by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
I’m Jenny Leigh Hodgins. I'm the hostess of the New and Returning Piano Learners Facebook group! I composed, performed as a solo pianist and vocalist, and taught piano music and chorus for 30 years. I ran my private piano studio with 32 students, taught group piano classes for young kids, adults, and seniors, and worked as a music teacher and chorus director in public schools.
But due to life changes, there’s been a time gap between my piano practice. I am a returning piano learner! I now work from home as a blogger/podcaster, write books and build courses. Stay connected with all the ways I nurture creativity and inspiration at YourCreativeChord.com!
I launched the piano Facebook group to hold myself accountable as I share what works for me and the 1000s of students I've taught over the years. I hope to encourage you toward joyful piano progress, too!
I love this supportive community of people who love piano music!
Recently, piano teacher/pianist, Maria Dolnycky and I had a dialogue on the challenges of the pandemic. The pandemic division and the isolation-caused funk we're all experiencing are still challenging.
We also talked about the challenges for all busy adults wanting to start or keep up piano learning. Piano teachers even have challenges with motivating themselves and their students toward consistent piano progress.
I've experienced that throughout my career as a music and piano teacher. I relate to it now as a live-in caregiver for my elder parent, juggling work-life creative projects, family, and community volunteerism.
The pandemic makes it even more challenging due to having fewer opportunities for social interaction. We've all dealt with a major shift from live to digital musical performances. We struggle with concerns about safety and risk for others.
Regardless of where your politics lie, the pandemic has presented deeper emotional and mental challenges for us all.
The fact is that things don’t go on as normal.
There is a pre-pandemic mentality and way of life. Hopefully, there will be a post-pandemic chapter.
All these emotional and mental challenges can drain you and interfere with the motivation to enjoy piano progress.
Ironically —piano progress is a perfect remedy to all of that stress!
Recognize this as an unprecedented time of social, mental, and emotional challenge. Life is not going on as usual due to the pandemic.
I have struggled with the division of perspective in dealing with the pandemic. This division has caused dramatic changes in my social interactions, through family illness, and losses.
The pandemic is a source of angst and frustration for all of us. Motivating oneself toward piano progress during a pandemic, as a busy adult, or alongside your teaching schedule screams for self-care.
Go easy on yourself mentally and emotionally.
As a practicing SGI Buddhist, the Buddhist concept of cause and effect encourages me:
The 13th-century Buddhist revolutionary Nichiren Daishonin explained that if you want to know the future, you must look at the causes you’re making in the present moment.
Fortunately, the power to overcome challenges is in your grasp.
The fastest way to bring out your potential is to battle directly with your weakness. A lack of motivation to practice piano consistently is my weakness.
If I give in to this lack of motivation, I will not get better at the piano. The less I practice, the less I feel like practicing.
Directly addressing this lack of motivation turns my weakness into strength. I directly address my lack of motivation by practicing anyway.
I practice the piano regardless of whether or not I feel like it. That decisive action makes it easier for me to keep practicing piano!
Recognize that all the obstacles and stress and challenges you feel about getting motivated to progress in piano are things that can be dramatically and positively impacted by
*practicing the piano.*
Playing the piano is itself the remedy to all this stress!
Recognize that momentum in your piano progress doesn’t happen all at once.
You have to start with a simple goal.
You have to build your way towards accumulating a mountain of progress.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with the aspiration of where you want to be.
Just start taking small steps.
Since you repeatedly face negativity in life, you benefit from finding proactive ways to decrease this stress and raise your inner energy.
Practicing the piano is a remedy for this kind of wellness.
But you must take action!
Taking action leads to winning. Winning a personal victory toward your goal to get consistent in piano practice lifts your mood and confidence. This mental shift builds momentum!
Make the determination that you will practice. Push away from your laziness, fear, or lack of time excuses.
Instead, start planting the idea that you believe in yourself and your ability to improve!
What you focus on grows!
One of the best things we can do to get motivated and build solid momentum is through accountability!
Commit yourself to your end of the bargain with someone else. If I know you’re counting on me, I'll be more inclined to be responsible.
Being responsible is about being able to respond. It's not a heavy burden! It’s a light, simple action forward!
Choosing your response to take action by being accountable pulls you up to a new level. That action is also part of being a good friend.
Being responsible shows sincerity and develops character.
It encourages someone else. Brightening someone else’s path lights my own way.
We must win against lethargy, a full schedule, and mental blocks to take a single step of action every day. Any resistance or negativity is there as a catalyst for our joyful progress. As long as we use it to springboard ourselves into action.
Maria’s holding herself accountable with the same piano practice goal she set for her students!
Let’s jump in and help each other be accountable too! I’m adopting Maria’s spirit of accountability to her students for us new and returning piano learners!
I challenge myself! I challenge you now!
Here is the PIANO PRACTICE CHALLENGE we do inside the New and Returning Piano Learners Facebook group each week:
Set a piano practice schedule this week to challenge yourself to practice piano every day.
I encourage the goal of practicing *Every day* —even if you must use my Five-Minute rule (join the group and see Guides for details).
Decide what time of day you will practice or if you will split your practice sessions up.
Decide what music you will practice.
Keep a log of your practice sessions.
If you want my piano practice tracker, click here to join my piano tips mailing list.
Set a couple of CLEAR practice goals for yourself.
My goals include:
In the Facebook group, we let each other know how our practice sessions are going throughout the week. Group members share goals, progress, or a photo of our practice logs! Some members even share videos of their piano practice to get peer feedback and support.
Let's wrap up with a couple of pertinent quotes from my mentor, Daisaku Ikeda:
“There’s no such thing as waiting for the right time; we must create it.“
Don’t wish that you could play the piano. Make time for it.
You have to prioritize yourself. This is your self-care. Make it important. Schedule it in!
“Exert 100% effort in each moment!”
This is mindfulness. Stay focused and aware of this attitude of *being* versus *doing*.
We get so caught up in checking off our to-do list that we become frantic and stay constantly busy!
But that’s not necessarily productive.
Be where you are in the moment in your piano practice session.
Focus on the things that will make the most impact on your progress.
Enjoy your piano practice this week!
In my PIANO blogs, you'll find ways to overcome boredom, get past musical and mental blocks, explore the creative process with piano, and improve musical progress through piano teacher recommended best practices and effective piano practice tips.