Ever play horrible at a lesson?

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Erik Zurcher
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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by Erik Zurcher » Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:03 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.
I have been taking lessons for twenty years and I have not yet played well in front of my teacher. It doesn't get easier, because the pieces I study now are of higher level.
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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by jake39 » Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:49 am

Williams said he felt that he'd never played his best for Segovia so we're all in good company.
Good teachers can tell if you understand the music regardless of the flubs. That's what they're most concerned with.

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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by Sharon Vizcaino » Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:57 am

Ah, yes, this happens to me sometimes. Not nearly as often anymore, but it certainly did in the beginning. It's rare now, since I've been working with my teacher for 3+ years. Though one thing that still happens very often is I'll play something and he'll go "That was good!" and then I proceed to mess up the next few notes :lol:
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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by JeffR709 » Mon Jan 15, 2018 6:57 am

Thanks for all the advice. I am going to start making a habit to use proper sitting and playing techniques instead of just sitting on the sofa and just playing my songs. I will also get to practice early and practice in the hallway for about 10 mins just to warm up. Thanks for all the advice.

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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by fraim » Mon Jan 15, 2018 2:49 pm

i got a new teacher about 1.5yrs ago & felt like a brand new player....it was terrible!
it's only been the last couple of lessons that i've been feeling a bit more relaxed. however, because i'm still a "note player" he gives heavy instruction on being a "musician".
depressing!

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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by Todd Tipton » Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:51 am

Did I ever play horribly at a lesson? Usually...lol

As others have said, this is perfectly normal. In fact, I really try to go out of my way to make students feel comfortable. I expect lots of mistakes. I expect lots of UNEXPECTED mistakes. It is just what happens. As a teacher, I can tell whether something has been worked on enough. As a teacher, I am not expecting nor am I listening for some type of flawless performance. The very habitual language I use reinforces the idea that we are looking at a work in progress. And I go out of my way to show my pleasure with the good things I see happening that has little to do with what is bothering the student.

There can't be any misunderstanding: Perhaps a student can't play as fast because they are tense. Perhaps they don't remember a section they though they knew already. Perhaps a student is forgetting a new fingering. Maybe the student plays lots of wrong notes because they are nervous and do not have the accuracy they have when they are relaxed at home. Hesitation here, stop-and-go there. It is PROBABLY a combination of all of those things! And that is okay!

It takes a long time for a student to truly begin to appreciate just how much repetition it takes to memorize something. It is also surprising to most students how many times something has to be memorized OVER and OVER again before it even BEGINS to be learned. And outside of a perfectly controlled environment, it STILL isn't there!
When you are playing for your teacher, it matters. It is important to you. And because of that, it is basically a performance. But we don't PERFORM new music do we? (God, I HOPE I'm never in that situation!) We don't perform things we are working on, or JUST got down. It is simply unreasonable to expect good performance to come out in this situation.

Once a piece really IS, under your fingers, then can you begin practicing something completely different: performance practice. Your teacher should be able to guide you through this, showing you how to begin developing this skill. It is COMPLETELY different. In a nutshell, we have to spend a consistent amount of our time in the practice chair pretending to perform. We do this so that we can gradually begin learning how to deal with minor errors, nerves, and anything else. It takes a lot of time and specific amount of work to be able to perform for others. In our to succeed, we have to need far less than 100% of our abilities in order to pull it off because almost none of us will EVER play as well for someone else as we do when we are alone in the practice chair.

With the right guidance and work, you will arrive. Then you will finally have the luxury and privilege of reaching another important milestone in your playing. After having your teacher change all the fingerings, "but I could play it at the BEGINNING of my lesson!" :-)
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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by Nick Cutroneo » Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:46 am

As a teacher, I see and hear this problem a lot "I played so much better at home". While I never doubt the success of my students, I think it's important to understand something fundamental, we ALL sound better at home by ourselves. The trick is to learn how to bring what we practice at home to the lesson/performance.

Lets say, for instance, you are working on a piece and you aren't playing it cleanly in your lesson, but you play it much better at home. As a teacher, I would ask a series of questions.

1) How often do you play the piece better? Has it been a handful of times over the course of the week, or is it regularly during your practice each day?
2) How consistent is your performance - does the "good" performance happen every so often, or are you continually playing the piece at a consistent level and improving it?
3) Does the piece sound better at the beginning of your practice or is your "good" performance after you've worked on the piece?

These three questions highlight a majority of the problems students face. If the answer to question 1 is that you've played the piece once or twice really well at a home, what makes you think you'll recreate that in a pressure situation? By definition of a pressure situation you'll have added difficulties. Be honest with yourself, and while you may have played the piece once or twice really well - that doesn't mean you'll do it every time. This is where the answer to question 2 comes in. Teachers who have a certain quality they wish their students to achieve seem to be seen as "strict", but in reality - it's these teachers who understand what it takes to bring something to a high level. If I'm inconsistent with my playing level at home - I know I'll be inconsistent with my performance level. It's that simple. This is where my practice has to be at 100%, I'm looking for perfection. I'm looking for consistent perfection while I play. Yes it's very stressful at times, it can be frustrating at times, but the more secure something is in the practice room the more I can sit back and relax and trust in my practice come performance time. This brings me to the answer to question 3 - often times students will be happy that at the END of their practice session the piece is sounding really good. Well, this is an unrealistic expectation of a performance. You won't have 30 minutes to warm-up on the tricky areas. They need to be ready to go right from the start of your performance. Therefore judge your played not based on how you sound at the end of your practice, but at the beginning. If you mess up a scale passage every time you perform the piece without warming up, that means you need to drill it out more. I don't care that after you practice it it sounds good, what matters is that when the time comes - you miss it. Again, sounds harsh - but that's the reality of performing. You have to rely on the 1st performance, not the 2nd or 3rd. There's no do-over in a performance, so don't treat your practice that way.
Nick Cutroneo - Classical Guitarist, performer/teacher/suzuki instructor

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georgemarousi
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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by georgemarousi » Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:45 am

Nick Cutroneo, thanks for the really great advice !

