Identify your child’s comfort zone
Ask: What is a song you want to be able to do, but can’t?
Shrink the project so it is ‘reasonable & achievable’
Do a smaller version of a big idea so they can realistically achieve something within the next 12 weeks
Add something special that makes everyone smile
Make it fun and leave a lasting impression on the people who attend.
Here are some ideas for kids?
Projects will be judged on their creativity, execution, and the extent to which the pianist pushed themselves to new levels
For Younger Children
Most children will be naturally challenged by a combination of learning new music, performing music in front of others, or doing so within a certain timeframe. #MyPianoProject incorporates elements of all three, but you will usually lean into one more than the others.
TIPS: As parents and teachers, it is important to help the child craft their piano project in such a way they are excited about the challenge even though it involves them stepping outside their comfort-zone. The goal is for them to become internally motivated to achieve ‘their goal’ & then qualify for a big reward if they do. Keep in mind, it should be ‘their goal’, not yours:) Here are some ideas to help you think outside the box.
Music Selection Ideas
Ask: How do I want to challenge myself musically?
Learn new music (or a new genre of music) the child has an interest in. Perhaps from the soundtrack of their favorite movie or video game.
Learn a more rhythmically challenging piece of music
Learn a long(er) piece of music. Perhaps the full version of a song they already know
Learn a greater quantity of easy music (10 easy songs instead of 1 hard one).
Take a piece they already know and write words to it
Sing while playing the piano
Perform a duet or trio with another friend/sibling who plays an instrument.
Memorize a piece of music they already know.
Sight read a new piece of music in front of a group of people
Take requests from the people who rsvp and learn the music for the performance
Write their own music and debut it to their friends
… be creative. Do something amazing
Ask: How do I want to share my musical art with others?
Host a ‘music party’ for peers (keep inviting people until the child is outside their comfort zone)
Find a public piano and give a short mini concert on a Saturday morning
Play a song from memory in front of friends & family
Go for perfection and take a piece of music you know to a new level (#MyPianoProject does not require perfection but this is a great way to challenge yourself)
Create a new audience by playing a song you know well in front of people you don’t know.
Sight read new music in front of a group of friends. Tell everyone to bring a song so you can try to sight read it.
Emcee The Event (Learning how to present information to an audience is a critical life skill)
Go for impact. Find a public piano and keep playing until you make 10 people smile…or 100:)
…be creative. Do something amazing.
Ask: What date over the next 12 weeks is best to do my project?
Doing something simple in a shorter timeframe can be equally as challenging as doing something difficult over a longer time frame. We created short 12-week award cycles so pianists can build up to larger and larger projects with each one they do. There is no limit to how many times a student can qualify so the incentive is there for you to choose a project that is both challenging & attainable within the next 12 weeks.
Timeframe challenges are usually something an advanced musician will utilize, however there are some kids who struggle with ‘perfectionism’ who just need to learn to ship-product within a certain time frame. The product is ‘art’ and the ‘ship-date’ is the date of your project. Life isn’t perfect, neither is our execution. ‘Art’ by definition is the creative celebration of life’s imperfection. It is important for kids to learn how to both aspire to excellence and “do the best they can” within the limits of a defined ‘ship-date’. By putting a ‘ship-date’ on a project it means we might fail, fall short, or have to deliver an imperfect product. And that is kind of the point. If your child wants everything to be perfect, consider using #MyPianoProject as a way to reward them for stepping outside their comfort-zone and ‘shipping their art’ even though they only feel like they are 85% there. Amazing things happen when people show up for an event and an artist stands up and says “I challenged myself to do ____ within _____ weeks and this is the result…”
Examples of Timeframe Challenges:
Put a concert together in the next 5 weeks
Learn a new piece of music and memorize it within the next X weeks
Write a new song within the next ____ weeks
Learn a difficult piece of music at an acceptable level within the next ___ weeks.
… be creative. Do something amazing!
Adding the ‘You Factor’
The best #MyPianoProjects combine different elements of stepping outside our comfort-zone into a single event. But there is usually a dominate theme (IE - playing in front of people is the BIG challenge being addressed). Projects will be judged on their creativity, execution, and the extent to which the pianist pushed themselves to new levels. We simply want to inspire pianists of all ages to step outside their comfort zone and share their musical art with others.
By combining piano + basketball, poetry, your favorite movie, video game, etc… you will encourage the child to creatively combine two things that don’t naturally mix. This in and of itself is a form of art and is encouraged. Be creative, do something amazing.
Parental Assistance with Projects
Young kids need help with planning, logistics, printing invitations, goal-setting, encouragement to keep going, etc… but they should be involved in every aspect of their project to the extent it is appropriate for their age and ability. For younger kids consider giving them options A, B, or C but allow them to choose the direction they go with their project. For older kids this is a chance to learn some great life skills. The goal of #MyPianoProject is to reward the pianist for stepping outside their comfort-zone and pushing themselves to new levels. This goes beyond the music they learn and the performance they deliver. It is about sharing your musical art with others and this is as much about saying to the world “You need music in your life” as it is an invitation to “Come enjoy what I have to share”.
Incorporating Facebook Live & Social Media
#MyPianoProject is about real people, gathering around a real piano, and creating a memorable moment. If you decide to use social media in any aspect of your project it should be ‘in addition too’ the local live component and have a ‘specific purpose’.
- Invite your extended family who live out of town to join you in your live performance as one of the audience members.
- Pick up the phone, knock on a neighbor’s door, send a written invitation in the mail (and then use Social Media to remind everyone of their RSVP + build anticipation as the even approaches)
- Use Facebook Live as an easy way to record your event + share it with others in the community.
- Use discretion. Doing things in front of a camera is almost second nature in the Internet / Social Media age, so only using it as an element of “look I challenged myself to do a facebook live performance” isn’t going to be enough to qualify. However, saying “Look, I wanted to do ________, and I knew I could reach 5 people locally + 15 extra local family members online…” is a more appropriate use of Facebook Live. We encourage you to be creative, but also use discretion.