Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
~read in Tim Tebow’s book, Through My Eyes
All of the motivation in the world is meaningless if it’s not accompanied by discipline. Discipline is defined as, “activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill.” Learning to play the piano requires discipline in several ways:
- Daily scheduling – at Natalie’s Piano Studio, students are required to practice 5-7 days every week. The weekly assignment book page has columns for the students to check off each day so that they are held accountable for their practicing. Students under 12 years of age must have a parent’s signature to assist parents in remaining involved and aware of their child’s practice habits and progress.
- Goal setting – the yearly practice incentive themes are designed to help students set measurable goals each week to improve musical skills like sight-reading, ear-training, keyboard facility, improvisation, and more.
- Practice strategies – every student’s natural tendency is to practice sparingly and ineffectively (i.e. start to finish on a piece as few times as possible :-)). At Natalie’s Piano Studio, we try to spend time each lesson learning and implementing effective and fun practice strategies to help students learn their pieces faster and better. Once students see how quickly they can progress by implementing simple, but more disciplined, practicing methods they are much more motivated!
- Overcoming challenges – interestingly, I’ve found that the more naturally talented the student is, the more they struggle in this area. Even though music-making may come easily at first for many students who pursue piano lessons, I can guarantee that there will come a point when an assignment or piece of repertoire seems too difficult. Students who are used to flying through assignments and pieces find it especially difficult to set smaller goals, implement effective practice strategies, and overcome these challenges. The patient, encouraging support of parents is invaluable at times like this! The worst thing a student can do is what they naturally want to do – quit practicing. As I often tell students, “Good practice is never wasted.” Sometimes they just have to take it on faith and keep practicing well even when they don’t experience immediate results.