Book of the Month: January 2021

2021 came in rather unenthusiastically, but I hope you took the time to sit and think through some goals (maybe more based on the season we are in and less specific, but still goals). As I contemplated where I hope to grow this year, one goal I set for myself is to read 50 books. To some this may sound like a low goal, to others it may sound impossible.

For me? I love to read! But the busier I get, the less time I devote to it. But here’s the deal … “the world belongs to those who read.” And I believe that I will make time for what I love. On top of that, if I’m choosing what I truly love, I will reserve less time for mindless time wasters (i.e. social media scrolling, keeping up with the news, etc.). For these reasons, the goal is 50 books.

When I was younger, my summers were filled with probably 50 books in 3 months. I devoured whatever I could get my hands on, and my mom would often have to encourage me to play outside. I got extra creative and would even read outside 😉 Now at this point you’re asking why I’m spending so much time on a piano teaching blog talking about reading books.

And I’m glad you asked!

This year, as I’ve committed to choose reading over other things in life that are not nearly as interesting, I’m also committing to encouraging you to read and to read to your students. I will not be giving you the list of the 50 books that I read. Some will be useless as it comes to piano teaching (I do LOVE a good mystery!). But I am also committed to reading books that build me up in all areas of my life – my faith, my ministry, my imagination, my piano teaching, etc.

So this is where you come in. Each month I will be taking one week to point you in the direction of a book that has challenged/encouraged/taught me in the realm of piano teaching. I will also be sharing with you a book recommendation that you can read to your students. You can use the student book to encourage their parents to read to them or as an addition to your studio library. I am excited for this journey and for what can be learned together!

Students –

So to start with, I am sharing a student book that I highlighted in early December. I am so in love with the artwork, creativity, and sheer delight in learning to read notes on the staff with this book. “Here Come the High Notes” can be used in your lessons or read as a bedtime story to capture the imagination of your students. To check out a full review of it, visit the page here. You won’t want to miss out on this one!

Teachers –

My teacher recommendation may not be so obvious at first, but I was deeply challenged by this one! And it is the New Year after all, and we are all desiring to modify our habits in positive directions 🙂

“The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg astounded me. I have often heard that life is made up of tons of choices – big and small – throughout each day. But this book radically changed my concept of this. We do make lots of choices … but choices made often enough become habits! In the prologue, Duhigg writes that “more than 40 percent of the actions people performed each day weren’t actual decisions, but habits.” What? Say that again?

He then continues to break down our understanding of habits in our individual lives, in the success of organizations, and in how societies function. Now obviously this has value in reading simply for the knowledge of changing and defining your own habits. But my brain took it a step further to consider how each section has ramifications in how our students practice, how we run our studios and the lesson business, and how our studio community interacts together.

The habit loop Duhigg describes – Cue > Routine > Reward – has great potential to change how effective our student’s practice can be. It also means that poor practice habits have devastating effects over time!

I would love to hear what takeaways you gather from this explosive book! It’s copyright is 2012, and I’m sure even more research has been done to understand how our brains work based on given cues. How can this knowledge be implemented into your own studio?

Happy Reading!

P.S. If you’re looking for more habit forming information, I have been reading “You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit” by James K. A. Smith. This is also life changing and well worth your time!

3 thoughts on “Book of the Month: January 2021

  1. Pingback: Book of the Month: February 2021 – Piano Possibilities

  2. Reading the Reader’s Digest version of “Habits” by William James, father of American psychology, when I was fifteen changed my life forever! I have just ordered both of the books you discussed from amazon.com. Thank you for a beautiful post.

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