Ever play horrible at a lesson?

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JeffR709
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Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by JeffR709 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 4:04 am

Hi,

I started back with classical lessons and my last lesson I just played so bad. I practiced the piece for 2 weeks and played it well at home, but when I got to my lesson I just couldn't play well at all. It was very frustrating. I am working on Study 15...Sor Op31 No 5 and it seemed like it was the first time I played it. I am working on "100 Graded Classical Guitar Studies" since I really like this kind of classical guitar. I took lesssons for a little over 3 years with rock, blues, jazz and then classical. I decided to finally start classical the last 1 1/2 years since I always wanted to learn to read music instead of playing tabs.

I got through about Study 30 in this book before I quit a couple of years ago, but I also didn't practice much reading during the time off. But I just couldn't get my fingers to go to proper positions. I did tell my instructor this time that I want him to be much more precise with my playing this time and I'm in no hurry to finish a piece. It was just very frustrating and kind of embarrassing. I guess I am just venting.

Thanks,

Jeff

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petermc61
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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by petermc61 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:33 am

Not unusual. Different playing for your teacher than yourself. Different chair etc so the guitar probably also sits a bit higher or lower than what you are used to - this can make a difference too.

DCGillrich
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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by DCGillrich » Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:38 am

Hi Jeff

It is quite usual to feel nervous, anxious, etc. when playing under a bit of pressure. I found exactly the same thing, playing for a teacher, and small cadre of other students, online (I belong to an online guitar academy). And many student colleagues experience the same thing. It is simply about learning from the experience and applying strategies to manage how you feel (probably no different to public speaking, etc.). Your teacher will understand this.

There is a great observation by Ben Verdery in ‘Easy Classical Guitar Recital’ on voices that come into your head. It applies to me. Quoting Ben:
Another playground for the voices is anticipating a difficult passage. “Uh-oh, here comes the sixteenth notes. My God, here they come! Can you do it. Help! May day! May day! [...]”’. Ben’s advice is, ‘if you think in terms of hard and easy instead of musical feeling, you will be creating more of an athletic accomplishment than artistic statement’. ‘When the [difficult] passage arrives, you are going to be thinking about … [the artistic statement, dynamics, etc.] … and not how hard it is’.

He also says ‘I […] recommend taking a deep breath every phrase or two, so you have the proper amount of air that will help your fingers move’. A key point he makes is ‘… you can never fail; performing is one of the most life-affirming things you can do. If you choose to, you will learn an enormous amount from each performance.’ Ben has lots of other advice for recitals (essentially the same as playing for your teacher).

Also, there is a great resource by Dr. Noa Kageyama (look him up online). You can subscribe to his newsletter. He has lots to say about performance anxiety and strategies to manage your response (as well as lots of other great information).

Cheers... Richard

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George Crocket
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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by George Crocket » Sat Jan 13, 2018 8:25 am

petermc61 wrote:
Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:33 am
Not unusual. Different playing for your teacher than yourself. Different chair etc so the guitar probably also sits a bit higher or lower than what you are used to - this can make a difference too.
Spot on, Peter. I had only started tuning at my lesson yesterday when my teacher commented on my guitar position being too far from my body. I hadn't adjusted my ergoplay to take account of the different seat! :oops:

And, of course, my solitary playing is of much better quality than I can ever manage for my teacher. :(
George
2010 Stephen Eden spruce/cocobolo classical guitar
2012 Stephen Eden cedar/IRW classical guitar

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muirtan
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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by muirtan » Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:04 am

Last lesson I messed up the start of a piece bigtime. Of course I said it's ok when I practice it a home. Answer "you need to play it as a performance, there's a difference between practice and performance" So I 've started to add a performance element to my playing ie I just go to my music room pick up the guitar and play as if it's in a performance situation. I know I should play in different rooms of the house as well but with 4 cats it means ejecting them from the room for fear of them using my guitar as a scratching post ;)

edcat7
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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by edcat7 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:50 am

Always. This coupled with the fact I'm a night player (I get home after work 12.30 am) and my lesson is in the morning.
Remember Anthony Weller, please help. Contact myself or Aaron Green for details.

JohnB
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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by JohnB » Sat Jan 13, 2018 11:39 am

One thought that might or might not help.

When preparing for a lesson, incorporate "performance" into your routine. That is, playing the piece start to finish without stopping, as though you are performing in front of your teacher (or another audience), maintaining the pulse whatever happens, ignoring any slips but concentrating on the musical line, etc.

I say this because "performing" a piece, even for an imaginary audience, needs a different mind-set to the one we usually have when we play for ourselves.

Also, we all make slips (Bream certainly did in his live recitals) and the important thing is not letting them totally disrupt our playing. I read a pianist saying "mistakes are your friend" when sight reading - there is a grain of truth in that, i.e. learn to accept any slips and maintain the "performance".
Hermanos Conde 1968, Stephen Frith 2007 "Guijoso"

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lagartija
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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by lagartija » Sat Jan 13, 2018 3:48 pm

⬆️ This!

