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#1953877 - 09/04/12 04:05 PM Practice on lesson day?
pg2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/11
Posts: 65
Loc: Ontario, Canada
I am trying to make a decision re practice on the day of my lesson.

If I practice in the morning before the lesson I do well until lesson.

If I practice in the afternoon before the lesson I often do well until the lesson.

If I don't practice occasionally I do a bit better.

Mostly I fall apart during the lesson if I get anxious which happens often. I begin to to get anxious on the way to the lesson. I can feel it building up. Generally I'm really nervous by the time I get there.
I have only had a few lessons and I tell myself to breath. I try to remember it while I'm on the bench .

I try to remember this is the place to make the mistakes. Here is where I'll get the answers. But it doesn't appear to help much.

The teacher says I have a confidence issue and then I can't focus. She's quite correct in that.


I do have a great deal of performance experience singing. But the thing is I have been singing at the drop of the hat on demand, and regular performances for 55+ years. Zero problem with that ever.

The piano is still new to me and the teacher even newer.

Clearly I'm setting myself up for ridiculous performance
levels which I'm not ready for with this new medium. but still there is is. I'm finding it very difficult to be at the very beginning again generally. also having her take me right back to the very beginning and be so careful with it is good but it also makes me feel more inadequate. I do recognize the feeling is in me.

She's a pretty intense teacher and knows what she wants. There's no way to fake it either. And ordinarily I'm pretty intense myself. But plunk me in front on piano/voila with someone one foot away or right beside me or right in front of me checking my viola hold in close physical proximity and I really feel it

I wonder if it is in part the close proximity. I am a little claustrophobic and having people too close makes me nervous. I just realized that maybe part of the problem.

Because, I can play when people I know are listening or just generally around but not right in my space. I know this is garbled a bit but writing this has helped me recognize part of what's going on with me during lesson time.

Anyway back to the original question...

Do you practice before your lesson on the lesson day?

Do you practice on lesson day only after lesson?

Or do you do something else?
_________________________
Where did you say middle "C" was?

Proud owner of a 1917 Chas. Brothers Grand Piano named "Goldy" She sings like a bird. I lucked out Big Time.

Korg SP 250

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#1953880 - 09/04/12 04:11 PM Re: Practice on lesson day? [Re: pg2]
Para Otras Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/12
Posts: 309
Definitely practice before your lesson to review. Don't consider it a practice, but rather, a preconcert warm-up to the best of your ability.

Definitely practice after your lesson. That's when things are still fresh in your mind and you want to retain that information and train your fingers immediately.

Maybe you need a teacher (or to tell this teacher) who isn't as intense. At least, not in the beginning. It could be as simple as that. But really, you aren't alone. Almost all of my adult students begin this way (the ones that stick with it, I mean, not the ones who come in saying they will practice 4 hours a day...they quit). Just give yourself time. You'll adapt.

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#1953889 - 09/04/12 04:40 PM Re: Practice on lesson day? [Re: pg2]
outo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/02/12
Posts: 384
Loc: Finland
Originally Posted By: pg2
I am trying to make a decision re practice on the day of my lesson.

If I practice in the morning before the lesson I do well until lesson.

If I practice in the afternoon before the lesson I often do well until the lesson.

If I don't practice occasionally I do a bit better.

Mostly I fall apart during the lesson if I get anxious which happens often. I begin to to get anxious on the way to the lesson. I can feel it building up. Generally I'm really nervous by the time I get there.
I have only had a few lessons and I tell myself to breath. I try to remember it while I'm on the bench .

I try to remember this is the place to make the mistakes. Here is where I'll get the answers. But it doesn't appear to help much.

The teacher says I have a confidence issue and then I can't focus. She's quite correct in that.


I do have a great deal of performance experience singing. But the thing is I have been singing at the drop of the hat on demand, and regular performances for 55+ years. Zero problem with that ever.

