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Joined: Dec 2010
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
I think business jargon speak of "manage expectations" has no place in making music. I do enough managing expectations in my work life, thank you very much, and I don't need more of it elsewhere.

If you're performing, I don't want to hear you say what's going to suck about what you're going to do. If it sucks that much, get off the stage. If it doesn't suck that much, then as long as you don't say anything to call attention to it, I won't notice the bad things and I will enjoy it.

If you're in a lesson, your teacher can hear everything in your playing, and more. So there's no use practicing apologizing about your playing. Better to practice taking a deep breath (or however you prepare yourself to play) and getting on with it.

Telling your teacher about a feature that you're particularly looking for help with is different, but that's not about "managing expectations" -- that's about making your lessons productive. (And I think it's always a good idea to be open to the idea that your teacher may think something else entirely is the most important next thing to be working on.)


Well said. In a performance scenario before an audience, it would be better to not say anything. I can see it happening if you're playing something on the spur of the moment for your sister, who just dropped in (and doesn't realize it takes weeks/months to play that piece well). For a performance, giving the audience some information about the piece and/or performer would be perfectly acceptable.

In the context of lessons, I think the underlying motivator is along the lines of the underpromising PS88 talks about. It might make the student feel better (briefly), but I doubt it has any sway with the teacher. Does it? Or does planting the thought suffice, like Perry Mason saying something, the DA objecting, and Perry withdrawing the question, having accomplished his purpose just by making the statement.


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I don't say anything before I play. I just sit down and start tinkering away. Usually the residents are eating dinner (few dozen feet away from the piano as it is in the lobby ) and some just walking about or just sitting.
As I play many draw closer but I don't say anything to compensate.

I believe dealing w their perceived expectations whether enjoyment or disappointment I can improve or get over it psychologically and get mentally tougher. Rather than putting myself into a safety nest each time.

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Originally Posted by Sand Tiger

I sometimes write that nerves tend to take their toll. For those that don't perform often, it can be the equivalent of two letter grades. A piece at "B" level degrades to "D". A piece at "C" level, may mean a crash and burn. By performing more, a person can tame the nerve dragon and the toll becomes less. However, for most people, the dragon never goes away completely.

For me it is like an A or B becomes a D usually and many times an F (crash and burn). But on rare occasion , my B would be a B throughout. This tells me it is all in our heads. We practice enough the piece at home we got to practice mental toughness.
Thus you're right , the dragon will never leave if we keep putting qualifiers beforehand as crutches

Last edited by briansaddleback; 05/10/14 02:17 PM.
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Originally Posted by keystring
I guess that this is expectation management, not due to any weakness on the part of the performer, but maybe a kind of weakness (lack of knowledge) of the audience.


Yes, that was my point exactly. Since the audience may be all sorts including critics (journalists), so by stating his intentions outright, he is telling his audience to expect something different, to try to warn them and to ask them for an open mind. Many critics, no doubt, would still think he's flipped, and it's complete non-sense. I think many more would think that had he not managed expectations, but you can never please everyone.

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at a lesson I am sometimes happily surprised when a hard bit comes off perfectly. posting a warning ahead would ruin that. Errors are just food for growth.
the toughest expectation is my own quest for perfection...so my new mantra is...I'm striving for growth/ improvement


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Originally Posted by Stubbie
At your lesson or when playing for someone else, do you "manage" expectations? Occasionally? Often? Very purposely or is it more or less automatic?


always, lest you be disappointed every time things don't turn out perfectly (which is often).


Originally Posted by Stubbie
By 'manage expectations' I'm thinking of a situation where you "warn" your teacher or audience that something in what you are about to play is not up to where you think (or you think your teacher thinks) it should be, quality-wise. Examples would be, "This is still not up to tempo," or "The trill in measure 18 is still rough."


If you have to apologize in advance, you didn't prepare well enough or you had/have unrealistic expectations. Either way, nobody wants to hear it (the apology - not the playing; put yourself in their shoes). Just play as best you can and make note - or listen to your teacher's/audience's notes - after as to what to improve on and more importantly, how to improve on said items.[/quote]


Originally Posted by Stubbie
Do you manage expectations? How does it psychologically benefit (if it does at all) you or your teacher/audience? Teachers, your thoughts welcome as well.


I neither warn nor apologize for my performances, however I do manage my own expectations because if I didn't, I'd likely feel awful after most performances and not want to continue doing it. Most performances are about sharing what you've been working on - not impressing or showing off (while there is a time and a place for that, it's more with pieces that are extremely polished).

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