Definitely, one has to practice performance.
It is not the same as regular practice where you stop to work on the hard bit you flubbed first time through.
When the sun shines, bask.
__/^^^^^o>
Classical Guitar forever!

JeffR709
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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by JeffR709 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 4:53 pm

Thanks everyone for replying. I do notice that I do get nervous and want to play it in my lesson as well as I do at home. I have taken lessons for not quite 4 years for my instructor. The funny thing is that he has my kind of personality, in that, we both have the same sense of humor and are just about the same age. So their is really no reason for me to get nervous but I do. Thanks for the hints and I will look up the person mentioned about being nervous with playing. Or maybe I just need a new really expensive guitar. :)

I have also been thinking of using proper sitting techniques when practicing at home and do this at lessons. Even though I really enjoy classical guitar I kind of just sit on the sofa and do all my practicing. I don't sit up straight or put my foot on a stool for proper sitting position so that could be a reason as well. I may want to learn to sit properly when practicing and do the same at lessons. I'm not trying to offer excuses for my playing at lessons but I am not the least bit consistent with my ergonomics of playing.

Do others that use a foot stool or, one of those things you can put on your guitar that rests on your thigh, think they work good. All the classical guitarists I see on you tube seem to always try to have proper sitting position.

jake39
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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by jake39 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:57 pm

I always felt down after playing poorly with my teacher but then I realized it was like getting hit by a car in a hospital parking lot, if it's gonna happen that's the best place.

DCGillrich
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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by DCGillrich » Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:40 pm

Hi Jeff

I think good siting posture and height, hand position, playing ergonomics, and so on, is critical to achieving minimal movement and good playing technique. Each time you practice, you are reinforcing muscle memory. Poor practice will limit your ability to develop beyond a certain level. There are plenty of different views on best posture (different teaching camps and probably teacher preferences), but they aim for the same thing -- good sound, accurate and reliable finger finger placement, and avoiding unintended tension. Using footstools or guitar supports (or combinations) is up to you. Experiment and find what works best. I personally use a footstool and ErgoPlay support interchangeably. You will see some very good, professional players using very different approaches (e.g. Richardo Gallen supports his guitar on his right leg crossed over his left, flamenco style), but that is not the norm and not the point to start from.

Good luck in your progress. Cheers... Richard

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petermc61
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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by petermc61 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:53 pm

You absolutely should find a variant of normal classical position that works for you and sit this way whenever you practice and take lessons. If you don’t I would be stunned that you will ever get consistency.

Robin
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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by Robin » Sun Jan 14, 2018 1:48 pm

Yes!! This is so frustrating as an adult student!

I continue to formally study guitar and am also a teacher of guitar. When I'm in "student" role, I like to arrive at the studio venue early and sit down with my guitar for some pre-lesson warm up time. I usually go through some technical exercises for left and right hand. If there is time, I play through a few of my problem passages and think about what I need help with at this lesson. My warm up area is usually semi-public so if I can work through the anxiety during my pre-lesson warm up time, I'm much better prepared to learn when it's time for my lesson.

At this point in my studies, my instructor expects me to be ready to jump into what I am studying--but only because I have been taught and have learned strategies for dealing with my performance anxiety (which is what our "horrible playing" at lessons boils down to). My first run through of a piece is still often a bit rough but I can usually keep myself on track--not something I've always been able to do. The classical teachers that I've studied with over these 13 years that I've been playing have been quite gracious with me and provided support as I've worked through my performance anxiety.

As a teacher, I find that young kids don't often have this problem but once they hit pre-teen years and into adulthood, they become so much more self conscious. I almost always begin lessons with technical warm up so that we can work through the anxiety, address concerns with positioning and correct right/left hand technique on a more neutral canvas. It is less threatening. Then we begin the work on repertoire selections. Depending on the student and what we are working on, I may give them very clear parameters...such as "could you play the first 4 measures for me?" I work through various sections with them, praise them for their gains, give suggestions to improve and set goals for the next lesson. When all of this is done, THEN I ask them to play the entire piece. They usually end with a smile on their face and hopefully a sense of accomplishment and clear direction of what they need to work on to advance the piece. By taking this approach, I'm also teaching them how to practice at home.

The only time that I ask them to play a piece in performance mode at the beginning of a lesson is if we are nearing a performance date. In this case, I warn them that I am putting pressure on them in preparation for the upcoming performance. I encourage them to do their best, play through their mistakes, work their way out of memory lapses and no matter what, don't stop. They usually do better than they expect!

Robin
So much music, so little time.

MustardTiger
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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by MustardTiger » Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:19 pm

I have been taking lessons for almost a year now and I have not yet played well in front of my teacher. It pisses me off immensely.

JohnB
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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by JohnB » Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:49 pm

MustardTiger wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:19 pm
I have been taking lessons for almost a year now and I have not yet played well in front of my teacher. It pisses me off immensely.
Teachers were once in your situation too - so they know how it feels.

I guess one of the most common things teachers hear their students saying is "I could play this much better when I was at home".

There are lots of tips on how to lessen the problems in this thread.
Hermanos Conde 1968, Stephen Frith 2007 "Guijoso"

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