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Re: Lesson Anxiety -- Any Solutions?
scgrant #2500162 01/14/16 08:40 AM
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I have lesson anxiety, too. In fact, my leg shakes and I didn't notice until my teacher asked if I was nervous. I can tell you that I have relaxed some after playing in front of my teacher for awhile ( started lessons in September), but it's still an issue.

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Re: Lesson Anxiety -- Any Solutions?
scgrant #2500172 01/14/16 09:11 AM
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It happens all the time to most people.

Think about what we're doing in lessons!
We are playing a piece for an audience who is much better at playing the piano, usually knows the piece much better than we do, is paid to evaluate us.
The piece is often one that we have never performed before, or haven't performed in a long time. The challenges of the piece are often still big challenges at this time.

Of course it's going to be hard and full of lots of problems.

We must admit, we are never going to impress our teachers, with anything other than how much we have improved and how well we are progressing. These people are impressed by the Mitsuko Uchidas and Murray Perahias of the world, not by us.

But: we don't pay our teachers to be an impressed audience. We pay them to evaluate and criticize and be the first set of ears for pieces before they ever get heard by anyone else. We pay them to hear as many of the problems that EVER come up in our playing, so that they can help us with them, and get us to the point where they are gone, not just the point where on a really good playthrough on a really good day we are lucky and don't have those problems that time.

The best lessons are when we are very well prepared but play very badly.
The preparation is so that the teacher has something to suggest beyond the things we already know how to do and would have done if we had practiced properly.
Playing badly allows the teacher to hear all the possible problems and be the most helpful.



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Re: Lesson Anxiety -- Any Solutions?
scgrant #2500174 01/14/16 09:17 AM
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I can relate to the public speaking as well as lesson anxiety. Adrenaline helps with public speaking but not with piano playing!

As many have said, regular recording or videoing helps. It's helped me, but I still struggling with lesson nerves. I think it's just going to take time. I see calming my performance nerves as yet another skill to be learned.

I also occasionally send my teacher MP3 's or videos.


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Re: Lesson Anxiety -- Any Solutions?
scgrant #2500180 01/14/16 09:31 AM
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Note the distraction and resume breathing.


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Re: Lesson Anxiety -- Any Solutions?
scgrant #2500208 01/14/16 10:52 AM
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Zillybug, no he did not give me a reason for not wanting to extend to an hour. I know the music store has most lessons that I am aware of in 1/2 hr increments.

Hreichgott, I like your statement about playing badly at lesson. We are taking lessons to learn, not just play pieces perfect


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Re: Lesson Anxiety -- Any Solutions?
scgrant #2500228 01/14/16 12:10 PM
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I've helped that very light humming can help a ton with nerves. Try it if you haven't. When I took brief lessons I did it during our small recitals.

Re: Lesson Anxiety -- Any Solutions?
DrewBone #2500230 01/14/16 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by DrewBone
scgrant, a question if I may...what do you think it is that is causing you such anxiety during lessons?


My best guess is that I tie success, with any particular piece, with an assessment of self-worth (however, ridiculous that may sound when said out loud). Correct notes = worthy, wrong notes = worthless. After all, we are practicing in order to play successfully, not simply play less worse. Success, unfortunately, does not provide more than a moment's validation, as the next piece is always harder and fraught with even more mistakes. It's not all that dramatic in actuality as these are just voices in my head, which I can generally ignore. I think it may be a Scandinavian DNA thing.

Originally Posted by DrewBone

Start by making a list. Is it note recognition? Notation? Are you uncomfortable proceding at your teachers pace? 'Having trouble working with both hands together? 'Afraid of rejection for making mistakes? Whatever the reason or reasons, that which troubles you needs to be identified and addressed or else you'll continue on being terrified, and that's just not very enjoyable.


I don't think it's a specific item, it's very generalized. I used to have the same fear on the football field, many years ago. Fortunately, I sustained some injuries which took me off the roster. Not expecting that at the piano.

The lesson anxiety, gratefully, does not eliminate my enjoyment of the lessons. I can rationalize and compartmentalize and still see the huge progress that beginners get to enjoy until the easy pieces are behind us.

