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After approximately one year of self learning the piano starting from scratch I decided it was time to find a teacher. I am nearly 50 years old, and at a stage were I can play elementary-intermediate pieces decently (I have been posting one new piece per month on my youtube channel).

The problem is that as soon as I sat at the piano with my teacher I could barely play a C major scale without messing up. I had a very hard time playing even pieces that I know how to play by heart and that I can play effortlessly when I am alone at home with my FP30. It was like all my learning during the past 12 months had been forgotten!

I think part of the explanation has to do with the fact that I had never played on a real acoustic piano. The teacher has a beautiful Yamaha grand piano and the mechanic was so different from what I was used to on my digital piano. But the main reason is that I was so freaking nervous about it. Rationally I know I shouldn't be nervous, but nervous I was!

I wonder whether this is a common experience shared by other adult beginners and whether it is something I'll get over it. I guess I'll figure out shortly, but I hope I can overcome it because overall I found the lesson very useful...

Cheers!


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Don't know how common this is, but it was certainly my experience as well. It gets better, but how quickly probably varies for each person.


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Yes, it is very common for adults! Not to worry, you’re normal to want to play well during your lesson. Yes, it will get better as you become accustomed to the grand and to your teacher.

I remind myself frequently of this: ‘lessons are not a performance. You do not need to impress your teacher—/ your teacher is there to help you improve, not to be impressed’.

Repeat to yourself frequently! Another thing that helped me change my mindset from performance to learning is this: I marked all the questions I had from the week’s practice: rhythm, fingering , phrasing — whatever, and asked my teacher if we could start with problems/questions from the week. After we finished those, I had given up the idea of impressing 😺 — too late! give it a try

Hang in there— you are not alone


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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It still happens to me on a regular basis, and I've played for an audience of 2500 people before. It doesn't matter if the audience is one or two people, or hundreds, it is the same. Nervousness and stage-freight takes over, and can be paralyzing.

I think it is as much the "fear" of messing up while playing in front of others, as it is the "reality" of messing up. It does take some getting used to, even though I never get used to it.

I have learned a valuable lesson through it all, though, and that is what I call "the art of recovery". When I mess up, I just smile and keep going like nothing bad ever happened (or something like that smile ).

Keep up the good work, and enjoy the process!

Rick


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Having difficulty with a new piano or playing for a teacher are difficulties experienced my many pianists of all ages including those at an advanced level.

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You're too old to be embarrassed about anything. At 50, death is right around the corner, RELAX. grin

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Hi total_beginner,

I started lessons in September last year and I feel that I can relate a lot to the stress you experienced.

My first lessons were fine: there were no expectations, as we started from scratch. This changed in the third lesson as the expectations grew: I was extremely stressed, even beforehand, and made a lot of mistakes.

I'm sure the level of anxiety varies from person to person. The first thing I play in each (weekly) lesson is usually horrible. I think that the additional stress sets me back a third of my progress for anything I have practiced, compared to playing at home.

Luckily I am seeing some progress: the errors that I make used to throw me off a lot more than they do now. I had to get used to the different feel of the teacher's piano, the volume (digital piano, always quite loud), slight differences in sound, etc. I've grown accustomed to the stressy situation and bad performances even though I still don't feel fully at ease after 29 lessons. It's also not my teacher's fault as he always remained calm.

In short, I want to assure you that you're not alone in experiencing lesson stress wink. Your teacher probably understands. In my case I think warmups would help but there's not really enough time for that, having only 30 minutes for the lesson at our disposal. Maybe it's a possibility for yours?

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To the OP - we feel your panic. It has a name: "performance anxiety".
While there may be somebody, somewhere, who has never suffered from it, I have not yet met that individual.
As a 50+ year old, one assumes that, by now, you have mastered many things, can do them easily, even in a performance situation. Piano, however, is NEW, and you are... a beginner - which is GREAT. you can keep learning, and enjoy doing that, but I have digressed.

Two books I've used and used with my students and recommend:


Good Luck with your studies.


Andrew Kraus, Pianist
Educated Amateur Tuner/Technician
I Make Music that Lifts People Up & Brings Them Together
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It certainly happened with me. And still does. Several times during each and every lesson I want to say, "...but I played this much better at home," but I stop myself from saying it 99.9% of the time. Maybe a small percentage is the piano, but nervousness playing for my (or any) teacher is the bulk of it. It has gotten somewhat better with time, but I don't think it will ever go away completely. I have made my peace with it because I get so much out of my lesson, in spite of messing up royally.

Dogperson's advice to treat lessons not as a performance, but rather as a chance to learn--more like a workshop--is very good advice.

Great that you found the lesson overall useful. Good luck!


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I had the same experience! Even after a couple years of lessons I still will often have something prepped so well then as soon as it's time to show my teacher it falls apart. It does get better with time and becomes even more enjoyable and fun.

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t_b:

The hardest thing to do and the least intuitive in first and early lessons is to relax! We want to do well, so we try very hard to do our best and that leads to tension which leads to mistakes which leads to frustration which ... well, you get the picture. As was so pertinently observed above, a lesson is not a performance, and as soon as we realize that and can adjust to that, lessons do get better.

Do not be discouraged; it has happened to (almost) all of us, and, with a good teacher, it will get better - much better to the point of a lesson being an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Regards,


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As a full-time Pastor, I've been delivering sermons before congregations for over 20 years, I don't get nervous at all doing that. I used to when I first started, but not anymore. However, if I have to play the piano in front of anyone, my hands start sweating and shaking, I can't play pieces that I know very well, it's a total disaster.