The piano is still new to me and the teacher even newer.

Clearly I'm setting myself up for ridiculous performance
levels which I'm not ready for with this new medium. but still there is is. I'm finding it very difficult to be at the very beginning again generally. also having her take me right back to the very beginning and be so careful with it is good but it also makes me feel more inadequate. I do recognize the feeling is in me.

She's a pretty intense teacher and knows what she wants. There's no way to fake it either. And ordinarily I'm pretty intense myself. But plunk me in front on piano/voila with someone one foot away or right beside me or right in front of me checking my viola hold in close physical proximity and I really feel it

I wonder if it is in part the close proximity. I am a little claustrophobic and having people too close makes me nervous. I just realized that maybe part of the problem.

Because, I can play when people I know are listening or just generally around but not right in my space. I know this is garbled a bit but writing this has helped me recognize part of what's going on with me during lesson time.

Anyway back to the original question...

Do you practice before your lesson on the lesson day?

Do you practice on lesson day only after lesson?

Or do you do something else?



Much of your post seems like I wrote it myself. I wish I didn't have such a long trip to the lesson... My teacher is also like yours and picks up every detail. I am also ok with singing, speaking or whatever in public, but completely lose my confidence when I sit on the bench at my lesson.

I still don't want to change the teacher. And after a year I tend to have better lessons and disastrous lessons. Now I just let it go when things don't work out and we usually start working on little technical stuff which calms me down.

I usually go to the lesson straight from work, but sometimes when free I play before the lesson. Not a very good idea, it just raises my expectations. Now I play a little early on the morning before going to work.

I find that if I overpractice during the week, I get more pressure and the lesson is often a disaster. Had one of those last week. Then again this Monday was great and I think she was pretty satisfied.

I think you should just wait and see, hopefully you will have more pleasant lessons too. I would not be satisfied with a teacher who demanded less from me than I do myself. At least now I know she's not given up on me and just teaches me for the cash...

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#1953949 - 09/04/12 06:14 PM Re: Practice on lesson day? [Re: pg2]
pg2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/11
Posts: 65
Loc: Ontario, Canada
@ Para Otras

"Definitely practice before your lesson to review. Don't consider it a practice, but rather, a pre concert warm-up to the best of your ability."

The "pre concert warm up" is a good Idea one to which I can relate. I am seriously hoping time will help with the whole.

As a singer and a public speaker I don't get it, my problem that is, but as a baby pianist a deep breath will have to do and allowing myself more time

@outo

It is amazing isn't it that public speaking isn't a problem for some of us. Especially when it is the Number One on most people's Greatest/Big Fear list. Death is down the list at number 3.

I really enjoy public speaking and I love singing to an audience.

It must come from enormous exposure over a life time. So piano will just take sometime I expect. Unfortunately I I don't have another 55+ years left to develop it for piano but eventually I will get more comfortable At this point I would settle for my skin not crawling.

Like you I don't want to give up this teacher because it is clear she knows what she is doing, is a professional in both teaching and performance in Europe and recognizes that self confidence is a large part of the problem I having.

I must be making some progress because I finally got 2 pieces to do and one of them she is excited to teach me about. So I am choosing to remind myself these pieces will take time to develop and take another deep breath.

Also, I'm going to see if she can still see what I'm doing if she sits another foot away from me. That might help too. She's often reaching over me to demonstrate and that brings her even closer.

Anyway I'm not giving up. I think once I get off my own back it will help. that might as someone in heres' motto says... help me get out of my own way.
'


Edited by pg2 (09/04/12 06:16 PM)
Edit Reason: typos
_________________________
Where did you say middle "C" was?

Proud owner of a 1917 Chas. Brothers Grand Piano named "Goldy" She sings like a bird. I lucked out Big Time.

