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Your Ultimate Guide to The Perfect Piano Practice Routine

Your Ultimate Guide to The Perfect Piano Practice Routine

Do you struggle with getting into a piano practice routine?

Are you confused about how much time you should be spending on practice?

Do you feel confident about how you spend your practice time? Or does it feel like you’re not getting the results you want enough though you put in practice time?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and disheartened by your current piano practice habits, this is the perfect blog post for you!

Whether you’ve been playing for 1 week or 10 years, you will find helpful tips and resources to make your piano practice time effective.

We will cover when to schedule your practice sessions, what you should be working on, and how you can stay motivated.

Ready? Let’s go!

This post may contain affiliate links. As affiliates of Amazon, Modacity, Dr. Josh Wright ProPractice, Musicnotes, and Piano Marvel, I may receive a commission at no extra cost if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information. I take no credit for the images appearing on this page. All photos are courtesy of Canva.

Why should you take my advice about how to practice piano?

The short answer is that I’ve been where you are right now. Although I’ve played piano for 30 years, I haven’t always had good practice habits.

And even though I studied piano in college, I firmly believed that talent, not effort, was the key to excelling at the keyboard.

I absolutely loved to play piano but had so much imposter syndrome around the instrument for most of my life. This led to anxiety and depression about my skills as a pianist.

And believing in talent over effort led to inconsistent practice as a form of self-sabotage.

It wasn’t until several years after I graduated with a music degree that I realized how hard work trumps talent every time. I began spending my free time researching ways to improve my mindset around practice.

And I started focusing on establishing good habits to support a regular practice routine despite a busy schedule.

With consistent practice, my skills improved, and I started looking forward to my daily piano practice routines. Most importantly, my love and passion for the instrument intensified.

My transformation inspired me to share what I learned about practicing mindset and establishing an effective routine with others.

The Myth of Motivation

The first thing you need to know about effective practice is that mindset matters. If you don’t manage your thoughts around practice, it will be easy to talk yourself out of it.

Other than the lie about talent versus hard work, I used to believe that motivation comes before action. I can’t tell you how many times I missed a day of practice because I didn’t feel like practicing.

But the truth is that you’ll never feel like putting in the work. Your brain will always try to trick you into believing the effort isn’t worth it. And one of the most effective ways it does this is by getting you to believe that you have to feel motivated to do something.

Although I love the thought that practice makes me a better player, I still don’t always feel like putting in the work.

The only way to get around the tricks your brain plays on you is to set a practice schedule and stick with it. Whether you feel like practicing or not, keep the commitment you’ve made to yourself to improve your piano skills.

Action creates motivation. The more action you take, the more your motivation will grow.

How much should you practice?

One of the first questions that come up around practice is how many minutes of practice you should log.

Although many people will tell you that you should plan for a 30-minute practice session daily, I disagree.

I have minimal time available for my various pursuits on any given day. And between a full-time job, husband, kids, dog, horse, and multiple side gigs, there’s NEVER a perfect time to practice!

Setting a specific amount of time for daily practice was ineffective for me because of my busy lifestyle.

I’ve experimented with many ways to develop a solid piano practice routine. The most successful has been committing to daily practice.

One of the best things I did was release myself from the prison of 30-minute practice sessions.

I stopped setting a specific number of minutes because I started feeling guilty whenever I didn’t hit my goal number of minutes. And I learned that the best way to progress was to be flexible.

Some days, I have enough time for 30+ minutes of practice. But on others, I have only 5 minutes.

And that’s ok.

If you’re serious about working on the necessary skills to become better at the piano, I highly encourage you to be flexible in how you get there.

When should you practice?

The easy answer is whenever it’s easiest to fit practice in as a part of your routine. Some adult piano students find that morning is the best time to fit a session in.

Others swear by practicing late at night. I’ve found that fitting a piano playing session in before I pick my kids up from school works the best.

The first step in planning your practice routine is considering what time of day is best for you.

When are you most mentally engaged in tasks? And when do you seem to accomplish the most?

Although it’s not always possible to schedule practice sessions at your peak productivity time, awareness is the first step.

Try to avoid practicing at those times of the day when your brain is on autopilot because your progress will be slow. Those are the times when you’re most at risk of picking up bad habits.

Practicing at night is the hardest because I’m a morning person. And there are times when I practice under less-than-ideal circumstances. But I try my best to coordinate practice when I’m most alert.

What should you practice?

Coming up with a practice plan is crucial whether you are studying with a piano teacher or taking online piano lessons. Coming up with a plan before you practice makes your practice much more efficient.

Start setting small goals because you’ll feel even more motivated to practice as you accomplish them.

And being clear on a specific goal ensures you will spend the time needed to achieve that goal.

Piano Practice Routine: The Warm-Up

The warm-up is a great time to set your intention for the practice session.

There are many different ways to warm up. But think of this as a time to prepare your brain and body for what’s coming.

You could spend some time working through small sections of difficult passages in your music. Separate the left hand from the right hand and focus on pinpointing the exact spot where you struggle.

Technical exercises are another fantastic way to warm up. I recommend the Hanon exercises because they have patterns that aren’t terribly difficult but get your fingers moving. Czerny and Brahms also have books on finger exercises to improve your technical skills.

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Scale practice is a popular warm-up. You can choose one major scale and its relative minor scale to work on per week. Working on scales strengthens your music theory knowledge and finger technique.

I enjoy spending some time sight reading during my warm-up sessions. It helps with my note reading and playing confidence when performing a somewhat unfamiliar piece.

Piano Practice Routine: New Pieces

After my brain and muscles are warmed up, I like to tackle whatever requires the most effort. Examples include working on a new piece of music or memorizing something you’ve already learned.

It’s at this point in your practice session that everything is primed and ready to go. This is why it’s best to tackle whatever needs the most work. I like to use this point in my practice session to practice whatever I want to practice the least.

There are always practice tasks that are difficult or boring. It’s easy to skip right over them, but it’s often these areas in which you can make the most improvement.

Other ideas for filling this part of your practice session include:

  • Focusing in on any hard parts in your music
  • Working with the metronome to solidify rhythms
  • Engaging in slow practice

In any given practice session, there will be things you NEED to work on and things you WANT to work on. The best sessions are a balance between the two.

Piano Practice Routine: The Fun Stuff

And once you’ve tackled the work, it’s time for some fun! I always save the last part of my practice session for the pieces I’m dying to play. It could be stuff that I’ve already mastered or fun projects.

If you love to improvise, save your noodling for this part of the session. I love to work on playing by ear, so I will spend the last part of my practice playing whatever pop or country song I’m obsessed with.

You could also work on accompanying yourself while singing. Try to find piano-related activities that drew you to the instrument in the first place.

Saving the most fun and exciting activities for the end ensures you leave the keyboard on a high note. And that way, sitting down the next day will be easier.

What if you only have 5 minutes to practice?

My advice is to take what you can get. Prioritize what you want to work on and get to it!

Even 5 minutes of focused practice is better than nothing.

Do you have to practice every day?

Getting better at anything requires consistency. I’ve found that practicing daily keeps everything fresh and makes it easier to progress. But consistency is different for everyone.

And making time every day helps me establish piano practice as more than a habit. It’s not as easy to talk myself out of practice when it’s part of my daily routine.

Are there tools you can use to help make your piano practice routine more effective?

Absolutely! One of my favorite tools is an app called Modacity. It tracks your practice time and keeps a daily log, so you can see your practice streak when you log in.

This app has been pivotal in helping me establish the perfect piano practice routine. Aside from the practice log, Modacity can give suggestions for improving your practice. You can also track improvements you’ve made on individual songs.

I’ve been using Modacity for the past 3 years and can’t say enough good about this app!

If you’d like to try it, take advantage of a special deal for readers by clicking my affiliate link here.

There’s a fantastic book by Gerald Klickstein called The Musician’s Way, which breaks practice down into individual components. It resets any negative thoughts you may have about practice. And it helps you form new patterns of more positive thinking that you can use in the practice room.

The Musician’s Way revolutionized how I approach practice, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking to do the same.

What about tools to improve your mindset around practice?

Aside from The Musician’s Way, there are a few other books that I have found helpful in reframing a more positive mindset. And with a positive mindset, you can excel in practice and life.

One of the most inspirational books I’ve read is called Relentless. The book is written by Tim Grover, athletic trainer for the biggest names in athletics, including Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. If you struggle to stay motivated about your goals, reading this book will revolutionize your approach to goal-setting!

Indistractable is another essential read for transforming your mindset. It helps you identify distractions in your life and take steps to improve efficiency. This translates into practice that is infinitely more effective.

And if you’re interested in learning how the best in the world become the best, you have to read Peak by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool. The book explores the traits that the most successful people in the world share. And more importantly, it gives you the tools to transform your own skillset.

Are there tools specific for classical pianists?

If you love playing classical pieces but struggle with finding a piano teacher or attending weekly lessons, I have an incredible resource to recommend!

I discovered the ProPractice course by Dr. Josh Wright several years ago while on the search for ways to improve my playing. Dr. Josh Wright is a world-renowned pianist and put together a fantastic set of resources to help pianists who may struggle with regular lessons.

ProPractice is a course that includes tutorials for some of the most well-known pieces in the classical repertoire.

And he walks you through each piece, guiding you on fingering and interpretation so you can improve your ability to play each piece from the comfort of your home.

Dr. Wright has an active YouTube channel with helpful resources for everything from keeping pieces fresh to dealing with performance anxiety. He is the absolute best if you’re interested in improving your classical skills! You can check out his YouTube channel here.

And if you’re interested in learning about his ProPractice course, click this link.

If you want to see how the course has improved my playing, here’s a recent video of me playing two different pieces for the ABRSM Grade 5 exam. The second piece played in the video, composed by Friedrich Burgmuller, is included in Dr. Wright’s ProPractice course.

By following his suggestions on this piece and others, I completed the Grade 5 exam with distinction. Again, it’s a fantastic resource for anyone who doesn’t have time for regular lessons with a piano teacher.

Two pieces from the 2021-2022 ABRSM Grade 5 Exam: La Huerfana and The Storm

Final Thoughts on Developing the Perfect Piano Practice Routine

I hope this blog post helped outline the perfect piano practice routine! Remember, it’s all about approaching practice with flexibility and a positive mindset.

Regardless of whether you aspire to play at church on the stage at Carnegie Hall, keep at it and never give up on your dreams!

And if you loved this post, please help me by pinning it or sharing it with a friend. And check out more of our unique piano-related content you’re guaranteed to love!

ABRSM Piano Exams: What They Are and Why You Should Take One

ABRSM Piano Exams: What They Are and Why You Should Take One

Whether you are an independent learner or have a piano teacher, you’ve probably heard of music exams. And maybe you’ve always thought exams are for kids rather than adult learners.

But exams offered through organizations such as the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) are designed for piano learners of all ages. They provide an opportunity to improve your technical skills and overall practical musicianship. And they offer performance opportunities in person or from the comfort of your own home.

Although I was aware of piano exams through several organizations, including the ABRSM piano exams and those through Trinity College London, I had never participated in one until recently. But last week, I took my first piano exam and found the experience oddly motivating.

Keep reading to learn more about ABRSM piano exams and my experience preparing for ABRSM’s grade 5 online exam. And who knows? Maybe it will inspire you to film your own exam video!

This post may contain affiliate links. As affiliates of Amazon and Dr. Josh Wright’s ProPractice course, I may receive a commission at no extra cost if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information. I take no credit for the images appearing on this page. All photos are courtesy of Canva.

What is the ABRSM?

The ABRSM started in 1889 as a joint collaboration between the Royal College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music. They aimed to create an examination board to inspire people to hone their musical skills.

And they did this by creating a series of performance grades guiding the musical development of a musician on their journey from beginner to advanced musician.

Today, the organization administers 650,000 exam sessions annually. Musicians can participate in practical exams, theory exams, or even online exams to gauge one’s performance skills.

There’s also a section on jazz if classical isn’t your passion. And singers even have the option of musical theater.

Why should you take an exam?

Learning a musical instrument is a journey. And there’s so much to know! Whether you’ve been playing for 3 months or 30 years, there’s always something you can improve upon.

Musicianship

Exams give you a structured learning plan. Through their gradual introduction to more complex material, they give you a pathway to musical success.

And they fill in the gaps where your musical knowledge may be lacking.

For example, the practical piano exams offered by ABRSM include grade-appropriate sight reading and aural tests in addition to piano pieces learned ahead of time.

Sight-reading and ear training are valuable skills for all musicians because they improve your accuracy and overall comfort with the instrument.

I regret not taking full advantage of learning music theory earlier in my life.

Although I took music theory in college, I didn’t realize the value of this knowledge at the time. I didn’t retain the information in a helpful way that benefitted me long-term. But now realize that I can augment my weak areas by following syllabi set out by organizations such as the ABRSM.

