I chose to visit Austria for my 40th birthday celebration, specifically Vienna and Salzburg because of its very rich music history. I realized that although I played classically my entire life, I never really felt connected to the composers of the very pieces that I played and practiced for countless of hours!
Being in Austria and walking through the places where famous composers like Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Schubert and Johann Strauss played and composed their works, as well as places where they lived and died, gave me the most visceral experience of feeling connected to why I love music and not just listening to music but actually playing and teaching music.
There’s so much to share and process from this whole experience but for now, I want to share one of the the many takeaways from this trip.
Most of these famous composers who has shaped western music as we know today still had to work on their craft, no matter how “gifted” they may be.
As I always share with my students, while there are some who are naturally skilled in certain areas, for 99% of the population, talent is something that can be shaped and developed with the right mindset and learning approach. At the time of recording the YouTube video
that goes with this blogpost, it is March 31st, which is Franz Joseph Haydn’s birthdate in the year 1732. He was born in a small village in Austria and during his lifetime, he composed 104 symphonies, 83 string quartets and numerous operas.
The most realistic three - dimensional wax bust of Haydn created during his lifetime, out of colored beeswax and human hair by Franz Thaler. This valuable memento once belonged to Prince Metternich.
I was particularly impressed when I went to Vienna’s House of Music, where I read about his daily routine. He approached his day-to-day activities like clockwork, always having a schedule for everything. Part of that daily habit was to wake up at 630am to do his morning routine of getting himself ready for the day. Breakfast was always served promptly at 8am, then right after that, he would sit at his piano to improvise and then start working on a composition for 3 hours from 830 - 1130am. He would then go about his day but at night, at around 9pm, he would do another hour of composition and exploration. This was his daily habit.
To me, this is proof that daily consistent actions reap massive results. To my students, you may not have time to sit down for 3 hours to work on developing your piano playing, composition and improvisation skills BUT even just 15 minutes a day of consistent practice can add up a lot to developing your skills and confidence in your own musical expression.
My trip to Austria has not only deepened my appreciation for music, but it has also reinforced the importance of guiding my students towards consistent practice and encouraging them to be dedicated in having music as a life-long companion.
To my students and families, I encourage you to continue your musical journey with passion and perseverance. Remember that every small step you take towards mastering your instrument will add up over time. Whether it's 15 minutes a day or several hours, every moment of practice counts towards your growth and progress as a musician. Every step will bring you closer to your musical goals, no matter how big or small they may be. So, keep exploring, keep practicing, and most importantly, keep enjoying the magic of music!
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