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MM#1: Take It Easy…and enjoy your music!

Musical Motivator #1

Take it easy, take it easy
Don’t let the sound of your own wheels
Drive you crazy
Lighten up while you still can
Don’t even try to understand
Just find a place to make your stand
And take it easy

“Take It Easy” was written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Fry, recorded on the Eagles first single released May 1, 1972.

One weekend when I was 8 years old I woke up to a piano being carried into my living room by two burly men. Within weeks of the piano being delivered a man by the name of Mr. Nicholwitz arrived. He was introduced to me as my piano teacher. Mr. Nicholwitz would arrive at my home every Saturday morning donning a suit and a fedora hat. He looked like he had stepped off a train in the 1940s. He would slowly walk up our front driveway carrying a large folder under his arm with unruly loose leaf pages sticking out. When he sat down he wouldn’t say a word he would just open his folder and almost look surprised at the seemingly random song that he pulled out.

“Oh YES,” he would say.

“This is a good one. Play this one.”

Sometimes I would play through the entire piece, if I had played it before and sometimes I would play it and get stumped half way through. He would then say,

“Oh that was really good for now – we will come back to that song next time…here try this one, ” as he seemed to again randomly select a song from his folder.

He would never make me replay the part I was struggling with. He encouraged me that I would do it better next time. After three years of piano lessons he had me sight-reading the songs that he loved –   from “The Entertainer” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to Beethoven and Bach. When I played “a particularly good one,” he would lean back in his chair, close his eyes and smile slightly. His enjoyment of the music made me want to keep playing.

Although not a very orthodox way of learning the piano (and perhaps why  I am not an excellent piano player today….although I am a pretty good sight reader) Mr Nicholwitz did teach me three things that have I carried with me throughout my life.

a) There is a lot of great music out there and it is meant to be explored, enjoyed and shared

b) Music is meant to have fun with

c) You don’t have to “do music” the way you think you are supposed to “do music” to have great outcomes (you don’t even have to DO music at all)

Question of the Week: When was the last time you took it easy and had fun with music – playing or listening?

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Jennifer Buchanan is the happy owner of JB Music Therapy, celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2011.

“You on Music” is the 2011 series on JBMT’s “Music Speaks” Blog:

50 Musical Motivators (MMs): to Help you Relax, Reflect and Remember what you Value Most

4 Comments

  • Wow, what a unique style of piano teaching! This actually is close to my favorite way of “practicing” piano – I like just sitting down at the piano with a fakebook, flipping to a random page, and playing whichever song there strikes my fancy. I end up learning some songs better over time, but I don’t really concern myself with sticking to one song until I know it well. I’ve found some great songs to use for clinical work this way, but that’s not my primary purpose when I sit down to play. Thanks for the motivation!

  • Congratulations, Jennifer, on your 20 year achievement! God bless the next twenty!
    your sister in sound

    • Thanks Pam. Wishing you well too!

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