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!
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
Hello, again, Piano Friends. Today I premiered a video to show you how you can help your musical progress by practicing piano with one goal.
See behind the scenes into my piano practice session today watch me demonstrate how I’m (re)learning Bach’s Prelude 1 in C Major by focusing on one goal.
I recorded my practice session so you can see up close and personal what goes on in my practice routine.
Watch the above video to see my practice session with the Bach piece.
1. Use the comment's form below to ask me any questions,
2. share your piano goals and struggles, and/or
3. share your piano progress or a piano practice tip!
Let’s keep each other accountable and move forward as new & returning piano learners!
For More Piano Tips I invite you to join my weekly Tuesday Tips LIVE on Facebook from 1pm ET on YourCreativeChord's Facebook Page!
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
I Have Exciting News!!! My Big Announcement!
I am excited to announce that I will be hosting my FREE 2-Day Essential Piano Basics Masterclass for New & Returning Piano Learners in the New & Returning Piano Learners Facebook Group!
Drum roll, please…!!!
WHO MY Essential Piano Basics Masterclass IS FOR:
—You are in the right place today!
My FREE 2-Day Essential Piano Basics Masterclass for New and Returning Piano Learners will be inside my New & Returning Piano Learners Facebook Group!
The Masterclass and new Facebook Group will be a support for New and Returning Piano Learners. I will provide my tips for establishing a successful foundation for piano learning and continued piano progress!
The group will also be a place for New and Returning Piano Learners
And because I don't know everything-- my new group will also be a space for other piano experts to share tips, advice, and feedback.
Piano experts will also get a chance to share goods and services through weekly expert promo threads, GO LIVE within my group, and be featured to better support and answer questions from New and Returning Piano Learners!
My goals with both the upcoming Masterclass and the New & Returning Piano Learners Facebook Group are to:
If you struggle with frustration from:
--I have good news for you!
My new Masterclass and New & Returning Piano Learners Facebook Group will help you break through all this and more!
Many piano students get stuck from not having the proper foundational basics set up. Others need to understand the key to effective piano practice habits.
I know your biggest goal as a new or returning piano learner is to experience the joys of consistent piano progress. You want to express music beautifully through your fluent piano playing skills!
And you can!
My FREE Masterclass for new and returning piano learners will get you set up for successful learning and continued momentum in piano progress!
??♫ Get what you need for successful learning and effective piano practice!
?To attend my upcoming 2-Day Essential Piano Basics Masterclass for New & Returning Piano Learners in the New & Returning Piano Learners Facebook Group, you need to TAKE ACTION NOW:
1. Click here to sign up for the FREE Masterclass.
2. Make sure you join the New & Returning Piano Learners Facebook Group here and answer all 3 REQUIRED Questions!
Please invite others who will benefit from this info and conversation—feel free to share this post!
Join New & Returning Piano Learners Facebook Group ? -- A supportive community built to provide new and returning piano learners everything needed for successful learning and effective piano practice.
By Jenny Leigh Hodgins
This is Part 1 of a series offering my best tips on how to practice piano.
For all these scenarios, I have some useful suggestions.
Why Should You Believe I Know How To Make Piano Progress?
I’ve taught piano for more than half my life. Piano is a way that I best express myself, whether through performance or my original compositions.
I performed as a pianist (and vocalist) and owned a private piano teaching studio for 25 years. I taught group piano (Musikgarten methodology) to kids from 5 to 11, too!
If you’re interested in checking out my piano-based original music, or looking for proof to believe me when I say I know how to make piano progress, go to: JLMusicStudio.com
Or have a listen to: My Piano Performance of Clair De Lune.
Why Does Your Piano Practice Make You Feel Like A Loser?
I know from my early piano practice sessions what it feels like to be overwhelmed, or stuck, or frustrated by a particular musical challenge. I was familiar with spending chunks of fruitless time at piano, not being able to accomplish something.
I’d practice musical passages, scales, etudes, fingering, rhythmic patterns, or dynamics relentlessly and repetitively, only to hear myself play the same mistake after mistake.
I’ve had some great piano teachers, though, and one of them was quite instrumental (What? A musical pun here?) in teaching me how to make progress with learning piano. I finally learned how to practice piano effectively.
I’ve seen this dilemma from both sides. Having taught piano and music for 25+ years, I’ve met many piano students who felt overwhelmed by piano practice.
I’ve had students come to me with angst from their lack of progress with former piano teachers.
I’ve had adults come to me with feeble hopes after quitting piano lessons as a child.
I’ve had teenagers joining my studio initially complain that piano was boring and they couldn’t get any better at it.
How To Practice Piano With Confidence
I learned to practice piano effectively. My private piano students overcame issues with getting stuck or insufficient progress, too. They succeeded because the driving point I taught in each piano lesson was how to practice piano effectively.
Do You Know Where The Musical Magic Really Happens?
First, you need to know that the magic never happens in the piano lesson. You will not be illuminated musically by exposure to the brilliance of your piano teacher. Sorry, no unicorns here.
Piano improvement comes directly from the student.
You, as the piano student, or you as the parent of the piano student, are the key to continuous piano progress. The piano student has full responsibility for developing piano skills. Having that self-motivation is 90% of the musical betterment battle.
Of course, a quality piano instructor will be critically helpful as an experienced guide on your musical journey. A good piano teacher can inspire your consistent piano progress. Your piano teacher can help you avoid mistakes or break habits that stunt your piano development.
Your piano teacher can use your strengths to help you advance more dynamically, or help you polish your weaknesses into tools for improvement. But the real result is up to the piano student. Not the teacher.
If that has fully sunk into your brain, now you are ready for my piano practice tips!
Please first take a look at these blogs if you are just beginning piano:
What Do You Need To Know, Have, Or Do To Begin Piano?
