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Topic: Self confidence in gender and age  (Read 4108 times)

Offline tinyhands

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Self confidence in gender and age
on: February 18, 2017, 06:10:47 PM
I was at my lesson yesterday and had a bit of a crisis of confidence, when working on a specific part of my technique. Said to my teacher was the piece too hard for me, am I running before I can walk and should I go back to something less challenging. She said to me I need to have more confidence in my ability. She commented she has many pupils who are male young/mid twenties who would think nothing of attempting this piece and how it would never occur to them that it was too hard, plus, she said they wouldn't play it half as well as I do. I am female 41 and yes do lack belief in myself at times. This got me thinking, do you think that age and /or gender play a part in your self confidence as a player?

 When I look in the workplace, it's the men that go for promotion, often not as qualified by half as many of women who never put themselves in the spotlight, who often doubt their own abilities. Also the confidence of youth can be found in buckets, (something I can be envious of ) where older people can sometimes be more reserved and maybe less more risk adverse.

 My teacher has said before, it's often the younger man that want to learn the big showy Rachmaninoff pieces, yet scoff at A composer such as Bach for being 'too easy..'

I'm totally not bashing young people or men in anyway..don't want to upset people who'll accuse this post as being ageist or sexist, just interested in what people think.

Offline tinyhands

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #1 on: February 18, 2017, 06:17:22 PM
Ps I'm also an adult returner to piano after over 20 years of a break..maybe that also has something to do with not having a lot of self confidence, suppose when I think back I never gave pieces a second thought when I was younger.

Offline dcstudio

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #2 on: February 18, 2017, 06:45:11 PM
You appear to be suffering a bit from musical neurosis.  Don't worry, it's a sign of great musicianship.  Did you have a minor panic attack when you flubbed? Really try and remember the feelings you felt...paralyzing fear, did your stomach tighten up...what physical things did you feel during this crisis of confidence?

Your mind is telling you that no matter how long you practice...and how accomplished you become...you will never be a "real pianist" because you stopped playing for 20 years...or something to that effect...yes?   That wall is impossible to crash through so go around it. Find another term..
Instead of having the mindset that it's impossible think about how you aren't really practicing or
You aren't really playing your are just "goofing around". Or pretend you are a master concert pianist and just bang on the keys like they do. Don't worry about sounding "good" you are just "faking" it.  Next, close your eyes and find the black keys and play a feeling or mood...just let your fingers fall as they will...think about rhythmic elements and try and bring those out.  You may find that it is hard to do this at first...you may experience a bit of anxiety.

Don't give up...do this for a while and keep telling yourself that you are not really playing.  It really works.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #3 on: February 19, 2017, 12:46:23 AM
Various thoughts - some may fit, some may be totally wrong, and some may fit a little bit.

I've been told that it's often the best students who worry the most, since they are the most conscientious, and that same care gets them to go far.  Think of the opposite: the person who bangs away in self-satisfaction. Was it Horowitz who holed himself up for a number of years in a sudden crisis of lost confidence at the height of his success?  And Rubinstein as a young man tried to hang himself, and when he failed at that too, he went down to the hotel lobby, played on the hotel piano, took a walk and decided "Enough of that nonsense.  I'll never take it that serious again." The interview is out there in some long documentary.

Another thing is that you are coming into a growing awareness.  When you were a child, you happily did what you were told to do (I read your earlier posts) and now on returning you are discovering all these things.  You probably hear things you didn't hear before both in others' playing, and in your own.  As you hear flaws and work to correct them, the level of your playing will climb and climb.  Your teacher and those around you who have ears will hear the improvement, but as your ears improve, you might actually seem to be worse to yourself.  I was told that at a critical moment in studying another instrument for the first time and was forever grateful.

You also said that you have only recently discovered "deliberate practice".  Learning of this, and approaches in piano, (or any instrument) literally changed my world some years ago.  For one thing, it makes everything feasible.  You may not be able to play piece X flawlessly, or get in the nuance you want.  But you can always try to play one note, and the one before it, while aiming for a particular change in dynamics and a feel in your wrist - because it's only two notes, two seconds.  In other words, you can work on a very simple thing, and another very simple thing, making it as simple as you need.  Then as you "let go", it's there for you (after some days) - that is a tremendous confidence booster.