Just one note:
typically, we are not 100% warmed up before a lesson (mostly due to our other day obligations - time management issues. ) . Though, before a "concert" we are.

What I want to note, is that we cant be at our best at most lessons, and still be able to perform great on a concert where we will be really warmed up - that of course if we know on practice that we are OK at a piece if we are 100% warmed up. ( Well, in theory, as the stress factor increases during a concert, we may still dont be OK haha.. :lol: )
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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Fri Jan 19, 2018 4:12 am

I played my worst at a lesson ever yesterday. Well relative to my expectations.
1.) I'm having surgery tomorrow (minor) and am preoccupied
2.) toilet-or septic tank--backed up into my shower (!) again (!) and refused to drain
3.) roto rooter was due during my lesson
4.) I had very little warm up
5.) I really thought I had Bach's Sarabande from the cello concerto 1007 nailed and memorized
6.) teacher wanted me to play the count strictly
7.) I was agitated from all the above and the trills threw off my count
8.) I had the piece well memorized but now had to go back and count strictly through the measures
9.) my sight reading is weak
10) my teacher sight reads perfectly
11.) etc, etc, disaster

My teacher is actually really patient and great, but this hit on all my insecurities. It just devolved into my being unable to do anything. The thing is, I really liked how I was playing the Sarabande and expected kudos, so my disappointment was even worse. and yes he allows for the Sarabande form being loose, but the assignment was to get the count correct. I thought that I'd moved on to an interpretation, but...it never got off the ground.
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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by Kevin Laake » Sat Jan 20, 2018 12:56 am

I'm glad others feel this way. I often play poorly in front of my teacher when I'm nailing it at home. Usually I attribute it to the fact my lesson is directly after a stressful day at work whereas I practice in the evening when I'm totally relaxed and in the right frame of mind.

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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by lagartija » Sat Jan 20, 2018 1:27 am

Jeffrey Armbruster wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 4:12 am
I played my worst at a lesson ever yesterday. Well relative to my expectations.
1.) I'm having surgery tomorrow (minor) and am....
:|
My sympathies...
I always tell people that the only minor surgery is that which is performed on someone else! ;-)
That alone is enough to throw most people off their best game. Hope all goes well.

Often our expectations are unrealistic and we set the bar higher than we really should. Don’t despair....you will get the timing right eventually. A bad performance at a lesson sometimes holds up the mirror and we really did not like what we saw in our reflection because in the practice room we thought it was all under control...but disappointingly, it was not. Tomorrow is another day. Be kind to yourself for having an off day.
When the sun shines, bask.
__/^^^^^o>
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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by Lawler » Sat Jan 20, 2018 2:43 am

A number of my students send me recordings of pieces being worked on (recordings - audio or video) a day or so before their lesson. Simple recordings made just with their phone. I started doing this with Skype students and it worked well so I suggested it to some of my in-person students and it worked well there also.

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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by Nick Cutroneo » Wed Jan 24, 2018 5:49 am

georgemarousi wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:45 am
Just one note:
typically, we are not 100% warmed up before a lesson (mostly due to our other day obligations - time management issues. ) . Though, before a "concert" we are.

What I want to note, is that we cant be at our best at most lessons, and still be able to perform great on a concert where we will be really warmed up - that of course if we know on practice that we are OK at a piece if we are 100% warmed up. ( Well, in theory, as the stress factor increases during a concert, we may still dont be OK haha.. :lol: )
Throughout college I would schedule my lessons accordingly to "warm-up" ahead of time. And when I speak about warming up, I'm talking about practicing the pieces which I am playing for my lesson. With that said, throughout the week I continually "test" myself based on a performance which is done with 0 warm-up. I play through the piece immediately before I start to work "practice" it. Through this process I come to understand what to expect from my playing without "warming up".

Preparing for a concert, I'll do several full length performances of my concert program "cold". IE - roll out of bed, take my guitar and play through my program. This is a great wake-up call for what you know and what you don't really know. By doing this several times before a concert, you learn what you can truly count on, and what aspect of your playing needs to be reinforced.

At the end of the day, I never rely on "being warmed up" to give my best performance. I train myself based on "worst case" scenarios. "If this goes wrong, I know I'll be ok" sort of things...
Nick Cutroneo - Classical Guitarist, performer/teacher/suzuki instructor

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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by Nick Cutroneo » Wed Jan 24, 2018 5:51 am

Jeffrey Armbruster wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 4:12 am
I thought that I'd moved on to an interpretation
I'll give you a little food for thought: You are never done with counting a piece you are performing.
Nick Cutroneo - Classical Guitarist, performer/teacher/suzuki instructor

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Re: Ever play horrible at a lesson?

Post by tcrist » Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:05 am

Some thoughts....

Warm up for your lesson. Never go in cold.

In your practice, be sure not to repeat one problem too many times in a row. In fact, it is better to practice several different ideas, toggling from one to another, to another. This will help you develop the flexibility needed to play each idea in context. You still get the same number of reps but you also get the flexibility. Search for Robert Bjork's ideas on interleaving.

Relax your mind in your lesson. Breathe deeply with long exhales. Is your teacher relaxing to be around? Is there something your teacher does that makes you stressful?

Tim

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