What Keyboard Do I Need For Successful Piano Lessons?
How To Find A Good Piano Teacher
Necessary Steps To Achieve Your Most Effective Piano Practice
Having read through the blogs above, hopefully you’ve found a great piano teacher, have a quality instrument or a plan to upgrade to one, and have sorted out a regular practice routine that is supported by those in your home. Now you must begin to establish an effective piano practice strategy that produces progress within your regular practice sessions.
In my next blogs of this series, My Best Tips On How To Practice Piano Part 2 & My Best Tips On How To Practice Piano Part 3, I walk you through my effective piano practice strategy in detail.
Why You Need To Choose A Goal Relevant For Your Level
Before you begin toward your daily piano practice routine, you will need to define the goals you will concentrate on. As you read through these piano practice tips, it will become evident that your goals will change and develop as you practice. Choosing and changing goals helps keep your interest and promotes the greatest progress while practicing piano.
The most critical part that will vary from student to student, or from one practice session to the next, is choosing relevant practice goals. The goals you select depend on your level of musicianship, and will vary from beginner to advanced levels of piano skill.
Beginner to intermediate level piano students will typically have a few piano goals assigned by their piano teacher to achieve before the next piano lesson. As you advance in piano proficiency, you’ll be able to use more self-volition in selecting appropriate piano goals.
As you advance, and with the guidance from your piano teacher, you’ll learn the art of narrowing your focus to what goals are necessary for your current piano playing level.
Before you begin, you must determine your specific goals for each piano practice session. You’ll need to break your weekly goals down into smaller, digestible chunks. Either using what your piano teacher has offered, or devising your own, make a list of targeted piano practice goals you will work on during your piano practice session.
In the next blog, I will offer a few examples of relevant piano practice goals.
Checkout next steps in my effective piano practice strategy in My Best Tips On How To Practice Piano Part 2, & My Best Tips On How To Practice Piano Part 3.
I’d love to hear from you. It means a lot to me that my content is helpful and empowers you. Please take a moment to join the conversation below to let me know if this blog is helpful to you, or if you have questions or suggestions!
If you’re a piano teacher, feel free to leave one of your favorite piano practice tips in the comment section!
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by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
I saw an online discussion where a piano teacher shared his view that practicing piano should feel like a struggle or be difficult. Though I see his point that no one will get much momentum from simply playing piano for pure enjoyment during every piano practice session, practicing piano does not need to be unenjoyable.
I know from experience that practicing piano can actually be fun, flow smoothly, and feel immensely gratifying as you make incremental musical progress.
You do not have to feel like piano practice should be difficult for you to make progress!
It is much more reasonable to know that the way you spend your piano practice leads directly (or not) to an enjoyable and fruitful experience. How to practice piano effectively is one of the most misunderstood topics for piano learners. But knowing how to practice makes all the difference in your levels of enjoyment, satisfaction, and piano progress.
You achieve these positive experiences when you approach your piano practice with clear goals and make a focused mental effort toward those goals. Reaching each of your musical goals will become an enormous boost to your positive feeling, self-esteem, and love for music learning.
Of course, making concentrated effort itself can be a constant struggle to develop and maintain. But doing so directly impacts your progress in piano practice.
Keeping the fun in piano practice depends on the goals set by you and your piano teacher and how you challenge yourself to achieve them. The specific step-by-step routes to reach each goal are where the variety of piano practice comes into play (Hee! Catch my musical pun?). There are plenty of ways to create an attitude of fun toward each piano practice goal.
You may incorporate a friendly piano competition, aiming for setting a record, making up various games, using piano or music apps for supplemental aid, and piano duets, group or masterclasses, and public performance target dates.
If you’re a beginner piano player, your piano teacher should be able to break your goals down into manageable chunks for daily piano practice. As you learn to stay focused on this kind of goal-directed piano practice, you’ll eventually be able to determine your own piano practice goals.
Typically, goal-setting in piano practice hones straight in on whatever part or aspect of the music is unknown or problematic for the piano student. Troubleshooting is one of the most effective ways to attack piano progress. And, that’s where some may interpret the difficulty of effective practicing lies.
Concentrating on learning something new or challenging takes effort. But our attitude toward making that effort is where the power of fun versus drudgery makes all the difference.
If you only play music that is simple, easy, and fun for you, your piano progress will stagnate. But you don’t have to be a martyr, either! Choose your most challenging goals to face at the start of your piano practice session (or immediately after a short warm-up). Give it your all.
At the end of your practice session, reward yourself by playing all the music you enjoy because you’ve already mastered it. If you consistently challenge the musical goals that force you to concentrate, think, and repeatedly practice, you will be surprised by your progress. Your reward repertoire at the end of each piano practice session will quickly expand.
Being able to play through a variety of musical works successfully is itself an incredible joy and accomplishment. But, to keep progressing, you must balance the rewards of playing something easy for you with your effort to challenge the next musical goal. That discipline is something that you will forge naturally over time if you choose your goals for each piano practice session and learn how to practice them effectively.
How to practice piano effectively is the main topic of my upcoming ebook, My Best Tips On How To Practice Piano Effectively.
If you’re a new or returning piano learner, checkout my ebook, "Start Piano: What You Need For Successful Learning!"
Get my piano tips in my short video series!
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My Best Tips On How To Practice Piano Part 1
My Best Tips On How To Practice Piano Part 2
My Best Tips On How To Practice Piano Part 3
What Do You Need To Know, Have, Or Do To Begin Piano?
Find A Good Piano Teacher
Your Top 5 Best Tips From A Piano Teacher
What’s The Best Way For A Busy Adult To Learn Piano?
What Keyboard Do I Need For Successful Piano Lessons?
How Learning Piano Benefits Aging Adults
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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.