Take the First Step! (Practice the Piano!)


Honestly, I woke up today and dragged myself to the kitchen to make myself a cup of coffee, (first of two, maybe 3, or possibly 13!) and ugh, I have a cloud of disappointment hanging over my head. I will shake this feeling today, and that is absolutely my plan! The thing is, I know exactly where it comes from. I have been away from my piano for an entire week and guess what happens in my mind when I do this? You guessed it! My brain reminds me that the piano is NEW to me (SO SCARY!) and then I get this umbrella of doom with the imposing feeling of somber reality including that all too well-known feeling that I have forgotten, yet again, EVERYTHING I EVER THOUGHT I LEARNED up to now, about the piano. Let me tell you this though, I THINK about piano every day, but getting the practice time I absolutely need (who are we kidding right!?) for forward movement sitting AT THE PIANO has, from time to time, become an enormous challenge, because LIFE KEEPS ON HAPPENING! And I am talking about every single day! I have failed to find a ‘pause’ button I can merely hit and then just simply come back later and start again right where I left off!


Naturally, I am overjoyed that I am alive and living and able to use some of this valuable time to learn something new and improve myself, and if you remember one of my other goals ‘keep my brain young(er)’. In this hopefully fairly brief moment of self-disappointment, I’m merely talking about the myriad of things that come up during the day to day living of my life, that keep me away from my piano. I have a feeling we all run into this, being as we are adults! And the thing is, these ‘distractions’ from my piano and seeming barriers to my piano goals, are actually just called “LIFE ITSELF” and they are going to well, DISTRACT me from my piano goals from time to time, and I’ve decided that again, that is OKAY! I am choosing to recognize, yet again, that this new mental challenge of increasing my knowledge of music is definitely enhancing my understanding and appreciation of music. In fact, this decision to learn the piano is adding an immense amount of value to my life, and new information into my brain (and all of it’s aging cells).




I’m grateful I have the opportunity and time to learn something new exactly like playing the piano and most of all, discover, feed and grow my inner ‘musician’. As I remind myself of this information, I decided to just try to ‘sit down at the piano, just as if I did, in fact, have that pause button I mentioned and pick up where I had left off prior to my absence. Essentially it was a choice, and maybe an amateur attempt at trying to trick myself into goal compliance! LOL! You’ll never guess what happened! (Or maybe you will?) For starters, I DECIDED TO SIT DOWN AT THE PIANO!! Please join me and let’s just go right ahead and celebrate that enormous concept and definite win for maybe at least one little second here! YAY ME! Sure, I was a little overwhelmed (okay completely overwhelmed!), but I decided to just ‘take the first step’ and get my tired and exhausted self in there and sit down at the piano all while I was feeling completely overwhelmed! Turns out, nothing adverse happened at all! I did not implode, the piano was still there, even my music was exactly right as I had left it, my hands still worked, and then another miracle, I remembered some of the information and bits of the lessons I had previously learned and techniques I had practiced! I had not forgotten the entirety of everything I have learned up until now (HUGE RELIEF), and I was able to locate some of the keys on the piano, melodies in my music piece, and most certainly was able to plunk out some music – and as slow as my music was, it actually did sound like music!!



HOORAY!! So all of that “mental” fear and dread I mentioned earlier was just my traitorous brain trying to discourage me from continuing this piano challenge, throwing up every barrier available in my negative self-talk armory, and I was way ahead of this little game! AHA! So what I’m saying here is that I have already enjoyed an enormous WIN by merely deciding to sit down at the piano and TAKE THAT FIRST STEP! At that point, I do have to say I perked up just a little bit. All the positivity of that first giant accomplishment and WIN made me feel already like a complete, you guessed it, WINNER. I was on a roll! LOL! I next followed my ‘start slowly’ practice tip from my practice outline and started at the end of the piece instead of the beginning (pro tip!) and keep slowing plodding along with a bit of ‘practicing at the piano’. Now, you won’t read about me and this wonderful mental victory on the news, assuredly no awards will be given, and if I’m being honest those first two steps of start slowly and maybe start in the middle or a different part of the piece, are the only steps I was able to WIN in my practice session this time, but let’s keep on remembering that I was overwhelmed and exhausted and I had been away from my piano for an entire week! What else did I ‘win’ by this ‘deciding to sit down’ victory?



For starters, my next practice session will not be so daunting, and the fear and dread of losing all of my newfound piano knowledge is, for now, IN THE WIND behind me, and I’m geared up and ready for my next practice session with only the regular and normal amount of apprehension! Dare I say I’m completely looking FORWARD TO IT! I’m not saying I may not get this feeling of dread and fear again, because trust me, when I say learning the piano is a mental challenge for me, I absolutely mean it. But let’s remember that with these great mental challenges, come the great mental victories, and along the way, and possibly as the best added bonus of all, I am also learning music! I am so proud of me, every single step of this process! I like to remind myself that I am a musician, and so are you! Every mental victory is a victory that I would not have had the opportunity to enjoy and bask in if I did not buck up and TAKE THE FIRST STEP! I’m able to play some pieces that are improving over time and while it may be slow going progress, I am on my own timeline here, no one is competing WITH me, it’s me competing against myself, and I’ve decided that every time I take the first step and sit down at the piano, I’m already a winner. And so are you! Take that first step! You can do it! YOU ARE A WINNER TOO!! Ashlee Young Music Studio has a great video about motivation ideas if you are struggling - check it out here.


-M


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