And if you want to be a well-rounded musician but music school is not practical right now, practical grades are the perfect way to improve your musical knowledge and skills.

Goals

Whether you’re enrolled in regular piano lessons or are learning the instrument independently, having goals is crucial. Without goals, things can feel aimless and haphazard.

And even though I love to sit down and play piano, that passion isn’t always enough to get me to practice daily. My practice self-sabotage usually presents in the form of procrastination and, sometimes, self-doubt. This is especially true when life gets busy.

But having definite goals on your calendar, such as several exam dates, can motivate you to sit down and practice. Your exam preparations suddenly take on a sense of urgency when preparing for something more significant than mock exams.

New Music

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of repeatedly playing the same composer and types of pieces.

But taking an exam forces you to play outside your usual box of repertoire. Each piano syllabus contains a list of selections from which you generally must select 3. A 4th piece is one of your choosing and doesn’t have to come from the list.

Some pieces on ABRSM piano exams are part of the standard piano repertoire, but others are more contemporary pieces that you may have never heard of before. Playing through examination pieces is a fantastic way to broaden your musical horizons!

Performance Experience

After graduating from high school and college, the opportunity to get involved in musical groups and performances shrinks. It suddenly becomes much harder to find chances to perform for others.

Although not everyone relishes the opportunity to play in front of others, performance is a massive part of being a musician. And there’s something intensely satisfying about putting in all that hard work behind the scenes and being able to share it with others.

But exams allow you to perform in front of an audience.

And you can choose to participate in person or partake in digital exams. If you have any hesitancy about performing in front of other people, going for a digital performance grade is a fantastic option because if you don’t like your performance, you can simply re-record it. It’s a performance situation without all the pressures of a live performance.

Are there different ABRSM piano exams?

ABRSM offers several paths to participation in exams. Most exam routes have an initial grade level followed by 8 additional levels, referred to as “grades.” The organization sets an updated syllabus approximately every 2 years, listing the different pieces students can select from at each level.

Performance Grades

One of the best aspects of ABRSM, as opposed to other exam options, is that they offer performance grade exams that allow you to record and send your performance for evaluation.

There are no prerequisites for initial through grade 5; you don’t have to start at the first level and work towards higher grades.

Grades 6-8, however, do have a prerequisite. You must have passed grade 5 in music theory, practical musicianship, or solo jazz before you can participate in the higher grades.

As I was completely new to the exam process, I chose performance grade 5 because there were no required prerequisites. I love the flexibility of being able to record and submit ABRSM exam pieces at any time rather than needing to wait for an in-person date.

This grade level also offered several fun pieces I had never heard of before, which made preparing for the exam a fun experience!

Practical Musicianship

The practical exams emphasize overall musicianship in combination with performance skills. This route offers the same opportunity to prepare individual pieces for performance. It also includes various sight reading, improvisation, and memory exercises.

At this time, all practical musicianship exams are held in person. And if you take the grade 5 practical musicianship exam, you can proceed with grades 6-8 for either performance or practical musicianship.

Scoring is similar to performance and practical musicianship. Each piece is given up to 30 points, with an additional 30 points for the performance. In total, the score is marked out of 150.

Music Theory

You can also opt to pursue music theory exams.

ABRSM offers 8 levels of music theory, and levels 1-5 may be taken as an online music theory exam. If you choose to do grade 5 music theory and pass, you are eligible for levels 6-8 for either the performance or practical musicianship exams. Grades 6-8 theory exams must be done on paper.

Diploma

ABRSM also offers ARSM exams for anyone seeking additional performance experience and feedback beyond grade 8. You must have completed grade 8 to qualify for a diploma exam.

The exam includes at least 20 minutes of prepared music from the syllabus and up to 10 minutes of additional music selected by the candidate. And the exam can be done in person or as a digitally recorded exam.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you take ABRSM exams on any instrument?

Most instruments, including brass, woodwind, percussion, and strings, have their own exam syllabus. You can also take an exam if you play the organ or sing.

Do you have to pay to take ABRSM piano exams?

Yes. There are different fees depending upon the instrument, grade, and exam. Consult the ABRSM website for the latest information on exam fees.

What is the benefit of taking ABRSM piano exams?

Exams give you structured goals to work toward. They also guide your development as a musician, whether or not you’re working with a music teacher. ABRSM offers various supplemental materials, including app recommendations and other online resources, to help you gain the skills you need for success.

Are there similar exams offered by other organizations?

Royal College of Music and Trinity College London offer similar opportunities to enhance your learning through structured exams. Stay tuned to Only Getting Better for additional information and reviews of other exams.

Final Thoughts on ABRSM Piano Exams

Taking a piano exam has been on my goal list for several years now, and I’m ecstatic to have finally checked it off! As I’m not currently working with a teacher, I chose to take an exam at a lower level. And I elected not to memorize my pieces because I wanted to take the exam as quickly as possible.

From start to finish, it took me around a month to prepare the pieces to the level where I felt they were ready for evaluation. I had been playing the fourth piece I chose off and on for a couple of months, so this one was, more or less, ready when I decided to submit it for evaluation.

As I’m not studying regularly with a piano teacher, I rely heavily on Dr. Josh Wright’s ProPractice course. In fact, my last piece is a piece he goes through measure-by-measure in the course, and I feel that I gained so much from his guidance and interpretation of the piece. I love this piece and enjoy its technical and interpretation challenges.

You can check it out for yourself in the video posted below. And if you’re interested in more information about Dr. Josh Wright’s ProPractice course, please read my review.

Although I’m still waiting on the results from the exam, I’m already weighing out different options for my next exam. I am considering taking the grade 5 music theory exam in preparation for moving on to a grade 6 practical musicianship exam.

I’m also considering taking either an RCM or Trinity College exam to make a comparison between the different organizations. Regardless of what I decide, I will keep you posted! Stay tuned because there’s definitely more to come!

Please take a few minutes to leave a comment below about your experience with exams. Have you ever taken one? What was your experience like? And would you recommend taking an exam?

You May Also Enjoy Reading

References

ABRSM: Our history

Ranking the Best Budget Digital Pianos

Ranking the Best Budget Digital Pianos

Maybe you’ve wanted to learn piano for a while now but are intimidated by purchasing a musical instrument. A piano can be a significant investment, and you may be worried about making that investment before you’re confident that you’ll love playing.

Or perhaps you’re a parent thinking about enrolling your little ones in piano lessons. You may be wondering whether purchasing a piano is necessary and, if so, where to start looking for a great option that fits your home and budget.

As a former piano teacher, I can completely relate to your desire to find a good option at an affordable price. And I understand how confusing all the musical jargon is when you’ve only just started your piano journey.

Learning to play an instrument is hard enough without worrying about reading a bunch of reviews and watching countless videos only to feel still overwhelmed when it comes to making a decision.

I get it. And as a self-proclaimed “piano nerd,” I geek out over this stuff! Pianos are my jam, and I love getting into the nitty-gritty details of how they work and who may love a particular instrument as much as I do.

So, please sit back, relax, and take advantage of my tendency to obsessively research the object of my fascination! Let me help you find the best affordable digital piano in your price range.

Pssssst! Are you a skip-to-the-good part kinda person? If so, click below to jump directly to the individual reviews.

This post may contain affiliate links. As an affiliates of Amazon, I may receive a commission at no extra cost if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information. I take no credit for the images appearing on this page. All images courtesy of Canva.

Acoustic or digital?

When purchasing a piano, the first decision is whether you want an acoustic or a digital piano. Acoustic pianos come in various sizes that fall into either the upright or grand category.

An acoustic piano generates sound when a hammer hits a string, and the sound resonates across a massive piece of wood called a soundboard.

A digital piano is an electronic replication of an acoustic piano. Digital piano sounds are created by recording individual notes from an acoustic piano and combining them into a sound bank.

There is a great deal of variation in quality for both acoustic and digital pianos. In general, the higher the price tag, the better the quality.

How does a digital piano compare to an acoustic piano?

Although technology has come a long way in sound quality, nothing beats how an acoustic grand piano sounds!

An acoustic grand piano is a gold standard for how a piano should sound, which is why digital piano sounds are made up of grand piano recordings. The feel of an acoustic piano has also historically been hard to replicate.

But purchasing a grand piano is not realistic for most people. Grand pianos are a financial investment between the initial cost and routine maintenance. 

It’s an investment that’s not practical when you’re just starting to learn the instrument or don’t yet know whether you’ll love it.

Like a car, acoustic pianos are individuals, and some need more or less maintenance to reach their full potential.

And not all acoustic pianos are created equal, either—plenty of upright and even grand pianos with subpar manufacturing and sound quality. If you’re thinking about purchasing an acoustic piano, it’s always wise to have a piano technician weigh in on the purchase.

Check the table below for more information on the differences between an acoustic and digital piano.

Acoustic Pianos

Digital Pianos

Initial cost

Varies depending upon brand and type but can range between $1,000-$100,000

Varies depending upon brand and type but can range between $200-$20,000

Maintenace

Needs tuning at least every year and ideally whenever the piano is moved

No regular maintenance 

Repairs

Tuning and repairs can generally be done in your home by a local piano technician

May need to work through the manufacturer for repairs

Space requirements

Upright pianos are 5' wide and 2' deep while grand pianos are 5' wide and 5-9' deep. Plan on at least an additional 2' around the piano for the bench and player comfort

88-key digital pianos are a little less than 5' in length and slightly less than 1' in width. Plan on at least an additional 2' around the piano for the bench and player comfort

Portability

At a standard weight between 200 and 500+ pounds, portability is simply not a feature of this piano

Many models weigh less than 50 pounds and can be easily moved from place to place

Sound quality

Varies depending on brand and model however nothing beats an acoustic for artistic expression

Varies depending on brand and model with limitations on artistic expression

Best for

Beginner, intermediate, advanced pianists

Beginner and early intermediate pianists; musicians who play traveling gigs

Given the challenges with acoustic pianos, digital pianos make an excellent choice for beginners. Digital pianos can even be the best choice for some intermediate piano players. But in most cases, acoustic pianos are ideal for advanced players.

What are the differences between digital pianos and keyboards?

In your search for the best pianos that fit your budget and learning needs, you’ve probably encountered an instrument known as a keyboard. Although digital pianos and keyboards look very similar, there are a few key differences.

Number of Keys and Sounds

Compared to digital pianos, keyboards often come with fewer keys and a more comprehensive range of instrument sounds. Keyboards often come equipped with many different options for making truly electronic music.

Portability

Keyboards are designed with portability in mind. Their compact design and variety of sound effects make them a favorite for gigging musicians who give stage performances.

Music Composition and Vocal Practice

Keyboards can be helpful for musicians who enjoy experimenting with different sounds while composing music. Their smaller size and wide range of sound options are preferable over acoustic instruments for music production.

And for singers looking for help with nailing pitches during practice, nothing beats a portable keyboard!

Key Weight

When it comes to the amount of force it takes to press down a key, also known as key weight, there are differences between digital pianos and keyboards.

Many keyboards are completely unweighted, meaning little to no resistance is felt when a key is played.

On the other end of the spectrum, grand pianos have tiny mechanical parts, including hammers, that strike a string producing a sound. Thanks to the mechanics of an acoustic piano, a real piano will therefore present a fair amount of resistance while playing.

Digital pianos offer varying degrees of key weight, ranging from semi-weighted to hammer action keys more closely simulating the real thing.

Digital pianos with a hammer action keyboard are often graded, meaning it takes more force to depress a key on the lower end of the keyboard than the upper end.

Although keyboards have great features, the difference in key weight and fewer keys make them less ideal for kids and adults who want to learn to play the piano. If you’re not quite ready to invest in an acoustic piano, your best option is a good digital piano.

Check out this video for more in-depth information on the differences between weighted and un-weighted keys.

What should you keep in mind when selecting a digital piano?

Not all digital pianos are created equal. The world of digital pianos is vast, and instruments generally have more features as the price point increases.

This post breaks down the key features you need to consider in purchasing an 88-key digital piano at the lower end of the price scale. The table below lists the criteria used to evaluate each featured model in this post.

Sound Quality

Exceptional = 3

Average = 2

Poor = 1

Portability

<30 pounds = 1

>30 pounds = 0

N/A

MIDI or USB

Yes = 1

No = 0

N/A

Includes stand, pedal, and bench

Yes = 1

No = 0

N/A

Includes bonus online learning resources

Yes = 1

No = 0

N/A

Number of Amazon Customer Reviews

>3,000 = 3

1,000-3,000 = 2

<1,000 = 1

Additional Sounds

10 or more = 3

5-9 = 2

<5 = 1

Transposition/Tuning Option

Yes = 1

No = 0

N/A

Polyphony

>121 = 2

<120 = 1

Information Not Available = 0

Price Point

<$500 = 2

>$500 = 1

N/A

Please keep in mind that the features may be more or less applicable to your situation. For example, you might prioritize high-quality sound, so use the model comparisons to make the decision that fits best for you.

