Performing

Posts about performing music, recitals, concerts. Topics could cover stage fright, how to have a good recital, etc.

The virtuoso fiddler Richard Greene once gave a workshop at a national strings conference and pointed out that in his opinion it was very important for music teachers to perform. It keeps us in touch with why we love music, puts teaching in perspective, gives us more to offer students, gives students more respect for their teacher, and attracts more students who want to play like you.

Weddings, parties, orchestras and bands, gigs with small ensembles at restaurants, or fully arranged concerts, are all good outlets, requiring varying amounts of publicity and preparation.

It’s great if you have a colleague or a group to play with regularly, because you can be seen as a known quantity, an entity to hire. But even on your own, there are opportunities to pursue–sometimes a student or a student’s spouse wants you to play for their birthday party or wedding. Knowing you, they trust you to arrange for others to play with, depending on the budget.

Handling a Wedding

Weddings are sometimes trickiest to administer, because usually (hopefully) they are a one-time affair,  [···]

Read More

How we think about musical mistakes has a huge impact on how we practice, how we learn, how we perform.

One student told me that when she makes a mistake, it’s like falling off a bicycle. Another said it’s like finding herself down the wrong path in the woods. Still another says it’s like tripping on a tree root while hiking. Or like hitting the wrong floor button in an elevator.

Or is it like dropping tomato sauce on a white sleeve, or dropping the wrong ingredient in a recipe? Maybe it’s like saying the wrong word in the middle of a speech, or like missing a fly you’re trying to swat.

Choosing a response

Each of these possible ways to think of musical mistakes implies a completely different response. It may well be that each of your students thinks of mistakes a very different way and therefore responds differently to them.

Do you want a student to feel derailed by a mistake and have to start over, hoping to get it right the next time? Or should they catch themselves after tripping and keep hiking?

Is a musical mistake sometimes equivalent to having taken the wrong trail, and if so, do we start over, or go back 20 feet, or do we go back to a meaningful fork in the trail and choose the right path?

If we hit the wrong button on the elevator, are we humiliated, get out and wait for another elevator, or do we hit the correct button without thinking twice? Is making a mistake like a stain we can’t clean, or a wrong ingredient that ruins the flavor of a recipe–or is it a mispronounced word that is forgotten as the flow of ideas moves forward?

The Donut or the Hole?

Some students seem so worried about hitting the wrong note or making a bad sound that they sound like they are tiptoeing through the music, afraid of being mugged by a mistake. Since there are always going to be mistakes,  [···]

Read More