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I love playing and I desperately want to improve. I figured, with advice, that the only way to do this is with a piano teacher. So I searched and found one that seems good. My first lesson is tomorrow and now I am unhappy! I am so afraid it's going to take all the joy out of it. I don't want to play pieces I hate. Another thing is that I have terrible, terrible performance anxiety. If anyone is listening I make so many mistakes. I've tried recording myself to improve, but even knowing I'm recording makes me mess up. I sat down to play today, with tomorrow's piano lesson in mind and I was messing up fairly easy pieces I know well. Does anyone else have experience with this? Does it just get better over time with more experience playing in front of others? I'm really regretting pursuing lessons now.

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I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t screw up in front of the teacher. Mine swears she’s going to get a sign up on the wall that says “I played it better at home “ because we all say the same thing. So just accept that that’s the way it is, and go to your lesson.

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My suggestion would be for you to discuss this with your teacher tomorrow .... FIRST THING.

You need to get this completely out in the open with your teacher.

Armed with that knowledge, your teacher may be able to handle things in a way that minimizes the chances that you will completely collapse .... unable to play anything.

You probably need a number of sessions where this issue is kept in the forefront of considerations as you play.

Laugh about it .... Cry about it .... but do not quit because of it. You can overcome it .... but you have to get it out in the open and absolutely do not quit because of it. Do not let this rule your life and your enjoyment of the piano.

Remember why you are taking lessons.

You need help. So, let the teacher help you and work with you through this.

You are not taking lessons to show the teacher how good you are.

You are demonstrating that you need help.

Do that.

Good Luck


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As above, your teacher should be able to help. If s/he is not sympathetic then look elsewhere.

Try playing for someone else before the lesson — even if it’s just scales and arpeggios. Every little bit helps build confidence.

Also try mental imagery: play alone but image a small group of people listening.

It all gets better with experience.

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In a way, performing all your usual glitches in front of your teacher is precisely what both of you want to happen! The teacher's job is to notice all of the problems you're having and to devise solutions for them (which, alas, do occasionally include less-than-fun pieces which address your exact problem).

Perhaps you could think of it as going to the piano-players' doctor to diagnose and treat your playing issues?


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Relax and remember your teacher, if he or she is worth a fig, is not there to judge you, but to help you. I always start off my lessons with sight reading and the explicit proviso that mistakes are normal and to be expected. You might also ask you teacher how he/she handles performance anxiety. You can be sure they have dealt with the issue, too.
Relax, have fun, and concentrate on learning.


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You found a piano teacher . You haven’t had the first lesson yet. Don’t overthink things- - if it doesn’t work out you can stop- try and enjoy it

Last edited by Wayne2467; 08/18/21 05:25 PM.
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I do agree with all of the posters above, and I will add - remember that you are a paying customer of your teacher. Unless someone is doing you a real favor, piano lessons aren't cheap! I think of hiring a piano teacher like hiring a professional trainer at a gym. Of course you aren't a perfect musician, otherwise you wouldn't be hiring a teacher. And of course you want to improve and hear that result in your playing and your level of satisfaction. It's a partnership, getting to know your teacher and expressing what you want to learn.

You may end up practicing some music or doing some learning exercises that aren't your favorites, but I have encountered teachers who are willing to teach using many different styles of music. Worthwhile teaching materials seem to contain a good variety so that students are ultimately well rounded. I hope you'll be pleasantly surprised and find music new to you that you really enjoy.

Good luck, and keep us posted!
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You’re not performing for your teacher, he or she is there to help you, not to judge you. You probably wouldn’t have performance anxiety if you were learning chemistry or something, so try and think of it in the same way. That’s what I did and it totally changed my view of lessons.


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Originally Posted by Csj24
... and I was messing up fairly easy pieces I know well.

Everybody wants to be admired. But, you're not paying a teacher to listen to your perfect performance and then praise you for being such a good pianist. You want to show her where you are at, and what your problems are. She will find solutions.

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Thanks, everyone! I feel a little better. Even though I technically know I'm hiring her to help me because I'm not great, it's just human nature not to want to fail miserably in front of others. But maybe I'm borrowing trouble and it won't be as bad as I think. 😊

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Definitely need to think about efficient practice. I watched a short presentation by a professional pianist recently. He said that he used to think practicing 6h/day is necessary to maintain a high level of playing. Once he was travelling without a piano for a while and started relying on visualization more.

Stay focus and think about how you'd perform the piece. Start with slow practice and get all the notes right before speeding up. Stay positive, practice well and stay focus.

