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On Time, and How to Reclaim It

I’m not particularly good with time, either having awareness of it or structuring it.  I don’t like to think of “carving out” time.   I can oftentimes feel the stress of what can seem to be too many Real Life demands.  

Because many children today are always on the go, their young bodies and minds will “check out” on occasion to compensate, a means of seeking out the quiet, imaginary space that’s so essential for growth.   This doesn’t change in adulthood.  However, by the time we’re grown, most of us will have developed belief systems that can get in the way of allowing time for ourselves.  

Like children, we can “check out” in various ways.  I wonder how many of these things distract you from a more meaningful life.

  • Screentime:  social media, news feed, YouTube, online shopping, surfing the web, games/apps, checking email, seemingly endless group texts, TV….

  • Long phone calls that seem to trail off to Neverland….

  • Time spent with people who deplete you.  Likely, they’re not benefitting either.

  • Shopping, frequent dining out, excursions here and there, social groups that no longer interest you.

  • Saying yes to everything, while carrying resentment that you’re doing “too much.” 

I wonder if you might want to implement just one change this year?  

  • When faced with a yes or no response, know that an honest and sincere “no” can be a good choice, even if difficult.

  • Make a conscious choice for screen time.  I think most people would be alarmed to know how much of their day is devoted to the almighty screen.

  • Be aware of and reduce behaviors that are distractions.

  • Give your body daily movement– perhaps walk or exercise.  

  • Give your nervous system a daily break, even if for only 5-10 minutes:  meditation, yoga, or breathwork come to mind.  

Structuring piano time

  • Know that it’s most beneficial to practice close to your lesson day.  If you’re a Tuesday daytime student, you will ideally practice again Tuesday at home, and again on Wednesday and Thursday.  Of course, the tendency is the opposite.  Students tend to procrastinate and then practice right before their lessons.  This is much less effective.

  • Do you like to devote all your practice to one daily session, but have difficulty finding adequate time to complete your practice plan?  Try practicing in shorter bursts – ten minutes here and there, gradually completing the items on your practice plan.

  • Do you sometimes just play for enjoyment?   This is important.  Are you at a loss as to what you might want to play for relaxation?  Some ideas:  Make yourself a separate binder with copies of pieces you know and can keep current; improvise with my Peaceful Piano Patterns; play chord accompaniment patterns while singing along to your favorite songs; play easier popular songs from lead sheets.  If you’d like extra help with any of these things, of course just let me know.

  • Do you feel guilty on those days when you just can’t practice?  Please, don’t.  You’ve done nothing wrong so guilt serves no purpose.  I generally don’t expect students to practice daily.  Four to five times a week is more realistic and sufficient for most adult students.  Some students practice less because they find it stressful to do more.  If less is your choice, know that I support you in that.

Time at the piano can be truly meaningful if this is your intention.  Piano asks for our full attention – body, mind, and spirit.  The piano blesses us in return with beauty, grace, and compassion.  It is a mirror of all that is life.  (And that can –and often does –include humor!)

I wish you mindfulness to choose all your life’s moments as best you can.  I wish you joy and peace, and the magic of music in this coming year and always.

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Thank you, Melissa, for this timely piece as we begin the new year. "The piano blesses us with beauty, grace and compassion." Indeed. As do you. Thank you!


Terrific piece with many practical suggestions for structuring piano time. Especially appreciated your statement about how the piano asks for our full attention- mind, body and spirit. Thank you for your

encouraging words. Good way to begin 2024!

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