It doesn’t count unless you can repeat it; Christopher Norton Piano Camp

I spent the whole day at Oliveland Studio in Kirkland being an assistant at Christopher Norton‘s “Piano Camp.” Christopher Norton is world renown composer who produced over 120 piano books that emphasize in modern and popular repertoire using classical methods and technique. Today’s workshops included advanced rhythm, improvisation and masterclasses.

I was the class assistant but really, I volunteered to help because I thought this would be a great learning opportunity for me. And it was.

Of the things I heard today, I’ll just quote one thing Chris said: It doesn’t count unless you can repeat it.

He said this in the context of learning to improvise. Students are asked to improvise, first by clapping and then playing that rhythm using just one key on the keyboard and then by creating a melody with that rhythm by putting a few notes together. The improvisation is usually very short, only about 2 measure (=8beats). But aha, that’s where the self-control and discipline need to kick in because most people try to over do it by making it longer and/or too complicated. Instead ending up with a clean, simple line, it’s easy to end up with mumble jumble of random notes and rhythms.

Thus, the challenge is, it doesn’t count–no matter how fancy or cool what you created is–unless you can do it again.

Not too long ago, I talked with one of the moms of my students about the illusion of “accidental perfection.” I’ve heard children say many times, “But I did it perfect when I played it at home.” It’s not that I don’t believe them, but it doesn’t count unless you can make that happen again–at least something closer to the “perfection” described. Because for better or for worse, we can accidentally make perfection happen when we don’t even think about it. But it’s when we have to think about it, when it counts, the work we put into it will bring out a consistent result.

It applies to piano. It applies to all the other aspects of our lives. It applies to children and adults.

Did something amazing and fabulous today? Do it again.