A Reckoning of My 2012 New Year’s Resolutions
One of my top goals for 2012 on the piano was not to forget the rapture. As the first step in setting my 2013 New Year’s resolutions for the piano, I have examined how well I did meeting this New Year’s resolution and others that I published in GRAND PIANO PASSION™ a year ago.
1) Practice the piano an hour a day.
As 2012 got underway, I easily met this goal, as well as my resolution to attend my weekly adult piano lesson, while I prepared for my late-February recital at Carnegie Hall. The recital proved to be one of the most fulfilling days of my life, but in the aftermath, other professional realities set in. I wanted to finish my book draft by late summer. I realized that as much as I loved practicing the piano, it was also emotionally draining. I decided to take a break from my piano study. Sometimes when I sat down to write, the sight of my grand piano sprawling in my study was tantalizing, even tortuous. In mid-October, when I finally completed the intense work on the book draft, it felt like a luxury to return to daily practice and my piano lessons.
2) Perform twice a quarter in 2012.
Here I’m going to engage in some deceptive math to make myself feel better. Twice a quarter is eight times per year, right? In preparation for the Carnegie Hall recital, I played twice at my performance class, once at my church, and once at the February Amateur Classical Musicians Association (ACMA) concert at the Turtle Bay Music School. Throw in the Carnegie Hall recital itself, as well as a subsequent open audition for ACMA’s Weill Hall concert, and I had performed six times during the first quarter. Here’s a video of the “Raindrop Prelude,” the second of two pieces that I played at Carnegie Hall:
A piano party that I hosted at my home earlier this month brought my 2012 yearly total up to seven. (And note that since I’m an amateur, I’m defining performing quite broadly, to encompass playing for people other than my family or teacher.) The good news: I had some amazing momentum going until the end of March.
3) Blaze through Burgmuller Opus 100, three books of Hanon, and Czerny Opus 139.
Hah! On the bright side, I finally admitted to my erratic technique and lugubrious sight-reading, and agreed with my teacher to study practice music alongside the usual luscious suspects of Chopin, Debussy, et al. However, even if I had not taken off six months, completing all of this practice music would have been quite a feat for an amateur pianist. As it turns out, before I took my sabbatical to write, I completed the first Hanon book, the first 15 of Czerny’s 100 progressive studies, and sadly none of the Burgmuller. When I returned to practicing in October, I dallied in the Hanon. Now that I have a new teacher, I am interested to see how this type of practice music will fit into his regime.
4) Don’t forget the rapture.
In some ways, this was my most meaningful resolution for 2012: to hope that whenever I perform, whether for a single dinner guest or a crowd of hundreds in a concert hall, that I transmit some of my own rapture. My Carnegie Hall recital felt so fulfilling because I managed to convey the feelings that the music aroused within me. On this score, I’m grateful to say that I met this resolution when it most mattered.
Overall, I am happy with my progress on my piano study in 2012. Still, I want to remember what productivity experts counsel: setting goals that are consistently difficult or even impossible to achieve can be demotivating. As I look forward to 2013—another blissful year with the piano!—I want to take into account how I will parse my piano study with my creative writing career.