Another thought that came at random: Don't play for your teacher - play for yourself.  Immerse yourself in what you are doing, in the music, in the experience, and for that moment tune out everyone including your teacher.  (Once in a lesson in the other instrument I was really miffed for some reason, and played "in a huff" just for myself.  When I was done my teacher said it was the best he had ever heard me.  ;D )

We do have some "female upbringing" I think.  Age-wise you can add another 20 years to your age.  I'm in my 60's.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #4 on: February 19, 2017, 12:48:46 AM

Instead of having the mindset that it's impossible think about how you aren't really practicing or
You aren't really playing your are just "goofing around". Or pretend you are a master concert pianist and just bang on the keys like they do. Don't worry about sounding "good" you are just "faking" it.  Next, close your eyes and find the black keys and play a feeling or mood...just let your fingers fall as they will...think about rhythmic elements and try and bring those out.  You may find that it is hard to do this at first...you may experience a bit of anxiety.


I sort of like this.  :)

Offline ted

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #5 on: February 19, 2017, 03:53:24 AM
I shall be seventy this year and have experienced no diminution of confidence. On the contrary, I have never been surer that I can express my ideas at the instrument. How much of this is just because I have ceased to care what other people think generally, however, I cannot be certain. Once you get past a certain age, these days relatively young, nobody nurtures expectations of you any more; I find that a great comfort. Indeed, locally, I am thought of as a harmless musical eccentric entering his dotage, rather like Louis Wain with his cat paintings, a view I sometimes encourage.

I haven't a clue about the gender influence, but those female pianists and musicians I have met here seem brimming with confidence. No, hang on, there was one I met through a forum who had a terrible lack of musical self-esteem. I tried to help her in many ways but could not break the cycle of doubt. Pity, as she was a nice girl and actually played rather well.
"Mistakes are the portals of discovery." - James Joyce

Offline outin

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #6 on: February 19, 2017, 04:47:28 AM
Well, had my share of gender studies back in the days... It is a complicated subject and also a controversial one because it goes so deeply into the human experience and everyone has their own often quite emotional experience of gender.

The female upbringing tends to be different and that does show. Confidence issues can plague both male and female students but there are some things that are different in the big picture.

First of all one should not ignore the physical aspect of things. Piano playing after a certain level is often more difficult to females with smaller hand size. More virtuoso material is mostly written by male pianist with bigger hand span. Males often also have stronger physique in general. So more confidence and encouragement would sometimes be needed for females.

But also what you don't see as often in females is the hard headedness that makes one jump in and decide to do things that are considered hard or even impossible and show off your playing even if it is not quite perfect. This comes from both nature and nurture: Hormones affect behavior and reckless behavior is more often encourage with male children. Girls often learn that only "correct" is good enough and you cannot expect a prize for something you didn't work hard to make as good as possible. And even when you are good, don't expect to be singled out. Some girls are even conditioned that nothing they do is ever good enough. This is especially common when it comes to things such as weight or looks but the pattern of thought is easily expanded to everything.

A sort of lack of ambition sometimes bugs me about females in professional life as well. Males tend to be more eager to take opportunities offered without worrying if they actually can manage. Part of it may be the larger responsibilities at home, many younger women have another job to do after work. But it's also an attitude thing. It's sometimes frustrating to try to help someone clearly very capable to advance in their career when they always doubt their abilities and self worth.

But these are still only general trends, no one has to be a victim of their gender. It is just  required to consciously try to break away from learned behavior and thought processes  sometimes.

Interestingly my own upbringing was very gender neutral and generally I tend to be quite confident even when not at all sure what to do. But piano playing is different. I blame mostly bad experiences and overly high standards (too much listening to recordings before starting maybe?). When you fail often enough it's hard to stay confident...

Offline dogperson

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #7 on: February 19, 2017, 10:21:53 AM
What I have seen is that 'crisis of confidence' seems to affect both genders, but it more related to whether the pianist is a young student or an adult.  There are anecdotal reports from many adult males that are crippled to the point of performance anxiety in front of their teachers, need to be reassured that they are 'good enough'... etc.  It seems to span both genders.

As children, we wear Superman capes and believe we can accomplish anything.  As a very young pianist, my ego was much bigger than my skill level: I thought I could learn to play absolutely ANYTHING, and I mean 'right now'.

As adults, we have life experiences that are ego-tempering, and lead to self-doubt in what we can learn to do.  Whether you are 30, 40 or 60, it still can strike.....

Offline keypeg

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #8 on: February 19, 2017, 10:56:35 AM
I want to address what Outin wrote that we should not ignore the physical side of piano gender-wise.  In this I would rather take the opinion of a teacher who has taught students for 40 years, over that of a fellow student. ;)   I have been told this a number of times:  that while in some sports there may be a difference, it is not so for piano.  Here efficiency comes into play.  There is already an advantage, in his experience, in that female students tend to be more attentive while many male students tend to adopt a bravado and ignore the guidance they are offered and therefore play inefficiently.  That catches up to them when they get a lot older and the body is less forgiving.  I've been told that there are two types of players to watch for efficient technique: a very old player who still plays well (think Rubinstein), and female players who play well (think Wang; or for an older generation, think Myra Hess). .... I have always thought that the ideal student would have the "male bravado" mixed with the "female attentiveness" in terms of those two stereotypes.

