Jan/Feb 2018 Variations: A nickel for every mistake

nickels
Seven-year-old Serena's mother describes her daughter's first piano practice of every week. "We always have tears! If she makes even one mistake, she is ready to give up. She expects herself to be able to the play the piece perfectly the first time. No matter what I say, she gets upset. Eventually, she turns her frustration on me, which means she e...
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Jan/Feb 2018 Mind Matters: Stage fright and symptoms: cause or effect?

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When you think about your stage fright, what are two or three fears or anxieties that come into your mind? When musicians contact me about this painful problem, I typically hear two prominent complaints among many others. These are anxiety about having (1) memory slips and (2) technical failures. As we talk about these anxieties other topics evolve...
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DIGITAL-ONLY CONTENT: Runner-up essay from the 2017 Clavier Companion Collegiate Writing Contest - Clara Boyett

collegiate-competition-runner-up
In the Spring of 2017, Clavier Companion sponsored its ninth annual Collegiate Writing Contest, inviting college students from around the world to submit 1,500 word essays on a pedagogical topic of their choice. We extend our sincere thanks to professors Gail Berenson, Pamela Pike, and Suzanne Schons for serving as adjudicators for this y...
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DIGITAL-ONLY CONTENT: Runner-up essay from the 2017 Clavier Companion Collegiate Writing Contest - Yee Wing Chan

collegiate-competition-runner-up
In the Spring of 2017, Clavier Companion sponsored its ninth annual Collegiate Writing Contest, inviting college students from around the world to submit 1,500 word essays on a pedagogical topic of their choice. We extend our sincere thanks to professors Gail Berenson, Pamela Pike, and Suzanne Schons for serving as adjudicators for this year's...
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Mind Matters: Thinking about thinking

What do you think about when you think about performing? Take a few minutes before reading further and make a short list. Below, I have listed some frequent responses about performance that I have heard from teachers and students:• I am afraid I will make mistakes.• I will feel embarrassed if my performance does not go perfectly.• I freak out about...
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The Alexander Technique as a "means whereby"

In the summer 2015 issue, Clavier Companion published an article that was dedicated to the Feldenkrais method, and in a little box at the end of the article the Alexander Technique was mentioned. Knowing Feldenkrais (1904-1984) was actually a pupil of Alexander (1869-1955), I thought the Alexander Technique also deserved an article. Frederick Matth...
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Mind Matters: Stage fright on my mind

Stage fright is on my mind for various reasons. I have spent my entire life dealing with it since my first memory slip at age six, and it has continued to arise in my career as a performer and subsequently as a psychotherapist. Stage fright is not a topic that is easily discussed or admitted, because shame is an embarrassing component of this anxie...
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Recent research: July/August 2017

Musicians react faster A new study suggests that professional musicians react more quickly than non-musicians when exposed to audio, tactile, and a combination of audio-tactile stimulations. According to researchers at the Université de Montréal, "These results suggest for the first time that long-term musical training reduces simple non-musical au...
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Perfectly managing imperfection

Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. ---Vaclav Havel I am listening to seventeen-year-old Olivia play her college audition pieces: a Chopin Ballade and a Bach Prelude and Fugue. I am not her teacher; Olivia has an outstanding mentor at a renowned ...
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How to dismiss a student with kindness

A studio full of hard-working and well-mannered students is every piano teacher's dream. But few teachers actually have the opportunity to live this dream for their entire careers. The truth is that most teachers have at least one student that they do not enjoy teaching. It might be due to a communication problem, a mismatched energy issue, a behav...
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Music enhances our quality of life

I doubt that any musician (and many non-musicians) reading this article would argue that the survival of music and art is critical to our nation's well-being. The final words in the previous sentence are the title of an article I wrote in 2008 and just rediscovered when going through some files in my office.1  In writing an opinion p...
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Immersion

My bookbag struck the floor with a thud as I closed the door to my house. I made my way over to the piano and slumped down on the piano bench. Another exhausting day of tests had drained my energy, yet again. Practicing piano would be strenuously difficult for me, if not impossible. After running through my scales, I sighed and opened up a pie...
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Perspectives: Managing performance anxiety

brain
Mastering the inner game: Three "mind coaches" onmanaging performance anxiety by Ali Snow  Don't be nervous! You'll do fine!" "Take a few deep breaths and it'll all be OK." "Here, eat this banana. It'll help your nerves." "Just picture the audience in their underwear!" "You should put yourself in a lot of pressure-filled situations and soon yo...
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Musical News and Notes: January/February 2017

Benjamin Grosvenor awarded new Philharmonic prize Benjamin Grosvenor is the first recipient of the Ronnie and Lawrence Ackman Classical Piano Prize, the newest prize awarded by the New York Philharmonic. In October, a confidential panel of musicians selected Grosvenor, 24, as the inaugural recipient. The award includes a ca...
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Appreciation

I recently had the pleasure of hosting ten high-school girls from Kenya. This was their first trip to the United States, and the girls have been part of an online music teaching program at The University of Georgia, where I teach. These girls were very excited to see the U.S. and to try many new experiences. The visit was a grand success, and I'm s...
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Are you a workaholic? Seven ways piano teachers can fight this damaging behavior

workaholic
Authors note: They say it "takes one to know one," and I humbly submit this as someone who struggles with working too much, simply because I love what I do! I hope these thoughts and tips help you as much as they have helped me. Workaholism is rampant in western culture, and, unfortunately, piano teachers are not immune. A significant study involvi...
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Mind Matters: Retirement

retirement
Imagine this: for many years you and your students have created many personal memories and memorable musical moments. You have contributed to your profession and felt emotionally enriched and, sometimes, financially rewarded. You have established a home, found a satisfying personal and family life, and planted roots in your community. You have atte...
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Why do you play the piano?

For years, I have written about and counseled many people regarding their performance anxiety. I have lectured on the topics of symptoms and symptom reduction, as well as deeper psychological issues that fuel stage fright. I have heard numerous comments about "wanting to play perfectly," "wanting the audience to like me," and "not letting...
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What are they thinking? The key to your students’ best performances

The lights are dimmed and a hush comes over the crowd. The atmosphere is charged as your student takes the stage for her recital. She is well prepared and ready for this moment, but there are no guarantees. More than anything else, what happens next hinges on the thinking habits she has acquired during her practice sessions. The key to pianists' be...
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When students quit

I quit piano twice. During my last year of high school, I left my long-time teacher a handwritten note in an envelope on her desk. In it I detailed the reasons I was "quitting piano." I no longer remember what those reasons were, but I suspect they were related to feeling I had let her down by losing a then-recent contest. I don't remember that she...
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Piano Magazine is the leading resource for pianists, piano teachers, and piano enthusiasts. We bring you informative, interesting, and inspiring ideas on all aspects of piano teaching, learning, and performing. The official name of Clavier Companion magazine was changed to Piano Magazine in 2019.

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