I am SO EXCITED to finally have the first installment in the discipline and specificity series up, even though that first installment is really just “hey, I’m going to be writing about discipline and specificity for a while, hope you’re cool with that.”

I do mean “for a while,” btw. I keep hinting at my pages and pages of handwritten notes, each line of which could become its own post. I’m envisioning this as a series of short insights, with as many per week as I can fit around my freelance workload.

But first.

(Whenever L says “but first,” I always respond with “butts first.”)

(Did I need to share that with you?)

If I’m going to write about specificity and discipline and creativity and practice and art and life and love and money and everything else, I feel like I ought to show my work.

Which means it’s time to show you what I’ve been doing at the piano lately.

I’d tell you that I’m playing better than I ever have in my life, but you have no context in which to evaluate that comparison. I will tell you — or I hope to tell you, as part of this discipline and specificity series — how I got to this point. How my practicing changed, and how this new approach helped me improve both my technique and my musicality (what you might call “emotional expressiveness”).

But I also want you to listen for the parts that aren’t quite specific yet. The technical and/or musical problems I haven’t quite solved. In one case, I haven’t yet figured out the key to solving the technical issue — I’ve tried a handful of things that have worked on similar technical issues, but they haven’t provided the solid, replicable improvement I’ve been hoping for.

The solution to the problem of this particular ornament (yes, it’s an ornament, with Mozart it’s nearly always an ornament) is different from the solution to the other ornament problem that I was able to isolate and fix this week (very proud of myself for that one), but I don’t know what this new solution is yet. I have to keep breaking down the problem (is it a finger-weight issue, is it a finger-curve issue, is it a striking issue, is it a not-thinking-ahead issue, is it a split-focus issue) until I find the key to solving it.

This, by the way, is a separate issue from that of discipline and specificity. Discipline is committing to do the work to solve the problem. Specificity is what you get after the problem is solved: an ornament that comes out the same way every time, with none of the notes fudged or blurred. The problem itself, and finding both its core issue and its solution — well, that’s a whole other thing.

I also ought to show you my composition work, but that’s not as easy as uploading a video. I mean, I could take a video of me performing my latest piano composition, but I’d much rather give you the sheet music and let you try to play it. We’ll all learn much more about the piece that way.

Sooooooo… here’s a PDF that you can download.

(It’s a draft, btw. I know that some of the articulation marks are a little too close to their notes. I still have to run the magic Finale scrubber that puts everything in the right place.)

There is one more thing that I need to tell you before we get to WHERE I GOT PUBLISHED THIS WEEK, and it’s that I’M TEACHING A CLASS ON HOW TO START A WRITING PRACTICE. I’ve taught this class at Hugo House a few times before, but this time I’m teaching at HappyWriter, a new community where writers can get together to discuss the art and craft of writing and publishing.

You’ll need to sign up with HappyWriter to take the class, but if you’re curious about how I manage to, like, write novels and blog posts and piano music in addition to all of my freelance writing, it’s because of my writing practice sessions.

Which are an awful lot like my piano practice sessions, in terms of discipline and specificity and problem-solving and the intense-but-highly-rewarding work that slowly-but-surely improves both technical precision and emotional expressiveness.

MORE ON THAT LATER.

A

LOT

MORE.

HERE’S WHERE I GOT PUBLISHED THIS WEEK:

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