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Topic: Nervous student, confident performer  (Read 2125 times)

Offline squiggly_girl

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Nervous student, confident performer
on: August 17, 2004, 03:29:20 AM
I have this problem. When I have lessons with my teacher, I get nervous and my hands sometimes start trembling. Invariably, I end up playing my pieces with lots of wrong notes, no dynamics (despite having practised these endlessly at home) or phrasing and just sounding about 10 times worse than when I practise alone.

My teacher's advice has been to take every opportunity to practise and perform in front of others, which has been really good advice, as after a few weeks, I can now look forward to playing in front of friends and family, and do so generally without nerves and shakey fingers.

But I still go all stupid-like and nervous in front of my teacher. I feel it's really holding me back, as we don't move on until I play through quite well. I've been on Burgmuller's #1 for 4 weeks now because of nerves :-/ How can I get past this?!

Offline kekk

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Re: Nervous student, confident performer
Reply #1 on: August 17, 2004, 06:39:22 PM
i have the same problem, and i'll run away from it (quit lessons).I hate performing, prefer recording.

Offline Egghead

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Re: Nervous student, confident performer
Reply #2 on: August 17, 2004, 08:04:12 PM
Hi, squiggly_girl  and kekk!
You do surely recognise that this is a very normal reaction - in ALL areas of life? It shows you care about your piano-playing! So do I. Your problem sounds familiar and can be solved - squiggly_girl, you have taken first steps towards this already. How long have you two been learning?

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i have the same problem, and i'll run away from it (quit lessons). I hate performing, prefer recording.
Are you serious? How experienced are you?

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My teacher's advice has been to take every opportunity to practise and perform in front of others, which has been really good advice, as after a few weeks, I can now look forward to playing in front of friends and family, and do so generally without nerves and shakey fingers.

Yes, I did the same (piano shops are also fun). Do you understand what is happening? I think at first you feel apprehensive when exhibiting any new skill to anyone. Then you discover that people like it, even admire your skill: hurray, you have an AUDIENCE. You are learning to perform. :)
So, you are happy playing in front of any non-experts.
And now comes your teacher - that is different!

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But I still go all stupid-like and nervous in front of my teacher. I feel it's really holding me back, as we don't move on until I play through quite well. I've been on Burgmuller's #1 for 4 weeks now because of nerves :-/ How can I get past this?!


Your teacher is assessing you, knows better than you, may critizise your playing, maybe even question your motivation, preparation, talent etc.
Shock, horror, embarrassment. :o :-[ :'(  

Now the details depend on your exact situation, but how about trying some of the following:

I  Put this into perspective: so what if you really mess up? If the teacher actually DOES trash you? Ask yourself:

a) why do you play the piano? To be admired by your teacher or because you love music?
b) why do you have lessons? To have pleasant lessons or to learn something (how to play the piano, mostly)?
c) who is this teacher, anyway? Your examiner or your employee? Paid by you, to help you. If s/he doesnt, you can get another one.

II  Prepare well, take charge and be proud of it.

a) Practice. Feel good that you have done your best. Decide that your overall progress is important, no matter what happens in a lesson.
b) what do you want to get out of this particular piano lesson? What specific questions do you have? Have a plan.

III Practice performing to a critical audience at home

a) listen to yourself critically
b) start a practice session like a lesson, play the relevant piece EXACTLY as you would in the lesson. Imagine that your teacher is there.
c) record yourself playing. Then imagine you are recording for your teacher. Listen to your recording critically. Still not nervous? DO record it for your teacher. Have him listen to the recording. Ask for feed-back on it. Listen to the recording together, critically assessing it.

IV  Stay in control - you are nervous, so what?

a) Take your time to try to relax before / at the beginning of the lesson
b) Take charge and maintain a professional atmosphere - ask the specific questions you prepared, be curious, listen attentively. Your teacher and you are working together on improving your playing.
c) Watch yourself impartially. Accept what you see - you may even find it very funny! I was once utterly amazed how WELL I played given how much my fingers were shaking.
d) Above all: concentrate on the music. Focus on it. Nervousness tends to subside after a few minutes. Try repeating the piece. Second time round, the music may take over. If you love the piece you are playing, it eventually will.

Finally: it is worth the effort - the best I have ever played so far was in the middle of a lesson. :)

Good luck, and let me know what you make of this,
Egghead
tell me why I only practice on days I eat

Offline squiggly_girl

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Re: Nervous student, confident performer
Reply #3 on: August 18, 2004, 01:06:33 AM
Egghead, wow, thanks for the wonderful advice. I feel really encouraged now. What you say about playing for a critical audience vs non-experts makes so much sense. In answer to your query, I got my teacher about 5 weeks ago, and have been self-taught before that since January. I love my teacher - she seems to innately understand that I need heaps of encouragement, and despite the fact that I keep messing up with that Burgmuller piece, she has never accused me of not practising or made me feel bad about it.

I like the suggestions of recording myself as if my teacher were then going to listen to the recording, or just imagining my teacher there at my practise sessions. And I think I do need to take more pride in the preparation I've already put in, and focus on the music, and be focused more on what I am getting out of lessons, and be less downcast at whatever goes down in lessons, and the rest .... So I'm nervous - so what! Thanks Egghead!

It's also good to know that trembling fingers can hit the right notes too...

Offline squiggly_girl

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Re: Nervous student, confident performer
Reply #4 on: August 20, 2004, 06:33:27 AM
Well. I had my lesson a couple of days ago and I passed La Candeur  8) I'm now onto L'Arabesque, #2 in Burgmuller  :D

During my playing in the lesson I kept thinking, "you know this; you know this! so you're nervous, so what; don't rush! you know this!" My teacher said she felt like I was starting to make friends with the piano rather than attacking it  ::) Anyway, getting beyond, and having 2 whole new pieces to practise is a huge relief. Because I learn so much more and faster at the beginning, I can go back to measuring my progress in bounds rather than limps.

Offline Egghead

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Re: Nervous student, confident performer
Reply #5 on: August 20, 2004, 07:52:09 PM
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Well. I had my lesson a couple of days ago and I passed La Candeur  8) I'm now onto L'Arabesque, #2 in Burgmuller  :D

During my playing in the lesson I kept thinking, "you know this; you know this! so you're nervous, so what; don't rush! you know this!" My teacher said she felt like I was starting to make friends with the piano rather than attacking it  ::) Anyway, getting beyond, and having 2 whole new pieces to practise is a huge relief. Because I learn so much more and faster at the beginning, I can go back to measuring my progress in bounds rather than limps.

Congrats squiggly_girl, well done! So previously, Burgmuller was simply not violent enough for you... Did you hug the piano this time? Enjoy L'Arabesque,
Egghead
tell me why I only practice on days I eat

Offline squiggly_girl

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Re: Nervous student, confident performer
Reply #6 on: August 24, 2004, 12:47:32 AM
Not exactly a hug...more like a temple massage. But now with Arabesque I can be violent again - what a fun piece this one is!
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