And before we dig into the differences between each of the featured models, let’s touch on a term pertaining to sound quality. This term is “polyphony,” and means the number of voices that can sound at once. In general, the higher the polyphony, the more authentic the sound.

Now, let’s break down the best digital pianos at the lower price scale!

Yamaha P71

Topping the list of best cheap digital pianos is the Yamaha P71. Yamaha is a leading manufacturer of high quality musical instruments. The company got its start manufacturing reed organs in the late 1800s.

Today Yamaha is known for excellence in producing digital and acoustic pianos and a wide range of other musical instruments.

Yamaha also manufactures a nearly identical digital piano called the P45. There are very subtle differences between the two, the biggest being the intended distributor.

The Yamaha P-45 is manufactured for instrument retailers, while the P71 is an Amazon exclusive model. There are otherwise no significant differences between the two models.

Yamaha P71

Star Rating

Sound Quality

Exceptional

Portability

<30 pounds

MIDI/USB

Yes

Pedal, Bench, Stand Included

No

Number of Amazon Reviews

>3,000

Additional Instrument Sounds

10+

Transposition and Tuning Option

Yes

Polyphony

<120

Includes Bonus Online Learning Resources

No

Price

<$500

Total Score

15

Pros of the Yamaha P71

  • Features Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) technology meaning the playing experience is as close to an acoustic as you can get
  • Hands-down the best, most realistic sound of all models featured in this post
  • Each of the additional nine instrument sounds, including harpsichord and organ, is unique and true to their acoustic versions.

Cons of the Yamaha P71

  • Polyphony is low compared to other models
  • This particular model does not come with a bench, pedal, or stand
  • No online learning app included

Why You’ll Love This Digital Piano

Did I mention the great sound that this instrument produces? Although the polyphony is low compared with other models, the sound is incredible! Despite being a die-hard acoustic fan, this model transformed my expectations of how a digital piano should sound.

The realistic feel also makes it a contender for anyone aspiring to advance their classical piano studies. All-in-all, the Yamaha P71/P45 is an excellent digital piano for most beginning students.

Alesis Recital Pro

The Alesis Recital Pro also earned a 5-star rating as a cheap digital piano top pick. Although Alesis as a company started nearly 100 years after Yamaha, it has established itself as a leader in music production and recording. Innovation and creativity are central to the company’s mission.

Alesis Recital Pro

Star Rating

Sound Quality

Average

Portability

<30 pounds

MIDI/USB

Yes

Pedal, Bench, Stand Included

No

Number of Amazon Reviews

1,000-3,000

Additional Instrument Sounds

10+

Transposition and Tuning Option

Yes

Polyphony

>121

Includes Bonus Online Learning Resources

Yes

Price

<$500

Total Score

15

Pros of the Alesis Recital Pro

  • Twice the polyphony of the Yamaha model, which translates to a more realistic sound
  • Up your musical creativity with settings such as reverb and layering to create a unique and custom sound
  • It comes with three months of Skoove premium lessons

Cons of the Alesis Recital Pro

  • Sustain pedal, stand, and bench will need to be purchased separately
  • Many reviews mention difficulty getting assistance from Alesis customer service
  • The sound quality is not as realistic as the Yamaha model

Why You’ll Love This Digital Piano

The Alesis Recital Pro features hammer action keys that simulate an acoustic piano. Touch response is also adjustable, giving you a little bit of control over how the instrument feels.

Although the sound quality is not quite at the level of the Yamaha model, the Alesis has 12 different voices and comes with three months of a premium learning platform. And the over 2,000 Amazon reviews give it an overall rating of 4.7 out of 5, making it a solid contender for anyone wanting to launch their piano journey.

Korg B2

Next up is the Korg B2. Korg has been around since the early 1960s, and the company prides itself on innovation. The company boasts a wide range of musical products ranging from mixers to percussion instruments and even an app that teaches you how to dance.

Korg B2

Star Rating

Sound Quality

Poor

Portability

>30 pounds

MIDI/USB

Yes

Pedal, Bench, Stand Included

Yes

Number of Amazon Reviews

<1,000

Additional Instrument Sounds

10+

Transposition and Tuning Option

Yes

Polyphony

<120

Includes Bonus Online Learning Resources

Yes

Price

>$500

Score

11

Pros of the Korg B2

  • Features Natural Action Hammer Weighted keys to mimic the feel of an acoustic piano
  • Key weight increases as you go up the keyboard to further emulate an acoustic
  • Three months of a premium membership to Skoove is included in the price

Cons of the Korg B2

  • Digital sounds are comprised of a variety of grand pianos around the world, but there are no specifics about which models were included.
  • Sound quality is among the lowest of the pianos featured, while the price point is on the higher end.

Why You’ll Love This Digital Piano

The Korg B2 is a no-frills digital piano excellent for home use. It does not have many extra features making it ideal for piano players who may be distracted by extra bells and whistles. And it includes the 3-month premium Skoove membership, useful for a wide range of piano learners from beginner through advanced.

Roland GO:PIANO 88

Featuring Bluetooth connectivity, the Roland GO:PIANO 88 is a versatile and portable piano suitable for beginners as well as gigging musicians. Roland has been around since 1972 and prides itself on electronic instruments. The company has also developed a free app for iOS and Android with a variety of useful features.

Roland GO:PIANO 88

Star Rating

Sound Quality

Poor

Portability

<30 pounds

MIDI/USB

Yes

Pedal, Bench, Stand Included

Yes

Number of Amazon Reviews

<1,000

Additional Instrument Sounds

<5

Transposition and Tuning Option

Yes

Polyphony

>121

Includes Bonus Online Learning Resources

Yes

Price

<$500

Total Score

12

Pros of the Roland GO:PIANO 88

  • Integration with the Piano Partner 2 app provides access to a library of different tones
  • The app has hundreds of different pieces of sheet music to practice
  • Improve the sound quality while recording videos by integrating the GO:MIXER PRO (sold separately)

Cons of the Roland GO:PIANO 88

  • Advertised to have “traditional piano feel” but difficult to find further specifics on the extent to which keys are weighted or how the acoustic piano feel is replicated
  • Sound quality is fairly low compared to other models in this price range

Why You’ll Love This Digital Piano

If you’re looking for a full size digital piano that is equipped to make electronic music, this is your piano! And at less than 20 pounds, the Roland model is one of the most portable digital pianos out there. With integration of the Roland app, you’ll be playing all your favorite songs in no time!

Casio CDP-S150

The Casio CDP-S150 also features a free app called the Chordana Play for Piano designed for either iOS or Android. Casio was launched in the late 1940s by 4 brothers. The company soon rose to fame when they released the world’s first compact electronic calculator. And throughout the 1980s and 1990s, they became known for producing the best cheap keyboards.

Casio CDP-S150

Star Rating

Sound Quality

Average

Portability

<30 pounds

MIDI/USB

Yes

Pedal, Bench, Stand Included

Yes

Number of Amazon Reviews

<1,000

Additional Instrument Sounds

10+

Transposition and Tuning Option

Yes

Polyphony

Information Not Available

Includes Bonus Online Learning Resources

Yes

Price

<$500

Total Score

13

Pros of the Casio CDP-S150

  • Features a Scaled Hammer Action Keyboard
  • MIDI recorder allows you to document your piano progress
  • Comes equipped with several piano learning resources

Cons of the Casio CDP-S150

  • Sounds more like a keyboard than a digital piano

Why You’ll Love This Digital Piano

If you’re looking for a reasonably priced digital piano that includes everything you’ll need to start learning to play the piano, this is your instrument! It even comes with a headphone jack so you can control who hears you practicing. And as a parent, having the ability to connect headphones is, hands down, one of the absolute best things!

Final Thoughts on the Best Budget Digital Pianos

When considering an instrument, one very important factor is whether the instrument itself fits into your interests and learning goals. If you’re thinking about pursuing classical piano, Yamaha is definitely your best bet in this price range.

But if you love electronic music, the Casio might be your keyboard.

If you’re looking for online piano learning resources, the Alesis or Korg may just be perfect options for you.

And it’s always a good idea to try out an instrument before you buy it to make sure it meets your expectations for sound, touch, and response. Even if you only just started playing, you may be surprised to find that certain instruments are more fun to play than others.

Regardless of the instrument you purchase, music is about having fun. It’s about expressing yourself and learning new skills. Buying a digital piano is incredibly exciting so make sure to take advantage of the information in this post to find the perfect fit.

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How to Tell When You’re Overwhelmed

How to Tell When You’re Overwhelmed

You’re here because the thought that you’re overwhelmed has crossed your mind. You feel the overwhelm slowly creeping in but somehow can’t acknowledge what’s truly going on. Between all that you’ve got going on at work and home, it’s not surprising that you have questions.

No one ever sets out to intentionally overextend themselves. And overwhelm is sneaky. In most cases, the physical signs alert you to the fact that something isn’t right. Because although your mental state is often the first clue, it’s also the most commonly ignored.

But physical symptoms are not as easily ignored. Maybe you just can’t seem to drag yourself out of bed in the morning. Or your ability to concentrate has taken a nose-dive.

And that nagging cold that just won’t go away? Could it be something more than just your kid who makes it his life’s mission to constantly sneeze in your face?

It’s one of those things where you’re fine one minute. But in the very next, you find yourself googling “how to tell when you’re overwhelmed.” And so, here you are.

You’re not alone. Overwhelm is real and can make life feel like a drag. But there are also real steps you can take to start feeling better.

This post may contain affiliate links. As an affiliates of Amazon, I may receive a commission at no extra cost if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information. I take no credit for the images appearing on this page. All images courtesy of Canva.

Overwhelm or Something Else?

Symptoms of overwhelm can mimic a variety of health conditions. If you’re consistently feeling down, depressed, or have had changes in sleep, appetite, or other areas of your life, it’s essential to see your primary care provider.

Although I am a nurse practitioner, I am not your nurse practitioner, and this post does not constitute medical advice. It is for educational and entertainment purposes only. You and your healthcare provider are the only ones who can collaborate to diagnose and treat underlying medical conditions.

Once you’ve ruled out medical issues, it’s time to take back your life and put a stop to the overwhelm!

Physical Signs That You’re Overwhelmed

Although mental or emotional signs of being overwhelmed often appear first, they can be the easiest to dismiss. The physical symptoms often cause you to stop and question what’s happening underneath all that unchecked anxiety and a general sense of crankiness.

Shortness of Breath

If you’re a runner or are active in other ways, you’re probably familiar with the heart racing, short-of-breath feeling you get when working out. But if you get these feelings outside the gym, it could be a sign that you’re overwhelmed.

If you have shortness of breath accompanied by dizziness, nausea, vomiting, or a sense of impending doom, please head to the emergency room ASAP!

But if you find yourself chronically short of breath and your heart and lungs are fine, it could be a sign that your body is chronically stressed. In other words, your brain is getting the message that danger is everywhere. And it’s trying to compensate by releasing chemicals that make you feel a certain way.

Our bodies have amazing coping mechanisms to balance in the short term. But these coping mechanisms have a shelf life. After they’ve expired, you can be left with long-term damage that’s difficult to reverse.

Fatigue

Are you having trouble shaking that “didn’t get enough sleep” feeling? It may have more to do with having too much on your plate than getting too little sleep at night.

Fatigue can permeate every area of your life, making all the things feel way more complicated than they have to be. It can be sneaky too. If you’re a high-achieving type-A person like me, you can fool yourself into thinking you’re simply not getting enough shut-eye.

But in reality, you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. And your brain can’t possibly fathom taking on anything else at this point.

Constantly Sick

Do you find yourself battling one cold after another? If so, it’s possible that you’re overwhelmed.

Our bodies are a fascinating combination of complex systems, all working together. When your brain is stressed, you feel the effects in your body as well.

As a form of overwhelm, stress sends chemical messages that alter how our bodies function. In this case, chronic stress impacts your body’s immune system. This results in frequent colds and other minor illnesses.

Although rarely life-threatening, frequent colds are annoying!

And even minor illnesses can mess with your concentration, mood, and motivation.

Mental and Emotional Signs that You’re Overwhelmed

It takes practice to identify overwhelm before it reaches the point where you have physical signs. This is especially true for high-achieving, type-A personalities because, just like Olivia Pope, we handle things.

We are driven and feel that our drive is the reason for our success. And sure, we feel overwhelmed much of the time, but where would we be without the overwhelm?

It’s almost as if we wear overwhelm like a badge of honor.

But what if I told you that overwhelm is stealing your joy? It’s clouding your vision and making you less effective than you could be.