Originally Posted by DrewBone

A teacher shouldn't be an ogre to be afraid of but instead be a source of encouragement and understanding. I'm sure that once you get things out in the open and there's a mutual understanding between the both of you, you'll begin to see your anxiety wane and your confidence grow smile


The teacher is wonderful. There is nothing about this I would put on him. He is unfailingly encouraging even when everything I play is a total mess. We have discussed this and his view is that a lesson is an opportunity to explore solutions, not an existential test or a schadenfreude-fest. He mentioned that some of his adult students have gotten "stuck" and only want to play pieces they already know so they never have to face failure. That is a solution, but the cure is worse than the disease.

Again, I appreciate all the feedback, and particularly appreciate not being alone in this. Thank you, all.

Next steps: I'm going to achieve perfection in all things, so I never have anything to fear.

Hhhhmmm, maybe that won't work near term.

At this point I'm going to try desensitization, as suggested by respondents above. I'll start playing for family and friends as test subjects before the lessons. I don't think the anxiety will totally disappear, but I think I can slowly turn it into excitement or anticipation and use it as a force for good through "happier talk" and sublimation.





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Re: Lesson Anxiety -- Any Solutions?
scgrant #2500299 01/14/16 03:49 PM
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It is my belief that the thing that will have the biggest impact on your anxiety level will be how well you "know" the piece of music you are playing.

If you practice for a week and have only played it "perfectly" once or twice, then you are going to have difficulty "showing off" at your lesson.

If, however, you have been working on it for a few weeks, or months, and you really are almost bored while playing it, you will be much more relaxed and confident that you can play it and it will probably go much better.

It may take some time before you will have gained enough confidence as a person/player so that you do not feel it necessary to show your teacher "how good you are". When you have reached that stage, then you simply play and discuss without regard for every little glitch.

Good Luck


Don

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Re: Lesson Anxiety -- Any Solutions?
fizikisto #2500303 01/14/16 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by fizikisto
A few ideas

3) Take up meditation.
When I first read this I read it as take up medication, which I thought was an interesting bit of advice.

Re: Lesson Anxiety -- Any Solutions?
hreichgott #2500336 01/14/16 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by hreichgott
I
The best lessons are when we are very well prepared but play very badly.
The preparation is so that the teacher has something to suggest beyond the things we already know how to do and would have done if we had practiced properly.
Playing badly allows the teacher to hear all the possible problems and be the most helpful.



This is a great comment! It's the situation students tend to find most frustrating, but we just need to change our perspective.



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Re: Lesson Anxiety -- Any Solutions?
scgrant #2500396 01/14/16 10:38 PM
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Originally Posted by scgrant


He is unfailingly encouraging even when everything I play is a total mess. We have discussed this and his view is that a lesson is an opportunity to explore solutions


That sounds like a fine teacher in approach. But a 30-minute lesson doesn't work for an adult student. You need an hour. I won't teach an adult student for less than an hour, no matter their ability level.

Re: Lesson Anxiety -- Any Solutions?
Peter K. Mose #2500405 01/14/16 11:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Peter K. Mose
Originally Posted by scgrant


He is unfailingly encouraging even when everything I play is a total mess. We have discussed this and his view is that a lesson is an opportunity to explore solutions


That sounds like a fine teacher in approach. But a 30-minute lesson doesn't work for an adult student. You need an hour. I won't teach an adult student for less than an hour, no matter their ability level.


Totally agree, my lesson is an hour.



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Re: Lesson Anxiety -- Any Solutions?
scgrant #2500523 01/15/16 10:44 AM
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Hi ScGrant,

I totally relate to you. I was like that as well and posted similar question on this forum.

The 2 most helpful answers that I received, that actually addressed the problem for me (now I don't quite have lesson anxiety, unless I know that I am not adequately prepared for the lesson):

1) Count before you start to play. I find that counting in my head clears the little voices of anxiety and leave little space for them to come back.

2) Watch this talk. (courtesy of WhizBang) I watched it repeatedly, and even printed a quote from her and put it on top of my piano. What I take away from this talk is: do your homework, and trust that your homework (practice) will carry you in your performance. The confidence of nailing the piece successfully repeatedly in practice, will help in performance (lesson) situation.
[video:youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=P7i5WKcqo4c[/video]

Good luck scGrant!

Last edited by HappyBee; 01/15/16 10:46 AM.
Re: Lesson Anxiety -- Any Solutions?
fizikisto #2500546 01/15/16 12:04 PM
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I was very anxious at lessons and with any playing in public. It's definitely improved.

