The Go-Play Project

I’m flagging up this interesting project which a colleague of mine in the US (and contributor to this blog), Catherine Shefski, is undertaking this year, to learn and record one piece of piano music per week. As she says in the blurb to accompany her recordings on SoundCloud “Like many piano teachers, over the years my own piano playing has taken a back seat to teaching and all the administrative work that goes along with running a music studio. This year I’ve decided to change that. I am making a commitment to record and upload one piece each week. By setting these weekly deadlines, I’m hoping to overcome my tendency towards procrastination and perfectionism.”

I think Catherine’s comments probably chime with many piano teachers – that we don’t play enough as we focus more of our attention on teaching. If one runs a busy teaching studio, it can be hard to find the time to play oneself, and at the end of a long teaching session, one may not feel like sitting at the piano. However, I think it is crucially important for a teacher to play regularly, if possible. One should be constantly exploring new repertoire, and honing one’s techniques and skill-base. All useful in teaching, and to me, more useful than reading dry pedagogical texts and music theory away from the piano.

I admit I am very selfish about my piano playing: this is partly because having got one Diploma (with Distinction!) under my belt, I am now working towards the next one (LTCL). I learnt from my preparation for the first Diploma, that if I don’t put the hours in at the piano, I won’t be properly prepared – and preparedness is essential. On another level, I really really enjoy playing the piano. Even if I am working on some particularly knotty passages of Liszt or a finger-twisting Rachmaninov transcription of Bach, I get a tremendous amount of pleasure and satisfaction from playing. I am rarely bored, because if there is nothing else to do, I will nearly always play the piano. And I know I’m not alone in feeling this – even a busy professional pianist has to love his or her job to do it well.

Take a look at Catherine’s accompanying blog to read more about the Go Play Project, and visit her SoundCloud to hear her pieces.

As for playing the piano, in the words of the slogan of a famous sportwear company – JUST DO IT!


  1. Oh Fran…I just came across this! Thank you for the lovely post. This project is turning out to be one of the best things I’ve done for myself in a long time. Not only is my playing slowly getting back to where it once was, but I’m finding I have more practice tips and advice for my students. Thanks again!!

    • I think it’s a wonderful project and very inspiring: something I’d like to do myself in the future (when the next Diploma is out of the way!). I think it’s crucial for teachers to play – I was at a course for piano teachers last summer and was shocked to discover that very few of them played or performed, claiming they did not have the time. By playing regularly and learning new repertoire, one is forced to consider one’s practice habits and one quickly learns how to practice deeply and productively. Recording also forces one to raise one’s game – I always feel slighly nervous when I know the recorder is on, which is good!

  2. I prefer practising first thing in the morning so that I am fresh and alert. As I sometimes don’t finish teaching until quite late at night, I also find it too dark to be able to see the music clearly if I wait until after having a meal!

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