Note to Readers: The blog on another webpage is geared toward parents of piano students who are children. But piano students who are still in primary school, middle school, or high school sometimes want helpful tips just for them. So – TA DA! – here is a webpage for my piano students who are not yet adults.
For the student: You will not find too many tips on the technicalities of reading piano music or playing your piano pieces and technical exercises. That is what your lessons are for, after all. But you will find some helpful information on your teacher’s expectations, parents’ expectations, your attitude; what to do when everything used to be easy (but it isn’t now); coping with a busy schedule, and other useful information.
1) When Life Makes You Busy
(for high school students, mostly. But if you are younger and have to cope with a nonstop schedule of activities – and your parent no longer provides a lot of “hands on” supervision – this entry is for you, too!)
Just a little note (pun intended!) of encouragement as you enter this very busy time of school, sports, work, and whatever else it is you do. I remember being extremely busy with all sorts of responsibilities in high school and college and beyond. Trying to figure out how to get everything done was a constant challenge. It is the downside of being motivated and capable: we wind up doing a lot!
Here are some tips I learned along the way:
Breathe. I think breathing is the most important thing. We need oxygen to function properly. If we forgot to breathe, it is much harder to think and do. Eating somewhat healthy foods and getting some sleep helps, too. So does ice cream.
Make a List. On extremely busy days, make a written list of everything you have to get done. It is easy to think we will remember it all, but inevitably, something gets left off the mental list, and then we rush at the last minute to do what we finally remember. (Or we remember at 3 a.m. when it is too late to do much about what we forgot to do earlier.)
Do Small First. You can get a lot of small things accomplished in a half hour. Don’t put off what can be done now. You will also feel less overwhelmed when all that small stuff is crossed off your to-do list.
Chunk It Up. Break seemingly big projects into much smaller tasks. Learning piano music is a good example. Here’s why: You will learn and remember a lot more by reviewing a section of music ten minutes at a time, three times a week than you will trying to learn that section in one half hour session. (This is also a good tip for when you have to memorize stuff for school).
Be Creative. Be creative about finding time to get things done. I remember doing high school calculus homework during the intermission of a concert I attended. It was the only time available for that endeavor, unless I wanted to miss the concert and just do the math at home.
Remember to Stop. Know when you are done – either because you have finished your task or because you have reached your limit on what you can accomplish right now – and stop doing it. It is as easy to overdo as it is to underdo.
Get an Assist. Ask for help when you need help. There is no point struggling on your own when someone can help make your life easier.
Feel good about your accomplishments. Many times, no one else will applaud when you have done what you have to do. So give yourself a round of applause! (And maybe some ice cream.) And breathe.