The Year of the Snowball

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Fotolia_5977516_XS_thumb.jpgOne of the things I love about living in the mountains is our annual snowfall. Each year, I can count on having significant snow on the ground by December, a guaranteed white Christmas. Granted, I’m tired of the snow long before our spring arrives, but for most of the winter, I find peace and energy in our wintry woods.

This year, however, our November snow disappeared, and we have unusually warm temperatures and bare ground. I miss my snow.

So as I have been designing my new year plans and goals, I have resolved to make this year the “Year of the Snowball.”

A book I read this year that made a big impact on my thinking was The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. The One Thing is a Wall Street  Journal #1 bestseller, and although its aim is to help business people with their productivity, the principles apply pretty universally. Here is the key question that the authors suggest you use to help you focus: What is the one thing I can do right now, such that by doing it, everything else becomes easier or unnecessary?

I love making goals and planning how I can make the next twelve months interesting, exciting, and fun. I’ve never been excited about New Year’s resolutions, mostly because they never seem grounded in real plans or designed to produce lasting results. But by working on one thing, it’s easy to start a chain reaction that will lead to big results.

Hence my “Year of the Snowball.” By starting with one small action, I will make my snowball and then push it down the hill, letting it gain in momentum and size, and carry over into big change in 2015.

Snowball thinking takes a lot of the scariness out of goal-setting. Posting that big goal on the refrigerator door can be more intimidating than motivating. But deciding to make one small change in your daily routine is not only more manageable, but it means you can celebrate a win every day when you follow through on that action.

Many of the issues that hinder us or slow our musical progress can be resolved by these small but steady steps.

Remember the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away?” Most often, spending a few focused minutes each day doing the one thing you would like to change is all you really need to realize big improvement. Consider how these small changes could impact your music practice and performance:

  • Are you a last minute practice crammer? Try scheduling your practice and planning ahead so you will have enough preparation time and won’t be frazzled and stressed.
  • Wish you were a better sightreader? Buy some new music and sightread one short piece daily.
  • Need more agility and speed in your playing? Do your daily warmups in a variety of tempos so you can push your speed limit. You are doing daily warmup exercises, yes?
  • Want to practice more effectively? Have a written plan for each day’s practice.
  • Need some accountability? Schedule a lesson.

Make this huge investment in your music playing this week by making your snowball. What small thing can you begin doing now that, if you continue, will pay off in a huge way over time?

My guess is that you already have a pretty good idea of how your snowball should start, but if you need some advice, ask a colleague or a teacher. And remember, I’m always here to help.

Happy New Year 2015!

A quick reminder: the special pricing on my 12 week online video course Practice for the Finish is only available until December 31, so if you need to boost your practicing skills and learn how to practice more effectively and efficiently, and to prepare better for performance, act now!


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  • Carole Smith

    Hi Anne,
    At the Brandywine Harp Orchestra’s Longwood concert on Dec. 2nd, our singer – a teenage boy who also takes harp lessons – forgot the binder with all his music in it. Since he lives in Lititz, Janet was resigned to his not playing, just singing that night. I gave him my music. Yes, all of it. I played the concert from memory with the exception of Hark the Herald Angels Sing. I really didn’t know that song very well and it would not have been much better even if I had the music. My point here is I never would have been able to do that last year. So, efficient practicing is effective practicing. Not just spinning wheels and getting nowhere. I must say I was very proud of what I did. I give your courses all the credit. By the second concert that night, David’s parent brought in his music so I got mine back. At least I knew what song came next and what key it was in, but it was not as much fun. :- )


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