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Short and Sweet: 5 Piano Excursions, Under 5 Minutes Each


What can you do in under five minutes?

The list of possibilities is virtually limitless:

  • brush your teeth

  • wipe the kitchen counters

  • send a "thinking of you" email to a friend

  • go outside and take a stroll around your house

And what, my fellow pianists, can you do in under five minutes to feed your musical soul?

Let's explore five ways to use five minutes for a short and sweet musical excursion!

1. Stop, close your eyes, and listen to "Rondo Alla Turca"

(Or any other brief piano piece of your choice.)

Here is one rendition of the rondo. What does the music do for you when you devote full attention to it, rather than using it as background for other tasks?

(You did stop everything you were doing to listen to the music, didn't you?) :)

2. Improvise your own piano piece based on a favorite picture

The image may be an actual photo or a scene burnished into your mind from a prior pleasurable experience.

Did you visit the mountains, or an ocean? Or better yet, do you live there?

What do majestic peaks, or rolling waves, sound like to you? How would you represent the wonders of nature on the piano?

Or perhaps you remember the image of a quiet child as she ponders . . . mysteries.

What melodic, rhythmic, harmonic elements come into play as your fingers move across the keys, depicting the scene you're recalling?

3. Compose a melody

Above the staff on manuscript paper, or anywhere on a plain piece of paper, write down a four-bar rhythm that matches your mood. Consider using long notes for reflection, short and snappy for energetic, or an eclectic mix for your quirky side.

Next, plug letter names into your rhythms. If you can hear a pitch progression in your mind and know how to notate it, go ahead and write it down.

If not, choose any arrangement of note names (to keep it simple, start and end on the same letter name) and write them down. You may choose to name only white keys --- A, B, C, D, E, F, G --- or use sharps and flats of your choice to color your melody with a new flavor.

Now play your composition wherever on the keyboard you choose, using your penciled-in rhythm, and you're good to go!

4. Tackle the most stubborn spot in your repertoire

Set a timer for four minutes and peel apart, layer by layer, the section of your music you want to finally GET RIGHT! Play with:

  • various rhythms (long-short; short-long; short-short-long);

  • voices separately, then together; and,

  • various phrasings and articulation (staccato, legato)

Now play the whole passage as written. You may be pleasantly surprised at what a few minutes of laser-beam focus on a small section can do for your confidence!

5. Play a favorite piece from your early piano study years

You know, the one you never wanted to stop playing, before you moved out of childhood and into young adulthood.

Revisit the music, and relive the joy, trekking down memory lane. :)

Got five minutes?

Somewhere, somehow, I'll bet you can find the time.

The next time you do, why not take a brief journey into the musical world? Delight in the wonders you discover as you listen, improvise, compose, or play your way through your very own piano excursion!

What musical activities would you add to this list?

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