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.
Newly Updated Piano Basics Ebook!
Do you need some help getting started or solidifying your piano foundation, Friend?
I have recently completed an update to my ebook on piano basics!
➜ You can download my updated ebook, Start Piano: What You Need For Successful Learning 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.