2011 Resolution #2: Play Music

In an effort to talk about the power of goal-setting along with some methods of setting and achieving goals, I’m going to discuss my three resolutions for 2011 this week.

Another of my 2010 resolutions was to learn to play the piano, which is something I feel is coming along very well. For 2011, I’ve been thinking about tackling some intermediate-level pieces and working with them until I can play them very well.

For the moment, I’ve settled on four pieces that I want to be able to play without error by the end of 2011. Two of them are classical and two of them are pop.

1. Scheherazade (piano solo) by Nikolaj Rimsky-Korsakow (listen to excerpt)
2. Beautiful Day by U2 (listen)
3. In the Hall of the Mountain King (piano solo) by Edvard Grieg (listen)
4. Clocks by Coldplay (listen)

My plan is to continue my piano lessons as they are and work through these (at first) completely on my own. As I start making breakthroughs, I’ll then take the piece to a piano lesson and go through it with my teacher, as she’s good at spotting where my problems are. I’ve basically asked her not to pull punches as I’d rather get good than have my ego fluffed.

For this resolution, I don’t have to set aside (much) time that I’m not already setting aside for piano practice. Instead, what I’m doing is setting new goals and renewing my commitment to learning an instrument.

Are these pieces over my head? Maybe. It really depends on the arrangement I wind up working with. I have arrangements in hand for three of them that I can at least comprehend and work through slowly at the keyboard.

I view these pieces as my “challenge” pieces. In a normal one hour practice session, I usually spend fifteen minutes on finger exercises and scales, fifteen minutes on a piece or two I know well, and thirty minutes on pieces that challenge me. They’re complex enough that I can’t just sit down, flop the piece in front of me, and just play it.

Why is this a goal? One, music education is a piece of my own personal education that I feel I missed when I was younger. I’ve always wanted to play an instrument and now I’m learning how. Two, I want to show my children that music is part of a normal, healthy life. Three, I might someday end up playing at my local church as a backup pianist for services. Fourth, I want to show myself that I can do this.

That’s reason enough for me.

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