Julia Pinckney Jones
What's your New Year's Resolution?
Welcome back everyone! We're so proud of all your hard work in 2019, and we're thrilled to get started with 2020 - it's going to be a great year, with lots of music making!
Do you have any music related New Year's Resolutions? I've found that the resolutions we'll actually keep are specific and quantifiable. For example, if your resolution is "to play more music," how will you know if you've succeeded? More than last year, sure, but did you actually keep track of exactly how much you played last year? Most of us don't (although you can actually track that right here on the website by logging your practice time on your homepage!)
Here are some resolutions that you might actually keep:
Practice for "x" amount of time, "y" number of times per week. Most people have the best results if they practice several times per week (even for a shorter time) rather than fewer times per week for a longer time. So if you practice 100 minutes per week, you'll likely have more success practicing 5 times for 20 minutes than you will if you practice once for an hour and forty minutes. This sort of resolution is specific and easy to track. Make a practice chart (or I'll give you one) and check off when you practice, and for how long. It may be hard to get started, but you'll see the payoff in better playing, more interesting pieces (as you improve) and ultimately, "practicing" becomes "playing" and it's actually FUN!
Learn a new piece every week/2 weeks/month (whatever works for you!) These pieces don't necessarily need to be hard, challenging pieces, but taking music lessons is really about learning how to learn new music, so why don't we set that as a goal! You'll still have some pieces that take a long time to perfect, but you can give yourself the satisfaction of picking up a new piece and figuring it out for yourself!
Memorize all the notes on the staff (or maybe all of them out to 2 or 3 ledger lines!) One of the things that slows down elementary/early intermediate students is that they have to figure out all the notes each time they start a new song, maybe using one or two "landmark notes" and counting up or down. While memorizing things isn't the most exciting task in the world, imagine how easy it will be to get started on your next piece if you can immediately say "treble clef, fourth line - that's a D!" If you put your mind to it, you can "keep this resolution" within a few weeks at most!
Memorize my pieces once I've learned them. Being able to play a piece "from memory" activates different parts of your brain than playing from the music, and it's really good for you! Not to mention that knowing a song "by heart" impresses those that hear it!
Sightread/Sight sing something every day. This is mine, and I'm sharing it to be accountable to all of you! Check up on me! I wish I'd done this sooner because my sight reading (especially for piano) is not very good! But since I can't go back in time to do it, I'm going to start now! Not necessarily a whole song, and certainly not a hard song (not yet anyway) but I'm going to pick up a book and try to play something every day that I haven't seen before. Again, this can be the first step of learning new songs, and while it's not the only way, it's a great tool to have!
There are any number of music related goals you're only a bit of practice away from achieving... just make them specific and quantifiable, and then be accountable for them - invite people to help you stick with them!
All the best for a very musical 2020! See you next week!