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Start With Your Words

Pronouncements abound here.

“I can’t do this” is a truly ubiquitous remark.

Yes, of course you can’t do this. That’s why we’re here. But because you can’t do this today doesn’t mean you won’t do it tomorrow.

I really don’t like negative pronouncements. They’re not practical solutions to challenges. I’d rather find a more useful approach to solving problems.

I suggest we start with your words. Your person is easily swayed by your utterances, for better or for worse, so don’t put up barriers.

Say this: “I have a plan of action here, and I’m going to follow it.” There. Wasn’t that easy?

Learning piano is simply a process and you must go through the logical series of steps, like everyone else. There are no shortcuts. Some routes are certainly more direct than others, but still you must follow a path. Good news is you don’t have to map out the journey, as that’s your teacher’s job.

You’d be surprised how many adult students take years to begin to trust a teacher’s advice, to truly follow a practice plan, and to feel good about progress. Because the bar is continually raised, it can be difficult to see how much you’ve accomplished (from your own perspective). Try to see things from the eyes of a child -- the child who hasn’t yet learned to be competitive. Try to remember when you were free to just watch clouds float across the sky, or catch little frogs, or gaze at water dripping down the window. Try to simply observe with childlike wonder.

When you catch yourself saying things that are negative, undo those words. This is what I do here at lessons when we encounter this problem. I stop the lesson and announce that I’m going to reframe the negative words. “I can’t do this” must be erased. Those words are self-defeating, and we never say this to anyone we care about.

Imagine if you were to tell a child, “You cannot do this.” We agree this would be cruel?

Beautiful words are there for the taking:

Wow! I'm going to play that again, it's so wonderful!

Look how far I've come!

I'm doing my best.

I'm patient and committed.

My teacher believes in me :)

Just hold dear to words of encouragement and optimism and trust that your person will believe you. You are your own company at the piano so be kind to yourself!

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