Sunday, September 23, 2012

Starting All Over Again

Welcome back, everyone!  Is it my imagination, or did we skip autumn this year?!

This week I've been thinking a lot about what strength of character it takes to relearn something.  In lessons over the past two weeks I've been encouraging students who lost a bit of what they could previously do at the piano over the summer vacation and are discouraged by how lacking they have found their skills upon returning to lessons.

Sometimes, when all we have in mind is the big picture, the distance we find ourselves from our goal is the only thing we can see.  And when that distance gets slightly bigger, it seems that we are hopelessly heading in the wrong direction.  And then practicing seems frustrating.

But that isn't how our brains work!  Luckily, every time we "relearn" something, we're not starting from scratch AT ALL!  These skills that we've developed stay with us ("like riding a bike") and it is just being able to access these skills smoothly that we need to practice.  And it takes far less time to remember how to access these skills than it does to learn them in the first place.  

I've seen students this month cheerily tackle this, knowing that if they did it once, they can do it again.  Good for you!  I've seen students dramatically get angry with themselves for not living up to their own expectations.  No biggie!  Stomp around a bit!  Go get a cracker and a piece of cheese!  Then take a breath and come back to the piano - your brain has been practicing that whole time anyway!  I've also seen students retreat from the piano and their normally ebullient selves when faced with the daunting and disappointing task of relearning something.  It's okay.  It isn't YOU.  We just need to remind your hands of our expectations and give them a little practice before we go around thinking they can just do this miraculous thing on command! 

So, do me a favor this month.  Trust me and relax.  Let's practice together in lessons and find those skills again that I know you have!  We'll do all the work together - all you have to do at home is check in on your hands every day just to keep reminding them of what they learned in lesson.

Happy Practicing!  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Summer Contest 2012 - Results!

Wow - you guys are creative!  I had a lot of fun watching everyone's entries into this summer's contests.  There is a winner and a runner up for each one.

I'm pleased to announce that the winner of the COMPOSITION contest is Mary, who demonstrated with her composition (titled "composition2013") great understanding of musical structure and style.

The runner up of the COMPOSITION contest is Jerecho, who used the steady beat, performance poise, dynamics and technique that he learned during his last year of piano study to play us "Thunder-Clap."

While composing is a noble skill, sometimes you just have to be goofy.  There was a contest this summer to showcase the goofy side I get to see of all of you in lessons on a weekly basis!  I'm pleased to announce that the winner of the CIRCUS CONTEST this year is Pauline.  Her humorous use of a balancing routine while still incorporating beauty and accuracy in her performance won her first prize.

And the runner up of the CIRCUS CONTEST is Anne Marie, who chose a very difficult skill to demonstrate her daring abilities at the piano!

Congratulations to all of you!

I must say that it was difficult to choose winners in these competitions, and I couldn't have done it alone.  Everyone's entries were worth sharing multiple times and each time I watched, I was reminded of why I teach piano.  Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who participated, and let's goof around with composition and circus tricks more in lessons this fall!  Deal?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Pauline has been working HARD!

Congratulations to Pauline, who has worked really hard this spring to put some more advanced repertoire in her cache.  She's a level 2 kid now, but keep an eye on her - she'll be moving on again before you know it!

Congratulations, Pauline!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cole - On to Bigger and Better Pieces!

Congratulations to Cole on completing his Music Tree Book 1.  He is now in Book 2 and we can't wait to see what it has in store for him!  If you see him, give him a high five, because he has worked patiently and with focus to get to where he is in his piano study today!

Congratulations, Cole!