Practice Challenge Update | Week 15 of 20
The 1994 Disney movie, "Iron Will", follows Will Stoneman, a young man who is thrust into the role of saving his family's farm following his father's untimely death. He enters a cross country dog sled race, promising to win first place and the monetary prize. Through weeks of harsh, unpredictable weather conditions, deadly terrain and treacherous competitors, a sick and exhausted Will finally sees the finish line and the crowd waiting for him. With only a short distance to travel, he is overcome with fatigue and falls to the ground.
Will's journey is relatable to anyone who has undertaken any kind of life challenge. Our visualization of the end of the journey motivates us to push through the pain. But the closer we get to our goal, our minds and bodies begin to recognize the effort. We see relief and begin to prepare for it.
In our studio, this has been a tough week. With the energy of a recital behind us and with five weeks to go in our practice challenge, my students are eagerly anticipating the finish line. The finish line for us not only means accomplishment of a big goal, but it also means the end of the school year. Warm weather. The end of a tumultuous school year. Space to process the events in our communities. The beginning of something new. The bright approaching glow of the future seems to illuminate the challenging path we are still running.
As Will is collapsed on the ground, from the crowd, his friend whistles the four note tune Will uses to connect with and motivate his dog sled team. The dogs respond by leaping into action. The scene is brought to a dramatic crescendo as the entire crowd chimes in, whistling the melody, spurring on the dedicated dogs and summoning life back into a fallen Will. In a final act of love between animal and owner, they support Will's weary body to the finish line.
We all have our personal go-to whistle, song, phrase or image that provides that final push we need to reenergize, focus the intensity and finish strong. But we also need the crowd. We need that group of supporters to shout us to the end. Over the next few weeks, I encourage you to send a shout-out or a text or a card to a teacher or a student you know. Your word of cheer will remind them of their strength and encourage them to dig just a little deeper for just a little longer to cross that finish line.
Practice Challenge Update | Week 14
Practice Challenge Update | Week 13
Brillante Music Studio is very proud of all of our student athletes, many of whom have began practices and training for their spring sports. A stereotype conflict between the music nerd and the football jock has long been perpetuated in media, literature and pop music. However, I've discovered that the two actually share a beautiful relationship.
Music and Sports: Why Do Both?
By Liz Hinley
Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata--a powerful piano solo that is respected as one of Beethoven’s most challenging pieces. Imagine for a moment being a skilled pianist announcing an impromptu performance of such a piece. Is this perhaps a little ambitious? Do you feel like you can perform it comfortably, soon? How about right after winning an Olympic gold medal?
French Olympic champion and concert pianist Micheline Ostermeyer did just that. Right after winning gold in shot put at the 1948 London Games, she performed this recital in celebration of her win. Ostermeyer was unique in that she was a professional in music and sport.  For what experts in these fields may say are too distinct from each other and therefore impossible to master both, Ostermeyer acknowledges how “the qualities that make a true artist are nearly the same qualities that make a true athlete.”  She shared how sports helped relax her and playing piano gave her “a sense of motion and rhythm.”  For what seems like two different areas of skill, Ostermeyer has proven that they are more alike than at first glance.
Music and sport both offer great skills and benefits that not only improve one’s lifestyle, but they complement each other so that a musician can find benefits from being athletic and an athlete can discover benefits for being musical. Research supports having musical training can increase physical coordination and motor skill ability, and vice versa, that being an athlete can improve a musician’s skills and performances.  Although there is currently no research on outcome measures of individuals who study both music and sport simultaneously, there are intriguing findings that offer both musicians and athletes information that can help take their performances to the next level.
Below are a few key findings research offers for musicians who are looking to improve their physical abilities to play an instrument, or wanting to strengthen the control of emotion and mental fatigue:
Practice Challenge Update | Week 11 & 12 of 20
High schoolers in the Midwest return to school following spring break in one of two ways. The first way includes:
Bronzed, sun-kissed skin; shiny hair in braids interwoven with cool, brightly-colored beads or thread; bright eyes and stories that involve either parasailing or swimming with dolphins.
The second way includes: pasty, sandpaper skin; the same dull, frizzy head of hair that left school 10 days earlier; dry, clouded eyes from artificial light and stories about driving your car into a snowy ditch on the way to Sam's Club with your mom.
I write with too much specificity and personal experience to not be in the latter group. I couldn't help feeling that small body Pinch! during geometry class as Heidi, a blonde-haired beauty, sat sideways in her desk, extended her pedicured toes into the aisle and played with a new coconut shell bracelet from her all-inclusive resort in Cancun. Even now as a 38-year old who has had incredible experiences in exotic locations, I still feel the Pinch! when I see the tell-tale pink forehead and nose on a Minnesotan in March. The energy from new spaces, sun and rest are just what they need to get them through the last 2.5 months of school-and winter-with a new vitality.
Our studio is in the final eight weeks of our practice challenge. I was pleasantly surprised and proud to discover that in our first week back from spring break, both freshly vacationed students AND pasty dull-eyed students had significantly improved in their goals. It was reminder to me that achieving success doesn't come from having an ideal setting-it comes from our motivation. Author, speaker and blogger Rachel Hollis says that when you really want something, you find a way. If you don't really want it, you'll find an excuse. The Spring Breakers swimming with dolphins in a secret cove utilized the beauty of that experience to shape and motivate their practice time when they got home. The StayCayer's put down their iPad's and utilized the continuity of their routines to stay the course. Both made important use of their time and settings.
I don't mind riding out the winter with grit and a smile, but I also daydream about leading a spring break studio field trip to hear the bird songs and soundscapes of Hawaii. :)
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