I am in my 60's and female.  One thing that I think happened the first time round when I studied another, brand new instrument, is that the technical was not touched much, but feelings and intuition were addressed.  You can get stereotypes in the teaching which then affects the outcome.  I don't think that this is the case with the OP, however - that teacher seems to be addressing things head on.

Also, in afterthought, I had a conversation a long time ago with an 85 year old violist and teacher who had some old fashioned ideas.  He thought that the viola was not an instrument for women generally speaking, because "the ladies" shrink inward while the gents push themselves forward, and the viola needs a "pushy" kind of effort.  I do think there may be something to it.  I can remember if I was direct, the "shocked" expression addressed to me.  It was "unfeminine" to be assertive or to want things and go after them.  Once a male teacher showed me that to him "defensive position" is not one of shrinking back and playing timidly - it looked like a boxing stance!  That imagery made me ponder for a long time.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #9 on: February 19, 2017, 11:22:12 AM
A sort of lack of ambition sometimes bugs me about females in professional life as well. Males tend to be more eager to take opportunities offered without worrying if they actually can manage.
That may be true. I've been out of the work force for a long time, and have run my own business for several decades.  Here there is something else.  I am fortunate that my name is an uncommon one and people will tend to assume it is male.  When they want a "logical, technical minded, unemotional" person, i.e. "male" by the time they realize that the voice on the phone is not "his" secretary or wife, but the professional they were calling, they're stuck with me. ;)  After that they are convinced by the quality of service I provide.

What I had to learn, however, was to bluster and thump my chest.  I tended to be underpaid (I set my fees too low) and overlooked because without the bluster I couldn't be that good.  There also seems to be a female guilt about demanding things for oneself, for fear of appearing "selfish", because we seem to have been trained to "be of service".  My adult sons tell me that the new generation is different.  I'm not enough out there to see.

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It's sometimes frustrating to try to help someone clearly very capable to advance in their career when they always doubt their abilities and self worth.
I can see that.  It is fantastic that you are trying to get these people out of that kind of a rut.

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But also what you don't see as often in females is the hard headedness that makes one jump in and decide to do things that are considered hard or even impossible and show off your playing even if it is not quite perfect.
Thinking music-wise - well the only thing that I can't relate to is "showing off" my playing, since I played for myself and my own playing, or to share how wonderful a piece of music was - the "showing off" - the relationship of admiration or judgment of any kind didn't exist in music.  But what did happen in those first lessons is that I wasn't given the kinds of music I would have liked: material with lots of oomph and drama.  How do I put this.  It's as if I was treated like a fragile thing, with caution, and this was also because I was an adult student or "amateur" I think. Above all I was starving for technical instruction.  Yes I'm intuitive because I have an artistic nature, but I need the tools, darn it!  Having tools and thus competence, this in itself creates confidence.  I.e. when you know what you are doing, then you tend to walk with a steadier stride. 

Back when I took educational psychology in the early 1980's they talked of how boys are expected to perform and produce concrete things, while for girls it is behaviour and more behaviour, for its own sake.  Well that is insane.  Meanwhile our crusty old psychology prof talked of "social intelligence" - of the "good student with high grades" who does poorly in terms of high paying jobs, while some of the "bad kids" will be quite successful.  Lisa Simpson - Bart Simpson.  I have a feeling that Bart will do well.
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It is just  required to consciously try to break away from learned behavior and thought processes  sometimes.
I agree wholeheartedly!  That would be for either gender or any group; find and use your strengths and change the weaknesses.

Offline outin

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #10 on: February 19, 2017, 11:50:06 AM
I want to address what Outin wrote that we should not ignore the physical side of piano gender-wise.  In this I would rather take the opinion of a teacher who has taught students for 40 years, over that of a fellow student. ;)   I have been told this a number of times:  that while in some sports there may be a difference, it is not so for piano.  Here efficiency comes into play.  There is already an advantage, in his experience, in that female students tend to be more attentive while many male students tend to adopt a bravado and ignore the guidance they are offered and therefore play inefficiently.  That catches up to them when they get a lot older and the body is less forgiving.  I've been told that there are two types of players to watch for efficient technique: a very old player who still plays well (think Rubinstein), and female players who play well (think Wang; or for an older generation, think Myra Hess). .... I have always thought that the ideal student would have the "male bravado" mixed with the "female attentiveness" in terms of those two stereotypes.

