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#1479750 - 07/23/10 09:34 AM Re: I can't play during lessons [Re: snowflakesbella]
keystring Online   content
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Originally Posted By: snowdropsbella
Well I'm not sure if playing musically during lessons is my concern, but that I'm not playing a piece how I would normally play it. It's so different they don't sound like they are played by the same person...
So that would prevent lessons from benefiting me as much as it could... and it also bothers me that I hold back from my piano teacher, when she is the one who is teaching me how to play better. If I play so differently at home, my teacher can't comment on the way I play at home, so it does limit my progress-- at least I feel like it does....

You should definitely discuss this in a lesson. Even if most of the lesson time gets eaten up by this, it will not be wasted time.

One thing that I'd like to say, is that there are two aspects to lessons and playing. One aspect is the piece itself, how well you play it, how you interpret it. This is the most obvious part and it seems it is where your concern lies.

The other part involves something more abstract and less obvious. That is particular skills that involve things such as timing, understanding details physically as well as mentally - These are things that teachers want to form in a student and the pieces are used as a practising ground. If these are being formed in you in the background, then your lessons are a success. The teacher will see signs of this happening even if you are flubbing the piece - it will be there for them to see.

That is another reason you should talk to your teacher. Do sort out what is what. Worrying about it alone is doing no good, and that is what a teacher is there for.

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#1479767 - 07/23/10 10:02 AM Re: I can't play during lessons [Re: keyboardklutz]
Morodiene Online   content
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
It's not your mind it's your body that's giving the grief.

The body is responding to impetus from the mind. To treat the effects without treating the cause does no good.
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#1479772 - 07/23/10 10:10 AM Re: I can't play during lessons [Re: Morodiene]
keyboardklutz Offline
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The body doesn't need a mind to respond - look at headless chickens, not to mention frogs who can scratch specific spots even though their spinal chord's been severed.
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#1479802 - 07/23/10 10:52 AM Re: I can't play during lessons [Re: keyboardklutz]
Morodiene Online   content
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
The body doesn't need a mind to respond - look at headless chickens, not to mention frogs who can scratch specific spots even though their spinal chord's been severed.


WE are more complex than these, and are you implying that everything related to "nervousness" is a reflex? Even if that's the case, there is an impetus to cause a reflex. What is that? It's the external influence from the teacher being present, otherwise it would happen when practicing at home as well.

Also, saying the "body doesn't need the a mind to respond" makes no sense. What is the body responding to if not from the input from the mind: not just the thoughts of the mind, but hearing sounds which are processed through the mind, sight which is processed through the mind, and touch which is processed through the mind.


Edited by Morodiene (07/23/10 10:54 AM)
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#1479827 - 07/23/10 11:40 AM Re: I can't play during lessons [Re: Morodiene]
MaryBee Offline
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C'mon Morodiene. Haven't you ever heard how well headless chickens play the piano? wink
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#1479842 - 07/23/10 12:11 PM Re: I can't play during lessons [Re: MaryBee]
Morodiene Online   content
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Originally Posted By: MaryBee
C'mon Morodiene. Haven't you ever heard how well headless chickens play the piano? wink


Probably better than I do on some days! LOL! Or perhaps that's just how I feel smile
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#1480097 - 07/23/10 06:36 PM Re: I can't play during lessons [Re: Morodiene]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
The body doesn't need a mind to respond - look at headless chickens, not to mention frogs who can scratch specific spots even though their spinal chord's been severed.


WE are more complex than these, and are you implying that everything related to "nervousness" is a reflex? Even if that's the case, there is an impetus to cause a reflex. What is that?
The impetus is fear. You can't control what you are afraid of, only learn how to cope with the fear. Eventually the fear fades.
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#1480220 - 07/23/10 10:48 PM Re: I can't play during lessons [Re: keyboardklutz]
Morodiene Online   content
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
The body doesn't need a mind to respond - look at headless chickens, not to mention frogs who can scratch specific spots even though their spinal chord's been severed.


WE are more complex than these, and are you implying that everything related to "nervousness" is a reflex? Even if that's the case, there is an impetus to cause a reflex. What is that?
The impetus is fear. You can't control what you are afraid of, only learn how to cope with the fear. Eventually the fear fades.

Fear comes from the brain.
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#1480366 - 07/24/10 05:13 AM Re: I can't play during lessons [Re: Morodiene]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Most likely from the second brain http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/6377, but certainly not the mind. It's not something you have control over. You're obviously confusing mind with brain.

In fact here's a non-sequitur for you - I've always wondered how Christians can feel fear. What's there to be afraid of?
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#1480388 - 07/24/10 07:41 AM Re: I can't play during lessons [Re: keyboardklutz]
lilylady Offline
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I have read this thread off and on this past week. I hope I can contribute some thing.

