by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
One of my new and returning piano learner subscribers recently emailed me a question. Thanks, Barbara. Your struggle for motivation to get to the piano bench regularly is something most piano learners experience. Especially busy adult piano learners.
The gist of Barbara's question is this:
How can you make it fun so you are motivated to establish a regular piano practice routine?
First, motivation is unreliable. Get over that idea.
ASK YOURSELF WHY
Instead, ask WHY you want to play the piano. For health wellness, the joy of self-expression, or personal accomplishment, to grow yourself in new ways (aiming for this is research-proven to impact your wellness and happiness).
Get clear on WHY you love piano, and then set a goal based on that. Your goal may be to play a particular music piece well, reach a certain level of piano skill, or play a specific style.
TRAIN YOUR BRAIN TO LOVE PIANO PRACTICE
Keep your WHY visible. Put your reason for playing piano on a post-it on your piano stand, bench, or notebook, so you see it easily. Make your underlying desire to play the piano VISIBLE frequently.
What we remind ourselves of is proven to help train our brains to FOCUS on that. What you focus on grows.
What you focus on trains your brain that that thing is important to you. Your brain will start looking for reasons to get to the piano bench when you train it to think about what is important to you.
The reticular activating system in your brain works like a filter system. The more you put what is meaningful to you in front of you, the more your brain will focus on that and find more of it.
If you want to play piano more, put your piano music and your music goals in front of you. Search piano music online and get into piano-related social media groups. Putting piano-related things in front of you will help your brain start filtering out other stuff and start zeroing in on the piano as an important topic for you.
REWARD YOURSELF OFTEN
Create a reward system. See my previous blog for more about using a piano practice tracker as a reward system.
Tracking your daily practice trains your brain that practicing piano is important to you, which will help boost your motivation to practice piano.
Your reward system can simply be tracking the days you practice the piano, checking off each section or a specific musical piece. You can use a checklist or stickers to reward yourself as you record your practice progress. See my blog here for more on this topic.
REWARD YOURSELF BIG
Choose a way to reward yourself each time you meet your weekly music practice goals.
For example, if your goal is to practice 5 of 7 days and you practice 5 days, this is a victory! So treat yourself for making that happen!
You could treat yourself to a dessert, a movie night, or a music concert. You could buy a new favorite sheet music, book, or recording of music you enjoy, meet an accountability buddy for coffee or lunch, or have a special family dinner.
You could also post your achievement in the New and Returning Piano Learners Facebook group for immediate community support and celebration!
HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE TO OTHERS
Speaking of accountability, make your piano practice goal PUBLIC. Post your weekly goal in the Facebook group, or tell a music-loving friend or family member for support. Post a photo of your piano practice tracking method and your piano practice goals (like the number of days you aim to practice weekly or what musical progress you want to achieve on a particular musical selection, etc.). You could post a photo of your hands on the keyboard or a selfie at the piano whenever you meet your daily or weekly goal!
This interaction with others keeps you accountable to others when the inevitable resistance, obstacle, or lack of motivation rears its head.
Make establishing a consistent piano practice routine a competition contest to beat yourself by one-upping your practice from the previous day or week.
Post in the Facebook group to challenge others to beat you at daily consistent piano practice!
Push yourself to win over yourself from yesterday to today and to exceed today by tomorrow’s victory.
DEFEAT RESISTANCE WITH ADVANCED PREPARATION
Isolation is the enemy of motivation. Get visible to others with your goals. Motivation is not your friend, and you should not rely on it. You must create a piano practice habit.
Overcome obstacles and your inner resistance by preparing in advance. This makes piano practice easier to start.
Preparing in advance includes:
Making a plan prioritizes piano practice, so your brain knows this is important to your happiness.
Use these tips to make a piano practice habit stick and win over your inner weakness or resistance.
BOOST YOUR MOTIVATION WITH DOPAMINE REWARDS
Get recordings and listen to them to remind your brain what you want to achieve as a piano player.
Establishing a piano practice routine takes effort. But anything truly valuable requires a struggle to defeat resistance, whether laziness, insecurity, doubt, fatigue, or a busy life.
Each day you reward yourself for doing the work at your piano keyboard boosts motivation for the next challenge. Rewards release dopamine which trains your brain to look forward to more time at the piano.
MORE BRAIN TRAINING FOR PIANO PRACTICE CONSISTENCY
Remind yourself each night what went well at the piano. Savoring this accomplishment trains your brain to strengthen your piano practice routine as a consistent, joyful, rewarding habit.
MOTIVATION IS OVERRATED AND UNSUSTAINABLE
Remember that accomplishment as a pianist does not rely on feeling motivated. Achieving your musical goals is about making a plan, making it easier to do with preparation, rewarding your progress frequently, and showing up on your piano bench no matter what.
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by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
Here are a few tips working for me to help YOU get your piano practice routine established:
1. Schedule it in your daily routine. Pick a time that works for you, even if it's less time than you think will be necessary for progress. In reality, progress starts with getting yourself at the piano keyboard!
