Disciplining yourself to practice is just like disciplining yourself to do any other difficult task, such as dieting. Knowing far too well how hard it is to draw up a plan and stick to it (yes, those one-day-‘diets’ got me nowhere…), and having had piano lessons back in the day, I know how hard it can be at times to drag yourself to the piano (or other instrument) and keep your mind focused on practicing and practicing well.

Although you get drilled by your parents and your teacher to keep practicing and studying and the like, because you’ve heard it so often, their ‘helpful encouragement’ doesn’t really get you motivated to practice… again, just like dieting. Although the thoughtful “I think you’ll look great if you were a few kilos lighter” remarks from my mom are… gratefully accepted by me, it doesn’t give me quite the right motivation to start and stick to a diet.

Sometimes the best forms of motivation come from the unexpected, and this makes perfect sense, seeing as it carries the element of surprise on their side. After tragically putting on some weight over the summer break, my coach’s coach for volleyball came in to one of my team’s training sessions one day as a ‘special guest’. After training, we were having a few drinks (so much for the training), and out of the blue, the coach turns to me and says “Oi. You’ve gained weight haven’t you? I can tell.” Although it wasn’t the first time I have heard it, it was certainly a shock to hear it from him.

Since then I watch what I eat (well at least in front of him anyway), and have changed some habits such as walking to the shops instead of driving, etc. Likewise, maybe what the unmotivated out there need is a little bit of a shock to kick-start them into practicing and striving to play their instrument better.

Shock… always a great motivator.


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