Would it inspire you to get serious about recognizing overwhelm for its hazard?

Crankiness

Do you find yourself in a general state of crankiness much of the time? Almost as if you’re ready to go 9 rounds with anyone at any time?

If so, it’s entirely possible that you’re overwhelmed.

Irritability and mood swings can be your brain’s way of putting the brakes on your ever-growing list of obligations. Crankiness is also a subconscious way to keep people at arm’s length and guarantees they’re less likely to ask you for favors, thereby increasing your workload.

Generalized Anxiety

Do you feel nervous all the time? Maybe you’re overwhelmed. Is the word “relax” not even in your vocabulary? You’re overwhelmed.

You don’t have peace if you’re running here and there, trying to get things done. You don’t have the time or space to just be. Your brain gets in the habit of being in constant overdrive.

And because there’s so much to do, you get trapped in this negative cycle of overthinking. After a while, it’s tough to feel any joy because all you can think about is checking things off your list.

But the more you check off, the more you realize there is still left to do.

Overwhelm and anxiety feed off each other. This is especially true if you are a Type A personality. The fear of not getting something done, missing a deadline, or doing a task imperfectly drives you and is a big reason you’re overwhelmed.

You Can’t Stay Focused

It’s no wonder that it’s difficult to concentrate when overwhelm takes over. Overwhelm, mixed with a bit of anxiety, zaps your energy and makes focusing on anything other than your long list of obligations impossible.

To get even more done, you may also have started multitasking. According to multiple studies, multitasking is actually your brain quickly switching from one task to the next, a process that zaps your energy at a remarkable rate. Although multitasking seems efficient, your brain can’t focus on more than one thing at a time.

A tendency to multitask also means that you may tend to ignore the little things in life. You become so focused on becoming efficient that you forget to stop and simply enjoy the little things.

But the little things make life worth living, thus the reason anxiety, and even depression, eventually take over.

Now that we’ve explored both the mental and physical signs that you’re overwhelmed let’s talk about how you can start feeling better!

What To Do When You’re Overwhelmed

Although overwhelm is familiar, you don’t have to let it rule your life. You are in charge of your life.

Overwhelm becomes a mindset that clouds your vision and darkens your world. But if you take action, the sun will come out once again, and you can finally find peace.

Watch for Catastrophes

The language you use matters. It can either build you up or tear you down. Words like “always” and “never” make anything seem worse than it actually is.

And in those moments when you’re overwhelmed, look for ways to accurately describe what’s happening. For example, which of these two statements sounds more reasonable?

  1. “I’ve got so much going on today. I’m completely overwhelmed and have no idea how I will make it through the day.”
  2. “I’ve got 2 meetings at work today, and I have to finish that presentation by noon tomorrow.”

The second one sounds manageable, right? Describing precisely what needs to be done and when takes the panic and mystery out of overwhelm. Sometimes, the simple fear of the unknown adds an extra layer of negativity to your thinking. And by taking the time to lay out what’s bothering you, you’ll suddenly realize that it’s actually not as bad as you thought.

Stop Multitasking

Along with accurately describing why you’re overwhelmed comes a commitment to stop multitasking. Research shows that it’s not effective anyway, so what’s the point?

Take time to enjoy the small moments in life. Stop and enjoy a beautiful sunset. Laugh with your kids. Leave your phone inside and stretch out in your backyard, watching the clouds float by on a sunny day.

Multitasking re-enforces the idea that you have to be doing something every minute of every day. It leaves no time for living and loving life. And it’s fooling you into thinking that you’re making progress when all you’re actually doing is sucking out the joy and feeding anxiety.

Set Boundaries

It’s easy to feel like you’re overwhelmed if you’re saying “yes” to everyone but yourself. If you find that your people-pleasing tendencies are taking over your life, it’s time to set some boundaries.

I’m not saying you should never do anything you don’t want to do. But I am saying that there needs to be balance in life. And you need to be realistic about what you can actually get accomplished in a day.

A great place to start is by establishing priorities. What areas of life matter most to you, and how can you optimize those areas?

Whenever new opportunities come up, you can then match them against your priorities. If they don’t align, don’t feel bad about saying “no.” There’s somebody out there who would be thrilled with the opportunity that simply doesn’t feel right to you. And by saying “no,” you open a door for that person.

Pretty great, right?

Exercise

I have yet to find a self-improvement topic that doesn’t involve exercise in some way, shape, or form and this one is no different. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, stop and move your body. Take a walk. Go for a run. Grab your bike and take a ride.

Whatever it is, clearing your head with a little fresh air and movement does wonders for shaking out the cobwebs and anxiety related to overwhelm.

Exercise stimulates the release of feel-good hormones that immediately improve your mood and lessen anxiety. It’s an all-natural way to stop the hamster wheel of overthinking.

Meditation

If you’ve never tried meditation, now is your chance! Meditation teaches you the valuable skill of controlling your thoughts, especially important when overcoming overwhelm.

If you struggle with insomnia, meditation just might be the answer you’re looking for! The practice of meditation helps ground you into the here and near instead of the past or future. Sometimes overwhelm is more about the habit of worrying about the future. But by keeping yourself in the present, you can start enjoying life.

There are several apps to teach you the basics of meditation. Headspace is my favorite app. It has different meditation to help you with insomnia, stress, and even self-esteem.

You can also find meditations on YouTube. Give it a try! You might be surprised by how well it works for relieving overwhelm.

Choose Gratitude

Your brain is phenomenal at picking up patterns. And your subconscious is always looking for ways to help you out. What this means for you is that your brain will find what it thinks you want.

If you wake up telling yourself that today will be awful, your brain will find ways to support this thought. When you spill your coffee, your kids miss the bus, and you’re late for the meeting, the message that this day is terrible wins out.

But if you wake up telling yourself that today will be a good day, instead of being angry, you’ll be thankful that you spilled the coffee on your kitchen counter instead of on your brand new skirt. Or that you’re happy for a few extra minutes with your kids because you have to drive them to school when they missed the bus. You’ll even be thankful that you missed the small talk you hate so much at the beginning of the meeting.

You are in control of your thoughts. And since thoughts drive emotions, you also have the power to change how you feel. If you feed your brain negativity, you will feel negative. And if you fail to set boundaries and are constantly multitasking, you’ll feel like there simply isn’t enough time in the day for it all.

But if you decide that you’re in control of your life and your schedule, overwhelm will become a thing of the past. Start seeing the good and stop embracing the overwhelm.

Find Inspiration

There are some great resources out there on tackling various aspects of feeling overwhelmed. Here are a few of my favorites:

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Be Realistic

Although gratitude can take you a long way in life, being realistic can bring you the rest of the way. There honestly aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all.

It’s time to accept this truth and set your priorities. If something isn’t a priority, forget about it. Or at least re-schedule it to a more reasonable time.

It’s ok to let things go if they don’t fit into your priorities at this moment in time. There will always be things that were important to you at one time, but simply don’t make the cut anymore.

You’ve grown and evolved as a person, and it’s ok to let it go. You can always pick something up again later if your priorities shift.

The small, daily stress adds up quickly, and it’s simply not worth it if it doesn’t align with your major priorities.

It’s Your Turn

Everyone gets overwhelmed at times. But you can take steps to ditch the overwhelm and take control of your life.

Don’t get fooled into thinking that overwhelm is normal. It’s not. It will steal your peace, joy, and ability to be your best self.

Hopefully, this post has inspired you to find a new way. Fight the urge to give in to overwhelm. Set your priorities and weigh out your obligations. If something doesn’t align with your major priorities, ditch it.

And the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, describe exactly what’s causing the overwhelm. Putting language to your feelings helps you realize that it’s not actually as bad as your brain is trying to make you think it is.

As always, please drop a comment below to tell me your thoughts on this post! How do you recognize when you’re overwhelmed? And what steps do you take to start feeling better?

If the post resonates with you, please share it with a friend or social media.

You may also enjoy the following posts:

Until next time, thanks for stopping by, and best wishes on your personal development journey!

The Best Unconventional Ways to Learn Piano

The Best Unconventional Ways to Learn Piano

Does the thought of attending piano lessons week after week bore you? Perhaps you took piano lessons as a kid and still have nightmares about scale drills and mind-numbing exercises. Or maybe you’d love to learn piano but don’t have time for regular lessons.

If you fall into any of these categories, I’ve got exciting news! Gone are the days when you could only learn piano from the crotchety old teacher down the street. Thanks to technology and a little ingenuity, you can take charge of your own learning!

Enter with me into a new era of apps, online programs, and an array of online resources, all accessible from any location with reliable WiFi.

Stick with me as we explore a couple of unconventional ways to learn piano. And make sure to stay with me until the end for a special discount and bonus practice tools to ensure your piano journey gets off on the right foot!

This post may contain affiliate links. As affiliates of Amazon, Modacity, Piano Marvel, Musicnotes, and Dr. Josh Wright’s ProPractice course, I may receive a commission at no extra cost if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information. I take no credit for the images appearing on this page. All images courtesy of Canva.

Do unconventional ways to learn piano actually work?

Absolutely. With a few caveats.

If you have aspirations to become a concert pianist, I highly recommend finding a piano teacher. It’s challenging to grasp the nuances of technique you will need to master to achieve this goal all on your own.

And if you are a complete beginner, it can also be very helpful to find a piano teacher to guide you in the beginning stages of your learning.

But I also understand trying to juggle a hobby with life. Ideal and realistic are often very different things.

Learning from an app is often the most realistic option. Especially if it means the difference between getting started today or putting it off indefinitely.

If you’re looking for a piano teacher, check out my Resource page for an array of online teachers accepting new students.

Unconventional Ways to Learn Piano: Piano Marvel

Looking for a program that teaches you the basics of the piano? Basics that will get you up and running on the keys quickly? Then Piano Marvel just might be for you.

Designed by a piano teacher, Piano Marvel helps you master essential fundamentals like music theory, sight-reading, and ear training. And did I mention that it also teaches you HOW to practice?

Let’s dive into specifics.

As Addicting as Netflix

Do you know that feeling when you’re bingeing your Netflix guilty pleasure, and the episode ends? That moment when you’re forced to choose between resolving the cliffhanger or cleaning the bathroom?

How many times does the desire to scrub your nasty sink win over a plot twist?

Almost never.

What if I said that you could have a similar level of addiction to your piano learning?

Like Netflix, Piano Marvel has mastered the art of keeping you motivated and engaged. Through various levels and trophies, acing the next concept becomes a no-brainer. At stake are bronze, silver, or gold trophies depending upon how skilled you become at the songs in each level.

As Efficient as a Prius

Travel back in time with me to your favorite high school or college class. Was it gym? Or maybe you loved band.

What did strolling into that classroom feel like? Do you remember how time seemed to magically fly by? And yet somehow, you always seemed to walk out of that class having learned something new.

Time sailed by, and you were a bit sad when the bell rang. Learning felt effortless. And your energy level at the end of the class felt higher than at the beginning.

What if learning piano could feel as efficient as time spent in your favorite class?

It can, thanks to Piano Marvel! The app chunks learning into small pieces, making each lesson easy to remember. There’s no wasted fluff material that you’ll never use again.

Piano Marvel packs only the most relevant information into your learning. Efficiency at its best.

As Motivating as Accomplishing Your Goals

Sometimes it’s not a fear of failure that holds you back from goals but rather a fear of starting something and losing motivation halfway through. It’s happened to everyone at some point.

You sign up for that shiny new course promising all the answers. And at first, you’re super excited. You put in the time and the work and feel the warmth of accomplishment.

But at some point, your motivation starts to fade. You wake up one day and realize that it’s been months since you’ve even logged into that course.

The sting of disappointment takes over, and your motivation sinks lower than ever. You’re now more hesitant than ever to set new goals.

Motivation is counterintuitive. Many people believe that you must FEEL motivated to ACT.

But the truth is actually the reverse. In most cases, you will only FEEL motivated AFTER you ACT.

Action comes before feeling.

And the more progress you make toward your goals, the higher your motivation.

Piano Marvel helps you attain a series of small goals that fuel your motivation to keep learning. Through bite-sized lessons and incentives to continue your piano journey, learning to play the piano has never been more motivational.

The Nuts and Bolts

There are many apps designed to help you learn piano. But if you want a solid foundation in music theory, Piano Marvel is the best. It also guides you through chords, arpeggios, and scales. Once you learn the basics of theory, playing becomes more effortless. It also opens up a whole new world of improvisation and playing by ear.

And if you connect your device to a MIDI keyboard, the program will give you feedback on note accuracy.

Other apps and programs give feedback as you play. But Piano Marvel waits until you’re finished with the song to provide feedback. One huge advantage of this type of feedback is that it eliminates distractions while you play. Yet by giving timely feedback, you have an opportunity to correct mistakes in a more effective way.

