Have you ever used the fitness app on your cellphone to keep track of how many steps you’ve taken on a particular day? I recently started doing this myself, and I’ve had a lot of fun trying to get in 10,000 steps each day.
Why 10,000? Well, it’s a nice round number, easy to remember, and it’s just a bit more than I would naturally do on a daily basis. So I’m gently pushing myself to stay (get?) in shape by using the technology in a productive way. Also, 10,000 steps turns out to be about 20% more walking than I naturally do in my various activities.
It’s also got me thinking about things.
For instance, once I started to keep track of my steps, I started to think, “What did I do before cell phones and apps?” Luckily, I quickly realized the ridiculousness of this thought and remembered all the previous ways I kept track of my exercise goals.
In college, I would go out for an hour-long walk between classes. When I first moved to Manhattan, I would jog around the Central Park Reservoir each morning (even in snowstorms!). And now, I’m glancing at my daily steps on my cellphone.
It’s good to occasionally change the way we keep track of things, as long as the overall goal is in the same direction. It keeps it fresh.
Practicing the piano is like this too.
How do you keep track of your piano practicing?
Do you sit down and play 5 songs per day? Or do you set a timer for an hour? Lately I’ve been playing all of Bach’s Fifteen 2-Part Inventions every day. The ways in which Bach’s moving lines interact inspires me musically and my fingers get some good exercise in the process. A few months ago I was playing 5 jazz tunes every morning. Maybe in a couple of weeks I’ll move onto something else, like my long-delayed goals of learning ELP’s “Tarkus” or Frank Zappa’s “The Black Page.”
The idea is to keep our eyes on the distant star, and use whatever method we like to keep moving in that direction. Who knows, maybe there’s an app for that too!
Enjoy the journey, and “let the music flow!”
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