Korg SP 250

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#1953952 - 09/04/12 06:19 PM Re: Practice on lesson day? [Re: pg2]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1369
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Be sure to keep in mind that teachers are rarely as intense as you have them pinned. They'll have basic expectations of you in that you'll practice what they ask of you to an extent that you're capable, but certainly won't chastise you on those occasions that you're unable - teachers of any experience will be used to this with kid students practicing very little, if at all. Just relax and get to know the teacher a little more and you'll likely calm down in their presence some.

As far as practicing before and after a lesson goes, do as Para recommends. Practice before the lesson, but in a review mindset. Think of concert pianists and performers - they don't practice their entire concert they're about to hold verbatim as this would tire them out both physically and mentally; they'd be setting themselves up to fail. Instead, these performers will run through their performances mentally, practicing repertoire slowly beforehand, if at all, and, if possible, playing "comfort pieces" from memory to warm-up, while all at the same time, doing whatever necessary to keep calm and focused intently on the music which they'll soon be presenting.

Post-lesson, you should practice what you went over in the lesson some as well as maybe take notes so that you don't forget what to practice in the week to come.

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#1953960 - 09/04/12 06:56 PM Re: Practice on lesson day? [Re: pg2]
DinaP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/12
Posts: 148
Most teachers know that there is a certain amount of time before many of us students get "comforthble" playing in front of them. Have you discussed this with her and if so what does she say? Is she really as stern a person as your writing seems to imply or is that an impression you don't mean to convey.

That said, I have been known to ask my prior teacher to please sit on the couch while I play last weeks work -- it really made a difference. My current teacher offers to stand just outside the room to hear her student's playthrough if that would help -- then she can join the student and go over things again this time watching for the little things that might need correcting or with suggestions to help play the piece better.

Oh yeah, in answer to your original question -- if my lesson is later in the day, yes I will practice the same day -- if earlier in the morning, I will not.

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#1953997 - 09/04/12 09:08 PM Re: Practice on lesson day? [Re: pg2]
MaryAnn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/16/11
Posts: 388
Loc: Japan
I don't tend to practice before my lesson because I go there straight from work. I like to practice afterward if there's time. I'm usually really excited to practice something we covered in the lesson or to get started on a new assignment.

pg2, it sounds like you need to have a discussion with your teacher.

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#1954004 - 09/04/12 09:25 PM Re: Practice on lesson day? [Re: pg2]
dmd Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 1685
Loc: Pennsylvania
pg2: There is a big difference between knowing a piece well enough for a performance and having just played it perfectly maybe once or twice.

You are treating your lessons like a performance. That is a mistake. You have not prepared properly for a performance. That takes much more preparation and repetition. So, it is not surprising that you are unable to "perform" at your lesson. No-one can.

You go to a lesson to go through what you have been practicing and allow the teacher to see if you are doing what he asked you to do. If you are, you will just keep practicing it as you were told. If not, you will receive some additional instruction and you will then practice with those new concepts in mind.

If your teacher feels you have progressed well enough to move to another piece, it will happen. If not, you continue practicing for another week.
There is no "failure" associated with lessons. You just do what you do and the teacher decides what should come next.

Relax and stop trying to "impress" someone. Let your mistakes happen freely. It is no big deal ... unless you make it a big deal.

Good Luck
_________________________
Don

My current system: Kawai ES7 + Focal CMS40 Powered Monitors, SennHeiser HD555 Phones, Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface, Mackie ProFX8 Mixer, Ravenscroft275, True Keys American Grand, Ivory II American Concert D, Steinway Basic, Galaxy Vintage D, True Pianos, Pianoteq, Alicia's Keys

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#1954019 - 09/04/12 10:20 PM Re: Practice on lesson day? [Re: pg2]
malkin Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2201
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
I can feel a little frustrated at lessons where the situation is "I could play this before, but now I can't."

But I don't mind at all when the situation is "I can't play this."

But either situation elicits instruction from my teacher and that's why both there.
_________________________
A good student is one who makes the teacher feel like a good teacher.

