Do you sometimes find that you have problems during your lesson that you simply didn’t have at home? "I played it better at home" is a common affliction. What do we need to do develop the capacity to deliver the same level performance under more challenging circumstances then the comfort of our home? To get a handle on this we need to understand the true nature of practice as well as address the difficulty we experience when playing with people watching.
Nonlinear Learning Process
When practicing it feels like each time we practice we are improving, and that the latest repetition is the one that counts. We expect to play the piece the next time with the same quality as that last repetition. However, the result often resembles something like the average of all the repetitions. The learning process is not linear. Practice is not a steady upward progression but rather a winding road with many twists and turns. More practice is needed to develop the level of security required. Employing effective practice methods aids the process of developing security. In this blog, three posts outline practice methods that will help. They are Sectional Piano Practice: Divide and Conquer, Stopping Piano Practice, and Slow Practice: A Pianist's Foundation.
Performance pressure also contributes to the"I played it better at home" affliction. We often feel pressured as we adjust to an instrument that feels and sounds different from our familiar friend at home. Furthermore, during the lesson, we are attempting to demonstrate, as much to ourselves as to our teacher, that our practice has yielded results. This performance pressure makes us nervous. If we are to secure our performance and since we can’t get rid of these nerves, we need to learn to cope with them. The best way to do that is to expose ourselves to more opportunities to play when we are nervous. Take advantage of performance opportunities to accumulate experience playing under pressure. Play for other students or participate in performance classes and studio recitals. Over time we gain control as we grow both technically and musically.