“ I can’t believe you’re still playing the piano.”
A fellow music student’s response to meeting another student whose last performance was less than stellar, a lot less than stellar. The assumption was that she would give up her dream of being a high-level pianist after having one bad recital.
Spring is the time of the year when studio recitals are most likely to take place. Most kids will play well or at least well enough. A few won’t, and those are the ones I’m thinking about today.
No matter how we well we think we have prepared students, we can never completely account for what will happen in the moment. Some of that has to do with the age of the student. In my experience, small children generally play confidently because they love repetition. Middle school students are more likely to deal with anxiety or quick flushes of nervousness that they can’t control, even with the tools to do so.
From what I’ve learned from other teachers, when a student plays less well than they are able, the teachers are likely to attempt to console them by telling their own stories of dismal performances. I get this, and I’ve probably done it myself. Maybe it helps, maybe it doesn’t.
I’ve come to making a different choice. Let the students express their experiences, their responses, their mental and emotional states. Let them get it all out. To do anything less is to dismiss how they feel about it and how those feelings may impact future opportunities to play. We know this ourselves, that comparing our own pain to someone with even more pain doesn’t dissolve how we hurt.