Adult students come to lessons with a wide range of experience and expectations. In my case, some adult students are professional musicians looking for very specific assistance such as fingering, better tone production strategies, pedagogical advice, among other professional development opportunities; some are striving for Conservatory Associateship Diplomas, and potentially careers in the music industry; some have studied in the past and have returned to their old love; and some have embraced playing piano for the first time. My observations are that all the adults have already acquired a lifetime of experiences and have already established professional/workforce identities.
With all this acquired knowledge and an established self-image comes one potentially crippling phenomena: the fear of publicly displayed, humiliating failure. Can you feel yourself tense simply reading that statement? The consequent knee-jerk, powerful self-preserving, blood pressure raising, terrified response is commonly, “I ONLY play for myself!”
After years of puzzling over how to get past this learning barricade, a recent swan song article by the dying Winnipeg Free Press columnist, Ms. Lindor Reynolds, published on September 11, 2014, entitled “Thanks for letting me into your lives” gave me some valuable insight. In this article, Ms. Reynolds mentioned the success of her final fund-raising efforts in the last months of contemplating the meaning of life. She closed this recollection professing that her reasons were purely selfish stating, “I say an act of selfishness because I did it for me.” Perhaps this is the truth that my adult students need to hear.
Understanding intrinsic rewards are far more powerful than extrinsic has been pivotal to me. The core reason why I have spent decades endeavoring to help students on their musical journeys, to share my music on stage, and encourage even my youngest students to give themselves stickers on the "inside" rather than giving them paper stickers, is because I absolutely love the way it makes me feel and wish for them the same. Accepting with humility that I only play for me too, has made it is easy for me to be on stage, accept imperfections, rejection and learn without limitations. I wish you the same!
Stay tuned for my next BLOG: NO PRACTICING ALLOWED!
© Copyright 2014 by Heidi Peters. All rights reserved. Winnipeg, Canada.