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Doniell Cushman loves to use her teaching experiences to inspire ways to improve music, teaching, and learning.
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Everyone who is alive and breathing can get distracted even by the tiniest of things. But pianists have some large issues when it comes to distractions. Distractions are anything that pulls us away from the music, or even playing all together. A distraction can be huge and keep you from your practice, or small and make you lose your place. Here are the top five that I have found to be the worst.
1. Housework/Chores are More Important
Maybe you have a guest arriving from out of town, or maybe you have a family with four wild and crazy kids under the age of ten. Whatever the case, your home life is a number one priority to you. So much so, that you can't even get to the piano to play a song. You may go for days, weeks, months, or even years without so much as touching the keys. And while yes, our home life should be comfortable and relatively clean, you CAN make time for piano if you set aside specific time in your daily or weekly schedule.
2. Holidays and Celebrations
I've heard this so many times: "Well, I didn't practice much because it was Thanksgiving." Letting important dates get in the way of practice is an amateur mistake. I always try to encourage my students to actually USE these celebrations as an excuse to play. Take for example Christmas - Have a sing-a-long of your favorite tunes. On a birthday, play your best rendition of Happy Birthday. Granted when you travel, you aren't likely to have the ability to practice, but you can absolutely take your music with you to read and study. Tabletop playing is also encouraged. You can do this by pretending you have a piano in front of you, and using your fingers to play your imaginary keys.
Hey, I get it, I really do. I've suffered from insomnia since I was a child. Being tired doesn't have to equal less practice though. Using aromatherapy such as essential oils can perk your body and brain right up. Orange, Tangerine, Ylang Ylang, Spearmint and Lemon are great pick-me-ups. Another great solution is to eat a heaping spoonful of peanut butter or an orange, wait 10 minutes, then practice. These foods are quick to activate sugars needed for energy and focus in your body. The other thing I would encourage is to pick a time of day when you are most alert to do your practicing.
4. School and Extra Curricular Activities
You make a commitment to learn music and all of a sudden the workload at school is too much. This is a common theme with middle school and high school students in particular. Or maybe, you have a double header soccer tournament over the weekend. For some reason, you believe there is no time in between your school or your soccer, to find time to practice. This is not the case! You know those times in the morning before school when you have extra time on your hands? Sit at the piano and practice part of your assignment! Right when you get home from school is also another great time to practice, as is just before dinner. Especially if you treat dinner as a reward for hard work! Make your schedule find the time that you have nothing to do and work in a song or two at the piano. It IS possible!
Never let a cold or flu get you down. If you are grounded at home on an illness staycation, make sure to bone up on your music. Yes, you're tired, yes you may cough or sneeze, but that shouldn't equal no practice. Start with just reading your music in the comfort of your bed or on your couch. Then, when you are feeling your most alert (right after a nap or just before a meal) practice for a short spurt of 10-15 minutes. This works great in conjunction with placing tissues and sanitizer nearby just in case, and having a glass of orange juice just before for an energy boost. I also recommend essential oils and/or aromatherapy designed to support your immune system or level of alertness.
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