Project Piano has started! Well, actually it has started at the end of March, as I told you in my previous blog. Today I will tell you about my first challenge: study every day for at least one hour. One of my goals Project Piano is learning to study efficiently. Of course the first important thing is to have sufficient time for this every day. That is why this is my first challenge: focused study for at least one hour a day. This doesn’t sound difficult, but I’m always busy busy with lots of things. I guess you probably recognise this. Reserving one hour every single day and also working with full focus therefor does sound like a challenge to me.
The research question for challenge
As I wrote in my blog last Sunday I got the tip to measure the results of a challenge by formulating a research question. Therefor I first looked at what is the current situation and what do I want to improve. In this case it concerns the progress of my lessons. It always takes me a few weeks to work on a piece, but when I come to a lesson it sometimes feels like I did not make any progress at all. This is due to the way that I practice now, but let me honest: I don’t always practice a lot. My goal is for my teacher and me to clearly see progress during the lessons which also gives us time to focus more on playing musically instead of working on the notes and technical stuff. With this in mind I have formulated the following research question:
What is this the effect of studying one hour a day on my progression during my lessons?
Secretly started a bit earlier…
For this project I will start each challenge on the first day of ever month. However I started earlier on this challenge. In March I received the pieces which we had to play at a workshop which would take place 4 weeks later. In the first week I did not have the time to work on this, so I had only 3 weeks of preparation time. Playing at least an hour a day was necessary. But the good news is that during the workshop I noticed that this paid off, which is a great motivation to continue this experiment. At the end of this month we will see if my piano teachter notices some improvement too.
While I was preparing for the workshop I started reading the book ‘Play it again’. The author of this book, Alan Rusbridger, writes about his own challenge, which is learning to play the Ballade no. 1 of Chopin within a year. It seems that even professional pianists are a bit hesitant about playing this piece in public. Alan is the chief editor of The Guardian, so he does not really have a lot of time to practice. The valuable time he does have has to be used efficiently. This leads to a lot of interesting and useful insights for me as well. One of the most important things I found out about is another book, called ‘Playing piano for pleasure’, by Charles Cook. This book has been written for amateur pianists and talks about how you can (and have to) study effectively even if your playing piano ‘just as a hobby’. Charles thinks that as an amateur you should study at least for one hour a day. Not just playing some pieces, but really work on the music in order to improve your playing: “An hour, of course, of concentration, during which you clear your mind of extraneous thoughts; during which you hear, and judge, every tone that you produce as though somebody else had produced it.” This is exactly what I want to do this month.
Finding the right moment
So one question remains: when can you find the time to do this? I decided to study in the morning at least one hour before I go to work. This means getting up earlier! I have done this before, after reading the book ‘Miracle Morning’. I stopped doing the Miracle Morning routine, but my alarm still goes off earlier. The challenge in this is not to stay in bed to read, but to get out of bed and make sure that I will be ready to start playing somewhere between 6:30 and 7:00. I already noticed that when I go to work at 8:15 I feel good about already having accomplished something that morning 🙂
At the end of this month I will tell you more about how this challenge went and what I have learned from it.