When was the last time you felt embarrassed? 

I recall playing Rachmaninoff’s Polichinelle (google it, it’s not an easy piece!) at an Eisteddfod in my early twenties. I had practiced it a million times and knew it back to front. My teacher was sitting in the audience with a visiting music professor from another university. He later told me this person had leaned over while I was playing and murmured what a good student I was! I don’t say this to boast but to simply highlight a point.

My performance was flawless, I was putting everything I had into it and enjoying myself, even under all the pressure of it being a competition. It’s a very ‘flashy’ piece and I just absolutely loved playing it. Everything was going along just perfectly. THEN, even though I had practiced repeatedly, I finished the entire piece on the wrong notes! To this day, I know exactly what notes I was supposed to finish on and exactly what notes I actually finished on.

I MADE A MISTAKE!!! It sounded awful.

I just wanted that stage to open up and swallow me up there on the spot, I was SO embarrassed. I will never forget that moment. It is embedded in my memory forever, although thankfully I have forgiven myself for not being ‘perfect’.

I often relate this story to my students as a reminder that I only ever expect them to do the very best they can. I tell them that they are human and it is inevitable that we all make mistakes. They know they will not get crucified if they don’t play a particular note or phrase the way some people may expect that they should play it and that they certainly won’t be punished in any way, shape or form.

After that experience I had a burning desire to experience music differently and teach others to enjoy the freedom to play without the pressure to always perform perfectly. The reality is that by removing the expectation, the performance is often exceptional anyway. So ironic.

If you’d like to find out about lessons here at Rhythm and Tunes Piano School, email me at joanne@rhythmandtunes.com.au with your best contact number and I’ll give you a call to discuss some possibilities with you.

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