Nervous Nellie

With a Christmas Recital coming up, I've devoted these past two posts to stage fright, performance jitters, etc.  Call them what you will, but nerves are a very real part life!

Hi ‘Piano Parent’,

I can relate to Nellie on so many levels.  If you doubt this is true, check out my last blog post on my own performance anxiety.  It’s completely normal to be nervous before a performance… I’m sure many of the students who will be performing are feeling the same way.

Please encourage ‘Nellie’ to participate despite her anxiety. Know that each time she opts out of something that makes her feel nervous it reinforces her false belief that she can’t do it.

Even though it's hard, we owe this: to help her face her fear.  The more times the "I can't do it" belief is reinforced, the more difficult it will be for her to perform in the future.

Piano recitals are a supportive environment, allowing students to practice working through these feelings of nervousness. Recitals are the perfect place to learn that nerves are okay, that they are a normal part of life, and that it feels really good to conquer them!

It's also the perfect place for her to learn that it's okay to make mistakes.  None of us are perfect.  And, more importantly, she needs to know that her performance does not determine her self-worth.

I believe that children learn so much more than how to play the piano by taking piano lessons. One of the “bonuses” that lessons provide is the chance for children to learn that they have the courage to get up in front of a large group of people.

It is easier to gain this this ability in childhood. By conquering her nerves at a young age, years from now ‘Nellie’ will be a confident adult who believes in herself and who knows she can push herself to achieve… even when it feels difficult.

As a parent, I know how hard it can be to see your child feeling anxious. It’s our first instinct to simply take away the situation that is causing her anxiety so that she feels better.  When we do this, we, at best, have put a 'BandAid' on the problem; we've covered it up, but have not worked on healing it.

However, by encouraging ‘Nellie’ to participate in the recital you are showing her that you believe in her and her abilities. The confidence she stands to gain from proving to herself that she can do this is more valuable than momentarily protecting her from feelings of discomfort.

She is preparing and is working so hard on her piece – I really do hope to see you there.

All the Best,


Adapted from the 4/25/16 Teach Piano Today blog.

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