And did I mention that Piano Marvel comes with an extensive library of songs to learn? It even includes several popular lesson books, including Alfred’s premier and adult all-in-one books. Songs are graded by difficulty from 1 through 18, so you can gradually advance your skill level without the frustration of playing something too challenging.

It’s yet another way that Piano Marvel’s system encourages consistent learning over flashy gimmicks.

If you’re interested in trying it out for yourself, use promo code OGBB22 for $3 off the monthly fee. And at $12.99 a month, you really can’t go wrong! Click here to go to the Piano Marvel website.

If you’re interested in learning more about music theory, check out this post!

Unconventional Ways to Learn Piano: ProPractice

And if you’re looking for more unconventional ways to learn piano, you need to hear about ProPractice! Also created by a piano teacher, ProPractice is a phenomenal resource for people who aspire to play classical piano.

ProPractice was created by Dr. Josh Wright. It can successfully be used alongside traditional lessons or all on its own.

The program is designed to be helpful for either complete beginners or people who have prior playing experience.

My ProPractice Story

As a music major grad, I have a massive bucket list of classical pieces I want to tackle eventually. But between working full-time and having a husband and 3 kids, I simply don’t have the time to make weekly lessons work.

I discovered Dr. Josh Wright one day while listening to a podcast and started following his YouTube channel. And a few videos later, I was hooked on his teaching style and depth of knowledge.

I began to see positive changes in my playing and how I thought about the instrument. And so I decided that if I had taken so much away from his free content, how much would I take from his paid course?

I invested in ProPractice and have only seen improvements in my playing ever since!

In fact, I was so impressed with the course that shortly after joining, I became an affiliate.

The Nuts and Bolts

ProPractice is currently set up on the Teachable app. You have the option to start at the beginning and work your way all the way through lessons. Or you can pick and choose which pieces you would like to learn.

Dr. Wright started the course because he found students asking the same questions as they learned various pieces from the classical repertoire. He, therefore, decided to record video lessons to address common questions and problem areas for these pieces.

The course is separated into beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. He further subdivides material into repertoire and technique.

Dr. Wright is constantly adding new pieces to the course, so it will only continue to expand.

As mentioned previously, the course is almost exclusively classical repertoire, so if that’s not your jam, you may want to explore other options. But it is designed to be used as a complete beginner, so whether you’ve never played a piano in your life or spend your free time expanding upon your repertoire, you will find value in the course.

If you’re interested in checking it out for yourself, click the link here.

Bonus Unconventional Ways to Learn Piano

Aside from the two programs listed above, I have a couple more tools up my sleeve to skyrocket your piano playing!

The Art of Practice

One key component of learning any new skill is practice. Although we love to think that talent determines how proficient someone becomes at a skill, the truth of the matter is that quality practice wins over talent every time.

And if you don’t believe me, check out this book! It’s a fascinating exploration of some of the world’s most “talented” people and how they became the best at what they do.

Quality practice is key to making progress, but what does that actually mean? Is it mindless repetition? Or is it something else entirely?

Wouldn’t it be great if there was an app that helped you understand how to effectively practice? Luckily for you, there is!

It’s called Modacity, and I credit this app with my progress in piano playing over the past few years.

The app helps you identify your trouble spots and generates ideas about fixing these areas. It also has a “day streak” practice counter. And there’s nothing more motivating than building on your practice streaks!

If you’d like an in-depth review of the app, check out this recent post.

And if you’re ready to give the app a try for yourself, click here to take advantage of 35% off the price of an annual subscription. With the discount, you’ll still pay less than the cost of a single higher-end piano lesson. It’s a valuable investment into your growth as a pianist and one of the best unconventional ways to learn piano!

Find Music You Love

Nothing motivates me to practice more than finding a piece I love.

While listening to Pandora several years ago, I heard a song that I fell in love with. It was hauntingly beautiful, and I just HAD to get my hands on the sheet music.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it on my usual go-to place, Amazon. So, I started looking around for other sources of sheet music.

I stumbled upon Musicnotes and struck the jackpot! I found the exact arrangement of the piece I was looking for, but I found a treasure trove of just about any song at any level you could ever need.

Due to its larger size, music is best viewed on an iPad. And as someone who regularly plays paid gigs, I’ll tell you that bringing an iPad is a lot more convenient than dragging a bunch of music books! Musicnotes has an app downloaded on my iPhone, so I can access my purchases any time and anywhere.

One of the features I appreciate most about Musicnotes is the ability to mark up the music within the app. This feature allows me to interact with the music exactly the same way I would if it was a piece of paper in front of me.

You also can print out the music if you prefer paper to electronic.

But the best part of this app has to be the ability to instantly access anything you could ever want. It’s an incredible tool to add fun and variety to your playing!

And in case you’re curious, here is the piece that led me to Musicnotes in the first place.

Once Upon a December, arranged by Emile Pandolfi

Click below to browse some of Musicnotes’ most popular downloads!

Browse the Most-Popular Sheet Music Downloads

It’s Your Turn to Try Unconventional Ways to Learn Piano

And there you have it! I hope this post has inspired you to try a few unconventional ways to learn piano.

In case you missed them, here are links to the various products mentioned in this post.

Piano Marvel: Use promo code OGBB22 for $3 off the monthly fee. Find the website here.

ProPractice: Find the website here.

Musicnotes: Browse the Most-Popular Sheet Music Downloads

Modacity: Click here to take advantage of 35% off the price of an annual subscription

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And for more piano inspiration, check out the following posts:

If you found value in this post, please help me out by dropping a comment below or by sharing the post with your friends. I would sincerely appreciate your assistance in spreading the word about my mission! I’m working hard to bring you only the best products and services.

Thank you so much for stopping by, and I wish you all the best in your piano journey!

A Complete Review of ProPractice by Dr. Josh Wright

A Complete Review of ProPractice by Dr. Josh Wright

Looking for an online piano course that covers piano technique and repertoire? Regardless of your reasons for considering an online piano course, please accept this review of ProPractice as an invitation. An invitation to an entirely new level of playing that you may not have thought possible before.

Maybe you started piano lessons as a kid, but life got in the way. Or perhaps you’ve been playing piano all your life but need a little extra something to keep your playing fresh.

Either way, “ProPractice” just might be what you’ve been missing.

I initially discovered the course while looking for a way to continue studying classical repertoire without consistent lessons. And I was so impressed with the quality that I became an affiliate for the course shortly after purchasing it.

Whether you’ve heard of the course before or not, stick with me as I break down all the details. And if, by the end of the post, you’re still not sure whether the course is right for you, please don’t hesitate to drop a comment below, and I’ll be happy to answer your questions!

With that, let’s dive into the force behind the course, Dr. Josh Wright.

This post may contain affiliate links, and as affiliates of Amazon and Dr. Josh Wright’s ProPractice course, I may receive a commission at no extra cost if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information. I take no credit for the images appearing on this page. All images courtesy of Eduardo Romero from Pexels, TMGZ2021, & Nomadsoul1 from Getty Images Pro via Canva.

Who is Dr. Josh Wright?

Dr. Wright is an avid teacher and performer. He has earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Michigan and was a prizewinner at the 2015 National Chopin Competition. His accolades include a host of prizes from other acclaimed competitions as well. Check them out here.

He is also a Steinway Artist and was inducted into the Steinway & Sons Teacher Hall of Fame in October 2019.

In other words, his backgrounds both as a performer and a teacher are entirely legit.

But don’t take my word for it. Check him out for yourself:

Dr. Wright has an active YouTube channel with new content added regularly. You can get a feel for his teaching style by checking out the videos below:

Review of ProPractice: The Content

ProPractice includes video lessons ranging from effective practice to technique and artistry. The course is divided into early and mid to late beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Each level is further divided into technique and repertoire sections.

The course itself is designed to facilitate learning for students from a wide range of levels. In the early beginner level, video lessons assume the learner knows nothing about reading music. Gradually, learners are guided through various exercises to solidify understanding of the basics.

Meanwhile, learners who have experience can dive into the levels most applicable to their current skill level.

ProPractice additionally covers scales, arpeggios, triads, and 7th chords. This is a handy feature if you’ve never had to play scales before.

One of the best features of the course is his in-depth coverage of how to play specific pieces from the classical repertoire. This was the selling point for me because I love classical piano and have a massive list of pieces I eventually want to master.

Dr. Wright covers repertoire from early beginner through advanced. Here is a tiny sampling of the pieces he gives play-by-play instructions on:

  • Bach: Prelude in C Major
  • Beethoven: Fur Elise
  • Beethoven: Moonlight Sonata (all movements)
  • Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G minor
  • Chopin: Nocturne in C-sharp minor
  • Debussy: Arabesque No. 1
  • Debussy: Clair de lune
  • Rachmaninoff: 1st movement of the 2nd Concerto
  • Ravel: Jeux d’eau
  • Satie: Gymnopedie No. 1

Who should consider this course?

This course is for anyone who aspires to play classical piano. Dr. Wright’s mission is to peel back the curtain on performing classical piano, so anyone who desires to learn can improve their skills. Through ProPractice, you have instant access to tips and tricks from a professional concert pianist.

At its core, classical piano is about the expression of emotion. Through dynamics, phrasing, and the individual articulation of each note, pianists communicate emotions ranging from ecstasy to melancholy.

And it’s the tiniest details that make all the difference in every spellbinding performance.

Through advice ranging from organizing a practice session to how to phrase one of Rachmaninoff’s most hauntingly beautiful melodies, Dr. Wright covers all the secrets to classical piano success.

Depending upon your level and learning style, the course could stand by itself or complement instruction from a piano teacher.

Again, the insight into the interpretation of an unprecedented array of classical piano repertoire is what makes this course shine—once learned, information that can apply to other pieces and outside the classical genre.

Who shouldn’t invest in this course?

It’s difficult to execute a thorough review of ProPractice without this one crucial detail. If you hate classical piano, this course is decidedly not for you.

And if you’re looking for a course on simply the basics of playing the instrument, you would likely benefit from an alternate course unless your end goal is classical.

Although Dr. Wright has recently added a few videos by a different piano teacher on playing jazz, don’t invest in this course if jazz is your passion.

You also won’t learn much about improv. Nor does it cover in-depth information on music theory, harmonizing pop tunes, or playing by ear.

And although there is an argument to be made about the value of learning classical techniques, it may be tough to get through such in-depth teaching if you can’t stand classical. Or if you’re learning for the sole purpose of playing with your church’s worship band.

The course does not offer any direct feedback on your playing from Dr. Wright, so you may want to look elsewhere if that is an important feature.

ProPractice is dedicated to playing classical piano. And if you’re interested in advancing your classical repertoire, this is the course for you.

If you’re looking for help with music theory or memorization, check out this post for resources!

Review of ProPractice: My Story

A review of ProPractice wouldn’t be complete without a personal story, so here is mine.

As mentioned earlier, I decided to invest in ProPractice after following Dr. Wright’s YouTube channel for several months. Although I started lessons around age 7, I never took piano very seriously until college.

I loved to practice, but my version of practice included playing whatever I wanted. This resulted in relatively ineffective practice and slow improvement. And I never set out to major in music. In fact, I was a pre-veterinary medicine major when I started college in the fall of 2003.

Shortly after classes started that fall, something drove me back to music. I called one of the piano faculty on campus, and she asked me to come in and play something for her. To this day, I have no idea what I played, but whatever it was, it was enough to convince her that I could be a music major.

And just like that, piano became my main focus.

Although I ultimately pursued a career in healthcare, I have never lost my love for playing classical piano. But after college, studying with a teacher became difficult due to demands from a full-time job and kids. I knew that I wanted to keep improving my skills but was at a loss as to how exactly to do that without consistent lessons from a teacher.

It was at this point I discovered Dr. Wright. And I’ve been a firm believer in the value of the course ever since. If you’re interested in reading more of my story, make sure to check out the links at the bottom of the post.

Elegie in Eb Minor by Sergei Rachmaninoff – Although not included in the ProPractice course, I did learn principles from other pieces that I could apply to this one and which pushed the performance from drab to dazzling. It’s one of my all-time favorite pieces from the classical repertoire!

How is the course organized?

The content consists of separate videos covering a wide range of topics. Videos are further subdivided into early, mid to late beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Information is further separated into technique and repertoire sections.

Dr. Wright uses multiple angles to film each video so you can both observe his entire body and hands during demonstrations. The video and audio quality are both excellent.

And the course uses the Teachable platform, which means you can also download the app on your phone.

What is the time requirement for the course?

Videos range in length from several minutes to over an hour for a complete interpretation of some pieces. You have the option of picking and choosing which videos you find most relevant.

Or you can start at the very beginning and watch all the videos.

You’ll find value regardless of how you choose to interact with the course.

Are there bonus perks of enrolling?

Absolutely! One of the best perks is access to a members-only Facebook group where you can interact with other people who love playing the piano as much as you do!

