Today, we’re featuring fabulous blogger and pianist Joy Morin!
Her passion for piano and teaching shines through in her writing and I’m excited to welcome Joy!
Joy runs a piano studio in Ohio and shares her teaching experience on her blog ColorInMyPiano.
Joy also holds a Master of Music degree in piano performance and pedagogy.
Below, Joy shares great tips for performing and teaching piano.
“…my ultimate goal for my students… is to be able to play beautifully and expressively…” — Joy Morin
Dealing with Performance Anxiety
“…the moment I focus on only playing the right notes, I begin doubting myself.”
In a performance situation, it is important to turn off that critical “inner voice” and focus full attention on playing beautifully and musically. When performing, the moment I focus on only playing the right notes, I begin doubting myself.
I’ve learned not to “over-think” and to just trust myself that I know the piece, and instead focus on making the music expressive in order to communicate with my audience.
Mistakes do happen during performances, however, and when they do, it is important to be able to let them go (rather than dwelling) and instead focus on NOW and what is coming up in the music.
To avoid (or, at least, lessen) anxiety in the first place, adequate preparation is essential. For me, this means many performing often. Just as we practice the notes, we must practice performing!
Top 3 Most Important Lessons
“Learning new things is about curiosity, exploration, and experimentation.”
Aside from my ultimate goal for my students, which is to be able to play beautifully and expressively, there are a few other things I want my students to gain from piano lessons:
(1) A love of learning new things.
“I don’t pretend to have all the answers… in fact, when I don’t know the answer to a question, we explore together…”
I love learning new things, and I try to model this with my students every moment I am with them. When I teach students new things, I cannot help but do so with enthusiasm.
Learning new things is about curiosity, exploration, and experimentation.
When teaching, I often use phrases like “I wonder if…” or “What if we tried…” I don’t pretend to have all the answers, however; in fact, when I don’t know the answer to a question, we explore together, on Google or YouTube, in search of the answer.
Having a love of learning extends far beyond the study of music!
“I want my students to delight in sharing ideas with others and gaining new skills and knowledge.”
(2) Discipline and diligence.
As we know, studying music and the piano requires great discipline and diligence on the part of the student. To the student, sometimes it may seem that piano study is just never-ending work. However, we need to help students see that it is about learning how to set and achieve goals.
“…we need to help students see that it is about learning how to set and achieve goals…”
As teachers, it is easy to only be giving criticism (albeit positive criticism) to our students as we help them improve their pieces — but we must identify achievements (no matter how small) also, and teach our students to be able to recognize those achievements too.
Accomplishments and goal-reaching are what will help the student feel rewarded and motivated to continue in their diligence! It is an important lesson to learn: hard work pays off.
(3) Appreciation for music.
It may very well be the case that the majority of my students do not continue playing the piano for the rest of their lives.
However, my hope is that they will always carry with them an appreciation for well-composed and well-performed music.
The Ultimate Must-Have Skill for Pianists
Being able to play musically.
This is necessary for the audience to enjoy and appreciate their music, no matter the venue or genre; it is also necessary for successful collaboration with other musicians, so that the performers are actually making music together (instead of happening to play at the same time!).
On Teaching Piano
“Our goal should always be about getting students to… the point that they can play expressively and communicate something beautiful and unique through their playing.”
The most important thing for piano teachers to remember is our ultimate goal: to teach students how to make music — and not merely to press the right keys at the right time.
Our goal should always be about getting students to get beyond the notes, to the point that they can play expressively and communicate something beautiful and unique through their playing.
Our students are no better than robots if all they can do is play the notes!
Check out Joy’s blog at ColorInMyPiano, dedicated to piano teachers!