I can SO relate to you snowdrops (and others). Lots of experience playing, teaching etc, but after a long hiatis, I have started lessons again with a concert pianist (I mentioned this because of a remark coming later).

Lessons now are sporatic as both time/expense and the need to practice fairly complicated pieces takes longer to accomplish between the lessons. They are sometimes EOW and sometimes every 3 wks.

But there is no way I can play for him as I do when I am by myself. Now mind you I played the organ in church for over 25 yrs, and play for students without a problem.

So we discussed the other day what it is that holds me back. For sure nerves has something to do with it, but so does perfectionism and trying to please 'the coach' with what I have accomplished in between the lessons!!!

I have a couple of ideas. Get used to playing for recording. It also puts pressure on when you see the darn 'red light' but after a few times playing your piece, you can kind of forget about it. This accomplishes two things. The getting used to playing while under some pressure AND having a backup to play for your teacher when there is a need to discuss things other than notes (interpretation, technique, tone etc). You can both just listen, stop the recording as desired and discuss.

The other idea. When you do something often enough, the fear goes away. Example: The first year of playing in church, there was this need to prove myself. Once that was done (in my head) and because of doing it so often, I was comfortable. Yup, really comfortable, as if I were just playing for myself and It got to really enjoy it!

So, what if you were to have a lesson EVERYDAY with your teacher? I be it would get more comfortable and you would do better, right?

He also suggested hugging your piano before you start. It is your friend, your companion, and you love playing it! (goes to attitude when playing) "I love my piano, I love playing my piano, I love sharing music with you!"

And, BTW, he said he had the same problem with perfectionism when playing for 'his' teacher too. Yup! and he is a concert pianist! Gotta be a lesson in there somewhere!

Good luck to both of us!!!
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#1480443 - 07/24/10 10:22 AM Re: I can't play during lessons [Re: keyboardklutz]
Morodiene Online   content
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Most likely from the second brain http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/6377, but certainly not the mind. It's not something you have control over. You're obviously confusing mind with brain.

I have said brain many times. Now you are are going to argue over semantics to try and get out of a corner you've painted yourself in. I'm not going there. Arguing over the internet is about as useless a thing one can do.

Quote:
In fact here's a non-sequitur for you - I've always wondered how Christians can feel fear. What's there to be afraid of?
Anyone who doesn't wish to hear my answer, knowing where this is leading, can stop reading here.

God tells us not to fear and not to worry, because He is in control and works all good things for those who love Him. For me, becoming a Christian was a huge help in overcoming my fears in life.
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#1480450 - 07/24/10 10:46 AM Re: I can't play during lessons [Re: Morodiene]
Andromaque Offline
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lilylady ( and others) make a good point. I still struggle with this problem and have discussed it with my teacher. He has been teaching for 40 years or therabouts . He is rather underwhelmed with the problem and believes that each individual will have to resolve it on her own. It is a pragmatic approach: he can only comment on what he can hear. If prodded, he will say that if the music is "mastered" it is far less likely to crumble under teacher anxiety pressure. He believes that the phenomenon is real but an effective way to counter it is to master the music at "150%" so that if it crumbles under pressure, it is still close to the 100% of the individual's capacity (arbitrary numbers of ocurse).
I have to admit that this "rough" or unsophisticated approach works over time,but is very labour and time intensive..

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#1480470 - 07/24/10 11:28 AM Re: I can't play during lessons [Re: Andromaque]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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I'm kind of the same; I certainly empathize with the student, because I had/have the very same problems with a new teacher, but the better I know the music, the fewer the problems and the quicker the tension evaporates. Perhaps it's because when you know the music really well, you start focusing on it rather than the environment, and that, of course, solves the problem.
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#1480502 - 07/24/10 12:07 PM Re: I can't play during lessons [Re: Morodiene]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Morodiene

I have said brain many times. Now you are are going to argue over semantics to try and get out of a corner you've painted yourself in. I'm not going there. Arguing over the internet is about as useless a thing one can do.
There's nothing to argue about, mind is not brain unless you're a Behaviourist.
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#1480512 - 07/24/10 12:22 PM Re: I can't play during lessons [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Online   content
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Quote:
Perhaps it's because when you know the music really well, you start focusing on it rather than the environment, and that, of course, solves the problem

It is heartening to see that even a seasoned musician and teacher can experience this.

What I tried to describe before in what we students found, the bottom line did involve focusing on the music. Working backward:

- some of us subconsciously felt impolite to tune out the teacher while playing so we never did focus totally on the music in the studio
- antenna on teacher, his reaction, possibly with anxiety
- some of us not really knowing yet what it meant to focus on the music or what part of it, at home or in practising. So we had not mastered it enough during practise, and also didn't know where to focus during lesssons
- If you watch whether you are focusing on the music, then you are focusing on yourself (observing yourself) rather than focusing on the music. If you try to see yourself through the eyes of your teacher, then you are focusing on yourself, and not on the music.