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#1954024 - 09/04/12 10:39 PM Re: Practice on lesson day? [Re: malkin]
pg2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/19/11
Posts: 65
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Thank you everyone for the care and careful consideration you gave to my difficulties.

I have been looking at the lessons as performances which they are not.

More time to get comfortable with my new teacher who is not strict in the sense of tough or unkind but clearly making sure nothing is glossed over. We do have language barrier to over come which is awkward too and does lead to confusion at times for both of us.

I will ask her to not sit so very close because I am uncomfortable with people being too close to me.

I will continue to review what I have been working on before the lesson.

On the drive there I will breath deeply and try no to get too wound up before I sit at the bench etc

I think a little patience and loving kindness towards myself about all of this is in order.

Thank you all again for your ideas and support. I will, as my father used to say, I will live through this and die of something else. picture me laughing at myself.

I am not going to give up
_________________________
Where did you say middle "C" was?

Proud owner of a 1917 Chas. Brothers Grand Piano named "Goldy" She sings like a bird. I lucked out Big Time.

Korg SP 250

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#1954026 - 09/04/12 10:49 PM Re: Practice on lesson day? [Re: pg2]
malkin Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2201
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Originally Posted By: pg2

On the drive there I will breath deeply and try no to get too wound up before I sit at the bench...
Or at any other time!

Originally Posted By: pg2
I think a little patience and loving kindness towards myself about all of this is in order.


Patience and loving kindness about this and about everything else seems like a really good idea to me.

I think I'll have a helping of patience and loving kindness too!
_________________________
A good student is one who makes the teacher feel like a good teacher.

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#1954057 - 09/05/12 12:42 AM Re: Practice on lesson day? [Re: pg2]
outo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/02/12
Posts: 384
Loc: Finland
Originally Posted By: pg2


It is amazing isn't it that public speaking isn't a problem for some of us. Especially when it is the Number One on most people's Greatest/Big Fear list. Death is down the list at number 3.

I really enjoy public speaking and I love singing to an audience.


It must come from enormous exposure over a life time. So piano will just take sometime I expect. Unfortunately I I don't have another 55+ years left to develop it for piano but eventually I will get more comfortable At this point I would settle for my skin not crawling.


When it comes to public speaking it must be practice, but when it comes to singing I have no formal education for it and haven't done much of it since young (45 now). But somehow it just doesn't feel like anything special. I know I can keep tune, I know that the voice will come out (the quality might vary) and if I forget words I can just invent as I go (I'm very good with words).
But piano playing is so different because I cannot feel like this, too many things go wrong so often and total blackouts do happen, even when I am just practicing by myself.

Originally Posted By: pg2


Also, I'm going to see if she can still see what I'm doing if she sits another foot away from me. That might help too. She's often reaching over me to demonstrate and that brings her even closer.


Well...Mine actually crabs my hands/shoulders when she wants to correct their position or show me how to do something correctly. That does distract me from playing, but I don't feel uncomfortable with that. It is not the closeness that bothers me, I totally freak out if she goes to the other side of the room to listen to my playing because then it actually feels like performing (and something that is not ready). So I actually prefer her to sit beside me. She has two pianos so she can use the other one to demonstrate.

But it has only been 4 lessons after summer break and it was a lot better during last year so I just need to get used to it again.

So I'd stay just stick to it and I am sure it will become more natural. And I think it does eventually make us stronger to face up these fears and uncertainties that people of our age don't have to encounter so much anymore.

My teacher also is very kind, but I sometimes act like a 5 year old when I get frustrated. Then she can be quite firm. Which is good. She is much younger than me so it is good that she is able to maintain her authority. I don't think my issues really are about her, I don't always need to impress her. It is my inner perfectionist that is trying to put me down.

