The world of sports; the world of music; sometimes they seem to be several universes apart from each other.  And yet many of my students are actively involved in sports as well as in music.  What can be learned from each discipline?  How are they similar?  How are they different?

One of the similarities is that both activities are physical.  Sometimes it’s easy to think of studying a musical instrument as more like school work- all done in the  head. But in reality learning a musical instrument such as the piano, is very physical and the learning process must take that physicality into account.  In practical terms that means that missing a day of practice, whether it be for competitive golf or piano, will have the same affect- you cannot make up that time.  Your body has lived that day and it has not had the physical practice for whatever skill is being learned.

One of the differences between the world of sports and the world of music is that in sports students are usually part of a team and have a coach for their daily practice.  Generally, they are not asked to have the discipline to go by themselves and work on some skill alone.  This is one of the challenges with studying the piano.  Students have weekly lessons and then are expected to apply what they have learned on their own throughout the week.

Parents, this is where you can really be of help to your child.  Your job is to create the structure in your home schedule so that the practice time is built in and it becomes part of the daily routine.  It will still take some effort on the student’s part to go and do the practicing but you have eliminated one of the hurdles by establishing clearly when the practice is to take place each day.  With older students, this is a conversation to have with your child perhaps weekly, perhaps monthly, depending on the person, where you decide together, when they will practice.  Even for adult students, by deciding ahead of time, usually the day before, when you will practice gives you a much better chance of making it happen.  The power of decision is exactly that- powerful.  And when we claim this power for our own, it will transform whatever we are trying to accomplish.

There is one more final comparison that I cannot resist making between sports and musical endeavors.  Music is an activity that one can continue to do all throughout life, sometimes well into the 70’s and 80’s, but how many 80 year old active football players have you seen lately?  If you want to have a life skill then invest in music!