Overcoming "Lesson Fright"

Posted In: Teaching the Harp

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    janna-bisceglia on #194513

    I have several adult students who continually tell me that they find themselves nervous at our lessons and that they played better at home.  While I assure them that playing for the teacher is somewhat of a “performance” and it is very normal to loose a little quality I’m wondering if there is anything else I can do.  I’m a very mild-mannered person and pretty sure I’m not personally coming across as intimidating, it is just the situation.

    Does anyone have any blog articles I can print and hand out to validate their feelings, while providing techniques for overcoming them?  I’m thinking maybe Harp Column has printed something like this in the past, but I couldn’t find it among the handful of articles I’ve saved.

    carl-swanson on #194517

    I don’t know if this has any information in it that might help you, but years ago Kim Rowe asked me to write an article for Harp Column called THE BIG DAY!  It was to be about preparing for an audition/recital/exam/performance/etc.  It appeared in the March/April 2002 issue, Volume 9, issue 5.  It talks about exactly this kind of thing and the things you can do to remedy the situation.  If you go to my web site, http://www.swansonharp.com, you can find it there on the Articles page.

    Alyson Webber on #194526

    I don’t have any links to blogs or anything, but perhaps we can get some testimonials here that can make them feel better. I find the nervousness I have in playing lessons to be a great advantage, actually. If I’m planning on performing a piece, having at least some nervousness will point out the weaknesses in your practice. How else will you know what to work on?

    I see the point of lessons as not “proving” how hard you practiced, but to “proof” the practice you did. Sure, it can be discouraging at times. Sometimes I work so hard on something then feel I have nothing to show for it in my lesson. To me, it means that I know it well at home, but not under pressure. Those are two different scenarios entirely.

    I can see, however, if there is an individual who has absolutely no desire to perform in any way, that the effects of nervousness in lessons cannot validate their ability to play in the capacity that they enjoy. Then they may feel that no one knows how well they play the harp except for them and perhaps immediate family.

    I have found that a few times before my lesson to “perform” instead of practice first thing. Sit down with as much warm up as you would get in your lesson, and pretend to have one. Play through your pieces, imagining your teacher looking over your shoulder. Record yourself. Do something that makes you a little uncomfortable. Move the harp somewhere else, sometimes that’s weird enough!

    Biagio on #194527

    Well OK Alyson, I’ll follow up on that.  My nervousness in lessons (and for that matter in circles and retreats) comes right down to one simple thing. To whit: trying to perform beyond my ability and trying to impress – the teacher, fellow harpers, etc.  Then Laurie made a comment that went right to the heart of the matter.

    “Look”, she said, “Slow down, breath, and play to yourself, not for me or anyone else.  Comparing yourself unconsciously to someone who has been playing professionally for 30 years does not help at all.  Play to your heart and remember that we are you friends.  When you do that your ‘audience’ will feel it, believe me.”




    duckspeaks on #194531

    Dear Janna,

    I had a period ith string feelings when I attempted voice, with several teachers. It is jist like driving. Ones drives badly when observer simply because it is not yet second nature. The way to deal with it is to gain the com0lete trust of the student so that having some breakdown in the playing in front of you is nothing but a good opportunity. Most voice teachers tries to do that because voice is very personal, compared with any other insteuments. I ha  seveal voice teachers and most of them did that. The honest feedback is not to blame the situation. just like driving, one needs to be fluid or else the car jumps like a kangaroo. To be on the road one must be safe. To enjoy music one must be ablevto converse while playing the piece, as least answeing several consecutive yes / no questions. Else it is not obust enoit yet.



    Victoria on #194549

    That is indeed very true and really great advice, Biagio 🙂

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