I'm sorry, but there are several scientific studies on the subject and they strongly suggest that pianists with small hands are more prone to injury when trying to keep up with the more advanced repertoire. Also perfectly capable pianists with small hands have tried reduced sized keyboards and found playing much less straining physically with the same skill. I was not  talking about general resilience or bravado at all, but merely physical size and muscle tone in the upper body and torso, which is very important in playing the piano. Women can have this as well as men, but where I come from boys used to be more physically active as kids so often tend to be in better shape. This is changing though with the computer generation...

Male pianists dominate the higher end of the profession still even if more females start piano lessons and this has been the case always, no name dropping of a few female pianists will change that. There will always be exceptions, but it does not change the general trend. It's a statistical thing: Not all females have small hands and some men do as well. But in the large scale it is much more common for male pianists with less experience trying the virtuoso works that require large streches because they find it physically easier. Small handed people have to work around and create more skills to even be able to manage playing the notes. That CAN have an effect on confidence even if it does not always.

BTW. Have you looked at Yuja Wang's hands when she plays some repertoire? She's quite often streched to extremes and you can see the tension on tendons. Compare that to the easy relaxed hands of someone like Michelangeli for example. It works for her now, but I wonder how it will be when she's 90? Myra's hands were completely different and of course she was a very robust girl. And she played different repertoire... In fact most of the female pianists with good long careers don't have small hands for a female. And of course even the male pianists tend to play different repertoire when they get older and do not perform as much. Piano playing is no sport but it's a physical activity and not a very natural one either when taken to extremes as virtuoso material sometimes requires. Females may have such work ethic and drive that they go all the way even with small hands, but it does not seem to be that common.

When one has heard and seen so many professional pianists play and listened to recordings as much as I have, one cannot help noticing gender differences on repertoire selection and the population of pianists in general. Not on individual level, but in larger scale. So what you say may be true with your teacher's students, because they are not all attemptiong to become professionals and virtuosos who play the most demanding repertoire. But I am looking at the bigger picture here. My "opinions" are results of a lot of research into the subject, which I doubt your teacher has done? I started with an open mind and surely would have hoped for a different result, but the facts I found did not back up one.

BTW. So far practically all of the people appearing here attempting to learn Chopin etudes after a year of study or something similar are young males... ever wondered why that is? :)

I did have that phase too, but it was short lived because after half an hour with one my hands were killing me...it was physically impossible to continue.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #11 on: February 19, 2017, 01:11:12 PM
I'm sorry, but there are several scientific studies on the subject and they strongly suggest that pianists with small hands are more prone to injury when trying to keep up with the more advanced repertoire.
I'm sorry too.  When there are teachers with decades of hands on teaching, and arms length studies by scientists, I will go with the teachers who actually work with the students.  I have read studies in detail in the past, and there is a lot lacking and there are flaws. Especially here, where STUDENTS are asking questions, this is important.  For one thing, your scientists are not involved in the teaching of how to play, and that is a whole other kettle of fish.

Meanwhile, we are not addressing anyone who is trying to go for advanced repertoire in a hurry in a competitive scenario.  But we are dealing with timidity and self-doubt - these ideas would just aggravate that, I think.  However, good and solid technique, efficient practising, and such, these are useful and helpful.  I think you might agree with that. :)

There is a student who is learning to play.  I have given information from a teacher who teaches students.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #12 on: February 19, 2017, 01:22:15 PM
Edited .  I think this is going on a tack that is not that useful or helpful.  It's probably why I avoided the "female/male" side of it first time round.

Offline outin

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #13 on: February 19, 2017, 02:34:53 PM
I am not young.  I am not male.  And how can you tell about folks, unless they use their real names?  Until this week I thought you were a gal. ;)You do a lot of assuming.  Why wouldn't he have?  I don't know what your profession is, but most professionals do study their profession thoroughly and continue to do so for the lifetime of their career.  I know that I do.

I know you are not a young male, but I haven't seen you coming here with the kind of irrational goals that I referred to? In fact you told us that you are retraining with a teacher and seem to have very reasonable goals.

I can only judge by what you write about what your teacher thinks. IF he really thinks individual physiology is irrelevant for pianism then I cannot see how he could have read some of the research on the subject. Understandably most teachers seem to care little about what's going on in the science world because it's not necessarily relevant for their daily job. I on the other hand read scientific journals and text books in subjects of interest as a pleasure, so cannot help cumulating some understanding that goes further than my every day experience.

