Monthly Archives: January 2017


Progress, Not Perfection

“Practice Makes Perfect!”

That is a phrase I heard many times in my past. That is a phrase I lived by when pursuing my A.R.C.T diploma for RCM. It’s a phrase I threw out at my students to encourage them to aim for higher and better.

Now, I have a different opinion on it.

While I still believe practice is integral to improving, I don’t believe “perfect” should be the goal of music lessons. When I was younger, this idea of perfectionism haunted me through performances, exams, and competitions. Nothing ever felt good enough.  As hours of practice piled on, I improved my technical skills drastically, but lost the reward of enjoying playing the piano.

Most people understand and believe that nothing is perfect, so aiming for perfection is futile. However, the problem is deeper than this. Most people who aim for “perfect” also understand this general concept. What they are really aiming for is being the best they can be at every moment.  While this type of intentional living can win awards and dazzle audiences, it can also leave an empty hole after each perfection. What comes after perfect? How can you ever be better than perfect? At what price does someone pay to internally compete with thousands in their own head? With music, the journey to perfection never ends.

Progress, Not Perfection

What those musicians, and myself, are really looking for, is progress. We want to continually grow and develop. We want to feel like our actions (practice) are translating into tangible results.  Instead of setting perfect as a goal , which can be exhausting to chase, we can set progress as a goal. Instead of seeking a standardized result, we can chase after we want for our own growth.

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Review of “Music Lessons Teach Discipline and Dedication”

Hi Everyone,

Today I will reviewing the article “Music Lessons Teach Discipline and Dedication” by Top Ten Reviews. This article details why piano lessons may have a positive effect towards children’s views on discipline and dedication.

Dedication of Piano Practice

The article states that in order to improve at any skill, a person must commit to a regularly scheduled training session for a specific amount of time. In a child’s life, this is often not introduced until music lessons. The article notes that this practice, is what sets the blueprints to attitudes towards higher education and career when it comes to discipline. Along with discipline, comes the ability to focus on one task at a time, and learn delayed gratification.

A Personal Account

As someone who went through 16 years of piano lessons, I thoroughly resonate with these. While I also clearly remember the struggle of maintaining regular practice times, as well as discourse with my parents who enforced it, I also understand that it was that 1 hour practice everyday that led me to play the piano at an advanced level. If I practiced one hour every day, that means I practiced a total of 7 hours in a week. To reflect, I now realize that I am likely to improve at anything  I spend 7 hours a week doing. If I wanted to improve on my health, I know that spending 1 hour everyday working on my health would have long-term effect. If I wanted to improve on my speaking, I know that spending 1 hour everyday practicing speaking would help induce improvement.

This practice has leaked over to other areas of my life. In University, this ability helped break large tasks in manageable chunk. I found this to be way more effective than cramming the night before the due date. In my work, I know that all quality work requires time and attention.

The article does not speak about the benefits of lower stress due to discipline. By consistently work on improving and building projects, I experience less anxiety over procrastination, deadlines, and lack of progress.

While piano lessons are not the only way for a child to build discipline and focus, it certaintly is one of the more fun ones.

 

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In-Home Piano Lessons (The Guidelines)

In-home piano lessons are very convenient for busy parents who can catch up on their work while listening to their child learn the piano. The challenge is to create a comfortable and productive environment for the student to have the best piano experience. Here are some guidelines of optimal in-home piano lessons.

The Piano

The piano should be an upright acoustic piano, grand piano, or a weighted piano keyboard with a sustain pedal. The weighted keys portion of the keyboard is important as it is integral to teaching the student the correct finger strength required to play the piano. Otherwise, they may find the grand piano at the recital to be unfamiliar!

The piano/keyboard should be tuned (at least once a year), and have the ability to create dynamics (a range of soft sounds to loud sounds).

There should be no unnecessary paperwork, books or decorations on top of the piano, as it is a distraction to the student and teacher.

The Lesson Area

For optimal results, please vacate the lesson area to give the student and teacher privacy. Parents of young students are welcomed to watch, but should refrain from commentary unless it is a special circumstance. The lesson area should be free of toys, or other possible distractions. An uncluttered setting allows the student to focus on the piano.

If the piano bench is large enough for both the student and the teacher, there is no need for an extra chair. If the piano bench is small, please provide a chair that is on the similar height as the piano bench.  EN Music Studio recommends a nearby table for composition exercises.

The Student

For optimal results, please dress the student as if they are heading to a studio to take lessons. This helps the student visualize that they are at a lesson, not being entertained at home.

If necessary, the student should eat before the lesson, and not during.

Siblings who are also taking piano lessons should vacate the area to minimize distractions.

 

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Take piano lessons with Eric here