Dr. Wright also offers discount codes for music and other products within the course. He additionally offers a trial membership for his other course, VIP MasterClass. The MasterClass offers a weekly video addressing specific subscriber questions and access to all previously recorded videos.

He additionally provides his personal email for questions, and in my experience, he has been very responsive.

Is going through the course as effective as instruction from a piano teacher?

Yes and no. It’s always helpful to get outside feedback on your playing. Unfortunately, getting feedback from Dr. Wright himself is not part of this particular course.

But members do frequently post videos of themselves playing in the Facebook group to get feedback.

Aside from feedback, however, this course does offer something that can be difficult to find from many piano teachers. And that something is step-by-step instruction on playing classical piano from a concert pianist.

There are scores of outstanding piano teachers out there. But most have not had either the educational or performance experience of Dr. Wright. And it’s therefore difficult to find the type of knowledge he has.

Watching videos of pianists on YouTube is one thing. But seeing a thorough demonstration of how you can pull off the angst in the 3rd movement of Beethoven’s moonlight sonata is quite another.

It’s the difference between flat, shaky performances and performances that are vibrant and confident. Even if you’re only playing for an audience of yourself, wouldn’t it be exhilarating to find out for yourself just how far you can take your playing with secrets from the pros?

Review of ProPractice: It’s Your Turn

I genuinely hope you have found this review of ProPractice helpful in determining whether the course is right for you. If you’re still on the fence, I highly recommend following Dr. Wright’s YouTube channel because it gives an accurate picture of his teaching within the course as well.

And if you find value from the YouTube channel, consider investing in his course. It’s difficult to find a pianist with his level of educational and performance experience who is also down-to-earth and an effective teacher.

In a world filled with false promises and fancy ads, Dr. Wright is a refreshing beacon of hope. He doesn’t promise perfection by taking his course. Nor does he guarantee that you will be good enough to become a concert pianist. In fact, his videos often feature the mistakes he makes and how he overcomes them.

He simply gives all his best information in hopes that you can use it to be slightly better than you were yesterday.

And I don’t know about you, but I’ll take “slightly better” over “perfection” any day!

Click here to check out the course for yourself.

As mentioned previously in this review of ProPractice, the course emphasizes classical playing. If classical isn’t your jam, ProPractice may not be your course. There are scores of websites, courses, and apps dedicated to all kinds of piano playing. I encourage you to keep looking until you find that one thing that resonates with you and your goals.

And if you’re looking for more great piano inspiration, make sure you check out the following posts:

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Your Kids to Practice Piano

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Your Kids to Practice Piano

You’ve signed your kids up for piano lessons. Everything was going smoothly in the beginning. Your kids were excited about starting, and getting your kids to practice piano was effortless.

But something shifted.

Suddenly you find yourself begging, bargaining, and pleading to get them to practice. Or yelling. And maybe the yelling is as mutual as the frustration surrounding the topic of practice.

What gives? Your kids were thrilled at the prospect of learning to play the piano. And you, being the well-informed and conscientious mom you are, were eagerly awaiting their transformation into brilliant, well-rounded tiny humans.

Was enrolling your kids in piano lessons a mistake? Maybe you’re questioning your parenting abilities and secretly fear their practice aversion is somehow your fault.

As a pianist and a mom, believe me when I say that getting kids to practice can be as much art as creating music. But you can do it! You can guide your kids into the opportunity of a lifetime WITHOUT tears and screaming.

And it all starts with understanding why your kids avoid piano practice.

This post may contain affiliate links, and as an affiliate of Amazon, I may receive a commission at no extra cost if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information. I take no credit for the photos appearing on this page. All photos courtesy of twinsterphoto and FamVeld from Getty Images via Canva.

Why is getting your kids to practice piano so difficult?

I will go out on a limb and say that most kids hate piano practice for two reasons. The first is that it can be tedious. For the most part, kids are constantly overstimulated. Flashing screens, bouncing cursors, and billions of on-demand videos seem way more exciting than a piano, a book, and a pencil.

I’m not here to deny the many benefits that come with being constantly keyed into the online world.

But I will point out that our attention span is now around 6 seconds. According to several sources, this is shorter than the attention span of a goldfish.

Maybe this article should instead be about teaching your pet fish to play the piano?

But in all seriousness, piano practice requires focus, which no longer comes naturally to most people. It’s instead something that must be trained.

The second reason kids hate practice is that they have no idea how to spend their practice time. Your kids know they need to practice because you and their teacher tell them to, but they don’t actually know how.

And because your kids don’t know how to practice, their piano practice time often becomes monotonous.

Practice: Stuck on Repeat

Between the boredom and uncertainty of what practice should entail, it’s no wonder piano practice gets such a bad rap. And it’s no wonder kids instead gravitate toward other activities and learn to dread practice time.

But at its core, music is about creativity. It’s about the expression of human emotion. And it’s about individuality.

Music is the exact opposite of boredom.

So how can you convince your kids that piano practice is a really fun and exciting way to spend their time?

We’ll get there, but first, let’s explore what practice is and what it is not.

Somewhere along the line, piano practice became synonymous with repetition. In other words, practice means you play something repeatedly until you can suddenly play it correctly. And then you come back the next day and simply repeat what you did yesterday all over again. You do this day after day until you go back to your lesson, at which point your teacher assigns new songs, and the cycle continues.

And so on and so forth until the end of time.

Seriously. How boring does that sound?

Repetition vs. Practice

On the surface, repeating something until it’s perfect seems to make sense. Isn’t that why they say, “practice makes perfect?”

But let me ask you something. Does simply repeating something mean you will automatically get better?

Let’s say I want to dunk like Michael Jordan. I decide to “practice” by making 500 shots. But by the end of my session, I’m still nowhere near his skill level. What gives?

Repetition does not guarantee improvement. Actual progress comes first from identifying exactly what you want to improve. You then must find a specific tactic to get better at that thing.

I realize that this may seem far into the weeds on a post about getting your kids to practice piano. But I think it’s important to understand both the barriers to and significance of practice.

At that point, you can help your kids find excitement and meaning in their practice sessions. And you can kiss the tantrums goodbye!

If you’ve fallen into the repetition as practice trap, please don’t feel bad about it! There are far fewer resources out there on effective practice than there are about playing an instrument.

Teachers everywhere expect students to practice and somehow assume students know what that means. I’ve been playing piano for nearly 30 years and will be the first to say that I associated repetition with practice for far too long.

I still fall into the repetition trap from time to time. But thanks to this post, you have the resources to help turn all that around for your kids!

A Controversial Practice Philosophy

This next section may seem contrary to everything I’ve said thus far, but it still deserves telling. Piano lessons are about introducing your kids to new skills and an outlet for their creativity.

The right kind of practice is essential for growth, but every kid is an individual. And chances are, your kids will not grow up to be concert pianists.

But could every kid who takes piano lessons foster a hobby they will enjoy for the rest of their lives? Absolutely.

The art of practice is valuable in and of itself. It’s an opportunity to teach your kids how to improve at something. It teaches them about persistence and creative problem-solving.

And these are lessons that are applicable beyond the keyboard.

Many piano teachers out there have mandatory practice requirements. And I agree that practice is vital for improving. But not every kid needs the same amount of practice to make improvements.

And depending upon the goals your kids have for themselves; their practice sessions may look different.

Let your kids explore piano in a way that excites them. Make practice something they look forward to instead of something they dread. Now let’s dive into getting your kids to practice piano!

Get Your Kids to Practice Piano by Setting Reasonable Goals

My very first recommendation for getting your kids to practice piano is to sit down with them and talk about practice goals. Their teacher may have a weekly practice expectation, but how do your kids feel about this requirement?

And how does this requirement fit into their current obligations?

Many piano teachers would love to think that kids devote themselves to the piano at the exclusion of all else. But this kind of thinking isn’t realistic in today’s world.

Kids are involved in many activities, and why shouldn’t they be? Life is about exploration and learning new things. The truth is that you can fit regular practice into any schedule, regardless of how busy that schedule is.

But everyone has to be on the same page about the goals your piano kid has for themself.

Start with the following questions to get the conversation started with your kids:

  • What other activities are you involved with, and how much time do you realistically have available for practice?
  • Does your teacher have a minimum practice requirement?
  • When is the best time to get your practice done?
  • What are the barriers you see to getting practice done daily?
  • And are there strategies you can use to overcome those barriers?

The keyword here is REASONABLE. There’s no room for guilt, and if you have 5 minutes a day for practice, it’s better than nothing!

Stick to a Consistent Daily Practice Time

Once you’ve had the practice discussion with your kids, it’s time to set a consistent daily practice time. Again, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve decided on 5 or 50 minutes of daily practice time; the key is consistency.

Consider whether your kids may benefit from multiple short practice sessions rather than one long one. Research shows that keeping sessions short promotes more effective learning. As an example, if your goal is 30 minutes a day, try to break it up into three 10-minute sessions.

Try to attach practice time to another established habit. An example of this might be sitting down at the piano immediately following their afterschool snack every day.

Some families find that practicing before school works better than after. Our family is not quite that evolved yet, but it’s something I’m considering for the future.

Again, the key is consistency. Your kids will take more away from multiple, short daily sessions than one long session once a week.

Help Your Kids Structure Their Practice Time

Now it’s time to get creative! If you take one thing from this post, I hope it’s that practice should be anything but dull repetition.

Have a conversation with your kids’ piano teacher about what should happen during practice. Get ideas for how you can help your kids spice up their practice time.

Send a notebook to lessons so their teacher can write down weekly practice goals.

Find out what drives your kids to learn the instrument. Are they really into pop music? Do they love classical? Or do they adore video game music?

Whatever your kids are into, I guarantee there’s piano music for it out there. Ask the teacher for recommendations on music that’s level appropriate and accessible.

Incorporate the music they love into their practice routine. Use it as a reward for getting through the stuff that’s important but not as fun.

Find out whether they can use apps or websites during practice time to beef up their musical knowledge.

I know this sounds like a fair amount of work but staying active in the process will help your kids have a better experience. It shows that you’re invested in their learning.

Get Your Kids to Practice Piano by Learning with Your Kids

And speaking of learning, have you considered taking piano lessons along with your kids? Sharing the experience of learning is a great way to bond with your kids.

It gives you more patience and empathy for your kids when you come home tired from a long day at work and aren’t necessarily enthused about practice either.

And it allows you to show your kids that you’re never too old to learn something new.

Whether you’re a total beginner or dabbled as a child, now is the best time to get back into it!

If you’re intrigued by taking lessons, make sure you check out my post about how to learn piano as an adult.

Reward Their Efforts

Help your kids feel good about their efforts by rewarding them for a job well done. Maybe it’s a small weekly reward for hitting their goal time. Or perhaps it’s a larger reward for mastering a particular piece.

Many parents find success with practice charts. I use an app to document practice and find it both motivating and rewarding.

Whatever the reward, it’s important to teach them the art of celebrating their wins.

Perhaps fidgets or stickers from Amazon will be enough to entice them?

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For information on the practice app that I love, check out this post.

Connect with Other Learners

Some of my most memorable musical experiences have come from performances with others. Music is not meant to be a solitary pursuit, so look for ways to help your kids get involved with other musical kids.

One of the major benefits of learning piano is countless opportunities to collaborate. From chamber music to choir to solo accompaniment, the possibilities are endless!

I even recently discovered how fun worship band playing could be.

Introducing your kids to the world of musical collaboration may be just the secret sauce you need to spark their learning!

Many teachers have performance requirements built into their studio policies and encourage collaboration with other kids.

And if your kids are shy about performing, a friend may be vital to helping them have positive performance experiences. It’s truly a win-win situation that will hopefully foster a lifetime of teamwork and collaboration skills applicable outside the realm of music.

Student/Teacher Fit

I’ve mentioned piano teachers here and there throughout this post, but if your kids are quite opposed to practice, it’s worth a conversation with their teacher.

There may be a mismatch between the teacher’s expectations for your kids and the expectations your kids have for themselves. Piano teachers have a reputation for being rigidly type A, and although not all teachers are that way, many are.

Personality clashes can result in and make lessons a drag for your kids. And I’m not saying lessons should be all rainbows and sunshine, but the mark of a good teacher is how your kid feels when they leave lessons for the day.

Do your kids feel inspired to reach new musical levels? Or are they guilt-ridden about not achieving some hypothetical practice requirement?

To minimize practice resistance and maximize learning goals, you must have a good fit between the teacher and the student. If your goal is to expose your kids to music and foster a love of music, it’s crucial that the teacher understands and supports these goals.

But if your kids have a more serious goal of achieving mastery of the instrument, you must find a teacher capable of guiding their journey.

Neither goal is right or wrong. And there are all kinds of teachers out there. Make sure you find one who fosters the type of learning most beneficial to your kids.

