Last week my best friend Lora and I were talking on the phone. “I have decided,” Lora said, “that I need a total of 15 outfits, with options for mix and match.”

I was immediately intrigued. I mean, who wouldn’t be? “Tell me more,” I said.

“Here’s what I’m thinking,” Lora was quick to elaborate. “I need 5 work outfits, 5 casual outfits, and 5….” (I’m forgetting the last category. Workout clothes, maybe?)

“Um…Do I need 15 outfits?” This sounds awesome. Recently, I have started noticing that almost all my clothes have stains or holes. Or if they don’t already have a stain or a hole, then I do something like I did yesterday where in trimming off a string I cut a hole in my shirt. Yes. This actually happened.

But this idea of 15 outfits is promising indeed. If I could get by with a uniform I would. A pianist/teacher uniform. Which reminds me of the time when a small child asked me what I was going to be for Halloween. “A piano teacher,” I answered. He seemed puzzled. “What about the costume?” Exactly.

“Yes. You need 15 outfits too.” Lora is decisive and has strong unwavering opinions. Yet another reason I need her in my life. “You need teaching clothes, performing clothes…Your yoga clothes are basically already your teaching clothes, but your performing clothes have to include evening gowns and less fancy dresses…”

I love this. Fifteen outfits. With options. It sounds like a sort of wardrobe theme and variations.

Lately I have been thinking that all of good teaching (perhaps all of life) is actually just a series of theme and variations. This is not a new thought. In fact, I’m pretty sure I have no new thoughts whatsoever.

But editing down one’s life (wardrobe, meals, technique exercises, teaching repertoire) into 15 figurative outfits is a new challenge for sure. Even with permission for “options” it takes some thinking. What about, say, my list of practice strategies? Are there, in fact, 15 practice “outfits” that can be mixed and matched?

Turns out, the answer is yes. (Each practice discussed in the linked posts below.)


  1. Rhythms


  1. Countdown


  1. Repetition


  1. Metronome Mountain (This would be a variation on “Just use the metronome, dude.”)


  1. ColdPlay


  1. Practice Sandwich


  1. Slow Practice


  1. Ghosting


  1. Fermata Practice


  1. Timers


  1. Don’t quit before the miracle: Five More Minutes


  1. Out of Order: Work in Sections (No linked post, but options are endless here: Start with the last section/measure/phrase and work backwards, adding a phrase or measure at a time. Work outward from the middle. Scramble sections randomly…)


  1. Hands Separately (No linked post, but obvious)


  1. Listen to recordings (kinda self-explanatory)


  1. Step the beat while chanting and/or the tapping rhythm (This is my favorite, go-to practice technique for both myself and my students. It deserves a post or ten, but until then: Just do it. It’s awesome.)


Fifteen Outfits. With options to mix and match. Thanks, Lora.