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Piano Lesson 33: Distractions!

By Gaili Schoen April 10, 2024 Hobbies

Welcome to Lesson 33 where we will discuss the power of distractions and how to overcome them.

[NOTE: If you are just joining us for the first time, you can find my previous Sixty and Me Free Piano Lessons on my Author pages. You can join our lessons any time and move at your own pace!]

33.1 Playing Listen to the Mockingbird, and Distractions

One of the biggest obstacles to effective practice is distractions. Sometimes it seems like the minute we sit down to play, our family members suddenly need our attention, desperately. Or we realize that we forgot to send an important email, or that we’re a little hungry….

Most egregiously distracting are our cell phones. They grab our attention with a text click, or a Facebook message ding, or we get a call from someone we love…. Cell phone distractions are potentially endless. So, when I sit down to play, I turn off my cell phone, or put it in another room. I don’t want to be tempted to check my email or Instagram, or play Wordle, especially when a difficult musical passage makes me want to seek some less complicated entertainment.

I also tell my family that I am going to practice and ask that I not be interrupted. When I’m playing, if my mind wanders to my shopping list, my travel plans, a conversation I had etc., I acknowledge those distracting thoughts, promising to address them after my practice, then shift my focus back to the music. I wrote a funny blog post about getting distracted while playing my piano, and you can watch my video discussing distractions and playing Listen to the Mockingbird here:

33.2 Listen to the Mockingbird Demonstration Video, p.83

Watch this demonstration video a few times, then try playing and counting the music with the rhythms you hear in the video. Pay special attention to the first two measures of the second line and the eighth notes. Once you get more comfortable with the notes and rhythm, try playing along with me. [You’re allowed to bring your cell phone to the piano to play along with my video! 😂]

Passion Practice

  1. Exercise #2 (Appendix iii) in E and B, with hands together.
  2. p.83 – Watch my demonstration video for Listen to the Mockingbird, then begin to count and play it slowly. Once you understand the rhythms, you can speed it up a bit.
  3. p.49 Review lines 3-6, using instructions 1-3 at the top of the page.
  4. Chord Calisthenics #3 – (Appendix vii) Play the Major-minor-Major triads in the first 6 keys (C-B) with hands together, forward and backward.
  5. Review Taps on p.65, or alternatively, play Down in the Valley which you might have already printed from my Sixty and Me files page.

Let’s Have a Conversation: 

Are you as easily distracted as I am? What do you do when distracting thoughts pull your attention away from your music or another hobby? Do you indulge in those thoughts or push them aside for later? What strategies have you used to help you stay focused on what you’re doing? What doesn’t work for you? Leave a comment below – I LOVE to hear from you!

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The Author

Gaili Schoen is a passionate piano teacher and learning science researcher. She has written a piano instruction series called Upper Hands Piano: A Method for Adults 50+ to Spark the Mind, Heart and Soul. Learn more at Follow her blog for free monthly sheet music and practice tips:

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