I have a confession to make. One of my Guilty Secrets that I just need to confess publicly—I don’t do New Year resolutions. I don’t like them. I don’t make them. I stay as far away from them as possible.
There. I said it. I feel much better!
Maybe New Year resolutions inspire you to move forward and make something better of your life. But for me, they just inspire me to become an uncontrollable perfectionist that drives everyone crazy and sets myself up for failure. I don’t need a setup for failure. I can find it just fine without that sort of help.
But last week, as I contemplated the coming year, I received a message from my friend, Sheri Peterson, dean of the Utah Valley Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, that caught me off guard. Kind of like a sucker punch, I suppose. It felt so right to me that I almost made a New Year resolution. Fortunately, I stopped myself in time. (Whew! That was a close one.)
So be warned. Prepare yourself. Below is an excerpt from Sheri’s message. This is NOT intended to push you into making an sort of New Year resolution. Maybe you could think of it more like, uh…a New Year reminder:
I have been busy preparing for my senior recital in the spring. As part of this preparation, I’ve been trying to bring some pieces up to tempo. I’ve been doing a lot of metronome work and drilling with various rhythms. The last movement that I will play on my program is fast and furious. It is very exciting, and I can hardly wait to be able to play it up to tempo.
Overall, my tempo has increased on this piece, but I have been stuck because of one measure on the very first page. That one measure appears one more time later in the piece. I have drilled and drilled this one measure. I learned the notes, and I learned the lines. I could play them all. Yet, when I would stick this measure back into the whole piece and try to increase tempo, it would get all jumbled up and stick out like a sore thumb. Even though I’d been working hard, my ability to play this measure in context and up to tempo was not improving, until . . .
A couple days ago, as I was practicing this measure again, the light turned on, and I realized the missing piece of the puzzle. It was something so simple that I’m in awe that it made such a difference. I discovered that I wasn’t keeping my heels together when I played the pedal line in this measure. The very minute I practiced with my heels together my tempo, in context, vastly improved. This little technique freed me.
As I reflect on the past year, it IS the little things that have made the biggest difference, both in my music and in my life. As we begin a new year, I hope that we can all pay more attention to the little things.
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By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.” Alma 37:6
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