Overcoming performance anxiety only comes with time and experience. I might never get to that point since I only started playing the piano a few years ago. That's the reality. I accept it and will keep playing.

God Bless,
David


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Thanks all! The messages are very reassuring, and I really hope that with time I’ll get more comfortable. David G, I have exactly the same experience although in a different field. I am a scientist and have to deliver lectures to hundreds of people on a regular basis. This doesn’t bother me and I am very relaxed when I speak in front of an audience, even though English is not my first language. But ask me to play ‘twinkle twinkle little star’ and I panic :-)


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You're suffering from normal, nearly-universal problems. Don't worry about it.

If "stage fright" during lessons becomes a real problem, consider an anti-anxiety drug, or a beta-blocker. Both of those require a discussion with your doctor. There have been long threads about stage fright in this Forum, and in the "Pianists" forum.


A few suggestions for switching pianos:

At the beginning of your lesson, take a few minutes to get used to the acoustic piano. (Your teacher will understand what you're doing, and why.)

Play some chords, some cadences, some arpeggios, some scales. Vary the dynamics from "pp" to "ff". See how the pedal works, and listen to how it affects the sound.

Don't try for speed --

. . . be conscious of how the keys feel under your fingers,
. . . and of how you strike the keys, affects the sound.

Your teacher's piano will feel very different from yours -- but it will feel the same _every time your play it_. You'll get used to it, after a while.

Your FP30 probably has a shorter sustain time, than an acoustic piano. You must use less pedal, to compensate -- otherwise, your playing sounds muddy on the acoustic.

Your FP30 can't play as loud as an acoustic. So when you go home, adjust the volume to try and match what came out of the acoustic piano, for equal force on the keys.

Most of all:

. . . Have fun!


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I can say I've definitely experienced the same feelings. Seems everyone here is in agreement, it's very normal! That's a relief 😅

I'll say, I've been taking lessons since mid October and definitely experience anxiety and poor performance in my lessons. It normally subsides for me about three quarters of the way into my lessons, or halfway on a good lesson. With that said, I still greatly enjoy my lessons even with the shoddy showmanship. It seems teachers know what they are seeing is not the students actual skill at the piano. I'm think they adjust everything played by at least 15% for beginner students 😉

As for getting used to the new action, it's definitely a switch. I struggle with the same thing on my teachers yamaha grand. It's a gorgeous piano and I hope someday, my playing will do it justice! For now though, I try my best but don't stress too much about it. My teacher understands why I struggle, specially with dynamics at the start of the lesson. My teacher has also heard recordings of my playing done on my digital so she knows I'm more competent than I appear.

I would try not to worry too much, your teacher understands, but I know from personal experience that reassurance has yet to help me. Keep trekking on, enjoy the art of playing and eventually, it won't bother you so much 😊

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I've been taking lessons for about 15 months now so I totally relate. smile All great advice here.

The only thing I'd add is to remember to have fun. I remind myself to lighten up and remember that I'm doing this simply for my enjoyment. And when I stuff up while playing a song in front of my teacher that HONESTLY, I can play without problems at home....I just chuckle.

Hang in there!

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Originally Posted by Emily2Lame
I can say I've definitely experienced the same feelings. Seems everyone here is in agreement, it's very normal! That's a relief 😅

I'll say, I've been taking lessons since mid October and definitely experience anxiety and poor performance in my lessons. It normally subsides for me about three quarters of the way into my lessons, or halfway on a good lesson. With that said, I still greatly enjoy my lessons even with the shoddy showmanship. It seems teachers know what they are seeing is not the students actual skill at the piano. I'm think they adjust everything played by at least 15% for beginner students 😉

As for getting used to the new action, it's definitely a switch. I struggle with the same thing on my teachers yamaha grand. It's a gorgeous piano and I hope someday, my playing will do it justice! For now though, I try my best but don't stress too much about it. My teacher understands why I struggle, specially with dynamics at the start of the lesson. My teacher has also heard recordings of my playing done on my digital so she knows I'm more competent than I appear.

I would try not to worry too much, your teacher understands, but I know from personal experience that reassurance has yet to help me. Keep trekking on, enjoy the art of playing and eventually, it won't bother you so much 😊

It has been my experience that, in the real world, presentation and personality, along with good showmanship skills at the piano, will get you through the performance, in a good way, when playing for a small audience, usually. Of course, your teacher can see right through it, and may discourage it. But in the real world, there is a time and a place for piano showmanship, especially when other skills may be lacking! smile

Rick


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You should think of the lesson room as a safe space where you are totally free to make mistakes. It does get better, but if there is any part of a piece which is not secure it will come out at the lesson for sure.

Getting used to different pianos in the early years is something I went through, but with time and practice will not be a problem.


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100% common, dont worry.

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Originally Posted by earlofmar
[...]Getting used to different pianos in the early years is something I went through, but with time and practice will not be a problem.

Not only is getting used to different pianos something most of us have to go through, it's something we all should go through. As you become more experienced and more comfortable at the piano, there may come a time when you have to perform - or will want to perform - for others. The more pianos you will have experienced (and each has its own personality) the more easily and quickly you will adapt to a new and different instrument.

Regards,


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