The main preconception for a student trying to impress others with their playing is that, in their opinion, unless their performance sounds similar to Vladimir Ashkenazy, rattling off Chopin’s Etude in C major (Op. 10, No. 1) at 170 beats per minute, a performance is not impressive to their teacher. This could not be further from the truth; speaking from my own perspective, I would rather listen to one of my beginner students perform a relatively simple rendition of ‘Lightly-row’ with poise and care, than an overly ambitious rendition of any concert etude.
A point to remember is that it is never about how many notes there are, or how fast you play; to be truly musical it is about understanding the connections between the notes and how to play them to evoke a response in your audience. The focus here is the music performed, rather than the performer’s ego and public perception; an important distinction.
To perform requires a tremendous amount of energy and concentration resulting in the activity having its own inherent pressures. It does not matter what type of performance the student is undertaking (for example a public or private recital, a formal lesson, a dinner-party, a lazy Sunday-afternoon with relatives), there will be pressure for the outing as a performer to be successful. As teacher, I try my hardest not to pressure my students, instead focusing on keeping them calm, giving them a host of mental and physical exercises to help. Despite my best efforts, some students still feel pressure; however, this pressure comes directly from within and the need for perfection (a seperate issue for another day).
The need to impress a teacher or audience can be difficult to resist, especially in a performance discipline such as music-making. However, we must try our hardest to remain grounded and realistic. I often remind some students who overstate their music in an attempt to impress, that they need just play it; obviously, after working to understand it. Remember, the elements that make a good performance are strictly rehearsed to a point where the novelty has worn-off, and the content is no longer ‘impressive’ to the performer, and only impressive to the audience, because they cannot do it, or can appreciate the effort required to.
Dylan completed his music training with honours at Colchester Institute, where he studied piano with Australian pianist Lesley Young, and composition with British composer Dr Mark Bellis. While studying, in 2009, Dylan won Colchester Institute’s Canon Jack Award for Solo Piano adjudicated by Andrew Ball. A composer, promoter, and advocate of contemporary classical music, Dylan joined the membership of Colchester New Music in 2014.
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