Let's pretend you have decided to learn a couple of contrasting pieces by a certain date (say, in 30 days). You have long thought about having a nice goal, almost like a small mission for yourself and since living with the feeling of regret, laziness, excuses, boredom, and aimlessness became too depressing, you have looked at the mirror and said to yourself: "Now or never".
So you are all pumped up with excitement and ready for change. These two pieces would add a nice excitement into your day - you will watch your skills grow every day and by a certain date you will be ready to play them in public.
Here are a few mistakes to avoid when you are planning and goal-setting your organ practice:
1. Starting with too much excitement. When we are jumping from joy about the prospect of succeeding in some exciting goal, it's very easy to lose ground. Temptations come every day, every hour, every minute. Our inner dragons are waiting for us around the corner. Actually it's nothing special. Start silently. Practice just today. If tomorrow comes, you will have another chance.
2. Having too much to learn every day. Have you planned to learn one page a day? Maybe you can do it once or twice, but believe me, in three days your mission will become unbearable (unless you are professional at this) because you will have to repeat previously mastered material. Bite only what you can eat. If you learn one line a day, then you have a chance to do it long-term.
3. Giving in to the idea "it's not the first time I decided to achieve something and failed." Of course, we all have had our failed New Year's resolutions and other epic failures, some public, some private. But it's not a failure, if you learn from it. F = Feedback. Although you are not some Super Man, but you are not a loser either. This time it's worth your effort.
4. Thinking about the end result all the time. Looking too far ahead without doing the work for today is pointless. All that matters is today. Remember, you are like this train going from place A to place B. If you are on the right track, you will reach your destination. But you have to keep moving.
5. Scolding yourself for not being able to keep up with your plan. There will be some days when you miss a practice session or two. This happens and it's OK. Not that you must chicken out of your mission. You see, your inner dragons want you to stop. So every slip you make along the way will be held against you (in your mind). You can adjust your plan as long as you keep going.
Make sure you pay attention to these common mistakes. You don't want to be disappointed and go back to where you started without actually achieving anything. But find your inner strength, believe the power of today, and you will successfully master these pieces and will be ready for another challenge.
Result is not the goal. Process is the goal.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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