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  Melissa Harris Piano Studio, Cape Cod - Center for Adult & Senior Music Education
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No apologies, please.
HOW you practice matters more than IF you practice!
Adult Student Practice Tip #2: In the Beginning, there was Rhythm.
Adult Student Practice Tips: #1 - Practice Plans
New Year's Intentions

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My Blog

No apologies, please.

Dear Beautiful Pianist,

Today you apologized for making a mistake or perhaps misunderstanding my words.  

But always remember, mistakes are a natural part of your music journey.  Mistakes are not to be avoided, as focusing on mistakes brings about just that -- a focus on mistakes.   

When you encounter a mistake, be grateful for the lesson you received from it.  Realize this lesson may be simply an acceptance of yourself, as you are, right now -- a beautiful work of art, always in the making, just like your music

HOW you practice matters more than IF you practice!

You know the saying, you are what you eat?  Well, as you practice so you'll play....

What is your purpose?

1.  Are you working out a passage in a new piece of music?  Analyze things BEFORE touching the piano!  Know what you are about to hear before you play. Know what you are aiming to accomplish.  

2  .  Are you practicing familiar music to maintain your current repertoire?  If practice involves repetitions, prepare mentally before each mindful execution.

Adult Student Practice Tip #2: In the Beginning, there was Rhythm.


Students -- adults and kids -- tend to focus on playing the correct keys when starting lessons, generally paying far less attention to the time values of the notes.  It should be the other way around!  Developing a good sense of timing and the ability to read rhythm patterns --along with developing healthy fingering habits and learning to read notes “intervallically” --is the real key to success.

Let’s talk about how you might go about learning to read rhythm patterns early on.

1.   Use Technology:  If you have an iPad, I highly suggest an app such as ReadRhythm or RhythmLab.

Adult Student Practice Tips: #1 - Practice Plans

Organize your practice:    Any plan is better than no plan.  

Keep a journal, not of time practiced, but of this plan.  It will capture the immediate goals, weekly goals and longer term planning.  If you have an iPad, you may want to use a White Board App for this, as some -- such as Evernote -- allow you to record audio into the document.  

Before you begin your work, be aware of what you are setting out to accomplish.  Mindless
repetitions only do harm.  Better to play anything at all once correctly than to repeat mistakes.

New Year's Intentions

2014:  Resolutions

Actually, I think I prefer the word intention.  Resolution sounds harsh.  

So, let's think about our 2014 Intentions.

1.  Be kind.  To ourselves.  It's easy to be kind to others.  We learned that a long, long time ago, waaaaaay back when we were children.  How come no one taught us to speak kindly to ourselves, even when using that little inner voice, especially when using that little inner voice?    Being kind to ourselves is particularly effective while practicing.

You'll Never Be Lonely If You Have Music In Your Life

You’ll Never Be Lonely If You Have Music in Your Life

So says Marie, 91, my most “senior” student.    

Why is music such a powerful force in life?  How is that we can feel the embrace of sound, be comforted, consoled, challenged, motivated, inspired, vitalized?  Whatever it is we’re looking for, we can find in music.    We go to our favorite albums, internet radio...  If we’re really fortunate, we go to our instrument and make music with our own two hands.

Mindfulness

“Anyone who acts without paying attention to what he is doing is wasting his life.  I’d go so far as to say life is denied by lack of attention, whether it be to cleaning windows or trying to write a masterpiece.”  So declared legendary pianist and teacher, Nadia Boulanger.

The Buddha himself could look me in the eyes and say this, and I’d likely have to ask him to repeat himself, I’m so distractible.  I do somehow manage to pay very close attention to advice from good piano teachers, though, something I learned to do early in life.

SightReadPlusTM for iPad-- Use with Acoustic Piano: a modern solution to an age-old problem

“Ten minutes a day on sight-reading.”   Sight-reading WHAT?

When one of my students, an MIT physicist, approached me with the idea of developing educational apps that could be used with real instruments, my first hope was to find a way to solve this issue of early level sight reading.
  
mTA’s SightReadPlusTM listens to a student play a real piano or keyboard, evaluates note and timing accuracy, and offers help where needed.  Students earn gold stars and points for everything they practice!

Embracing Life

My daughter was in Boston Monday for the marathon.  She had planned to run this year, but knee pain precluded this.  I tried frantically to reach her after getting news of the bombings.  Relief doesn’t adequately describe the feeling I had when I finally heard from back from her.She had two things to tell me: first, that she was safe, and second, that she would be running next year.   She, along with so many others, chooses to remain free, spirit intact and determined to continue to live fully.

Seeing Ourselves in the Mirror of Music

We can learn A LOT about someone by listening to his or her piano playing.   It’s much harder to observe ourselves.

Regarding adult piano students, here are some of the more common STRENGTHS.

1.  A love for the sound and feel of a piano.
2.  A willingness to be challenged, in a big way.
3.  A willingness to be humbled.    
4.  A willingness to sacrifice - time, expense, physical and emotional effort.
5.  A willingness to reveal who we are to anyone listening to our playing.