Identify your comfort zone
Ask: What would it take for me to be outside my comfort zone?
Shrink the project so it is ‘reasonable & achievable’
Do a smaller version of a big idea so you 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.
ideas for Advanced Students?
Projects will be judged on their creativity, execution, and the extent to which the pianist pushed themselves to new levels
For Advanced Students
Most advanced students don’t get to their level without overcoming a ton of musical challenges. But if you ask them what it takes to get them outside their comfort-zone, they will always have an answer. And it probably sounds something like ‘doing something at a higher level’. This is the beginning of a great #MyPianoProject.
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 stepping outside their comfort-zone. Older kids might even be capable of organizing their entire project without much help. 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)
Learn a rhythmically challenging piece of music
Learn a long(er) piece of music. Perhaps the full score from a movie soundtrack.
Learn a greater quantity of easy music (15 easy songs instead of 3 hard ones).
Take a piece they already know and learn to sing while playing the piano
Perform a duet or trio with another friend/sibling who plays an instrument.
Accompany a vocalist, dancer, or solo musician (This is an incredibly valuable skill that is exceedingly challenging to learn)
Memorize a piece of music you have performed before. For some musicians performing a piece from memory is 2x harder than reading the music. And it utilizes different parts of the brain to achieve.
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
Learn Jazz Improvisation and perform some Jazz Standards
Form a trio/quartet. Playing with groups of people is challenging is you have never done it before.
… 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 they are outside their comfort zone)
Host a ‘music party’ for other musicians. Nothing is more challenging than playing for people who know when you are making a mistake. At the same time nothing is more encouraging because everyone has been there before. It is about pushing yourself to new limits and sharing your musical art with others.
Play a difficult song from memory
Play ____ hours of background music for a restaurant or party. Be prepared to take requests and if you don’t know the song commit to learning it for another #MyPianoProject.
Go for perfection (#MyPianoProject does not require perfection but this is a great way to challenge yourself)
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 (Learn 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 50 people smile…or 100:)
Find a way to server disadvantaged people with your music. Teach lessons, show up at a nursing home to give an afternoon of music while engaging the audience.
…be creative. Do something amazing!
Ask: When do I want 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.
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!
Combining Challenges & 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
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 which 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.