Saturday, October 10, 2020

But HOW do you believe?

A student asked, But how do I believe in my abilities when it seems like all I do is make mistakes? 

What a fantastic opportunity.

He was clearly distressed.

As the instructor, it is my job to hold the light of faith and belief in my student until the student can see it and then carry it himself. 

I have to model it well so that when someone in his orbit has the same struggle he can repeat what I did to great success.

I told my student:

How was it the first time you sat at the piano?

We laughed heartily as we remembered him not even knowing where middle C was. It took four lessons for it to be automatic, for him to not even think about where it is.

I asked him to time travel with me and remember the very first attempt at Fur Elise. E, E flat, E, E flat, E....then what? He plays it beautifully now, but it took time.

Those two questions helped him relax noticeably. He was understanding where I was going with this.

I persisted. 

We discussed what it was like to get his piano home after practicing on his friend's broken down 88-key keyboard for two years while he saved for his Steinway. And we talked about the moment his grand piano came home, and the difference it made in his learning...and the difference it made in his joy.

By the end of the five minute conversation, he had regained his footing.

I helped him see his success by pointing out what he had already done well. 

Since I knew his anxiety was already in full force, I knew that saying things like, "Calm down" would be futile, so I guided the conversation away from the anxiety and toward the thing that would make him feel better, and kept focusing on that and other things until we could actually talk about the errors in the piece.

I reminded him that he was a stellar pianist by giving before and afters, so that he could see his own dedication to the craft and eventually remind himself of that fact.

And finally, we laughed...which always helps relieve tension.

I'm not a miracle worker. 

These things I did to help him are the things I wrote down in Musical Kinetics and adapted for this situation.

And it works. 




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