Over the last week I have been planning. Planning for my family, studio, students and also for here at Creative.Piano.Professional. It has been exciting to think about that I would like to achieve and put things out there as inspiration for the year.
Each year our family sits down and writes (as a collective group) things we would like to do in that year. It always includes things like family holidays, house maintenance, date days, and various other goals and achievements for the year. We have done this for the last 3 years and it is surprising the number of items that get completed each year. We normally only look at the list a couple of times in the year but low and behold by year end we have successfully crossed off most of them. I feel that clarifying what is important to you helps you focus your attention and energy in that direction. So even if it isn’t forefront in your mind, you will be making your way towards it.
This is something I also do at the beginning of the year with each student. I do a plan before lessons start back for general repertoire and the likes for each student. But in the first lesson back, we write a goals list in the back of their notebook. It can include anything they like. I steer them to include composers they would like to study, set a goal for songs to complete (such as the 40 piece challenge), try a new style, attend a live concert, finish a book, sight read (xx) number of pieces, perform at 2 (or more) recitals, sit an exam, learn a piece that they really like the sound of, listen to……. ok, you get the idea. There are so many different goals the student can set. I encourage them to set achievable goals, but also a couple of challenging goals. It is important for them to stretch themselves and really see what they can do!!Their list is always at the back of their notebook for later reference and is always interesting to go back to at the end of the year.
After I have completed this list with my students I then complete further planning for the term and year. Planning that takes into account the direction and focus they wish to take, whilst fulfilling my objectives for them for the year.
Today I sat down and did something a bit different. I actually made one of these lists for myself. I may make other goals lists for the year for myself and my family, but my own piano playing hasn’t made an appearance in the goals list since I had children.
These are my goals for 2014. They are entirely centred around my own playing and learning. They don’t include performance, seeing live music etc. Just playing. Things that I would like to do and focus on at the piano. At the moment I am keeping it small. I have struggled to find adequate practice time recently and would like to do ensure that the goals are realistic in that time I am making available.
So here we go:
- Make my way through the Scales Bootcamp book by Philip Johnston- It will be a fabulous way to revisit my scales and I will aim to complete to the “yours for life” standard. I am particularly looking forward to the twists at the back of the book. They should add a bit of spice!
- Play through the Technique and Artistry Book 4 from Piano Adventures . This may seem terribly easy, but I would like to go back to basics in many respects with deliberately practising certain skills. After this book, I’m planning on moving into other technique books. Do you have any suggestions as to what I could look at? I have all the usual suspects and was going to look at a bit of Czerny, Hanon and Max Cooke. If you have any other ideas for inspiration, please throw them at me!
- For quite some time I have wanted to play Handel’s Air and Variations (The Harmonious Blacksmith). I have the music, I have even sat down and had bit of a bash at sight reading it sometime ago. But I have not actually learnt this piece yet. This piece has embedded itself into my musical mind and I need to be able to play it. My goal is to learn it. Properly. You can have a listen to it here: http://youtu.be/Mza-xqk770k
- My next goal is to work my way through playing everything in Piano Classics Vol.2. Some of these are sight reading, others are more practice, analysis and learning. It is an easy way to get a taste from a variety of classical sources all in one place. It is also my version of “quick wins” so if I’m having a week where I need something easy to play, I can pick the easier songs from here. My ulterior motive with this collection is additional repertoire selection for students. I like to expand my own musical vocabulary in order to help broaden that of my students’. This is quite a large collection and should well and truly keep me going all year.
- Then the biggy for the year, my challenge, I would like to learn Mozart’s Sonata No.8 in A Minor K.310. This is somewhat ambitious with the amount of practice time I have available. However, I am willing to put it out there as something I would really like to try. Here is a version to listen to. Keep in mind that the whole piece is quite long (18-21 minutes) and is made up of three movements.
I would love to have other goals in there with other genres represented. But frankly, I don’t have time. I need to be discerning when I allocate my available practice time. I already feel somewhat terrified by these five goals for the year, have I overreached? Will I actually finish any of them? Will I finish all of them? Who knows, time will tell. I do know one thing for certain, I will be booking lessons with my teacher! About a month ago, she called to have a chat (we keep in touch and have the occasional catch up and lesson!), and she asked how my playing was going and plans for my playing in 2014. Well, I guess I now have an answer for her.