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From Fear to Confidence


(Didn't we get an amazing venue? Thanks to Welsh Music for the beautifully decorated recital hall)

We had out first student piano recital here in Boise on Friday night. Ten students played songs from Suzuki Book 1 and one student performed the entire Book 1 from beginning to end. I am so excited when a student accomplishes that.

A student goes from not playing piano to being able to sit down and play 20 minutes worth of music without a book - in front of an audience! How amazing is that? Besides the ability to play the piano and the musicianship they learn, what I truly love is the confidence that a student gains through this process.

A student comes with no skill at the piano and immediately at the beginning of lesson one I have them start playing - fairly complicated rhythms with proper technique and form. I show them something and they copy it.

As they get used to being “allowed” to play the piano, touch they keys, and try different things, I then ask them to listen to something and figure it out themselves. It usually starts with, “What is the next note?”

This is when I see different personalities emerge. Some students are terrified to try a note because they are so afraid of being wrong. Some are so used to being “perfect” that the idea of having to guess and take responsibility for that choice that might not be “perfect” is too uncomfortable. Some will choose at random with no thought for whether it is correct or not. Some will systematically ty to figure out what the next note is by process of elimination.

ALL will make mistakes.

And that’s scary.

None of us particularly like to make mistakes.

As they learn that it is okay to make mistakes, that each mistake gets them closer the right note, and that there is no dire consequence for making a mistake, then they gain the confidence to learn. As they become more confident in their ability to learn then they go home and start figuring out songs on their own. They come in to their lesson with pride and show me a “surprise” song that they worked on. And they should be proud, they figured it out themselves.

As Suzuki says, "First foster the heart, then help the child acquire ability. This is indeed nature’s proper way.”

I love to see that process in students. Their hearts change from fear to confidence as they learn through their own efforts and mistakes As their hearts change their ability to play piano increases and improves I feel privileged to be part of that process.


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Boise, ID

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