Things I think helped me:
1) I got more used to it - earlier in the year (when I wasn't taking lessons) I forced myself to take opportunities for casual playing in public. Then I went back to lessons at the end of September, and I was very very nervous to begin with but it has eased a lot
2) I think the 40 piece challenge helped me a lot, as I did way more recording last year. Also, I posted some pretty bad performances as part of that challenge, and that seems to have helped me become more tolerant of people hearing me play very unpolished pieces with plenty of errors

I hadn't made a link, but I began to meditate regularly around the middle of the year, so perhaps ...
Originally Posted by fizikisto

3) Take up meditation.


Hmm, my anxier


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Re: Lesson Anxiety -- Any Solutions?
scgrant #3030603 09/30/20 02:13 PM
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I'm glad that I'm not alone (should I be glad?).

Even though I'm taking my baby steps, the <*deleted*> anxiety kicks in everytime I enter the class. It's very bad, and that tunnel vision I just found about is frustrating. I had another teacher who accepted kindly that I send him my records and we proceed as such until I can overcome my anxiety. However after two months I decided to change my teacher for other reasons , and now I'm thinking I might go with the same approach again even though I did tell this new teacher that at the end of the day it'll be better for me to do the exercises live and not recorded because it can help me get used to it.

That being said, I believe part of the problem is that we have to perform and rush in just half a freaking hour without enough time for preparation. Thank god the school's classes are mostly empty now due to the Covid hygiene precautions and I at least can practice using another piano before the class time.

On a general note that might be relevant to similar posters, I suffer from general anxiety (and social anxiety) and am taking medications as well. So it might be that some of you also have this condition and need to address it as a whole.

Edit- Good suggestions in this thread, especially performing for family and friends.

Last edited by BB Player; 09/30/20 05:24 PM. Reason: Watch the language please.
Re: Lesson Anxiety -- Any Solutions?
scgrant #3030611 09/30/20 02:28 PM
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Nobody mentioned it yet, but I think that one of the reasons that contribute to stress is that the piano is different from the one at home, we are not used to it and the first note that comes out not as we expect puts us under stress...
professional pianists can adjust their mind and hands to play a different piano quickly.
I, unfortunately, still can’t...

Re: Lesson Anxiety -- Any Solutions?
scgrant #3030724 09/30/20 07:51 PM
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This thread started in 2016 and just got resurrected today.
Meanwhile, I've had 4 more years of experience with my anxiety. How 'bout you?


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Re: Lesson Anxiety -- Any Solutions?
scgrant #3030726 09/30/20 08:13 PM
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Lot's of times if one hasn't done a recital yet, one finds out there's a difference between practice, and rehearsal. IOW, there's a learn mode, then there's rehearsal. A good point in the post above, all pianos are not the same. Let's say, the first note you play on the instructor's piano is the first note of your assignment, who wouldn't be doomed?

Micheal Jordan used to play head games with himself to get the desired results. Anybody else could do this. However one gets one's confidence (without hurting others) is the way. I start by telling myself, nobody dies if a wrong note is played. Supprisingly, clams seem to dissapeare when they are ignored. Just like spelling, i try. That's all i can do.


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Re: Lesson Anxiety -- Any Solutions?
scgrant #3030735 09/30/20 08:40 PM
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I don't get anxious leading up to a lesson. However, I used to go into a panic and my mind would just go all foggy, unable to function, if I played a wrong note during a lesson. Rather than allowing me to skip or repeat the section, my teacher would force me to centre myself, relax and read from the wrong note out into familiar territory. After a year of so of this I stopped being so fearful if I made a mistake, I know what to do and that really helps. I sometimes wonder how a more inexperienced teacher would do under this situation, would they understand?


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Re: Lesson Anxiety -- Any Solutions?
scgrant #3030739 09/30/20 08:52 PM
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What worked for me is to rethink how I mentally view my lessons; seeing them as an opportunity to show how much better you are this lesson leads to anxiety. Seeing them as an only an opportunity to learn and explore removes the stress.

So I start my lessons, not by playing through, but by going through the problems/questions I encountered since the last lesson: it could be fingering, interpretation, rhythm. Really any question . Starting out by problem solving takes away the ‘performance’ feeling. Then, when I finally play through, we see if I have missed problems. .. no performance =no stress.😊 and a really good lesson

Last edited by dogperson; 09/30/20 08:53 PM.
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