Building a body of work

I had a pleasant surprise this morning! One of my current projects is to go back and watch every piano improv video lesson I’ve made for my website, Right now, this comes to over 290 videos, each between 5 and 30 minutes in length.

As you might imagine, I wasn’t looking forward to this task. For one thing, who likes watching themselves on video? (But I’m getting used to this and sometimes even enjoy it!) For another, it’s a LOT of time that I’d frankly prefer to spend interacting with my students, creating new lessons or playing piano. But it’s a necessary project since I want to make the site even better by cross-referencing lessons. If, for example, a student is on the Intro to Jazz Lesson 20, which shows how to embellish the melody to jazz tunes, I can point them to a bunch of other lessons (such as a particular bebop exercise) that will enhance this skill. I’m making this the video course I wish I had learned from when I was coming up.

The big surprise, though, is how much I’m enjoying watching all these lessons! I’m reminded that if you do something day in and day out for 3 years, as I’ve done ere, a body of work is accumulated. More than we realize when we’re creating it.

Here’s what this means for you:

Just pick something and do it every day. Or most days. It doesn’t matter what you choose. If you play piano, you could learn Beatles songs. Or sightread. Or compose 8 measures of music per day. If you want to improve your jazz playing, set a timer and improvise for 15 minutes. Or 90. Whatever you can do each day.

With the visual arts, it’s like me and these videos; you’ll stand back after three years and see how big a body of work you have. Same with composing. All of a sudden you’ll have 1,092 of those 8-bar phrases. (Actually, you’ll have moved on to longer pieces by that time.)

With piano playing, though, you won’t be able to “see” the body of work as clearly. Rather, you will BE the body of work! Every time you sit down at the piano or keyboard, you will be the actualization of all those daily sessions, accumulated in your breadth of knowledge and expertise. That’s what it’s all about.

What body of work do you want to create for yourself? Set a goal, then forget about it as you simply go to the piano each and every day. Then, after a year or two or three, step back and reflect upon what you’ve done. It’s an amazing feeling and I want you to have it as well. Good luck and have fun!

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2 thoughts on “Building a body of work”

  1. Yes, Ron, yes! I think this is the most important thing I have learned from you–I just hadn’t articulated it in quite this way. Please continue your inspirational work.


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