EDIT:
I have a colleague who also plays piano. She started from scratch in her 50s couple of years ago. We discuss piano a lot obviously smile

I never see any of the frustration or angst in her despite she also feels her progress is very slow and struggles with some basic concepts. I think the difference is that for me it just is important on a deeper level. But it's not so important to be a great player in the eyes of other poeple or perform. I just have this NEED in me to master the piano, to have control over this instrument and make it do what I want instead of feeling like I'm just overpowered by it's demandness.




Edited by outo (09/05/12 01:26 AM)

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#1954089 - 09/05/12 03:16 AM Re: Practice on lesson day? [Re: pg2]
MaryAnn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/16/11
Posts: 388
Loc: Japan
I forgot to mention something: at my lesson, when i play for my teacher, I tend to notice when I hit a wrong note, or when I get something in the rhythm wrong (particularly something i've been working on). She tends to notice (or at least comment on) completely different things. She knows I know what the right note is. She's more interested in musicality and dynamics, etc. I have a tendency to slouch at the end if I feel I've played badly--like i've been deflated. She doesn't like this, and always points out what has improved and what did go well. Basically, she (and I imagine most teachers) isn't expecting me to play it perfectly. She's expecting me to improve and to incorporate some of the things we talked about in the last lesson.

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#1954099 - 09/05/12 03:48 AM Re: Practice on lesson day? [Re: dmd]
Tech 5 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/12
Posts: 194
Loc: South Carolina
Originally Posted By: dmd
pg2: There is a big difference between knowing a piece well enough for a performance and having just played it perfectly maybe once or twice.

You are treating your lessons like a performance. That is a mistake. You have not prepared properly for a performance. That takes much more preparation and repetition. So, it is not surprising that you are unable to "perform" at your lesson. No-one can.

You go to a lesson to go through what you have been practicing and allow the teacher to see if you are doing what he asked you to do. If you are, you will just keep practicing it as you were told. If not, you will receive some additional instruction and you will then practice with those new concepts in mind.

If your teacher feels you have progressed well enough to move to another piece, it will happen. If not, you continue practicing for another week.
There is no "failure" associated with lessons. You just do what you do and the teacher decides what should come next.

Relax and stop trying to "impress" someone. Let your mistakes happen freely. It is no big deal ... unless you make it a big deal.

Good Luck


I really appreciate this post, DMD, although it wasn't addressed to me officially. I do exactly what you said, "treat the lessons as a performance" with success and failure attached to it. I usually get a little depressed after a lesson because of the "failure" to "perform" syndrome. I will try to keep your advice in mind with the next lessons.

Thanks,
_________________________
Virginia

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
J.Wooden

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#1954118 - 09/05/12 05:29 AM Re: Practice on lesson day? [Re: Para Otras]
alsoTom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/27/12
Posts: 52
Originally Posted By: Para Otras
Definitely practice before your lesson to review. Don't consider it a practice, but rather, a preconcert warm-up to the best of your ability.

Definitely practice after your lesson. That's when things are still fresh in your mind and you want to retain that information and train your fingers immediately.



This is exactly what I do. My lesson day is a big day with lots of piano playing.

I keep seeing conversations about playing your best in front of the teacher. I really don't understand this. Surely your teacher is the person you want to play your worst in front of? I mean if you stuff up, get nervous and flub it all up, surely this is exactly the best thing you could do for the lesson? You have given her the ability to correctly assess your weaknesses. If you play your best in front of her then how is she going to know where your weak spots are?

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#1954122 - 09/05/12 05:36 AM Re: Practice on lesson day? [Re: pg2]
alsoTom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/27/12
Posts: 52
Originally Posted By: pg2

I do have a great deal of performance experience singing. But the thing is I have been singing at the drop of the hat on demand, and regular performances for 55+ years. Zero problem with that ever.



