1 Simple Phrase To Help Cure Stage Fright

not judging

PERFORMANCES. Lots and lots of performances. Right about now young (and old) piano players around the world are getting nervous about playing in front of others. What’s a piano teacher to do to help? One thing a teacher can do is to help the student view performances from the audience’s perspective. A lot of performers who have stage fright don’t realize that the audience is not judging them at all (unless you’re in a contest of some sort). The lie that stage fright tells the performer is that since all eyes are on him the performance is about him. THIS IS NOT TRUE!!! Students need to know that the audience is there to RECEIVE the gift of music. The gift of music is many things to the audience. It is a great time, an escape from worries and cares, a chance to be with friends. The audience wants simply to FEEL GOOD. Judging the performer is the least of their concerns. They want the performer to succeed because it means the audience gets to have a good time. Here is another secret: the people in the audience assume that the performance will be great, otherwise they would not be there!

So, take the pressure off your students by letting them know (and most don’t know this) that the audience is not judging them! I will definitely be driving this point home with my students in the next few weeks leading up to our Big Dreams Concert.

Food For The Music Teacher’s Soul: Performing Live

As music teachers we spend hours preparing lessons, music learning games, and performances for our students. After doing an adequate amount of scouring music teaching blogs and piano teaching blogs, and attending student concerts and recitals there is little time left to devote to our own musical development. The interesting thing is that the missing ingredient in most music teachers’ studio marketing plans is consistent performance by the teacher!  I will speak specifically as a piano teacher, but what I am saying is true no matter what instrument the teacher teaches. The same thing we tell our students applies to us – in order to get better at playing your instrument, you have to PLAY YOUR INSTRUMENT!

I know from my own personal experience how difficult it can be to carve out time to flex your performance muscles when you are a music teacher. I also know that carving this time out is absolutely essential. It is also life-giving! The video about is proof of that.

Last weekend I was blessed with the opportunity and challenge to play in the faculty concert for the music camp where I taught. Getting to this point took a couple of years of trying to find time to collaborate with the other teachers because our schedules are so varied. Thankfully one of the faculty members, Russell Ferrara (fabulous guitarist who is fluid in numerous genres) never gave up and simply insisted that we make it happen. Oddly enough it took his persistence to get me and fellow teacher Derwyn Browne playing together for the first time although we work together often and live near each other. Russell lives a thousand miles away!

I can definitely say that it was well worth the wait and that we should have done this sooner. If you haven’t played in a while, please let me suggest that you get out there and go for it! Why should our students be the only ones who get to play? Why should they be the only ones who experience the rush that comes from an audience erupting with applause? Why should they be the only ones who get that undeniable sense of satisfaction from having done their best onstage?

If you haven’t done so already, watch the video. I hope it will inspire you to go out and play!

Teaching, Performing, or Both?

Before I started teaching privately on a full-time basis it never occurred to me that teaching would interfere with me performing. Fast forward a few years and I can say without a doubt that teaching leaves me very little time for practicing and performing. Somehow the hours spent planning activities for students and trying to think of ways to help them “get it”  add up so quickly. A lot of times I’m just plain worn out after a day of teaching. How can something so life-giving be so draining at the same time? I thoroughly enjoy teaching young musicians, but it is very tiring. So, the performer in me has to fight for my attention. The above video is what happens when I do make time for practicing and performing  and creating. I hope you enjoy the music, and if you do you can download it free on SoundCloud.com/danaricemusic.

Now for the million dollar question, teachers. How do YOU make time for performing while teaching?

What If I Make A Mistake?

Mistakes Are GuaranteedWith concerts, recitals, and holiday performances just around the corner both students and teachers are starting to feel a case of the butterflies. I know I am! Teachers wonder if they will have all the students prepared in time. We wonder if the programs will get printed in time, if the sound system at the venue will be working properly, if there will be enough food for the reception. Students wonder if they will mess up on stage. They worry that they might trip on the way to or from the piano bench. They are tortured by a multitude of what ifs – one of the worst ones being what if I forget my song?

It’s been said that there are no guarantees in life, but actually there is one! As I was re-reading the Sept/Oct 2012 issue of Making Music magazine, the words of Glenn DaGrossa- a music teacher in New York – jumped off the page at me:

“As human beings, mistakes are guaranteed”

Well doesn’t that just go against everything we are working towards in rehearsals and practice?

Actually, this fact – and it is a fact – must be at the center of our rehearsals and practice. We must prepare not only to play to the best of our ability, but also prepare to handle the inevitable mistakes we will make. Our goal must  not  be a flawless performance, but a fantastic performance! Flawless performances can be flat and sterile, whereas fantastic performances are those that may or may not have noticeable mistakes but definitely connect the audience and performer to each other.

So, let’s all do ourselves a favor and recognize that mistakes are guaranteed. With this thought in mind, let’s proceed to practice with a greater purpose than perfection in mind.

Let’s practice with the goal of communicating and connecting through the music. That’s the kind of music that brings people together!

Taking The Fear Factor Out Of Performing

 

Most of the students that I teach LOVE to perform in public! They enjoy the attention they receive from their friends and family when they play the piano. Still there are a couple of kids that I teach who, like me at their age, would rather be eaten by a lion than play the piano in front of others. Does this mean that nobody will ever get to hear them play at studio events? It doesn’t have to! Kids who are not into playing “live” can still be part of the annual Fall and Spring Concerts via pre-recorded video! If your venue has video capability, why not allow the audience to experience this students’ playing as well AND save your student the butterflies and avoid the torture of playing in public? After all, the point of the event is for others to see and hear them play – who cares if it’s pre-recorded? People LOVE watching videos and they will applaud a good performance – hello, can you say YouTube? A couple of well placed videos could be a welcome break from a string of on stage piano players during your studio event. As a bonus, the kid from the video can come to the stage and take a bow after the video is shown or have a special autograph table set up afterwards. Who knows, this could boost their confidence and inspire them to play live in the next event!

So, I’m curious readers. Have any of you done this at any of your studio events before?