazing! It is worth celebrating! And then focus on the next step - and keep it small!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Suzuki-Trained Brains

There are so many wonderful things that your children are getting from studying music and I am not always as articulate about it as I’d like to be, but I LOVE watching these abilities develop in your children. Here is an article that talks about some of that in a much clearer way. Read it, pass it on, and watch and enjoy your childrens’ successes!

Playing Along with the Mozart Effect, L.A. Times, 2010