PIANO: 3 Times of Happiness--blending inspiration and repetition

Hello fellow musicians and artists!

I had a goofy lesson with a high schooler the other day. She does a great job of reminding me to keep the teaching lighter and brighter. (Playing the piano is serious work, of course). But if our lessons get too intense, it seems we’re less productive.

I am always so reluctant to recommend repetition to my students, ie play this passage 5X every day twice a day, because that line of work may create a dull mind. A dull mind easily tunes out, stops listening attentively, and we go through the motions of moving our fingers and call that good. Repetition may give consistency, but a dull mind cannot create art, cannot express emotions or feelings.

I was sensing that this student needed more repetition and I was searching for a solution, one which would bring more consistency to her performance, but would also be fun and inspired.

And suddenly it blurted out of my mouth, “We need three times of happiness!” Meaning, she needs to feel happy with her playing of the passage 3 times in a given practice session. It may take 3 repetitions or it may take 12 or 20 to get there, at least the first time. But each time she practices, it will take less and less time (ie repetitions) to find her 3 times of happiness.

I like this method because it integrates mechanical consistency with positive emotions. Focusing on positive results: critical listening without the drama of self-criticism. Plus, a way to practice artistry: using the power of positive association to build musical security….which builds up our confidence in performance. Plus it’s funny to say, “I’m looking for Three Times of Happiness.”

I’d love to know, do you do something similar in your own practice, or recommend this to your students? If you try it for a week,let me know what happens.

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