If you are an adult starting piano lessons for the first time, you are probably a fairly high achiever with the desire to understand everything about piano playing and notation, like, yesterday. You question your posture and your hand position and the notes on the page and, oh yeah, "what did my teacher say I was suppose to do in this spot - get louder or get softer?” You finally start playing and hope that it, at least, vaguely sounds like its suppose to. You anxiously wait for your next lesson to find out.
But what if you already, intuitively, knew what it was suppose to sound like? What if you didn’t need to wait until you saw your teacher? What if you could self correct, right now? What if you could rely on the sound you heard to tell you whether your hand position was working or not? You CAN, if you practice listening. One of the most important, enjoyable, easy and often missed essential elements of practicing the piano is listening. This is why we, at South Loop Piano Lessons, have added Musical Field Trips to our adult curriculum. Every couple months we select an event that we believe is especially relevant and fun. You have the opportunity to attend with us and practice listening.
Attending a concert is similar to a writer reading many books in order to become a better writer. You, the pianist, attend concerts to learn, through observation and listening, how to become a better player. As you listen, consider things like: What do you like or don't like? What do you want to replicate or not? Its important to ask yourself questions like these as you listen. It tunes your ear and helps you, intuitively, begin to know what you want your music to sound like.
Consider these additional questions when you attend your next concert:
Please join us for out next field trip on Sunday, January 28th at 4pm for Piano Forte (1335 S Michigan) Foundation's annual Schubertiade, a celebration of Franz Schubert's life and music. We will enjoy the performance of "Die Schöne Müllerin", a song cycle based on the poems by Wilhelm Müller for piano and voice. It is considered one of Schubert's most important works and is widely performed.
We hope you will attend this performance with us and ask yourself the questions we suggested above. We will be there to help you along the way!
"I missed more than 9000 shots in my career
I've lost almost 300 games
26 times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot
I've failed over and over again in my life
And that is why I succeed"
What is it that enables Michael Jordan to keep bouncing back in the face of major failures, minor setbacks, sharp criticism and challenges?
What it is - you have too!
His Mindset…and loads of practice, of course! Today we're going to examine his mindset:
According to Stanford Professor Carol Dweck's book: Mindset, the New Psychology of Success , Michael Jordan has what is known as a Growth Mindset. It enables him to enthusiastically take on new challenges, effectively maneuver through failure and grow from rejection. The opposite of a Growth Mindset is called a Fixed Mindset.
Growth or Fixed -
The one YOU have will determine the challenges you take on the amount of effort you put in,
the way you handle failure, and how you feel about yourself and your practice.
Are you beginning to see how your Mindset can affect your Music?
Learning to play music on an instrument can be hard. Sometimes we just don't feel up to the challenge of a new piece. Its so much easier and safer for our ego to keep playing what we know. Sometimes it takes 100s of repetitions to get something correct but, often, after about 25, we're convinced we just can't do it and, probably, never will. Sometimes, our very own family buys into this belief and demand relief from the painful sound of our repeated failed attempts leaving us feeling utterly rejected.
I remember when I first started learning to play scales. I was determined to practice and practice until I got it. Up and down my fingers ran over and over and over again until my father cried out for "peace and quiet" so he could enjoy his dinner. Not understanding the stresses of adulthood, I was totally deflated and never did practice my scales as hard again.
Sometimes we get so despondent about our failed attempts, the new challenges and the criticism that we give up completely. Often I talk to students, like these, years later and they tell me how much they wished they had kept going. Fortunately, they have a 2nd chance and often start as adults.
Like Michael Jordan, we have numerous opportunities to fail. Also like Michael Jordan, we can choose to utilize a Growth Mindset and keep our fingers and voices bouncing along until we score big with the ability to enjoy music making the rest of our lives.
So how do we grow a Growth Mindset and which one are we starting with - Growth or Fixed?
Here is a simple quiz to help you figure out which one you're starting. Are you starting with a mostly Growth Mindset or a Fixed Mindset - One that will help you or hinder you? Circle a or b for each question.
In our next article, we'll give you 4 simple steps for growing your Growth Mindset.
NOTE: much of this article was adapted from Carol Dweck's book: Mindset, the New Psychology of Success.
We highly recommend it!
There are many parallels between how your child learns to talk and how she or he learns to sing. These processes happen organically. Although it takes several years for a child to move from babbling to saying words to speaking two-word sentences, she passes through all these stages in a seemingly effortless way; she seems to know how to teach herself these skills through imitation and practice.
At first many of her efforts are difficult to understand: "dog" may sound like "daw", for example, and grammatical errors are common. But gradually, by about the age of three or four, your child's speech becomes both intelligible and correct.
It's important for parents to recognize that musical growth also occurs in stages. Children pass through a "music babble" stage in which their movements and sounds don't necessarily seem truly musical - they are off the beat and not quite in tune. Over time, through observation and imitation, your child gradually aligns her music expression with the on-beat and in-tune models she experiences.
You, as the parent, instinctively translate your child's language attempts and offer a lot of support. Your child says "Ba," and you may ask, "Do you want a bottle?" You help shape your child's language experience through your interest and invovlement. But you may worry that you won't know how to recognize or suport emerging music behaviors.
It's simple! The best way to support musical growth is to engage in music activity. Listen to a variety of styles. Attend the free concerts at Millennium Park. Keep encouraging and celebrating your child's efforts to move and vocalize, even though it may take a while for you to see the connection between what he is doing and the music. Remember that a certain amount of physical maturation - and a lot of playful "practice" - is necessary before your child can learn to sing in tune and move with accurate rhythm. The more your child develops musically, the more fun and ease he'll have learning to play the piano, guitar, drums, sing or whatever else he chooses.
This blog is about how to become the best musician you can become - whether you are a parent nurturing a young child or an adult facilitating your own musical growth. We will answer frequently asked questions and cover practical topics that catapult the enthusiastic student into a life-long love of making music at the piano.
Some topics that will be explored are:
Early Childhood Music
How to create a musical child from birth?
What age is the best age to start piano lessons?
Suzuki Piano Lessons
What's so special about Suzuki Piano Lessons
Will my child learn to read if they study Suzuki Piano?
Skype Piano Lessons in your Home
What are the Pros & Cons
How does it work?
Piano Technique & Musicality
The Athletic side of creating great music at the piano.
10 Easy Exercises you can do in 5 min to improve your Piano Playing.
How do I play music that speaks to people
Performance and Preparation
How to prepare for your first performance.
How to have the best piano performing experience of your life.
How to get your first gig.
Music and Public Speaking
How your understanding of music can help you in public speaking.
Musical Coaching for Public Speakers
Please feel free to suggest additional topics that you believe would be helpful.