But to make it absolutely clear: Hand size is only a gender issue statistically. Both males and females can have problems with tiny hands, it's just much more common with females. Males also more often have problems with hands too large for comfort.

As I see it in this matter you admitted to favor every day experience over science  (neither is infallible) while I usually favor the latter (if it seems good quality which I am rather well equipped to judge due to being trained in scientific methods).

It really doesn't take much to judge the gender for most of the folks coming here for advice. In fact they often post their playing online. And if they talk about being male I see no reason to think they are lying. And to be honest it's mostly easy to tell just from the way people write. There are some exceptions though, and I am only happy to be wrong sometimes :)

BTW. Normally I don't see my gender as relevant so I don't bother to correct any confusion about it. But I'll do it this time: I am indeed of the female sex. I wonder what made you think differently?:)

Offline outin

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #14 on: February 19, 2017, 03:04:18 PM
I think this is going on a tack that is not that useful or helpful.  It's probably why I avoided the "female/male" side of it first time round.

The OP asked a question "do you think that age and /or gender play a part in your self confidence as a player". I took it as an opening of general discussion more than request of help. I briefly addressed the possible physical differences because complete denial of them has not done any favors to gender study. I'd never claim that females are weak or could not do most if not all things that men can. In fact I would encourage them to do whatever they want to as I was always encouraged. But to ignore biological advantages completely can also be a source of unfair treatment.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #15 on: February 19, 2017, 06:23:43 PM
Outin, I may have confused you with someone with a similar name in another forum, where I just got told that person was male, when I had thought s/he was female.

In regards to what I do now, that is due to what happened as a result of what I did before.  If these "brash young males" were to write in the forum 20 years from now, those who are still playing, they might be writing much differently for similar reasons.

I have not read the papers you refer to.  I have read other "scientific" papers on other subjects such as the "10,000 hours" one which was based on statistics compiled at arms length.  When teachers (plural) I deal with give their information, this "hands on" you refer to could also be called "empirical scientific method" if you want to put a jargon spin on it; there is a lot of professional knowledge combined with observation of hundreds of students over countless hours behind it.  It is not a thing I am ready to discount.

The USEFUL point is that efficient technique, effective ways of learning and studying, opens a lot of doors.  That is what I tried to bring across.  We can use that part.  In terms of hand size - anyone with a small hand will be using different technical devices than someone with a large hand.  This goes to good teaching. When it comes to learning and learning issues I try to look at it practically.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #16 on: February 19, 2017, 06:40:25 PM
I took it as an opening of general discussion more than request of help.
This may explain some of our differences. :)
I always take something like that as potentially and even probably a request for help.  Somebody who is currently learning to play an instrument, who is struggling with timidity, and whose teacher has just made the statements we read, is not just intellectually curious in an idle kind of way.  They're probably trying to solve their own issues.  That is how I saw it.

Offline outin

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #17 on: February 19, 2017, 09:33:55 PM
This may explain some of our differences. :)
I always take something like that as potentially and even probably a request for help.  Somebody who is currently learning to play an instrument, who is struggling with timidity, and whose teacher has just made the statements we read, is not just intellectually curious in an idle kind of way.  They're probably trying to solve their own issues.  That is how I saw it.

A discussion board such as this is not the best place to solve such issues imo. In fact it will often get quite nasty... We can discuss things and some of it may be helpful but something I learned a long time ago is that advice alone does little to change people or their behavior. And good for that because in the time of the web there's plenty of bad one offered...

Offline keypeg

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #18 on: February 19, 2017, 09:37:53 PM
A discussion board such as this is not the best place to solve such issues imo. In fact it will often get quite nasty... We can discuss things and some of it may be helpful but something I learned a long time ago is that advice alone does little to change people or their behavior. And good for that because in the time of the web there's plenty of bad one offered...
In my experience, when people ask for help, they often do get help directly or indirectly, and I have rarely if ever seen it get nasty in the music forums.  Where it usually gets nasty is when advanced or self-diagnosed advanced people get into one-upmanship contests, also known as p-matches.  Years ago I got helped.  In more recent years I have known people to have been helped.  A lot of this migrates to PMs however or never reaches the forums in the first place.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #19 on: February 19, 2017, 09:39:19 PM
At this point I prefer to wait to hear from other people, and maybe the OP.  dctstudio gave some good input, I think.

Offline outin

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #20 on: February 19, 2017, 10:11:18 PM
Outin, I may have confused you with someone with a similar name in another forum, where I just got told that person was male, when I had thought s/he was female.

