Keeping piano skills while super busy

I have not been able to blog this past week, so this is the first of about a billion posts tonight.
“Keeping piano skills while super busy” was one of the search engine terms that led some poor soul to my, well, poor blog. Now, I am hardly the poster boy for consistent practice under pressure, but I do know that I have never gone more than three days without playing piano since I was 7, save for a three week period during Junior year of high school when I got tendonitis from playing too much. And really, if I had better habits back then, I wouldn’t have had tendonitis, but that’s another story.
What I will say is that what I have learned is that there are two ways to stay focused and maintain skills, even when you are not taking lessons:
1. Always have a goal.
When you are taking regular lessons, this is really easy. But when you are not taking lessons, it is easy to get in a rut where you are half-heartedly playing pieces that you have already learned, or just messing around without any larger goal. Probably the best thing is to work through piano pieces that are at your level. No matter what your skill level is, there are thousands of songs written for people that play right at your level. Even if you are not progressing to more difficult pieces, this will at the very least help develop your music reading skills. More importantly…
2. Make it easy to practice.
Now, I know that not everybody has the luxury of a piano in their home or where they live. I certainly struggled to figure out the most convenient place to practice when I moved to college. Luckily, I live very close to the music building, so access has not been much of a problem. Basically, you want it to be easy to stop by the piano, even if its just for ten or fifteen minutes at a time. It is certainly nice to have a couple of hours at a time to practice, but any small amounts help. My only advice for people that do not have a piano in their home and whose piano is far away is to see if there is a church or school nearby that will allow you to have access to their facilities.
The times when I am most grateful for my piano skills has been when I have been frustrated or swamped and just need a study break. That’s my two cents.

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