So many of my colleagues tell me that kids, particularly teens are more overwhelmed with things in life than ever.  PSAT, SAT, college essay writing in their junior year, higher GPA demands, extra curricular, volunteer work, sports.  It’s all in an average day of the student trying to fight their way to the head of the college bound pack.

Music can help with that.

It might sound like just one more thing, but it isn’t.  When my students come to the conservatory, I challenge them weekly with new music.  Different composers, different genres, pop music and even transposing are all part of my strategy.  The reaction to a new, difficult “looking” piece is often the same.  “There’s no way!”

Ah, but there is.

Start with the first measure.  That’s it.  Play it slowly several times.  Heck, play it for the whole lesson.  But I guarantee, you’ll be able to play it.  Now go to the next measure.  Repeat.


Guess what, you’ve taken something that “appeared” to be impossible, broke it down into smaller, more manageable parts and turned it into something possible.  It’s a lesson for not only becoming a better musician.  It’s a lesson for becoming a more productive person.

I sometimes forget to apply it to my own life, but it’s my general rule of thumb.  Look at what’s facing me.  Give myself a moment to freak out.  Once the moment is gone, break whatever it is down into smaller, more do-able parts and conquer.  From a huge task at work to cooking Thanksgiving dinner for unruly relatives, to applying for college.

Break it down.  Conquer.  You can do this.

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