Are you always frustrated with constant practice but not enough improvement in your playing? Do you know you actually have so much more potential to grow and progress? Do you want to play so well that you surprise and surpass your old self (/old teacher) ?
If your answer to all the three questions above is “YES“, then you have come to the right place. (And if you are a parent and you answer “YES” for all the questions as well for your child, you are at the right place too.)
Here is the ultimate solution to change the way you/your child play, to pass the exam you /your child want, and to reach your /your child’s utmost potential.
Go to the ROOT of the cause.
Please honestly answer the two questions below (to yourself obviously, because you owe that to yourself and no one can hear you right now. And for you as a parent, answer honestly what you want for your child):
Why are you (or your child) learning to play the piano?
Now, this might seem to have an obvious answer, but I can tell you it is not really. Some people are taking piano lessons because they feel comfortable doing it – wait, they are not even feeling comfortable, they are scared of going to lessons!- they are used to going to lessons, aka the habit of repeating something over and over again even they don’t feel they are making progress and they are happy (gasp!) playing the piano.
For me, I had a lot of struggles growing up playing (and learning) the piano. It had not always been smooth, but I made my way through it. I am the kind of person who either does it or not do it, and if I decide to do something, I want to get to the bottom of it and understand it. I give my best shot and take away the obstacles along the way. I do not give in. Sometimes I feel frustrated (I do!) but I rest, I pick myself up and I keep going. Nowadays I dwell less on failure/frustration and stay more on the positives, and I believe that is the only way to do it.
So for me, I play the piano because I love it. I teach because I want to help and inspire others. I build the school because I believe in the cause of it. It gives me joy and satisfaction, it gives me purpose. I am not saying it is easy, as a matter of fact, it can be difficult. But I keep going. I have utmost passion for it, and I give my effort and time for it. I believe music is such a wonderful treasure for anyone to enjoy, and I want to help anyone who wants to succeed in it.
But that’s just me. If your reason of playing the piano is reaching the highest level in the shortest time imaginable, go for it. But YOU must WORK for it. Don’t tell me you want something and don’t do the best for it, and then give me all the excuses of not preparing for it and all the limitations you have in your life. I hate to bring it up to you, but there is no free lunch in the jungle? (I know I shouldn’t be so frank, but hey this is 2016, and I really want to be honest here and help you out!) Don’t say “I want this but I am SCARED!”, “I want to get distinction but I have no time for practice!”, “I want to win in the competition but practice is boring!”, “my kid is talented but she is lazy, and I can’t make her practice because she has too much of her own idea and I can’t control her!”, “my kid has too much schoolwork to practice but I want him to win the competition and pass the piano exam this year”, “I want to pass the diploma exam but I don’t want to understand the pieces and writing the programme notes is too DIFFICULT!!”. Great, well, I don’t want to keep repeating myself and say “hey, I told you back in January”. You know what you will get at the end of the year.
Now, Question 2:
What can you do to be successful in achieving your goal?
Defining your goal as specific as possible is the first and the most important step to your success in achieving it. I can tell you too many times I see people wander in their piano journey without understanding what they truly want, and it is indeed heartbreaking to watch.
There are problems deeply rooted in one’s playing waiting to be solved than one can imagine. A lot of players have deep rooted technical issues waiting to be addressed, changed and learnt, yet they spend awful lot of time trying to learn the new repertoire without solving these issues (and truly understanding the music language). The result is depressing – too little progress and too much time wasted. I always talk about time management in practice and learning, put more time in building your craft and learning the language than merely going through the motions and covering things on the surface. Only the smart ones listen and work hard (and smart!), and I see them progress and move forward /(play) so fast, soaring with joy and satisfaction…
That is why one must have a great teacher who understands and knows his or her craft, who teaches not to stroke his or her own ego but wants to teach and truly cares – about the student’s playing and well-being. Find someone who can help and inspire you. At the same time, take away your own ego as well, and truly listen. If you have the right kind of teacher, whatever the teacher says is going/trying to help you. Listen with open ears and more importantly, an open heart. Be open-minded to accept new ideas, new ways of learning, new ways of practice and playing. Work on your new solutions and work them hard. Don’t give up so easily. Nothing is gained with little effort, time, patience and belief. And if you can’t listen to your teacher and find him/her helpful anymore, it may be time to find someone else whom you can.
BE HONEST WITH YOUR TEACHER. Tell your teacher what you want (/for your child). It seems simple but frankly I find lots of people don’t tell the truth. This goes back to the first question, which you must give yourself the ultimate answer. You must know what you want at the piano. Then you can take this with you to your teacher. Discuss your problem/goal.WORK TOGETHER FOR YOU (/YOUR CHILD). And the right teacher would do that for you, because that is what a real teacher does and wants.
Sometimes in life (or a lot of the times), there are things we don’t want to do but we must do them in order to progress and succeed. The same goes for piano playing. You can say “scales are boring” yet they are important not only in crafting your technical skills but also in passing your exam! You can say “but the kids are very busy” yet if you want them to be truly competent at the piano and get a real music education from the lessons and enjoy it for the rest of their lives (if Mother Nature forbids), then please make sure to put in “piano practice” in their busy schedule. I can see sometimes the kids actually want to play better however there is little time (and energy!) left for them to improve their skills at the piano and gain more knowledge in music. How sad the wonderful kids’ talent and passion are wasted.
Now take a moment and answer the two questions. Really sit down and think about the deeper cause of things. There is a reason why you have invested all this time and money and effort but you don’t get what you want. Do you want to get to where you want to be in this piano journey, and are you willing to work for it?
The options are all yours.