Practicing

2005, 2015

On the Spot: Czerny and the Role of Improvisation in Classical Piano Education

By |May 20, 2015|Improvisation, Memorization, Music School, Practicing, Preparing to Perform, Talent, Teaching|

Thank you so much for your patience as I finished up a busy semester! As my first post back, I thought I’d share one of the things I was up to while I was gone. Below you’ll find my music history research paper. It’s kind of long for a blog post, so I’ve included an abstract too. Enjoy!

Abstract:
Throughout his career as a piano instructor, Carl Czerny emphasized teaching improvisation, an art that may have contributed to the harmonic understanding, technical development, and musical memory of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century pianists. Improvising publicly was common practice during Czerny’s life. His treatise on […]

1502, 2015

Finding Motivation to Practice

By |February 15, 2015|Expectations, Motivation, Music School, Practicing, Preparing to Perform, Work Ethic|

Are you having one of those days? Are you looking for every possible reason why you don’t actually have to practice today. I can relate. Sometimes the biggest challenge is just finding the motivation to practice. So what do we do when we don’t feel like practicing?

1) Just start

If you just start practicing, you’ll often notice that you want to finish what you’ve begun. Once you’ve started, it’s much easier to keep practicing longer.

2) Plan to do it first thing in the morning

Having a specific plan for when you practice will help. Often doing it first thing in the morning […]

1801, 2015

Performance Practice (Preparing to Perform – Part 1)

By |January 18, 2015|Performing, Practicing, Preparing to Perform|

Performing in a concert or recital involves 3 basic steps:
1) Practicing (preparing the music itself)
2) Practicing performing
3) Performing

Since it can be difficult to practice performing without just performing, we often skip step 2.

If our performance practice is limited to the performances we do throughout the year, however, we’re setting ourselves up for inconsistent performances and years of practice before reaching our goals.

I’d like to share a few strategies I’ve learned to use as performance practice before every concert or recital.

1) Simulate Nerves

a) Get your heart rate up (run up and down the stairs or do jumping jacks)

b) Record yourself […]

401, 2015

5 Characteristics of Good Private Music Teachers

By |January 4, 2015|Expectations, Practicing, Teaching|

This post is intended to serve as a helpful guide for parents and students looking for teachers, but I also hope it helps inspire teachers to continue pursuing growth in these areas. These are some of the goals I’m working toward in my own teaching.

Good private music teachers . . .

1) Have Teaching Experience

No matter how amazing people are as performers, if they can’t teach, then students won’t be able to benefit from their skill. If you’re seeking lessons for a young child, do they work well with kids? The amount of teaching experience of even an excellent musician can […]

2112, 2014

Mental Memory: 7 Strategies to Engage the Muscle of the Mind

By |December 21, 2014|Memorization, Performing, Practicing, Teaching|

We all hate that moment in the middle of a performance, or even before it starts, when we just go blank. We find it frustrating when we can play a piece well but memory gets in the way of a beautiful performance. How do we prepare to prevent that from happening?

As a kid I didn’t understand the concept of memorizing music. By the time my teacher asked me to memorize something, I already had it memorized. That was easy! If I played it enough times, it was in my fingers. But I was depending solely on muscle memory, an important […]

2311, 2014

Expectations and Why They’re Such a Big Deal

By |November 23, 2014|Expectations, Practicing, Teaching, Work Ethic|

It’s amazing how expectations affect us! If I expect someone to invite me to something, I’m deeply hurt when he or she doesn’t. If I don’t, I’m elated to receive an invitation. If I expect something of myself, I’m frustrated when I can’t fulfill it. If people I care about expect things of me, I’m inspired to please them. Expectations are powerful! We should consider how to use them as tools in our music studies.

Using Expectations as a Student

As a student, setting expectations for ourselves is extremely beneficial. How long and how often do you expect yourself to practice? This […]

911, 2014

Work Ethic: The Impact of Another Culture on My Music Education

By |November 9, 2014|Expectations, Melody's Story, Practicing, Work Ethic|

My mom grew up in a charismatic Christian family in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She moved to the United States to marry my dad, who grew up in a Mennonite family in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. This interesting combination created a unique family culture. I grew up in Ithaca, New York. I was affected by the American culture around me, my mom’s Argentinian culture, and most of all our faith in Jesus. My mom and dad, but my mom especially, instilled in their kids the priority of work, teaching diligence and responsibility. I am so thankful!

When I started piano lessons, my teacher told […]

2610, 2014

Practice or Talent: Which is More Important?

By |October 26, 2014|Melody's Story, Practicing, Talent|

What My Teaching Experience Shows

When considering the study of music, a question often comes up. How important is natural talent? I have had the opportunity of teaching some incredibly talented kids. One thing I’ve learned from my teaching experience is that the diligent students who sometimes struggle and don’t seem to have much natural ability pretty quickly pass the talented students who are less disciplined about their practice. When it comes to becoming an excellent musician, practice far outweighs talent.

What My Personal Experience Shows

I wouldn’t call myself someone with much natural ability. I love music, and I work hard. That’s […]

1210, 2014

5 Skills to Develop Before Music School

By |October 12, 2014|Melody's Story, Music School, Practicing, Teaching, Work Ethic|

I’ve been blessed with incredible piano teachers that have prepared me wonderfully for music school. But music is such a huge field, and there’s only so much you can cover in 30 minutes or even 1 hour per week. Teachers must prioritize and decide how to best use the small amounts of time they have. I’ve faced this challenge weekly for years, and still haven’t figured it out. Obviously, as private instrument teachers, the main goal is to teach performance of the instrument. We want to work on pieces with our students. Most piano teachers also find it incredibly important […]

1409, 2014

Practice vs. Play: The Constant Struggle For Efficient Practice

By |September 14, 2014|Music School, Practicing, Teaching, Work Ethic|

My violinist friend and her pianist sister finish playing a short piece for their family’s friends. Making music together is so much fun! “It must be so wonderful having kids who play instruments!” their guests tell my friends’ parents. Their parents look at each other, thinking, “This isn’t what they sound like for hours every day . . . there’s a big difference between playing and practicing.” At least there should be.

Learning to Practice
Have you ever considered that you or your students need to learn to practice? We want to learn to perform, of course, but in order to do […]