Motivation to practice and to persevere in the Arts is one of the biggest challenges any student or parent can face. The question is, what is the secret to not letting our Children give up? Well... So far, I've discovered that the secret is Ninja's with Eighth Note shaped Ninja stars and a Golden Magical Fish.
You: "Mr. Jose... You crazy right now... Is this some kind of mid life crisis?"
No I assure you that this will all make sense in a bit, just keep reading...
Before I was Mr. Jose... I was... Wait for it... Jose.
Jose was a young 6 year old boy who, for some reason asked for an Electronic Keyboard for his birthday, and plunked out the tune "Happy Birthday" as soon as he received his gift. Naturally since his parents had invested in this instrument they put him in lessons right away.
Learning music was a challenge, as is learning any language. But his Dad would sit in the lessons with him and in time he also learned to play a little piano and they would both jam out in the living room. After the first few months and the difficulty of learning to read music was getting more intense, little Jose got discouraged and wanted to quit. He didn't want to leave the piano, he LOVED playing, he just really didn't want to practice. Like any boy, Jose just wanted to go outside and play with his friends.
One day, his father told him a story about a little boy who was fishing in a pond. As the time passed, the boy had hooked a fish on his line. When he finally saw the fish, it was a beautiful Gold Fish. The Gold Fish spoke to the boy and said,
"If you let me go, I will grant you one wish. For I am The Golden Magical Fish"
The little boy was excited. He thought long and hard and finally figured out what he truly wanted and he said...
"Golden Magical Fish... I want to be the best Pianist in the world."
The Golden Magical Fish glowed in the water. The water began to swirl, and turned into a big whirlpool that was flashing with different lights. Out of the whirlpool this magical item flew out and landed in the boat, then the waters calmed. (Imagine a scene out of Lord of the Rings...hahaha)
The Golden Magical Fish said to the boy...
"Here I grant you the wisdom you seek. If you read this book, and practice it daily, you will become the best Pianist and your music will be loved all over the world."
The boy made a promise to the Golden Magical Fish that he will study and work hard. As the time passed, and the boy practiced and became very knowledgable, and his music was loved in all the world.
This story struck me as a child... You see, my Dad taught me in this story that there is no magic wand that will make me play or help achieve my goals. The magic is in knowing the right path and working hard at what you want to achieve.
Ok... So what about Ninja's? Ok one last quick little story... This one is mine.
The Piano Ninja originated in 2006 when I began one of the toughest teaching challenges... teaching Piano to a young 2 1/2 year old girl. It was tough to get her to sit down and focus, I guess that's why they call it the Terrible 2's 😊. So I began telling her stories of the Martial Arts, the focus of a ninja, and we would practice sitting at attention (without moving and her hands on her lap), and she began to show restrain, self-control, and discipline. You see it wasn't about learning the Piano anymore, she was learning the Art of the Ninja with the Piano as our weapon!
As time went on, I would always use the story that I was not teaching Piano or Cello, I was training Musical Ninja's.
How can we motivate our kids to practice? There's many techniques, but ultimately, help them see that the Magic (talent) is inside of them and it comes out with practice and discipline. Discipline is doing that we have to do, even if we don't feel like doing it. Help them understand that they must be like the Ninja in discipline and respect, to help them achieve the next level.
If it wasn't for my Father, I would have given up dozens of times. So here's the secret of what he did... you must have love, time, patience and a gentle hand of motivation and of course the help of Ninja's and a Golden Magical Fish never hurts!
See you at your next lesson!