In regards to what I do now, that is due to what happened as a result of what I did before.  If these "brash young males" were to write in the forum 20 years from now, those who are still playing, they might be writing much differently for similar reasons.

I have not read the papers you refer to.  I have read other "scientific" papers on other subjects such as the "10,000 hours" one which was based on statistics compiled at arms length.  When teachers (plural) I deal with give their information, this "hands on" you refer to could also be called "empirical scientific method" if you want to put a jargon spin on it; there is a lot of professional knowledge combined with observation of hundreds of students over countless hours behind it.  It is not a thing I am ready to discount.

It's not a matter of discounting it's a matter of interpretation of data. Even the 10000 hour study is constantly misinterpreted. I don't really even know what your interpretation about the relevance of hand size is because you haven't been very specific. I also do not know what your teacher thinks, only your interpretation. I think I have been clear enough with mine: There's a disadvantage in small size for a large part of repertoire. Ignoring it is one known source of injury. There are some physical limits even with an efficient technique. Those with larger hands do not even have to make similar choices between trying to exceed ones limits and risk injury, change the piece or drop it. That makes it easier to be confident.

But I see you did miss my point a little. Maybe you haven't noticed the pattern frequently repeated: Beginners or near beginners coming here full of enthusiasm to play "the big pieces" right now and preferably on their own without a teacher and gradually just fading away. Almost without exception they have been male. And one reason might be the image of the great male pianist with his raw talent taming the big beast that we call a piano and people falling at their feet. Few other instruments have such status really among the general public.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #21 on: February 19, 2017, 11:13:41 PM
At this point I prefer to wait to hear from other people, and maybe the OP.  dctstudio gave some good input, I think.
My interest is in help being received by the OP, whether anything here is helpful, etc.

Offline bernadette60614

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #22 on: February 21, 2017, 05:10:29 PM
I can't address musicians and self-confidence, but I've been in male dominated professions my entire life.

Something I've noticed:

Men shake it off.  They may publicly fail, but they just seem to have the ability to rebound. Women, on the other hand, tend to obsess and view even a small failure as a condemnation of their character.

My theory is that this comes from team sports.  Girls now play team sports as hard as boys do, but when I was growing up, girls did not.  I suspect that the younger generations of girls have a greater ability to shake off a flub than women of earlier generations..you get knocked down, you pick yourself up, cause your coach just tells you to move forward.

Offline dogperson

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #23 on: February 21, 2017, 07:14:32 PM
Frankly, I'm not sure that an extended discussion of WHY there is a lack of self-confidence is helpful.  What I would suggest is this:
- If you believe that being female and/or older is a hindrance to your learning, recognize that you have an ARTIFICIAL self-confidence issue that needs to be worked on. 
- Look at ways of building your self-confidence:
      - Celebrate the new skills, or look back at where you were one or two years ago...  Haven't you been progressing?
       - When you work on new repertoire (with a teacher's blessing), recognize that your teacher believes you CAN learn it.  Break up the problem sections into skills/chunks and tackle them .... one at a time.  Celebrate every time a problem moves off of your problem list.

there are probably more, but I see the bottom line is this:  recognize there is an artificial barrier, and look at ways to overcome it, or ways to accurately evaluate what you can do.  This is written from the perspective of an adult re-learner who also worked under 'I Can't', rather than 'I Can'.

Offline tinyhands

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #24 on: February 21, 2017, 10:35:47 PM
Hello and thank you all for taking the time to read and reply. So many opinions and points of view to take in.Thank you to everyone who has offered insights and tips to building self confidence. I suppose I was putting the question out there,  as Outin said it was more of a general discussion than a request for help. but interesting none the less to hear different people's takes on this subject and the helpful advice offered that I will take on board.

 I don't know how to highlight and quote  specific excerpts of posts (rubbish at technology and internet sites in general )  so to paraphrase what others have said..

Dc studio ha yes, I probably didn't feel like I was a real piano player for a while after I returned to learning...

Dogperson  -yes I suppose I do look the past 2 years and do (in my positive moments) see how far I have come.

Bernadette 60614-' women tend to obsess and see a small failure as a condemnation of their character...' yes this is what I was getting at. I do wonder if along with the gender roles that girls are often brought up with 'be nice, don't make a fuss or show off, be a people pleaser' hormones play a part to having moments of insecurity and anxiety. Not to use this as a cop out, but my moods often change from positive and confident to insecure and despondent depending on the time of the month..ps - (this is a medical issue which I do receive treatment for. It's certainly not an excuse of 'all women are crazy with their hormones...)

