Window to Dreams

Image by gaspi *yg via Flickr

Have you ever noticed how hard it is sometimes to practice on a beautiful summer day?  When you have fewer commitments, wouldn’t it be easier to just skip it and go outside?

When I have skipped practicing, though, it’s harder to go back.  So I skip the next day, then the day after that, and…

The truth is, I have plenty of practicing to do.  It’s just the inspiration that’s at a low ebb from time to time.

During this past week, at least one inspiring thing happened every day that may or may not have been related to practicing.  But I chose to use every little event as inspiration anyway.


Memorial Day.  Everyone else was taking the day off, so I did, too, and enjoyed having the time off.


Someone commented on a blog post from 6 months ago, saying how much she enjoyed rereading it and how much she liked my playing of the music I posted about.


Dennis from St. Louis donated to my blog.


Wonderful day!  Sunny, cool, and windy.  That’s perfect practice weather!  Open all the doors and windows and go to it!


The four highest-ranked tennis players in the world played in the French Open men’s semifinals.  That doesn’t happen often.  Not only that, but everything I wanted to happen, did.

  • Nadal beat Murray in a fantastic match.
  • Federer beat Djokovic in the semis!  Incredible!
  • Djokovic’s winning streak is finally OVER.
  • Nadal gets to stay at #1 on his birthday.
  • Sunday final will be Nadal/Federer, everyone’s Dream Final.


I woke up with a headache!  That’s not very inspiring… I zapped it with Excedrin, ate breakfast, and practiced anyway.  It went very well!

In the “Pathétique” Sonata, Beethoven’s attention to detail inspired me today.  The difference between staccato and non-staccato, changes in the way the accompanying part is written, sudden dynamic changes, the way good fingering makes the music jump off the page, etc.  (This is one of the pieces I’ll be recording for the producer to plan his upcoming film about Emily Dickinson.)

I think Emily Dickinson’s square piano probably had less sustaining power than a modern instrument.  So I’m playing with less pedal than I might otherwise.  Clarity of phrasing and articulation are my goals.  I don’t want to “read through it.”

I’m practicing fingerings very carefully, so as not revert to sight reading.  With “good” fingering, the sound is so much better.


The Roland Garros men’s final, of course!

Brunch didn’t happen due to the length of the match.  So I had a peanut butter sandwich and practiced after Rafa won his 6th French Open championship.  (Vamos!)  And then I went out to dinner.


The film producer is back from Europe.  We’re making plans to get together to start recording, with the narrator present.  Instant inspiration!

Another gorgeous day, with birds singing outside.

My mailbox had a card in it this afternoon!  It’s so unusual to receive actual mail these days.  A friend sent a funny card.  Enclosed was a coupon for a free pint of Ben & Jerry’s!

New plan

I have a new way to ensure that I practice as long as I need to:  I write down the starting time, then put my watch out of sight.  Now I don’t look at the time during a practice session, but focus on the music instead.  Having a watch where I can see it allows me to look at the time and say, “Oh, I’ve been here for an hour.  That’s enough…”  But most of the time, it isn’t.  And if there is no impending rehearsal in two hours, there is no need to track the time that closely.

Where do you look for inspiration?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Are you without a teacher for the summer? Need fresh ideas to share with your students? Thinking about buying a new piano?

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