Buck Up and Do It!

low-section-view-of-a-group-of-people-exercising-in-a-step-aerobics-classI'm a fitness junky. I head to our local fitness club at least 4 times a week. Yes, I move to the latest hits set in a relentless tech mix and love every minute of it. My favorite instructor, Heidi, is to "blame" for this latest blog. I faithfully attend her classes (when I'm not teaching). During her step classes, I marvel at her tenacious, drill-sergeant-like orders. She has gorgeous, long dark hair, beautiful olive skin and yes, a body to match.  She is funny, engaging, quick to learn names and is a slave driver the entire hour. Her perfectly timed cues keep the Lycra-clad crowd motivated, moving to the beat and usually gasping for air. Instead of empathizing with our "suffering" she yells "higher" or "lower" or "touch the floor" all in a threatening tone that translates as "don't you dare stop!". Then she smiles and says "you're all right".

Why are Heidi's classes so full when they are virtually glorified torture sessions set to tunes? Because she pushes us out of our comfort zone. At least once during the hour she reminds us that the only way we will see a change in our bodies is if we push them to fatigue and then work them some more.

One morning it dawned on me that working beyond what comes easy builds strength in all dimensions of life--work, family, faith. I'll never forget when I expanded my studio and faced the daunting task of teaching three hours in a row instead of two. Granted, during my early days of teaching, I had charge of three young sons and was usually a bit weary even before lessons began as I passed them off to my husband when he arrived home from work. Then I began teaching mornings before school and 3 hours in the afternoon. Soon I added day-time adult and home-schooled students and now some days are filled with more teaching hours than non teaching hours.

What I discovered? These full days invigorate my instruction, keep me accountable, focused and above all, flexible.  I believe they give me strength to rise above the every-day hassles and propel me into a go-mode that promotes a positive outlook. There's really no time to complain or whine, just time to step up and jump in with both feet.

Some may say my energy level is slightly elevated. I've been accused of taking on too much and find myself guilty as charged. So let me clarify; I'm not saying busier is better or that multitasking is admirable or being stressed will lead to success. I'm attempting to share what I've found evident in my own experiences. It seems:

  • I get more done when I have less time
  • Pushing through fatigue and finding that second wind often makes me a more joyful, creative teacher
  • When challenged with repertoire I didn't think I could possibly play, I find new skills emerge
  • Juggling my various roles in life continually urges me to prioritize and seek a balance.

Partial credit for my stamina belongs to a physical trainer who pushes me, won't let me stop and scolds me if I fail to stay on task (yes, Heidi knows my name and is not afraid to chide me during class). Wow, if I can't get enough of Heidi's sugar-coated "brutality", I'm guessing this means that my students feel the same. It even makes me think I could be a bit pushier.  When I provide energetic and passionate instruction combined with a good nudge to excel, students are charged and re-invigorated (at least most of them) for another week's worth of  "training" at their home bench.

When you find yourself stretched beyond what you thought was your limit, take a deep breath and power through. You may discover that your tough times will chisel you into a new shape that will not only transform your outlook but also translate into piano bench-warmers that buck up and do it.

Looking to be pushed in a new creative direction on the bench? Consider joining Bradley Sowash and me at the 88 Creative Keys Camp, Workshop and Clinics for keyboard students and teachers. Discover how to move beyond the page and build new skills you never thought possible.


To learn more, click here.

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