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Prioritizing Mental Health Through Music

Committing to a daily enrichment routine improves mental health. My piano sits as a sentinel, reminding me to prioritize my mental and musical well-being through consistent practice habits.

The day held many emotions, from worry about family members to navigating challenging parenting situations. By the end of the day, exhaustion took over. My bed called my name.

To move from the main section of my home into my bedroom, I must pass through my office and piano studio. As I navigated to my bedroom, there sat my piano, reminding me of the commitment I made to myself to practice the piano for 10 minutes each day.

I didn't want to.

I couldn't face more possible failure or self-judgment after a day seemingly full of both. Then, I remembered what I frequently tell my students and what I truly believe. “Just set a time for 10 minutes, start practicing, and see what happens.”

I took my own advice.

I set the timer, opened my music, and began slowly practicing the song that once nearly ended my musical career, Mendelssohn's Variations serieuses Op. 54 (more on that to come). I set the metronome to 72 bpm (beats per minute) and mastered the passage. Encouraged by that performance, I noticed the last documented tempo written on the page was 68 bpm.

“Could that be true? Was today the fastest I've ever played this passage?"

Shocked, I tried again, but this time faster at 84 bpm. I actually played it cleanly. Okay, well, mostly, except for the end with the diminished seventh arpeggio in 32nd notes, but I did it!

I then slowly revisited some of the other variations in the composition before closing the book.

“I'll need a methodical practice plan if I'm going to finally conquer this piece of music.” I thought.

I wondered, ”How long have I been practicing?”

“Twelve minutes. Wow! that went by quickly!”

I considered packing it up but remembered the other repertoire in progress, Tchaikovsky's Carnival. I've been working on it for about 6 weeks now, in consistent daily practice sessions of 10 to 15 minutes.

“I might as well give this a try also.”

With the accompanying tick of the metronome, I played through it once. Then I rehearsed a couple of spots that continue to give me trouble. Those few measures improved and I noticed that both my finger and cognitive memory of the piece are becoming more secure each day.

I take a deep breath and look at the timer. 20 minutes and 36 seconds had passed.

The curious thing about this practice session is not what was accomplished musically, but what was accomplished internally. Somehow the day's emotions dissipated as I sat at the piano and worked out those passages. Engaging my mind in the solving of my musical problems gave my emotions space to rest. When I completed my practice session, I felt relaxed, accomplished, eager to return tomorrow, and with solutions to my real-life problems.

What first felt like a burden and a time drain turned into the gift of focused rest, rejuvenation, and encouragement. I turned off the light with satisfaction and was thankful that my piano sits as a sentinel by my bedroom door.

Food For Thought:

What is one enrichment routine you can commitment to daily?

Envision how it will feel to keep that promise to yourself. Then, set yourself up for success by preparing your environment to keep that commitment. It’s not always easy work, but it is so worth it!


If you liked this post, you might also like "The Habit of Practicing: A Little Goes A Long Way."

Head to this post for some tips on How To Practice the Piano with Purpose when you having limited available practice.

If you have questions about piano lessons for yourself or you child, contact me. I'm on this musical journey with you! One short practice session at a time!


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