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Originally Posted by Csj24
My first lesson is tomorrow and now I am unhappy! I am so afraid it's going to take all the joy out of it. I don't want to play pieces I hate.
There are always plenty of alternatives in classical. (In other genres, you'll be a lot more limited, unless your teacher is going to make bespoke arrangements of familiar stuff for you.)

For instance, if Baroque (Bach & Scarlatti) isn't your cup of tea, Haydn, Mozart and early Beethoven does the job for developing finger independence & agility in both hands. Though of course, you do have to accept that (for instance) if you want to develop finger agility, you'll need to play stuff that has runs in both hands, not Gymnopedie and Gnossienne, which aren't much different to the hymns you enjoy playing. There will always be an element of 'challenge' when you're learning stuff that is different from your usual level of comfort.

I remember there is one (fairly advanced) adult restarter in PW who got a teacher, and was given pieces to develop the skills she was lacking in, and even though she didn't always get on with all of them, she benefitted from learning them to such an extent that she is now a semi-pro.



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Another thing is that I have terrible, terrible performance anxiety. If anyone is listening I make so many mistakes. I've tried recording myself to improve, but even knowing I'm recording makes me mess up. I sat down to play today, with tomorrow's piano lesson in mind and I was messing up fairly easy pieces I know well. Does anyone else have experience with this? Does it just get better over time with more experience playing in front of others? I'm really regretting pursuing lessons now.
You've probably had your first lesson by now, and enjoying it, and realising that you're not performing for your teacher, but learning from her whistle. Don't try to impress her - let her know what you're bad at and want to improve on.....and also let her find out weaknesses that you might not know you have.

Experienced teachers - like examiners - know the difference between anxiety and incompetence. (I don't remember any piano exam I did in which I didn't make any mistakes - my hands and feet often visibly shook.....and I did a lot of piano exams. But not one examiner mark me down for them.) Apropos of which, I remember hearing Murray Perahia's winning performance in the Leeds of a Chopin concerto, in which he flubbed in the slow movement, hardly the place where any pro pianist would play wrong notes if it wasn't for performance anxiety. Yet he won.....

And yes, performance anxiety does get better the more you play in front of others. The first time I played in front of an audience (of about 40), I hid behind a desk on the side of the piano with piles of music scores on top, so that the audience wouldn't see my shaking hands when I was playing (- I was doing a lecture-recital) grin. Though I never lost my performance anxiety even after a decade of performing regularly (without hiding behind anything: just me and the lean, mean grand), I've learnt how to deal with it. After all, if Liszt could turn wrong notes into right ones, so could I....... wink


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Originally Posted by ebonyk
You’re not performing for your teacher, he or she is there to help you, not to judge you. You probably wouldn’t have performance anxiety if you were learning chemistry or something, so try and think of it in the same way. That’s what I did and it totally changed my view of lessons.
Yes, but students typically want to please the teacher.

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Csj24, I think that we would all very much like to know how you liked your first lesson. Please tell us. cool


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All my fears went away after my first public playing experience, with about 40 people around, some of them unknown to me but lots from my family and friends who didn't know I played. And I can assure you I am in no way a good player. But having the desire to play and express joy was the key to free my fingers and let them fly over the keys. An indelible experience for me.

Now, playing with only my teacher around is a breeze!


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Remember that your teacher has attended zillions of lessons as a student.


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Your situation is shared by most of us as the thread clearly shows. Yes, you are not there to be judged but to be helped, having said that how do you get there?

A simple suggestion: prepare a list of issues you are running into , problematic passages etc and start your lesson by asking those. That should turn the lesson into them right mind set, so to speak, from the start.

I can say it did work for me

enjoy

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Originally Posted by marklings
Your situation is shared by most of us as the thread clearly shows. Yes, you are not there to be judged but to be helped, having said that how do you get there?

A simple suggestion: prepare a list of issues you are running into , problematic passages etc and start your lesson by asking those. That should turn the lesson into them right mind set, so to speak, from the start.

I can say it did work for me

enjoy

M.


I use the same process: I start with all my questions and problems so that I view the lesson as a ‘lesson’ rather than a performance.


"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
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by ebonyk
You’re not performing for your teacher, he or she is there to help you, not to judge you. You probably wouldn’t have performance anxiety if you were learning chemistry or something, so try and think of it in the same way. That’s what I did and it totally changed my view of lessons.
Yes, but students typically want to please the teacher.
That's the problem, LOL.


Lisa
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"I tell my piano the things I used to tell you." - Frederic Chopin
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