PERFORMANCE IN THE FACE OF PUSH-BACK
Updated: Jun 4
Joe, my neighbor-piano mentor friend pictured here before he played my Duchess, loves to prepare for months for his student recital every six months. I have attended one, and he was awesome in technique, accuracy, and musicality!
But participating in student recitals or playing for more than one or three friends at home has never held, and does not presently hold, any interest for me. I've puzzled about whether that is due to an uncontrolled terror of being humiliated in public, or has it some other basis?
Recently I explained to a local university music department professor, one of my basic needs for a new in-person local piano teacher I am now seeking, namely, that I do not wish to participate in a student recital since I am not on a "performance" track and have no interest in doing so. The professor responded, pushing back and suggesting that I reconsider the many benefits of preparing for and giving a public performance. In addition, a former piano teacher knew my position on recitals stated at the outset of lessons, yet some months later, asked me again to participate.
I understand that getting ready to perform can motivate very dedicated practice with a clear goal and timeline in mind. But I'm already highly motivated and practice for hours six days a week; I don't need additional motivation to bear down. And since I don't want to perform but only "share" my music from time to time, I don't need to rehearse the special skills it takes to get up on a concert stage and perform.
In view of my clear statement to both individuals on not reciting, their push back raised a feeling of resentment. Why could neither teacher honor my request? And why did I resent it when they persisted?
Almost two years into lessons and having done a lot of reading, YouTube research, Alexander Technique training, talk therapy, and specific zoom training on how to control and avoid nerves and distraction, I'm now well armed with a new "growth oriented" mindset. That mindset means that today's "failure" to implement some element of pianism does not mean I cannot do or learn it with more time, effort, and proper strategies. Plus, I'm in this for the long run and don't intend on giving up playing or months of lessons at a time until I need a break to consolidate what I've learned and attend to pressing chores (or vacations!).
Thus, today I'm in a calm mood and generally love to present the pieces I'm working on to friend who might drop by, or a few we have gathered for a dinner party in our home.
Failure or mistakes, while not comfortable,
represents only a challenge
and not an immutable inability.
I simply don't want or need to improve in public presentations. If that happens along my way, that is like icing on the cake. My cake remains my ability to get on the outside with my Duchess, what I hear and feel on the inside, and do so in a "credible" and "in the ballpark" way. Armed with my new growth mindset and recent learning about performance, I'm certain I could perform in public just fine with a bit more practice. However, I want to spend my time, money, and energy learning how to credibly execute the myriad challenging elements of pianism. After almost two years of lessons, I'm happy to report that I am finally seeing and feeling some traction and progress in that challenging endeavor, and I'm hopeful for future progress as well!
But why did I resent it when both individuals persisted in suggesting I participate in a recital?
It's because women's voices have been ignored historically, and continue to be ignored by other than most women who observe the same thing and by a few men who are alert to this fact in womens' daily lives and who do their best to stop it from happening, as well as promote women's voices.
If I am truly being listened to and heard, when I state something I desire or observe, it irritates me when my voice is not respected or honored by the listener, mentor, or teacher. I need my voice to be heard (not necessarily agreed with!), and that is one reason that I write and publish blogs and poetry. Especially as I age my voice is ignored and thus, older women face a double whammy of being ignored when men do not.
I'm now completely comfortable in being very clear with any prospective new teacher, as to my basic needs as a student. Those may or may not be "normal" but they are my needs. I'm certain that in time I will find the right group or individual with whom to continue my piano studies.
In the meantime I enrolled in Julliard professor and psychologist Noa Kageyama's March and on-going weekly practice Lab following up his fabulous and fun Psych Essentials class. I know that will provide a safe environment where my voice will be heard and respected along with the voices of other peer-group students.
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