Outin -'it is required to consciously try to break away from learned behaviour and thought processes sometimes' -very true and I am trying to do this more and more

As I said before, thanks to all who took the time to reply, I find boards like this interesting as we all share a common love in the piano but there are so many different attitudes and ways of approaching the learning process. I have said before in a previous post, returning as an adult has taught me more than the simple mechanics of playing and instrument, it has taught me valuable lessons about myself, my behaviour, my insecurities and strengths. Playing the piano has held a mirror up to me in a way that never even occured to me when learning years ago, and for that I am grateful, even if at times it brings out my weaknesses and insecurities.  However, I am learning more to realise them, and accept them for what they are and I hope to become a more well rounded, confident person for it.

Offline bernadette60614

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #25 on: February 21, 2017, 10:55:31 PM
I'd add this:

I am part of a small group of piano students who take lessons from the same teacher.  We are:

The department head of one of our city's top medical schools

A CFO of a major corporation

two international "deal makers"

a well-regarded management consultant with 25 years of successful experience

a retired former professional ballerina.

Each of us, without exception, and without regard to gender is self-critical. Each of us has had significant success in our fields.

Perhaps it is not so much gender, as it is maturity...and girls are reputed to mature earlier.

Offline tinyhands

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #26 on: February 21, 2017, 11:04:50 PM
bernadette60614 -yes perhaps this is very true. I am very successful in a creative industry and often don't give the my capabilities of my job a moments thought, yet can become a self critical insecure wreck at times playing the piano..haha

also keypeg I really enjoyed reading your replies DC studio, good advice too I will apply to my next practice. To anyone else I've not mentioned, thanks again for your wise words everyone!

Offline outin

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #27 on: February 22, 2017, 04:16:48 AM
... hormones play a part to having moments of insecurity and anxiety. Not to use this as a cop out, but my moods often change from positive and confident to insecure and despondent depending on the time of the month..ps - (this is a medical issue which I do receive treatment for. It's certainly not an excuse of 'all women are crazy with their hormones...)
It's no cop out and can be a real issue and not only a cause of mood swings. I have suffered from unusual pms symptoms for a long time. For a few days every month I lose my memory. I know exactly how it feels to have dementia. You just cannot find information from your head that normally would be no effort to recall. It does have impact on one's confidence when you have practiced something really well and then one day you just cannot get through it at all. After a while I realized I had to tell my teacher when and why I was unable to play from memory. The physical problems I have also get worse and even basic coordination can become difficult.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #28 on: February 22, 2017, 01:48:29 PM
At one of those professional development classes they send managers to, we watched a video of a highly successful female executive talking about mentoring women.

If you're interested I'll post the link.

One of the things she said is that there are a couple of skills absolutely necessary to succeed at these levels that are rarely discussed with women. 

With women, mentors tend to work on self confidence and communication.  With men those are givens; they work on strategy, business processes, etc. 

Tim

Offline tinyhands

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #29 on: February 24, 2017, 04:44:29 PM
timothy42b this sounds Interesting, even not in relation to just the piano. yes can you post the link. Thanks!

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #30 on: February 24, 2017, 07:05:00 PM
timothy42b this sounds Interesting, even not in relation to just the piano. yes can you post the link. Thanks!

I had to watch several videos for that course.  I'm not 100% sure which one I'm thinking of so I'll end up giving you a couple different links.  I learned something from all of them.







These have nothing obvious to do with piano, but a lot to do with gender differences and obstacles. 
Tim

Offline tinyhands

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #31 on: February 25, 2017, 06:29:57 PM
Thanks timothy42b I look forward to listening to this.

Funnily enough there was a radio programme on here the other day talking about having self belief and the very subject of gender came up as well as having a fixed of growth mindset..It also talked about not praising people for having 'a talent' as this makes people think you can either do something or you can't, making people nervous to try something new. It can often unintentionally belittle the hours of hard work someone has spent practicing on their subject be it an instrument or a sport.

 Thought it was interesting as it touched on. A few things people have said here in response to my original question. I sometimes find when I think about something or a subject, I start to hear it everywhere! Do you ever find that ?! :-)

