Mary WilliamsPiano Studio

What Are We Doing?

How much time do you spend checking your email on your iPhone? How much time do you spend searching for your long-forgotten friends on Facebook? How much time do you spend watching your favorite television show, tivo or no tivo?

The answer: a lot. It’s amazing that we human beings ever get anything done nowadays. Sure, we no longer need to plow the fields or handwash our linens, but still, there seems to never be enough time in the day.

Recently I was having dinner with a musician friend of mine, and he said that his trumpet playing was not as good as it should be because he just seems to be so busy lately. Suddenly this image came to mind of him rocking out on a plastic guitar while staring at a tv blasting Guns ‘N Roses. Come to think of it, this is how I remember him spending many of his evenings. So I couldn’t help but think, ‘Wow. If you spent half of your Guitar Hero time into your real instrument time, you would be virtuosic!’

But of course I didn’t tell him this. And I couldn’t. Personally, I prefer Rock Band, because for me playing the drums is so much more entertaining than the guitar. But video games aside, I really started to analyze how I spend my time.

For me, my brain can only do certain things at certain times of the day. Take practicing the piano. Mornings and only mornings. Ask me to sit down and try to learn a passage of a Chopin nocturne past noon, and results will be minimal. But at the same time, I do my best composing at night. Both practicing and composing are musical tasks, but for me, each has its own time of day.

And I have found that doing things in small increments can be very beneficial. Think about checking your email. It’s kind of nice to check your email for about fifteen minutes, but if you had to do it for an hour it would become a chore. I find this is true with playing the piano. If I find myself working on a piece for too long, my mind starts to wander, and I end up wasting time.

So I’ve come to think that there is enough time in the day, if we can find out how to use it correctly. And everyone’s brain works differently, so a routine might work for some that does not work for others.

So we must experiment. Do you love your DS? Well guess what -- Just because you are taking piano lessons does not mean you need to give up your gaming for piano practicing. When you find yourself working endlessly on a difficult musical passage, and can’t seem to make headway, get out your game, veg for fifteen minutes, and come back to the piano after you’ve let off some virtual steam.

How do I break up my practice time? I take Skip for a walk. Which kills three birds with one stone: 1) A much needed piano break, 2) Exercise, 3) Dog Walk. And we all get what we want. All in one day.