Same things happens with teachers. We teach classrooms full of students, make them laugh, get them doing what we want, all full of confidence. Ask the teachers to get up in front of a staff meeting and half of them will shy away in panic. It seems like it should be the same, there are similarities, but there is also lots of other things involved that will rattle your confidence. Not the least of which is the pecking order. When you are the invited musician you are top of the order and full of confidence, when you are in a piano lesson you are bottom of the order.

Same reason why shows like "American Idol" do really well. They put singers in a situation where they are not at the top, and so look awkward and uncomfortable for quite some time.

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#1954233 - 09/05/12 12:31 PM Re: Practice on lesson day? [Re: pg2]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3243
>Do you practice before your lesson on the lesson day?

Usually no time for that, or maybe 10 minutes between getting home and getting on the bus to get to lessons in the evening. 10 minutees seems to help a bit

?Do you practice on lesson day only after lesson?
no time for that, I come back late from lesson


>Or do you do something else?
practice most other weekdays before the lesson laugh
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#1954288 - 09/05/12 02:13 PM Re: Practice on lesson day? [Re: wouter79]
Bentissimo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/17/12
Posts: 31
Loc: Illinois, USA
I practice for about 15-30 minutes before I drive over to my lesson. Partly because I never get in as much practice during the week as I "should." Also when I get to the lesson, the notes are still fresh in my fingers instead of me looking at the page and going "What the heck is that? Have I ever played that?" which tends to happen to me at the start of every practice.

There are lots of good comments about the anxiety aspect already, but here's what I tell myself when I start get anxious:
1. I am paying this person to help me. He is not paying me to put on a show.
2. I will make some mistakes during the lesson. It's a guarantee and not a shock to the teacher. When I make a mistake, it's okay, we will just play that a few more times til I get it. No big deal.
3. Some weeks are better than others. Sometimes I get tons of practice in and I feel like I sound pretty good. Other times, family, friends, work, health, motivation, etc get in the way, and I'm just going to play at the level I can today.
4. Piano is fun (for us non-professionals)! If I'm putting a bunch of pressure on myself, I'm missing the point and need to take a step back and think. I've taken to cracking some jokes about some of my more glorious mistakes during the lesson, and my teacher and I both have a laugh.

After my lesson, I will sometimes 'noodle' around on the piano because I'm caught up in the fun of it or because I want to hear some of that new piece we started at the lesson. I don't practice per se. To me, I've done my piano work for the day just by going to the lesson (especially when you consider the little warm-up I do beforehand). I might grab a random piece and play it for a few minutes, but only out of interest, not out of a sense of obligation. More likely I will go hang out with my wife and grab a refreshment.

All that said I am not a concert pianist or even a budding one. I'm just a guy who wants to enjoy piano, including lesson time.
_________________________
"Today you are the perfect age to chase your dream." - Jon Acuff

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#1954734 - 09/06/12 10:28 AM Re: Practice on lesson day? [Re: pg2]
samasap Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/10
Posts: 607
Loc: UK
You need to break the habit and routine of your practice and try not to over think things. Many students as beginners get a little bit apprehensive when they first arrive at the lesson but as you get to know your teacher you should build a good relationship and feel comfortable playing your music in front of them.

Don't try and think off it as a practice session...write out a plan for the week and integrate it into your daily routine. Think of it as you are playing for fun and because you love to do it.

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#1954981 - 09/06/12 06:02 PM Re: Practice on lesson day? [Re: pg2]
jdw Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 799
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
I don't practice on the day of the lesson. I don't have the time, but I don't think it's necessary either. I consider the regular practice I've done all week to be practice for the lesson. I think practicing on the day might actually increase the nervousness of those who have a tendency to view the lesson as a performance for the teacher.

In the days leading up to the lesson, I'm already thinking about where things are and what issues we'll need to address in the lesson, questions I want to ask, etc. I do review this mentally before the lesson.

If I have time I like to practice afterward, to reinforce what I've learned while it's still fresh.
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1989 Baldwin R

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Beginner adult book to read AWAY from the piano?
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