Offline indianajo

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #32 on: February 26, 2017, 03:28:39 AM
Best of luck at achieving your goals.
I find confidence building comes from VERY slow practice with no mistakes.  Right movements drilled in make for absolute confidence later at full speed.
On a more general note, you mentioned a culture of not showing off etc.
My family is very small, and we grow very late to even small size, so not showing off was a survival strategy go get through school with minimum pain.  Not being noticed was very important.  I often had the best memory in the class, so keeping my mouth shut and not answering every question was learned very early.  BTW I was 42 lb at the start of third grade, the girls liked to play with me as with a doll.  The boys thought I was a waste of time.  
My father was bullied so much, he made it a point to find his children a school environment where the fighting was done with coaches, shop teachers, and staff, not the other students.  I am extremely grateful I didn't have to fight my way through school as he did. I'm not built for it.
My Mother & I were rather similar, and I am male.  While testosterone does increase confidence, I probably have less than most men, and she probably had more than most women.  Androgen presence in women is often indicated by mathmatical ability I've read, and my Mother ended her career as a COBOL programmer despite having no mathmatical training above arithmetic in school.  Just volunteering for that training program at work, from her secretarial job, was untypical of a woman, IMHO.  
I have a group of friends who are church organists.  In Lent they give recitals every Friday for 6 weeks.  One woman is competent; I've heard her play on Sunday.  But she has canceled her recital twice that was scheduled.  Another woman, a former junior high math teacher, performs an excellent program every year on the local pipe organ.  Same pipe organ, different people, different levels of confidence I suppose.  
I was watching NOVA the other night, watching a young male chimpanzee challenge the other males with a big stick, until the troup alpha male came & threw enough rocks at him to cause him to go hide.  This reminds me so much of a lot of male behavoir. Needless to say, I've never been picked as a manager or group leader in any of my jobs.  Being tall and impressive is an important management qualifier. Look at who is CEO's of fortune 500 companies - tall men.    
One has different skills as an individual.  I was given art lessons, I was completely unable to make a drawing that looked anything like reality.  I was given swim lessons, because Mother felt guilty about the water play ban caused by the polio scare, but I was a miserable failure at it until I grew a man's chest & arm muscles about age 20.  I was given piano lessons age 8 to correct bad habits caused by an injured finger: I turned out being above average at that art:  even with a shortened finger.  
If piano is your passion, as it is mine, go for it.  Just because you have bad days is no reason not to practice.  I have a few bad days in my 60's, not hormonal of course, but more how badly I slept or how much anti-histamine I had to take, or something.  I just give up after a bit those days- three days later I might do my standard warm up routine perfectly. Which means the black cloud was temporary.  
As far as crazy male goals, I've been working on a 28 page piano suite for 35 years. More practice these days than when I was working of course.  I'm beginning to get it. I had it down to about 10 mistakes before I fell and tore the tendons in my shoulder last spring.  10 months later I'm beginning to dream of doing that again - maybe time to "climb every mountain" as the movie song went.  I saw a twenty something on TV today trying to ski down stairrails, 100 feet at a time, also off barn roofs.  What a daft male thing to do!  I'd never attempt something like that.  But he'll probably never play one page of Moussorgski, and I can.  Whatever we are good at, and find pleasant to do.
Have fun.  

Offline tinyhands

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #33 on: February 26, 2017, 11:25:53 AM
Thank you indianaJo lovely to hear a bit about your life and thank you for your words of encouragement.  what I am learning more each day is hearing other people's stories on this forum, I have come to realise that everyone has their trials and tribulations, strengths and weakness. When people are honest and open up we start to realise the polished perfection that we often see and we can compare ourselves to, often doesn't show what lies behind it. I think this is especially true now with social media, people show a prefect version of themselves whether it is through instagramed photos or Facebook posts, and you often think 'they have got it sorted' Someone told me once 'comparasion is the thief of joy' and I really should remember that more.

Also on a side note IndianaJo are you from Indiana in the US? I only ask as I was there this year over from the Uk for Xmas, visiting friends of the family in Bloomington Ind, it was a lovely town and I found Indiana very beautiful. The University was stunning. All the best.

Offline indianajo

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #34 on: February 26, 2017, 08:47:52 PM
Thanks.  I'm certainly far from perfect, just persistent.
Glad you enjoyed the beauty of Indiana.
Many of my friends in the American Guild of Organists studied at IU Jacobs School of Music.
I live 80 miles south of Bloomington,IN in the Clark County suburbs of Louisville.  I also own a parcel of the rolling hills north 25 miles from the river, where I spend summer months in a rustic trailer. There is a $50 piano, though, so I can practice though the hot months.
My handle is a bit of a double-entendre.  While it has a whiff of a movie character who is adventurous, more aptly I have many physical characteristics of those of my ancestors who were native Americans.  Like my hands, where the three middle fingers are all nearly the same length.  
Send me a PM if you are headed back here sometime. I'll show you best of our town.  I'm retired so there should be no schedule conflicts.  

Offline j_tour

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Re: Self confidence in gender and age
Reply #35 on: February 28, 2017, 06:53:09 PM
Mr. B Natural helped me to gain confidence and mastery when I was a young boy.
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.
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