I’m currently reading Grit by Angela Duckworth and it’s inspiring. Duckworth is a psychologist who has been studying successful people for years. She’s found that the most important factor shared by successful people is grit, which she defines as a blend of passion and perseverance. Grit will be the featured book on this blog next year.
Duckworth’s book makes me want to be a grittier person and to inspire my students to be gritty as well. One way that I think that I can achieve this is through practicing. I have a lot of ideas about the kinds of practicing that I want my piano students to do regularly. One is that they should always be working on both a review piece and a technical etude. So, I figured, why don’t I take on the same challenges that I expect of my students upon myself in my own practice time?!
I’ve decided to undertake a practice regimen based on what I expect my students to do. I’ve chosen Brahms’ Intermezzo in b-flat minor, Op. 117, No. 2 as my first review piece. But why review at all? The reason it’s important to review is that it allows you an opportunity to revisit a piece from a different practice perspective. When we first learn a piece, it can be difficult to tackle all of the various requirements: technique, musicality, memory, etc. Indeed, the technical requirements themselves usually take up much of our practice time. So, when we go back to review, we are less encumbered by the technical challenges. Let’s use the Brahms I’m playing as an example. I no longer have to worry about whether or not I can play all of the right notes and rhythms. So, this gives me a chance to focus just on interpretation and memory. I play a phrase ten times in a row just to see how good I can make it sound. In other words, it’s a different kind of practicing than if I were just learning the piece for the first time. And this kind of practicing is important!
I’m going to try to be a gritty practicer in the future and hold myself to a schedule similar to my students. I figure that I can review a different piece every month. Also, I think that I can tackle one technical etude every four months or so (I’m working on a Chopin etude that I’ll blog about next week). Hopefully, I can be a gritty example for my students in their own practicing. Check out my video of Brahms’ Intermezzo in b-flat minor, Op. 117, No. 2.