I recently decided to take part in #the100dayproject. My project: to learn a piano piece on camera. I would stream 30 minutes of piano practice at 6pm every evening on my Twitch channel for 100 consecutive days.
I’m now 20 days in to that project, so it’s a great time to take stock of my progress so far, and reflect on what I'm learning from the experience.
The piece I’m learning is Chopin’s Nocturne, Op. 27 no. 2 in D flat major. The work is beautiful but not without significant challenges. For me, just playing it through promised to be difficult enough. I have to admit, though, that I’ve made good progress over my first 20 days of practice. I can now largely play the work in flow, albeit haltingly and with lots of mistakes. Yes, there are some passages that I stumble over, and I’ve not yet put in the dedicated practice to learn the cadenza style bar towards the end (48 notes in the RH over 12 in the LH). Nevertheless, I’m delighted at how for I’ve come.
Limited though it may seem, the progress I’ve made so far shows just what regular, structured practice can achieve. I’ll admit that I’ve never practised regularly or with the focus necessary to make real improvement. Part of the reason for beginning this 100 day project at all was to change that. By committing to stream at least 30 minutes a day I was making myself publicly accountable for my practice. This meant that I would show up when I might otherwise have missed a day.
The act of streaming has caused me to begin thinking carefully about my practice more generally. I’ve started to reflect upon the ways I play and learn music – including my own tendency to avoid difficulties, and to play the things with which I’m already comfortable. This is something that I’ll explore in a separate blog post later.
I’ve also begun to consider how streaming one’s piano practice blurs the line between private study and public performance. I am playing privately but making that private practice publicly visible. Even if no one is actually watching, the fact is that they could. The collapsing of these distinctions is again something that I will consider in a separate blog post.
I have another 80 days left to go in my project. That’s at least 40 hours more streamed practice. I’ve got a lot of work left to do on the Chopin Nocturne. I’ll never be able to perform the work like a professional. However, I am now confident that I’ll be able to reach a point where I’m happy with my playing of it.
Please do join me at 6pm BST every evening on my Twitch channel. Say hi in the chat and please do give the channel a follow. If you’re not able to join me live you can always watch my videos later. You can also follow my progress on Twitter and Instagram.