Don’t Sweat It

Although this has been a post all about the ins and outs of getting your kids to practice piano, don’t sweat it if none of the above advice works. All kids are individuals and take different things away from their learning experiences.

Will the teacher become frustrated if they have to guide your kids through something they should have practiced at home? Possibly.

But there’s no way of knowing the future impact continuing lessons will have on your kids. This is true whether or not they practice.

I’m a firm believer that even if your kids are not fond of practice, there’s value in the experience of taking lessons and learning something new. I don’t believe that kids should quit lessons because they don’t practice.

I believe that there is an opportunity to explore goals and have a conversation about the value of the experience.

And maybe your kids decide that they really hate the piano.

That’s ok too. Maybe you can use this opportunity to get them involved with a different instrument.

And maybe they will discover an instrument they are deeply passionate about, and you will never need to have the practice discussion ever again.

All this to say, never guilt yourself about your kids not putting in the practice time. There is a massive range of reasons why daily practice may be unrealistic. And it’s pointless to take a turn to negative town for things beyond your control.

Know that by enrolling your kids in lessons, you are opening them up to a world of new experiences and possibilities. And isn’t that, in and of itself, enough?

It’s Your Turn

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post. What are the barriers you face to consistent practice? Are there ways you have found to spice up your kids’ practice time? And have you pursued piano lessons for yourself?

Whatever your feedback, I’d love to hear all about it!

More great piano inspiration is to come but, in the meantime, make sure you check out one of the following posts:

Why You’ll Never Regret Enrolling Your Kids in Piano Lessons

Why You’ll Never Regret Enrolling Your Kids in Piano Lessons

If you’ve been a mom for more than 5 minutes, you know parenting comes with its share of choices. Some are easy. But others are hard and come with the looming threat of regret.

Like when you let a particular word slip one too many times and learn that your little exhibits his expanded vocabulary at daycare.

Or when you needed 10 minutes of peace and quiet only to discover your munchkin used the time to try her hand at dog grooming. And now your poodle is sporting what can only be referred to as the “dog vs. lawnmower” cut.

Let’s not forget when you let the kids talk you into getting a snake. It was all fun and games until someone left the cage open. And now you have a snake loose in your house. Just waiting to make his appearance when you least expect it.

Parenting is full of fun little life lessons.

But there is one decision that, when made, you’ll never regret. And that decision is enrolling your kids in piano lessons.

This post may contain affiliate links, and as an affiliate of Amazon, I may receive a commission at no extra cost if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information. I take no credit for the photos appearing on this page. All photos courtesy of Ivan-balvan, rfranca, and yanukit from Getty Images via Canva.

At a Glance: Top Reasons for Enrolling Your Kids in Piano Lessons

At this point, you may be asking yourself why I dare to make such a bold statement. You’re likely asking yourself what I’m trying to sell. Or whether I have ulterior motives behind convincing you to enroll your kids in piano lessons.

And the simple answer is that I am the product of being enrolled in piano lessons as a child. I started piano lessons at the age of 7 and continued through college.

Of all the decisions my parents made on my behalf, I am most thankful they decided to sit me down in front of the piano. It’s been the blessing of a lifetime and one I encourage you to consider for your children.

And since I know you’re busy, here’s a bulleted list of the top reasons you should consider enrolling your kids in piano lessons:

  • Spark their creativity
  • Teach them how to solve problems
  • Boost their confidence
  • Inspire them to view failure as an opportunity to learn
  • Ignite a passion they can pursue for the rest of their lives
  • Ensure they will reach their full potential

And if you have a few quiet minutes to yourself, please know how much I appreciate you spending them with me! Silence is a precious commodity in parenthood, and your support means the world. 🙂

I promise to make the time worth your while, so let’s dive right in!

Spark Their Creativity

When you hear the word “creativity,” what comes to mind? In the context of your kids, maybe macaroni art and Crayola scribbles come to mind. My brain automatically travels to cut and pasted creations hastily stuffed into backpacks at the end of the day.

But did you know that creativity has broader applications beyond hand-eye coordination and the ability to follow directions? According to an article written by Paul Patrone on LinkedIn, creativity is the most important skill in the world.1

Patrone explains that creativity is widely valued because employers want innovation. They want people who can approach old problems in new and exciting ways. Jobs that can be automated are typically on the lower end of the pay scale or have been eliminated thanks to AI.

Success in work and life, therefore, demands creativity.

And although glue, crayons, and construction paper have taken creative credit for years, learning a musical instrument is another fantastic way to introduce creativity.

Learning to play the piano simultaneously stimulates multiple areas of their brain and encourages alternative forms of creativity. And expanding creativity is only one of many life skills gained by enrolling your kids in piano lessons. Let’s move on to the second.

Teach Them How to Solve Problems

“Life is a continuous exercise in creative problem-solving.”

Michael Gelb

One of the most exciting parts of having kids is watching them figure stuff out. And when kids are young, they LIVE to do things independently! It doesn’t matter how simple the task; kids love self-reliance.

How many times did you stand outside in the rain so little Addison could buckle her own seatbelt? Or watch Logan spill milk all over the counter because he insisted he could pour it all by himself?

If you think about it, life is about solving a never-ending series of problems. And as we get older, the problems tend to become more complicated.

So, wouldn’t it make sense to equip your kids with as many tools as possible to help them overcome life’s obstacles?

Piano lessons give kids a completely different set of skills. And with a different set of skills, there’s no limit to the type of problems they will eventually be able to solve with confidence.

Boost Their Confidence by Enrolling Your Kids in Piano Lessons

And speaking of confidence … is there anything better than watching your kids proudly display a newly mastered skill? Whether it’s spelling “mom” for the first time or scribbling their first Mother’s Day card, you LOVE seeing their confidence soar!

Imagine seeing the joy in the eyes of your kids when they can play a familiar song for you. Or their excitement when they ask their music teacher to play something they’ve learned for their classmates.

By enrolling your kids in piano lessons, you’re giving them unique skills. And the opportunity to showcase those skills.

With each new piano challenge they encounter, your kids have the chance to triumph. And once they learn that they can triumph in the music room, your kids will know they can triumph in life as well.

Does it honestly get any better than that?

Inspire Them to View Failure as an Opportunity to Learn

Do you have perfectionist tendencies? If so, have you noticed these same tendencies in your little ones?

Thanks to a combination of nature and nurture, perfectionism tends to be a trait easily passed from one generation to the next.

Perfectionism has its perks, but for the most part, it’s a debilitating mindset. It’s often accompanied by procrastination and low self-esteem. And it can be incredibly difficult to correct, especially if not recognized and addressed at an early age.

I was an adult before I realized how much perfectionism held me back. If I had a time machine, I would go back and tell my younger self to chill out. That everything would be ok. And that mistakes are part of life.

But since I can’t go back in time, I’ve made a vow to help my kids with perfectionism. And I’ve found that introducing them to piano lessons has been the perfect medium to make mistakes.

I encourage my kids to have fun with music. We sing, clap, and talk about how music relates to life during lessons.

And when they become frustrated, we sit with those emotions. We explore frustration and talk about creative ways to channel it. But most of all, we talk about how learning can’t happen without failure.

Through piano lessons, my kids learn that failure means you’re trying. And that the only way you lose is by not even trying in the first place.

Ignite a Passion They Can Pursue for the Rest of Their Lives

Passion is a funny thing. Some kids are born knowing what lights them up inside and then spend their lives pursuing that thing. Other kids bounce around from one interest to the next. They never spend too much time in any one area but seem to excel in a variety of areas.

Regardless of which type of kid calls you “mom,” one thing is certain—your never-ending love and desire for them to lead fulfilling lives.

Today’s world offers a limitless array of activities in which to enroll your kids. You can get them involved in soccer, 4-H, theater, or karate at any given time.

And I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with involving kids in a wide range of hobbies.

But I will ask you to consider how many of those hobbies can be pursued well into adulthood. The list narrows a bit, doesn’t it?

By enrolling your kids in piano lessons, you give them the gift of a lifetime hobby. They will have skills applicable for years and years to come. Even if they end up playing pop songs for themselves at home, I guarantee they will consider the time well spent.

Click here to read more about why people with multiple interests have limitless potential.

Ensure They Will Reach Their Full Potential by Enrolling Your Kids in Piano Lessons

Your goal as a mom is to raise creative, well-adjusted, and well-rounded kids. It’s not an easy job, but it is fulfilling. Especially when you can move forward knowing you’ve given your kids the tools they need to succeed in this crazy, messed-up world.

There’s a ton of scientific, research-based evidence out there about the benefits of piano lessons in childhood. By enrolling your kids in piano lessons, you’re helping them improve their visual and spatial skills. You’re also helping them with memory and math skills. There’s even evidence out there that playing the piano wards off dementia in later years.

But for those of us who love the instrument, learning piano in and of itself is enough.

I would have never considered myself a serious player when I was younger, but I’ve always loved sitting down and playing. And I still do. The piano has opened up a world of opportunity for me, and I’m thankful every day for what I’ve learned from the instrument.

The piano has taught me about persistence. It has taught me that learning never ends. And practice, the right kind of practice, always means progress.

It’s for these reasons, and so many more, that I make the bold statement that you will never regret enrolling your kids in piano lessons.

And if you’re ready to move forward with lessons, make sure to check out my Resource page for a listing of piano teachers currently accepting students. Many teachers now offer online lessons, a convenient option for busy moms and kids!

Don’t forget to leave a comment below with your thoughts on this post. What challenges do you face as a mom with kids in piano lessons? Did you take lessons as a child? And if so, do you still play?

Stay tuned for more upcoming posts geared towards parenting piano kids!

Make sure to check out the following posts for more piano inspiration:

1. Petrone, Paul. (2018, Dec. 31). Why creativity is the most important skill in the world. LinkedIn. Retrieved January 2, 2022, from https://www.linkedin.com/business/learning/blog/top-skills-and-courses/why-creativity-is-the-most-important-skill-in-the-world

5 Simple Reasons You Should be Calling Yourself a Pianist

5 Simple Reasons You Should be Calling Yourself a Pianist

“At what point do you get to be called a pianist?”

I recently stumbled across this hotly debated topic in a Facebook group for adults learning to play the piano. And the feedback by fellow adult learners were more than a little shocking.

Responses ranged from anyone who can find middle C to only those who accept money for their skills. Many replies fell somewhere in the “you can only consider yourself a pianist when you can play the 3rd Rachmaninoff concerto blindfolded and handcuffed in front of a live studio audience” camp.

People argued. Tempers flared.

Responses appeared in ALL CAPS. Exclamation marks peppered the entire exchange.

Who knew that such a seemingly humdrum question would result in an outright clash of egos?

And more importantly, what does any of this have to do with you?

This post may contain affiliate links, and as an affiliate of Amazon, I may receive a commission at no extra cost if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information. I take no credit for the photos appearing on this page. All photos courtesy of pixelshot, Sbringser, and Negative Space via Canva.

Why You Should Care About This Definition

A definition sets you apart. It tells those around you that you’re serious about what you do. And it dramatically increases your success rate.

How you think about yourself changes the actions you take. If you see yourself a certain way, taking the steps necessary to develop into that person becomes more effortless according to James Clear, author of the phenomenal book Atomic Habits.

As an example, let’s explore getting into shape. There are two ways you can think about getting more exercise.

The first involves focusing only on all the work to become more physically fit. You could spend your time thinking about all those early morning workouts. And all the time it will take you to get back into shape. After a while, it becomes easier and easier to sleep in rather than hit the gym.

The alternative is to think of yourself as an athlete. Does an athlete skip their workouts because they had one too many the night before? Hardly. Does an athlete avoid the gym because it’s too cold outside? Nope.

Do you see how establishing an identity rather than focusing on the action steps themselves sets you up for success? Decisions become a no-brainer.

And you quickly start seeing the results of all those decisions you’ve made add up. Pretty soon, you’re much closer to your goals than ever before.

If you’re looking for more identity-based habit change inspiration, make sure you check out Atomic Habits by James Clear.

Pianist vs. Piano Player

You’re reading this because you’re serious about the piano. But a tiny part of you worries that you’ll never be good enough to call yourself a pianist. You fear that because you’re not into classical and don’t play for money that you don’t have the right to label yourself a “pianist.”

I call bullsh*t.

You’re a pianist. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been playing. Or whether you only sit down to plunk away at show tunes.

Pianists come from all genres and levels. The one constant is how you see yourself.

And if piano brings you joy, you should be calling yourself a pianist. Not a piano player. Or someone who plays the piano.

You’re a pianist.

But if you’re still stuck on the words of those piano trolls who insist that you can only call yourself a pianist if you memorize ALL your music, it’s ok. I’ve got you.