Everything actually involved focusing on the music and focusing on instructions. Getting there, and realizing what was happening, was the tricky part. wink

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#1480558 - 07/24/10 01:45 PM Re: I can't play during lessons [Re: keyboardklutz]
Morodiene Online   content
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: Morodiene

I have said brain many times. Now you are are going to argue over semantics to try and get out of a corner you've painted yourself in. I'm not going there. Arguing over the internet is about as useless a thing one can do.
There's nothing to argue about, mind is not brain unless you're a Behaviourist.

Deleted what I wrote.

This is a bunny trail, and I'm not interested in going on it.


Edited by Morodiene (07/24/10 01:49 PM)
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#1480566 - 07/24/10 01:53 PM Re: I can't play during lessons [Re: keystring]
Morodiene Online   content
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Originally Posted By: keystring
Quote:
Perhaps it's because when you know the music really well, you start focusing on it rather than the environment, and that, of course, solves the problem

It is heartening to see that even a seasoned musician and teacher can experience this.

What I tried to describe before in what we students found, the bottom line did involve focusing on the music. Working backward:

- some of us subconsciously felt impolite to tune out the teacher while playing so we never did focus totally on the music in the studio
- antenna on teacher, his reaction, possibly with anxiety
- some of us not really knowing yet what it meant to focus on the music or what part of it, at home or in practising. So we had not mastered it enough during practise, and also didn't know where to focus during lesssons
- If you watch whether you are focusing on the music, then you are focusing on yourself (observing yourself) rather than focusing on the music. If you try to see yourself through the eyes of your teacher, then you are focusing on yourself, and not on the music.

Everything actually involved focusing on the music and focusing on instructions. Getting there, and realizing what was happening, was the tricky part. wink


This last part is very true. It's a process. There's often not one thing you can do to fix the issue, it takes time and repetition, while making observations after each attempt at playing in front of the teacher/audience and assessing what went well and what didn't. Then making changes for the next time.

Something that is important that I want to stress about my statement about focusing on the music: often anxiety comes from expecting note perfection and exactitude. So it is very important to focus on being as musical or expressive as you can rather than the notes. Although one shouldn't be ignoring the notes, often they themselves can be a source of anxiety, or add to it when others are listening.
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#1480622 - 07/24/10 03:10 PM Re: I can't play during lessons [Re: Morodiene]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Something that is important that I want to stress about my statement about focusing on the music: often anxiety comes from expecting note perfection and exactitude. So it is very important to focus on being as musical or expressive as you can rather than the notes. Although one shouldn't be ignoring the notes, often they themselves can be a source of anxiety, or add to it when others are listening.

Excellent point - I wonder how many pianists have suffered untold performance angst because they focus on "getting all the notes correct."

This reminds me of a funny story which happened to me. I was playing some short ditty in c minor, and the very ending chord, stretched out over the keyboard, was, of course, a c minor chord. But my right pinky accidentally struck the B. Well, rather than change it immediately, I allowed the dissonant effect to linger for two beats then resolved it by playing the high C. No one was the wiser, except a friend who came up and said, "Nice recovery." I replied, "Oh, it was my personal tribute to Bach." We both chucked, but to this day, my friend doesn't know whether or not it was on purpose and an accident.
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#1480736 - 07/24/10 06:18 PM Re: I can't play during lessons [Re: John v.d.Brook]
scherzetto Offline
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Registered: 08/17/09
Posts: 40
Loc: Canada
Snowdropsbella, I feel the deepest sympathy for your problem, and I feel qualified to give a few words of advice, because throughout the years that I played piano, I could have written your post myself, with all of its frustration, almost word for word, since my problem was so identical to yours, right down to the shy, quiet personality problem, which is causing you so much trouble in letting go in your music-making.

I think apart from other, much less important side issues, you have two main problems, most parts of which have been addressed in various ways by the others, but that I'll summarize this way:

First, I'll tell you what my own university piano professor told me: "You must stop being so critical of yourself; then you'll be able to let go and play well." She'd seen what I could do whenever I succeeded in not thinking of how judgmental she or any other listeners might be.

Second, you've got to make up your mind that you're going to be willing to share part of your musical soul with others, and also let them see how well you play. At home, you don't have to worry about that; you can just enjoy your music in private, and maybe you don't mind if a family member overhears you, because you're comfortable about sharing yourself with them. But teachers, the public...! Beware the false "humility" that will make you shy about displaying your skill.

