One measure is enough – stay focused!


Over the weekend, I went right out and picked up some potted flowers and some soil, some birdseed for the bird feeder, a brand-new hummingbird feeder (I hear they need all the nutrition we can help them out with this year) and a small side table to accent my outside patio chairs in case I needed a cold beverage one day while I was out there in all of this craved sunshine. You too may have been thinking it’s time to get the patio in an ‘enjoy the warmer weather’ mode! Being who I am, I had many, many plans of what had to happen (right now!) in order to make our patio as enjoyable as I envisioned in my mind and, and naturally, you guessed it, I was going to make this all ‘patio ambiance improvement’ happen today! No sense in waiting another minute! The sun was out!! My enthusiasm was so contagious that my husband was completely on board with this outside fun and patio improvement plan and even offered to come with me to the flower store. Success! We got home, and carried multiple containers of flowers to the patio, several bags of new planting soil, the new little accent table and a new pair of gardening gloves. I took the hummingbird feeder into the kitchen and looked up how to make hummingbird nectar. I started my ‘nectar’ and went and got the birdseed dispenser off of the patio where it had been hanging all winter. We had all of the tools to transform the patio into a secondary living space for the next few months!

We were so engrossed with our patio plan that we failed to glance into the sky at all, so we were a little bummed to say the least, when it started raining. Not innocent lovely rain we all need for our grass, but the kind of rain that quickly turns to slushy snow. *Heavy Sigh!* So next, we fast-tracked our project and started to attempt to preserve all of our new outside ‘finds’. We quickly hustled all of the new pots of flowers, the new little accent table, and all of the bags of soil and a soggy pair of new gardening gloves into shelter from this surprising change in the weather, which in this case, was my kitchen counter. Abort mission. Abort mission! We had become completely distracted with what we had hoped to achieve quickly, (and entire patio overhaul) and failed to be aware of what was happening around us (the weather) and with our distraction, we were unable to accomplish our goal. Now had we had a simple focused goal, like ‘pick up some flowers’ we could have called our adventure successful. Truth be told we still called it successful, but I’m here to tell you that the weather has not cooperated since, and my kitchen is still full of flowers! No telling when we will be able to get this patio set up with our weather outlook as of late. And of course this got me thinking, about focused simple goals, and that great feeling of success when I accomplish them!

Piano practice time rolls around every day for me. From time to time, I have very lofty piano goals! What I’m learning though is that I have to be very gracious with myself and sometimes, and gentle with my goals. Let me admit that my piano goals are fluid. And what I mean by this is that I change my piano goals from time to time, on an ‘as needed basis. For instance, I recently changed my piano practice goal to five days a week rather than trying to hold myself to the standard of every day. Why did I do this you may wonder? I do this because I’m in the process of learning the piano for the long haul. I’ve readily accepted the fact that there is so much to learn, I could study the rest of my life and not get to nearly half of the information. And then I have to weigh my life outside of the piano. There are many things I am involved with and I have to fit piano into the parts of my days and weeks that work best for me and my family. And then there is the focusing part of my piano practice. It is imperative that when I get to the piano practice time, I have something in mind that I am going to be focused on. Certainly not the whole piece! I find that when I set out to focus on a very specific part of my practice for the day, I get the most value out of my time spent.

Here's one other tip though. I have been working on one measure at a time. I saw Ashlee Young Music Studio’s video on using POST ITS to help your mind stay ‘in the moment’ of where you are focused in your music. At first I thought this is way too small of a ‘chunk’ of music to focus on, and surely doing it this way wasn’t going to sound the way I envisioned the piece, but no, this is not the case! I put a post it on either side of one measure at a time. (And I jump around in my music too to keep things interesting, and do not necessarily practice the measures in the proper order they are laid out in the piece!) The use of POST ITS has been an enormous game-changer for me. It gives me a visual focus on a much smaller goal, but with that focus comes results! I enjoy feeling like I’ve accomplished something I set out to do, and I bet you do too. One measure is enough to work on at a time, and success comes when we stay focused! One measure at a time!


-M


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