Wherever you are is the entry point.

~ Kabir


A pianist of any seriousness often has a love-hate relationship with the keyboard.  He’s a slave to it.  Miss a day practicing and you’ll feel it the next.  You actually feel guilty.  Miss a few days and you may sometimes feel like you’re starting over from scratch.  The more command you gain, the less this will trouble you, but it never goes away. Ahime!

Once I went to a lesson and confessed that I’d lost a couple days in a row that week with mid-terms, that I’d lost my momentum.  You know what I mean?  She looked at me stone-faced and paused, No

{To this day I don’t know whether she really didn’t understand or simply refused to acknowledge the power of momentum, but I tend to think it was the latter.  What strength!}

I find it best to try to arrange my life to have a specific, scheduled practice time.  Whether you’re in the mood or not, go to the piano and work.  If you’re getting nowhere, stay there and read a book!  Let practice-time be disciplined and regular, and it will be more productive and satisfying.


Practice is this life, 

and realization is this life, 

and this life is revealed right here and now.

~ Maezumi Roshi


Humans are creatures of habit – form good ones and they’ll serve you well.

On the other hand, sometimes distractions get in the way.  Practicing is most productive when your mind is free of clutter and worry.  If you have something to take care of, a problem to solve, a phone call to make – anything – take care of it first, then practice. 

Practice is a bit like prayer – it requires focus and a listening soul.  If you’re mind is occupied with inner chatter unrelated to the movement of your fingers, you may be doing what I call negative practice – at best unproductive, often destructive. 

As a teacher, I’m often asked by parents, How much should she be practicing every week?  And I answer that it depends on the student and the parents’ level of commitment, but that it should be two things – enjoyable and daily.  {Daily in a 5- or 6-day a week sense, but regular.}  If that means 15 minutes a day for a 6-year-old, that’s fine, but practice should be a habit, a way of life. 


When you get to the top of the tree, climb higher.

~ unknown

Sometimes life intervenes.  Periods of six months at a time have passed when I’ve literally not touched a piano.  Writing this book, I’ve not practiced for over a month, although I have played out of necessity.

As a teenager, I used to take at least a couple weeks off completely during the summer months and go to the countryside in Mexico where you couldn’t find a piano for miles and miles.  Guitar is the only instrument, Mariachi the preferred music.  Amigo, you call yourself a musician and you can’t even play la guitarra?  is a commonly asked question.  That’s beautiful!  It was great to escape from being a pianist every once in a while, regain my sanity and learn to love the piano again.

When you practice, practice regularly; when you need to take a break from piano, whether for a few moments or a few weeks, break completely and return with fresh desire and a clear mind.


To know and not to do is not yet to know.

~ unknown