2. Prepare in advance. Get your music books, notebook, piano tracker or practice to do list in order and ready waiting for you on the keyboard stand. Having things ready in place helps motivate you to get started without the obstacle of any resistance!
3. REWARD yourself within 2 minutes of completing a piano practice goal! Research shows that when we want to establish a habit or reach a goal, rewarding ourselves within 2 minutes gives us a small hit of dopamine. This is the chemical that feels like instant gratification and research proves that boosts motivation!
This is why I keep my piano tracker (photo above) handy at my piano practice session. As SOON as I complete something on my piano practice tracker list, I CHECK IT OFF!
Whether you use a checklist like my tracker or stickers, or a spreadsheet, or something else to track your progress, this reward system boosts your motivation to continue!
4. Do not beat yourself up if you miss a day of piano practice, or cannot do a full practice routine. Establishing a solid piano practice routine takes time and missing some here or there does NOT impact your ability to solidify your piano practice habit. Just get back on the piano bench for your next piano practice session!
5. If life gets in the way like it has for me and many busy adult piano learners, use my 5-Minute Rule:
Sit at the piano for 5 minutes.
Look at your music and focus on ONE musical element.
Or, Listen to your music played by an artist while reading along in your musical notation.
Or, try to RECALL your music while waiting at an appointment, or while driving, or before bedtime.
If you can try to PLAY the piano for those 5 minutes, you will surprise yourself how that short span of time may grow into 15 or even 30 minutes to an hour of playing the piano!
Sometimes the 5 minute rule is all we need to move forward again with our musical progress.
👇 Hit reply and let me know how you're doing with your piano practice routine!
...and help you make solid musical progress.
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
Watch my short video above for one easy piano tip that can help you ease back into the groove of piano practice. Today, I demonstrated practicing this simple goal with an original piano solo.
If you're having a challenge getting into the rhythm of regular piano practice, don't beat yourself up! Create a time to prioritize your piano practice in your weekly schedule.
Just start today. Refresh your determination every day to get to your piano bench! These little steps add up to musical destinations reached!
Let me know in the comments if this easy piano tip is something you can use to jumpstart your piano practice routine!
What's one simple piano tip you can share to help other new and returning piano learners maintain a regular piano practice routine?
You've Got My Heart Piano Music © 2014 Jenny Leigh Hodgins
Scroll down to watch the REPLAY!
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
The #1 key to your piano progress is showing up consistently to practice your music. Establishing a daily piano practice habit is the most important thing you can do to improve your piano skills.
Repetition through physically playing, mentally recalling, or listening to your music reinforces neurological pathways or grooves in your brain. These help you remember the music more readily each time you resume your music learning.
Remember that gaps between piano practice sessions makes your next practice session more difficult for you.
There are plenty of practice strategies that you can use to get your piano playing to the next level. But first, you must establish a daily rhythm of piano practice. This process is more easily said than done.
As busy adults, we have countless tasks, unforeseen emergencies, and events that can easily throw our piano practice off. Inevitable distractions are why aspiring piano players must firmly commit to daily piano practice.
Click here if you want me to send you mine! (You'll also get more piano tips!)
Using a piano practice tracker helps keep you accountable. It also gives you a zing of instant gratification when you see your progress!
Refresh your determination to establish your piano practice as a non-negotiable daily habit.
Make sure you set a weekly reward for extra motivation!
When things come up that you get off track, refresh your resolve to get right back to it. Sometimes I only have enough energy or time to quickly run through as many of my repertoire pieces as I can get through in a short amount of time.
At times I listen to, look at, or think about the music before bedtime as a meditative effort to keep it fresh in my mind.
My goal is to practice piano every day.
I do not always succeed with that goal.
But I know that continuing to refresh my determination and swiftly getting back at it helps me further establish my piano practice as a daily habit.
As a busy adult new or returning to the piano, establishing a daily piano practice schedule is the number one key element for improving your piano playing skills!
Let me know how your piano practice routine is going this week in the comments. Have you been able to reach your weekly goal?
Each week inside the New and Returning Piano Learners Facebook group we have a piano practice challenge! We challenge ourselves to meet our piano practice goals!
Join us inside our musical oasis and get support for holding yourself accountable this week!
Do you have a question about piano learning?
Is there something in particular that you want to learn?
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
In this week's Tuesday LIVE, I shared highlights from last week’s Piano Practice Challenge Week, including helpful peer piano tips from fellow piano learners in the New & Returning Piano Learners Facebook Group!
Peer piano tips covered:
I also answered a question from group member, Michelle, about the difference between natural, harmonic, and melodic minor scales. Pop in the group to see if you can answer my followup mini-quiz on minor scales here:
New & Returning Piano Learners Facebook Group
Last week’s piano practice challenge motivated many group members toward greater musical progress! Having accountability keeps us all motivated to practice piano!
Join us for this week's Piano Practice Challenge here:
Piano Practice Challenge February 15 - 22!
If you'd like my free Piano Practice Tracker, just click here!
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.