Trolls are loud, but the loudest are usually the ones doing the least amount of work. And trolls thrive on criticizing others.

But you don’t have to be on the receiving end of that criticism. You know the truth and, thanks to this article, have five reasons to be calling yourself a pianist.

1) You Should be Calling Yourself a Pianist Because You’re Passionate

“The important thing is to feel your music, really feel it and believe it.”

Ray Charles

Do you find yourself thinking about the piano, even when you’re away from it? Does something about playing the piano feel right even when it’s hard? As if you were always meant to do it?

Does playing the piano give you a deep sense of fulfillment?

If you can answer “yes” to the above questions, you should call yourself a pianist.

Passion means losing track of time when you’re doing what you love. It means daydreaming. And it means ignoring the naysayers because there’s nothing that can replace the feeling you get from playing the piano.

2) You Love Practicing

Do you look forward to that magical time of the day when you are free to play whatever you want? Sure, you have a few goals but for the most part, do you long just to play?

If so, you should be calling yourself a pianist.

It doesn’t matter what you’re practicing. It could be scales, pop, or movie scores. Maybe you love to play songs by ear. If you can’t wait to sit down and get a piece of music under your fingers, you’re a pianist.

3) You Watch YouTube Videos About Playing Piano

A true sign of passion is your YouTube history. Does yours reflect a watch list of piano videos? Maybe it’s tutorials on classical technique. Or outstanding performances by world-class pianists.

Maybe you’re trying to understand music theory, and your watch list consists of minor chords or the circle of fifths.

If so, then you should be calling yourself a pianist.

4) You’re Getting Better Every Day

Regardless of how yesterday’s practice session went, do you constantly aspire for more? Do you start every day by thinking about how you can improve, even by 1%?

You’re a pianist!

And between the practice and all those YouTube videos, you are well on your way to massive improvements!

5) You Should Be Calling Yourself a Pianist Because You Love the Piano!

“When you play, never mind who listens to you.”

Robert Schumann

Can’t stop talking about playing the piano? Maybe you’ve just written an entire blog post about one comment in a piano-related Facebook group. Or you can’t wait to apply the latest self-improvement book you’ve read to the topic of playing the piano.

If any of this applies to you, you should be calling yourself a pianist!

I hope you’ve caught on to one simple theme by this point. A theme that excludes the opinions of others.

The theme is that calling yourself a pianist is NOT about any objective measure of your skill. It’s not about your skill level compared to anyone else around you.

Calling yourself a pianist is about your love for the instrument. It’s about appreciating the music of others. Getting goosebumps when you hear that piece you love.

It’s about feeling a deeply rooted passion for the instrument. And a constant desire to take your artistry to a deeper level. It’s about never giving up, even when it seems like you’ll never master that new technique.

Forget about all those nasty internet piano trolls. Isn’t it about time for you to write your own story?

It’s Your Turn to Start Calling Yourself a Pianist

Pianists exist in all genres.

If piano brings you joy, start calling yourself a pianist.

Can’t wait to get home so you can try out that new practice technique you saw on YouTube? Start calling yourself a pianist.

And if you can’t imagine your life without the instrument, start calling yourself a pianist!

Do you love playing pop tunes? You’re a pianist. Maybe jazz is your jam. You’re a pianist. Or perhaps you love playing worship music at church. It’s time to start calling yourself a pianist. Or organist (as applicable).

Stop letting others dictate how you see yourself. Let’s you and I make a pact. We are no longer falling into the comparison trap from here on out. We’re not giving in to the myth that we need permission from anyone else. And we’re not letting those piano trolls win!

Being a pianist is something that comes from within. It’s not a label anyone else can give you. And if you’re looking for more piano inspiration, make sure you check out the following posts:

As always, don’t forget to leave a comment below! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the post. 🙂

5 Simple Tips to Help You Be More Productive

5 Simple Tips to Help You Be More Productive

How’s life going for you? Is it everything you ever thought? Or are you feeling trapped on a hamster wheel of never-ending obligations that suck up all your emotional energy?

Over the past few years, I’ve felt stuck. A constant sense that I’m not getting enough done follows me everywhere.

I remember a time when I didn’t feel this way. Work stayed at work, and my home life was blissful.

But then I decided to go back to school.

This post may contain affiliate links, and as an affiliate of Amazon, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information.

A Downward Spiral into Negativity

From that moment on, I constantly felt the need to be more productive. If I wasn’t checking off a box every second of the day, I was indeed behind at work, home, school, or maybe all 3.

Deep down inside, I didn’t believe that I could successfully navigate all these worlds. That it was ridiculous even to try.

The self-doubt eventually spiraled into an all-consuming cloud of negativity. I became obsessed with wondering whether there was enough time in the day to do all the things.

Instead of spending my time actually being productive, I began obsessing about time. I felt guilty about anything and everything because somehow, nothing felt enough.

And I was always making wrong choices with how I spent my time. Or so it seemed at the time. At work, I was thinking about how little time I was spending with my kids. And at home, I fixated on the low probability of finishing the mountain of homework always waiting for me.

After graduation, I thought things would get better. I thought that I would suddenly feel normal again.

Nope. Those stubbornly obsessive negative thoughts continued to plague my every waking moment.

After a great deal of reflection, I finally made a decision. My happiness and inner peace depended upon shattering the negativity I had built around time and productivity. It was time to embrace a new perspective on how to be more productive!

If any of this resonates with you, keep reading because I promise to bring you a few unique solutions to the age-old problem of getting more done in less time!

1. Cut the Crap to Be More Productive

What do you actually want to accomplish in life? It’s easy to get caught in a web of “busy.” But “busy” is a very non-specific way to quantify your time. And without a sense of direction, you end up wandering the vast wasteland of coulda, woulda, shoulda.

Unfortunately, there are very dark forces at work in your life. And you may or may not even be fully aware of these forces. In her book called How to Get Sh*t Done, Erin Falconer describes some of the invisible constraints holding you back:

  • Women feel a constant need to prove themselves.
  • Unspoken work expectations mean women are saddled with more responsibility (the type that no one else in the office wants!) that will mean neither increased status nor pay.
  • After putting in a full day at work, women come home just to put in more work.
  • People-pleasing tendencies increase involvement in activities you may not otherwise choose for yourself.
  • The joy-sucking power of “should” is constantly playing over and over in your head.

The first step is always awareness. Falconer does an outstanding job of shedding light on everything that’s cluttering up your life.

And by doing so, you can start to abandon everyone else’s expectations in favor of your version of productivity.

Image courtesy of Namara Creative Studio via Canva

2. Craft Your Unique Version of Productivity

After you strip away the busyness, what’s left? Who are you underneath all those obligations? Are you someone who thrives among people? Or do you prefer a quiet spot to complete your work?

What makes you feel alive inside? And what makes you want to poke your eye out with a pencil?

It’s shocking how little we often know about ourselves simply because we haven’t taken the time. Also shocking is the impact society and those around us have on our aspirations. But when you strip everything away, what you have left is the freedom to make decisions based on you. Not society. And not everyone else in your life.

But you.

Falconer guides you through the process of getting down to you in a seamless and thought-provoking way. If that all sounds intriguing, make sure to check out her book.

3. Comparison Isn’t Always a Dirty Word

Our culture is all about comparison. It starts in grade school when you learn the concept of grades. And it follows you through middle and high school with sports tryouts. Thanks to social media, comparison continues to follow you well into adulthood.

But comparison in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing, and you can use it as a force for good!

Dr. Benjamin Hardy is an organizational psychologist with fascinating advice on flipping the negative to the positive. I recently discovered his work on the School of Greatness podcast and was immediately inspired.

Dr. Hardy suggests that it’s our comparison to others that results in negative thought patterns. As an example, you see a fellow mom posting flawless pics of her family on social media. Their beaming smiles are brilliantly complemented by perfectly coordinated outfits and a gorgeous fall scene.

Upon seeing the pics, you take a turn to negative town. After all, your last family picture was taken 7 years ago. Before your kids were born.

And you immediately feel like a #momfail.

The truth is, you feel like a failure because you’re making an impossible comparison. You have no idea what else is going on in that woman’s life. We are all fighting battles that we share with only a select few.

And you have overcome some pretty tough stuff in your life as well. Therefore, the only way you can feel accomplished is to compare the woman you were with the woman you are right now.

I guarantee that you will immediately feel accomplished!

So the next time you feel compelled to make a comparison, make sure it’s between the current and past versions of yourself. Because at the end of the day, the only person over whom you have control is yourself.

If you’re curious about Dr. Hardy’s work, check out one of his books:

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4. Make a Done for Today List

Have you ever actually finished everything on your “to-do” list? I’d be lying if I said “yes” to that one. Although I always think seeing things crossed off my list will feel satisfying, it somehow never does. Instead, I constantly focus on everything that remains unchecked.

But here’s a new take on an old and tired concept. I recently heard this advice from an interview with Greg McKeown on the Science of Success podcast.

At the beginning of the day, figure out 3 things that, once complete, will also complete your day. Once those 3 things are done, give yourself the freedom to relish in accomplishment.

Reward yourself! Don’t try to use the extra time to sneak in more stuff. Take some time for yourself. Do something that fills your cup. Or do something that lights you up inside.

But most of all, enjoy the feeling of DONE.

As a type-A achiever, I never feel “done” with tasks in my day. And I think this leads to burnout because nothing ever feels good enough. I’m always trying to check a box.

So after hearing this particular tip, I’ve committed to being DONE every day. Regardless of whatever else is on my list, I’ve started celebrating my accomplishments and not only feel more peaceful but also 10x more productive.

5. A Tale of Two Teams

In the podcast, Greg McKeown goes on to tell the gripping tale of two teams racing against the elements to be the first to reach the South Pole.

Each team had opposing views on how to emerge victoriously. And their vastly different approaches made all the difference between victory and death.

The first team was British. Their leader pushed the team to their very limits whenever the weather was tolerable. On days when the weather was inclement, they camped out and weathered the storm.

The second team was Norwegian. Their leader determined that the best approach would be to advance 15 miles each day. Come fair weather or storm; they would only travel 15 miles.

Guess which team made it to the South Pole first? I’ll give you a hint … slow and steady wins the race.

The Norwegians made it to their goal an entire month before the British. And not only did they win, but they lived to tell the tale. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of the British team.

Defining Your Daily Minimum to Be More Productive

Image courtesy of Netfalls via Canva

Everyone has a daily threshold for productivity, and there’s only so much you can accomplish in 24 hours. The Norwegian team dramatically highlighted this reality by claiming the victory. And the British team just as dramatically highlighted it through their ultimate demise.

You must set clear boundaries for yourself. Or you, too, will become overwhelmed and burned out.

McKeown suggests setting daily minimum goals for yourself. Figure out how to make this goal effortless. Making it effortless helps you achieve the goal and will leave you wanting more.

As an example, I’ve been trying to publish blog posts on a more consistent basis. But I have a mental block about time. My perception is that it takes time I currently don’t have.

After hearing McKeown’s advice, I decided to set a daily 30-minute writing goal. I have found that I no longer try to procrastinate my writing because 30 minutes feels very attainable.

And once those 30 minutes are up, I stop. I don’t force myself to keep going even if I’m in the middle of writing flow. Stopping when I’m in flow is crucial because I know when I begin again tomorrow, I will be excited to get started.

One of the worst things as a writer is a block, and stopping when I’m mid-paragraph, or even mid-sentence ensures I have something to pick up the following day.

Taking small, daily steps towards your goals increases your odds of success. Find ways to make the process enjoyable, and you’ve suddenly become dramatically more productive.

It’s Your Turn to Be More Productive

You define productivity. And with your unique definition comes freedom. The freedom to say “yes” to anything that feels aligned and “no” to everything else.

Narrow down your big goals to 3 or less at any given time. Go all-in on those goals. And when starting a goal, stop asking “how.” Dr. Hardy explains that “how” is a word that causes procrastination and overwhelm. It immediately adds an element of impossibility to the equation.

You instead need to ask “who.” Who can help you achieve your goal more quickly? Do you need a coach? Or maybe you need a course designed by an expert in the field. Making investments in someone who is already skilled helps you achieve your goals infinitely faster.

As important as “who” is the concept of effortlessness. Once your goal has been defined, how can you make it as easy as possible? Greg McKeown offers brilliant advice on finding joy while making goals feel effortless. Sadly, the perception of effort has held me back personally in all areas of my life. I, therefore, adore his philosophy on productivity!

And remember that slow and steady wins every time. There’s simply no need to make things overly complicated or overwhelming. I would even suggest that if you feel overwhelmed, you need to take a step back. Figure out your priorities. And cut everything that doesn’t make the grade.

Find the person who can help you. And make it effortless.

Additional Resources

If you’re looking for even more resources, make sure you check out any of the following books:

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And make sure to check out the following posts for even more great personal development!

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