I know through personal experience that the above points are very effective. Any time you're able to tell yourself that you don't care anymore what they think of you, that you're just going to enjoy yourself and make the music sound the way you think it should sound (don't misunderstand: not that you won't be willing to learn from their subsequent criticism, but that just for the moment, while you have to perform it for them, you won't be thinking about what they think of it), you will very likely achieve that freedom and ease you've been wishing for.

The other things mentioned were what I think of as side issues, like visualizing the feel of the piano, the room, the teacher, and making sure you're not ignoring problems at home, as John and the others have said, so that you know your music very well and focus on it. These are all important, of course. It's just that they probably won't help unless you've dealt with the deeper issues first.

One last thing: play with the intention of making yourself pleased with the sounds you produce (considering what stage of learning you're at, and how much it's reasonable to expect of yourself--I'm not referring to perfectionism here!), and I think you will go a long way in overcoming your fears.
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#1481003 - 07/25/10 06:44 AM Re: I can't play during lessons [Re: scherzetto]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Good ideas scherzetto. I'll just make my point again - the elephant in the room. Artists need to accept (they soon learn one way or another) that they are not in charge of the adrenaline rush. If you ignore it eventually it will reduce - it's really like training a pet (watch the dog whisperer). Your body is not yours to do what you want with - there's a Christian sentiment if there ever was one!
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#1481313 - 07/25/10 05:50 PM Re: I can't play during lessons [Re: keyboardklutz]
Morodiene Online   content
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I had an adult student who much like you, had anxiety when playing at her lessons. I reassured her often that I could tell she worked hard on pieces. She was doing very well and so I was surprised when she told me one day how worked up she was over the fact that she couldn't play perfectly for me. I was astounded because I was always impressed on how well she was doing!

I think we are often our own worse critics, and so our self-criticisms are probably not worth listening to.
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#1481366 - 07/25/10 06:59 PM Re: I can't play during lessons [Re: lilylady]
snowflakesbella Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/19/10
Posts: 9
Originally Posted By: scherzetto

Second, you've got to make up your mind that you're going to be willing to share part of your musical soul with others, and also let them see how well you play. At home, you don't have to worry about that; you can just enjoy your music in private, and maybe you don't mind if a family member overhears you, because you're comfortable about sharing yourself with them. But teachers, the public...! Beware the false "humility" that will make you shy about displaying your skill.

Thank you for your insight... as I read your post I really feel like it relates to me, especially the part I quoted above... I've never thought of it that way before...


Originally Posted By: lilylady
I have read this thread off and on this past week. I hope I can contribute some thing.


I think everyone who has posted here has contributed and helped- thank you to everyone so much smile Your posts helped me understand my problem better than when I first posted... and I feel encouraged... my lesson is in 2 days... smile

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#1483491 - 07/28/10 09:59 PM Re: I can't play during lessons [Re: snowflakesbella]
snowflakesbella Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/19/10
Posts: 9
I just had piano lessons yesterday, and I have to say that I felt much more relaxed and happy during lessons... my teacher noticed it as well and she said I improved on my pieces... smile I still had a couple of freeze ups, and I noticed a lot of times I held back almost subconsciously but as lilylady said...When you do something often enough, the fear goes away.... :)This will take time I guess....
Thank you all so much, all your advice did help me!

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#1483559 - 07/29/10 12:26 AM Re: I can't play during lessons [Re: snowflakesbella]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
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Congratulations and best of luck with each coming lesson!
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#1483710 - 07/29/10 10:17 AM Re: I can't play during lessons [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Morodiene Online   content
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So glad to hear that it's working for you! It takes time, and you will probably always have to remind yourself before you play to do this, but it will get easier! smile
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#1483894 - 07/29/10 02:11 PM Re: I can't play during lessons [Re: Morodiene]
scherzetto Offline
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Registered: 08/17/09
Posts: 40
Loc: Canada
I'm so pleased for you, to know that things are getting better, and so quickly! I agree that the overall adjustment takes time, but every successful experience, like this one, will help you with the ones to come. It's a great relief, isn't it, to know that there's really nothing wrong with you as a pianist (with regards to the freezing up), just with some of your habits of thinking? I remember the feeling well. wink Congratulations, and keep it up!
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#1484117 - 07/29/10 08:32 PM Re: I can't play during lessons [Re: scherzetto]
Canonie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 1941
Loc: Australia
Great news. I hope that the good playing-feeling will gradually expand across the whole lesson. Now that the feeling is planted I think it will grow just by noticing the positive effects in the pieces where you are feeling good. Post an update in a while as I would be keen to hear how you are going and have enjoyed reading this thread.

I hope I eventually reach this same happy relaxed state for exams! lessons are ok.
_________________________

Composers manufacture a product that is universally deemed superfluous—at least until their music enters public consciousness, at which point people begin to say that they could not live without it.
Alex Ross.

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