Facing fear in learning music

Balance is a powerful, yet simple force in our world that often goes unnoticed. It’s incredibly beautiful when observed and it hit me this week when teaching.

I have a retired student that I teach every week – for privacy let’s call him Dan. Dan is 74 years old, has Parkinsons and several other challenging health conditions. Dan is very active for a retired person: hiking, cycling, motor biking and piano. He also takes care of his wife who has her own set of health conditions to battle. The other day I asked myself:

What is piano to Dan?

In lessons we have found a great balance between pressure and fun that cultivates a healthy environment for Dan to grow. He comes to lessons every week and performs in recitals for one amazing reason – it scares him. Just like cycling, motor biking and hiking, Dan uses piano as a way to curate his exposure to fear. His courage to face fear and allow it to be an active ingredient in his daily life is so inspiring to me.

Who is teaching who?

This week I had a young student quit piano, let’s call her Amy. After three lessons Amy decided that she “hates piano”. Her mother says that Amy just wants to play piano, and not have to practice.

Although there are probably several reasons for her feeling the way she does, I often observe fear in her behavior. From her few lessons, I observed that Amy is afraid that she can’t do what she wants if she tries. This usually happens if her first attempt to try something doesn’t go well. Amy doesn’t want to find out if she can or cannot accomplish what she hopes for. Amy is scared.

Could her mother encouraging her to continue piano be perceived as helping her daughter face her fears?

Two people. Two stories. Both people fear the challenges of learning music. One person loves the fear and the other hates it.

I’m still feeling the buzz of life’s masterclass this week on the beauty of balance.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *