• 5 Breakthrough Ways To Transform Your Playing This Year

    in Piano,Self-Improvement

    The first of the year isn’t the only time to set resolutions, goals, and “bucket” lists.

    Successful people are always striving to be better regardless of the time of year.

    So in that spirit, I’ve come up with 5 breakthrough things you can do NOW to realize transformation in your piano playing this year.

    #1 – Pick a time and stick to it!

    This is actually one of my 6 P’s of Practice, written about some time ago.

    In fact, it’s the second “P” on the list — Planned.

    What that means is you pick a time and you practice EVERYDAY — rain, snow or sleet, at the SAME TIME each day.

    This isn’t by accident either. Studies show when you carefully plan a routine activity and do it close to the same time everyday, something magical happens. You “habitualize” the activity, making it a part of your everyday life. And you’re likely to not break it either.

    So one of the best things you can do for yourself in this new year is to pick a time EVERYDAY to devote to your piano playing. And stick with it. Over time, you’ll be so accustomed to the daily activity that NOT doing it seems weird.

    And heck, don’t stop there. Plan your exercising, your reading time, your family time, bible devotions, yoga, etc with the same attitude. It helps.

    #2 – Find a shed buddy!

    A guy by the name of Napoleon Hill first coined the term “mastermind” in 1937. It’s essentially collaborating with other like-minded folks that have the same desires and aspirations as you. The idea being: two or more minds together is infinitely more powerful than each, separately.

    Us musicians call it “shedding” but it’s pretty much the same thing.

    Just like nature, you can look at it as shedding what you know to make room for more! Even the bible says “Give and it will be given unto you.”

    Another person puts it: You receive through the same hole you give through. (Is yours big or small?)

    So find folks to meet with regularly and watch synergy at work.

    #3 – Teach what you know!

    “But I hardly know anything Jermaine!”

    Doesn’t matter. Teach anyway!

    To be a teacher doesn’t mean you have to know everything, it just means you have to know more about the subject at hand than whoever you’re teaching (and truth be told, some teachers don’t even fit that prerequisite).

    So if you’ve just learned your major and minor scales using one of my shortcuts, teach it to someone who may benefit from it.

    When it comes to how much information we retain, according to researchers, different activities provide staggering results. That is, if you simply read something, you’ll remember 10% of it. If you’re demonstrated something, it goes up to 30%. If you practice doing something (that’s why it’s so important), 75% retention!

    And there are many more on the list, but you know what trumps all the modalities? TEACHING.

    When you teach something, you’ll retain 90% of it!

    So teaching is more for the teacher than it is for the student. A student will remember 5% of what is lectured to them but a teacher will remember 90% of what he or she teaches.

    The cool part is we’re all teachers and we’re all students. If you have children, don’t tell me you’re not a teacher! You are!

    #4 – Upgrade your library

    If you want to sound better, you gotta listen to better stuff!

    Now with the advancing of technology, there is no form or genre of music you can’t get your hands on. Youtube alone has millions of files. Itunes is another resource.

    I remember hearing a quote: “You’re the average of the 5 people you hang around the most” (and I believe it).

    But I think it overflows into other areas of life. I think your musical style and creativity will also average out according to what you listen to.

    Just like what goes up must come down, what goes IN (your system) will come OUT.

    Research all-time favorites in your chosen genre, make lists, seek out those records, and carve out some time to listen to them.

    #5 – Master your hardest, most complex song in all 12 keys

    This may seem pretty easy, but you’ll be surprised how many “seasoned” musicians haven’t taken the time to learn their most complex song in all 12 keys. And I don’t mean half-heartedly either!

    I mean equally in all 12 keys, which means if you can play your heart out in Db major, it ought to sound that way in A natural.

    If you’re not a 12-key player, this one exercise will revolution your playing. First, you’ll realize it isn’t as hard as you were making it out to be.

    Secondly, you’ll observe the same chords present in different keys… just in varying “roles” and that connection will be priceless to you.

    And third, you won’t be scared to hop on a “REAL” piano at second’s notice (in fear of not being able to play in the chosen key). You’ll be prepared.

    And that’s way this is all about — PREPARATION.

    The really good musicians have put in the time, the energy. In his book “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell talks about the folks who are at the top of their game and quotes 10,000 hours as the average amount of time it takes to become a master.

    How many have you put in?

    These 5 tips are “game changers” and if you take them seriously, you can’t help but to realize breakthrough growth this year.

    All the best,


    The following two tabs change content below.
    Hi, I'm Jermaine Griggs, founder of this site. We teach people how to express themselves through the language of music. Just as you talk and listen freely, music can be enjoyed and played in the same way... if you know the rules of the "language!" I started this site at 17 years old in August 2000 and more than a decade later, we've helped literally millions of musicians along the way. Enjoy!

    Comments on this entry are closed.

    Previous post:

    Next post: