Playing for the teacher is one of the most nerve wracking things. There is always a feeling of pressure. When children come to lessons, they are displaying a skill that they are developing. Some students are unabashedly expressive; most students withdraw knowing their skill level.
“Did I practice enough?…can she tell?” (Most likely)
“I practiced!….but I might still make some mistakes and she will think I didn’t practice”
“There is this section I totally did not understand….will she get mad at me if I don’t know it this week?”
Overall, these feelings come from a need to impress a mentor. I wanted to be showered with praise, not criticism
Criticism can be hard to swallow for a lot of people. Especially with a never ending journey like piano lessons, it can feel like the (constructive) criticism never ends.
In this case, we need to remember to focus on the journey, not the destination. We can encourage this with our students
Encouragement from teacher and parents is a critical part of piano lessons.
“I think this section has improved drastically! I can see you put a lot of work into making this your own”
“This composition sounds great so far! I think its time to experiment.”
Even when far from the final product, each step is worth acknowledging. After all, the students are learning. There is no need to demand perfection.
What I’ve noticed about some of my students, is that they think I am able to play every piece of music imaginable. More importantly, they think that it requires no effort on my end. Although I wish I could say this was true, it simply is not! What the students do not acknowledge, are the years of lessons I’ve had and the grind of music I still am on. Seeing this, I make an effort to show my students what I am working on. It may be a different difficulty level, but I am going through the same struggles.
The pressure of being evaluated never goes away, but we can teach our students that constructive criticism is a part of growth. We can teach our students to view the lesson experience through a different lens, with teachers as mentors and not judges.