Nervous at Lesson, Perfect at Home
Stephen R., California
I’m sensing my own impatience lately with some of my adult students! I also feel like I’ve been getting lots of “I’m nervous” and “it was perfect at home” from them. Maybe it’s just me… I’m not quite sure what’s going on. I’m just feeling frustrated right now I guess.
Kerry V., Australia
It is great to not only have these thoughts but more so, to be questioning them.
Frustration is another door to show you something else within you. Learning more patience? Something within you you haven’t yet acknowledged? Maybe you are nervous or perfect at home? Only you know. BUT, yes, a great space to vent and simply acknowledge this is happening.
Robin Keehn, Washington
So, I heard of this thing once called Long-Term Relationships and something about peaks, valleys and plateaus that last for short, medium and long times and are always changing.
Gabrielle B., Iowa
Besides the LTR which is super true, I don’t know if you have space to move around at your studio during classes.. but sometimes I just step back into where the parents are sitting, give my students the iPad spin wheel and let them play and have fun together. Maybe you do that already but I found that if they’re working on something a little harder it lightens the mood.
Joy O., Alabama
When students tell me, “It was better at home,” I tell them it’s the “piano teacher effect.” Having the teacher standing there makes you nervous. I played samples for an FIS the other day and had mistakes I don’t usually make. So I get it.
Laurie Richards, Nebraska
I’ll never forget years ago, at a teacher conference in CA, some SM students gave a recital for us teachers and Neil (can you imagine a more nerve-wracking setting for a student?!). They were well-prepared in advance by their teacher Bernadette Ashby though.
There was one adult female student who began to play Lullaby from FL4. She kept tripping up and started over numerous times. She had such a hard time. Neil told us later that he talked to this student afterward. She told him how she had practiced again and again and again and had it down perfect. Neil asked her where she practiced (at home of course), and if she *always* practiced there (yes). He said that’s why she had such trouble playing that day.
Neil used an analogy of our brains creating ‘file folders’ for different experiences. In this student’s ‘playing the piano’ folder was stored the feel of her room at home, the sound and feel of the piano keys, the sights, sounds and smells surrounding her, the temperature, how many people were around, etc. It was firmly implanted. Then she played in this recital, on a different piano in a different room with different sensory information from all around her, and it didn’t fit into her ‘playing the piano’ folder. Everything was different, and it threw her off.
That’s why we often hear “But I played it perfectly at home!”.
The solution – play on as many different pianos in different places as possible. Not likely with some students, but I do like to share that story so students understand what is happening!
Original discussion November 1, 2018