Mar 3 2009, 11:40 AM
Just thought I'd let you all know what happened in the High Scorers Concert that one of my students was invited to take part in recently.
The concert was last Saturday and I just heard from my student's mum that her daughter didn't play, but sat in the cafe in floods of tears the whole time! Her mum doesn't really know what happened, except that after she'd tried out the piano, she got very nervous and upset and said that she couldn't play. She insisted that her family should still hear the concert, so they took it in turns to stay with her.
Her mum said that by the time they all drove home, she was okay and they were able to joke about it, but of course, I'm feeling concerned.
The girl is 15 years old and, although she is very quiet and shy, she's used to playing in public and has done lots of exams and concerts, both on piano for me and on clarinet, which is her first instrument. This is the first time that she's refused to play.
Her mum is making light of it, but I have to think now about how to approach the subject when she comes for her next lesson. In the past, she has been able to express her feelings to me much better in emails than in person, so I wonder if I should email her before her lesson on Thursday.
Any advice would be most welcome.
Mar 3 2009, 11:50 AM
Oh dear, what a shame. I think I would wait and see what happens at the next lesson first and let the girl tell you about it herself. There will be plenty of time for her to say more in e mails later if she wants to. Eventually you need to work out if this was just a minor blip or whether the girl has reached some sort of crisis point and doesn't want to continue performing. I would think she was probably a bit overwhelmed by the occasion - after all, expectations must have been pretty high. Perhaps you could look out for another performance opportunity fairly soon, so that she has the chance to put this one behind her.
Mar 3 2009, 02:10 PM
I'm not a teacher, but speaking as a Mum I think it might be a good idea to contact your student before the lesson; otherwise she'll be worrying about what to say to you on Thursday, and might even duck out of the lesson if she's embarrassed about it. Try to make it clear that you aren't disappointed by her behaviour, but want to find out what was the problem because her playing is important to you.
It might be nothing to do with the piano at all - at that age it could be that some boy was there who had given her the brush-off, or someone else in the audience whom she couldn't bear to play in front of. (Something like that would explain why she sat in the cafe the whole time and why she's said nothing to her mum.) On the other hand, it might signal the start of a less confident phase in her performing life, which you do need to know about as her teacher.
Without knowing the girl it's hard to say that an e-mail is definitely the right course, but I suspect from what you've said that she might quite like to unburden herself in writing rather than face to face. Go with your gut instinct!
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