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October 18, 2009
Vol. IX, No. 16

"Change Is Hard, but Good"
There's been a lot of talk about change this year. I started thinking about it in a different light after listening to a struggling piano student this past week. They would start at the beginning, play until they couldn't get any further, and then stop and go back to the beginning, hoping that somehow they would get a little further next time. It's a tremendously frustrating way to learn, inefficient, unfocused and self-defeating. But I suspect we've all done it at some point and perhaps still do.

When we start learning to play, our teachers try to help us build good habits. When we're growing up, if we're fortunate, our parents share their experiences with us in order to try to keep us from making some of the same mistakes they made. We try our best to follow the lead of those encouraging us but in the end, some suggestions stick and some don't. Fast forward to our current situation and we're a mix of what we've been taught that we were able to learn from and whatever we had to do to get through each day the best we could with the abilities we had.

So the question is, how do we get to that next level, to improve our situation, whether it's learning to practice better, to focus more during performance, or to deal more effectively with other people, be they colleagues or employers? I came across a great little article this weekend that contained some answers. It's geared toward small entrepreneurs but the ideas can easily transfer to the music word.

"Break Bad Habits, Make More Money"
The tagline id "Working for change pays off. Here's how to break through psychological barriers" and here are some choice quotes to get you thinking:
--"Getting started: The first hurdle is a reluctance to address matters related to emotions and behavior. If your computer, car or air conditioner isn't performing optimally, you probably won't waffle on having it checked."
--"We often work against ourselves to keep things static, even when we want them to move."
--"Problems tend to come later, when we cling to those early strategies even though times and circumstances have changed -- repeating contradictory behavior, remaking poor decisions and applying old and often inappropriate solutions to new problems."
--"Because successful leaders look for every competitive edge. And being emotionally in tune -- resilient, agile, aware -- is an unmatchable advantage."
--"No matter what, you can't ignore your emotions and still hope to prosper in business or in life."

Getting back to music, I'd like to recommend a workshop I wrote a while back that may be of some use. It outlines a practice technique that I found very useful. Also, check out Susan Burkhalter's blog info below for some of her work methods. We're all busy and need to be vigilant about finding ways to make better use of our time and energy.

WORKSHOP #19: "The Last Shall Be First"
I don't have much practice time so I'm always trying to find ways of using the time I do have more efficiently. As the Carly Simon song goes, "I haven't got time for the pain." This workshop presents a technique I used recently with great success.

The latest entry of Susan Burkhalter's "Organists' News" has been posted. In this installment, Sue has documented some of her work methods as an organist/choir director. Good reading and you may pick up a few good ideas:

Added is Robert G. Farrell's Prelude #44, "Take My Life, That I May Be":

Added is Robert G. Farrell, organist/choir director/composer:

Have a great week!

Dan Long

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