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.

DIY Music Theory Manipulatives!

I found this bucket of dominoes on a recent trip to Tuesday Morning for around $5! If your local store doesn’t have it you can get it on Amazon.com for $14.99. The bucket comes with 250 blank dominoes in 5 different colors. I am using the dominoes to help piano students learn to spell scales and build chords.

Using a sharpie, I wrote the letters of the music alphabet on individual dominoes. Then I drew sharps and flats on the dominoes as well. You will notice that I chose to use orange for all the sharps and blue for all the flats. There are more than enough dominoes to make a complete set of each of the 12 major scales without even using all of them. I ended up having a whole set of red dominoes left over to use for something else. I might use one side for numbers 1-7 and the other side for Roman Numerals to help students learn the scale degrees.

It took me about an hour to draw all the letter names and symbols, so if you’ve got an hour to spare now for this project it could save you several hours in the future because you can surely use this for teaching lots of theory concepts. An added bonus is that it is self – containing. The bucket easily stores all the pieces in one place!

Book Review: Note By Note, A Celebration of the Piano Lesson by Tricia Tunstall

If you’re looking for a bit of inspiration to start the school year, Tricia Tunstall’s book, Note By Note is a must read! This book is truly a celebration of the piano lesson – with all it’s joys and frustrations, twists, turns, and challenges. As I read the book  – in one day – I was uplifted, renewed, and validated as a piano teacher. Her chapter titles are succinct yet intriguing – “Beginnings”, “The Pull of Pop”, “The Lure of Elise”, “Emerging”, “Mastery”, “Recital”, and finally “My Last Piano Teacher”. In my opinion, this book is a love story that will capture the heart of  anyone who teaches piano, has taken piano lessons and refused to quit, has quit piano lessons and lived to regret it, and even those who always wished to have piano lessons.  My favorite quote about this book is from author Reeve Lindbergh who said,

“Note by Note is simply a joy of a book. Tricia Tunstall combines a lifetime’s love of music with respect and affection for the children who are her students. She writes with clarity, grace, and a delightful sense of humor. This will be every reader’s favorite piano lesson.”

Football and Piano

This is a just a quick post to share something one of my 3 year old piano students said this week while we were learning about Quarter Notes. We were playing the Valentine Card Hunt game designed by Susan Paradis where she had to find notes scattered around the room and tell me the name of them. She brilliantly breezed through all of them – whole note, half note, etc. and when she got to the Quarter Note she said, “That one’s a Quarterback!”