I recently learned that much of my supervisory toolkit was developed while sitting on a piano bench. In particular, the methods that I’ve used with success for the millennial generation are derived from things I learned during piano lessons. This article is an installment of my ongoing musings about drawing inspiration for better supervision from my time in piano lessons.
Something my piano instructor frequently talked about is how to practice. It is tempting to sit down and play the music straight through over and over. Most of us took up piano because we love the music. Playing the right hand only, four measures at a time, just isn’t as satisfying as playing the entire étude straight through. However, there’s a real problem created by just playing the piece straight through every practice session. Any mistake that you make is never corrected. For every wrong note I touched, my instructor wanted me to play the phrase with the right note ten times. So, I need to just play that right hand, four measure section, ten times to make the right note a habit. Then I could put everything together and enjoy the full sound of the music.
With my millennial staff, I need to create situations where they can do it right several times. Then it is a habit and they will do it right almost every time after. I think this is one of the hardest things I do because there are so many “once a year” things in student housing. How can I give staff ten practice runs at facilitating move-in day? So, I break it into small pieces (like the right hand only, four measures) and have them do that part. Maybe that’s accomplished through summer conference check-ins, staff check-ins, behind closed doors trainings, or table top exercises. But somehow I create several practice opportunities for the small parts so that when both hands are together the music is great.
How do you practice?
Check out the first three posts in this series: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three