Tonight I received a call, and I missed it at first. Usually I would not pick up the phone, especially on my day off. But I saw it was a call from a student’s parent, so I called her back. She told me that my student was distressed by not being able to get her practice done properly and therefore became worried and very upset (note: she was a new student transferred to me recently). So I asked to talk to my student directly. I asked her what seemed to be the problem, and I explained to her how she should get her practice done step by step. I also comforted her and told her not to worry too much about not being able to get it perfectly. I reminded her how to practice the song, take each phrase slowly, step by step and work it out. She seemed to calm down a bit and I could feel that she became happy again.
After I hanged up the phone, I began to think, why she was so stressed out about the whole practice matter. In fact, the new song I gave her was quite simple compared to the playing level she was in. I believed she could handle it. But there were other reasons that might hinder her from reaching her full potential yet.
Do you ever have one of those experiences that when you try harder, you fail more? For example, you are in a hurry to leave home, but you cannot find your keys, so you are so desperate to locate them that you just search every single corner yet you still do not see them? Or when you reach the main entrance at your residential building, and you have to key in the passcode, usually you do not even think before you enter it, but today you just try to think about it, and all of a sudden your brain goes blank and you simply cannot recall the passcode at all?
When we have too much doubt about ourselves, we fail to pull through.
I am not asking you to not even doubt yourself at all. In fact, please think regularly what you can do to better your playing. But do not go crazy when you cannot play something right. Be calm and think. What can you do to correct it? To play better? Simply recognize the situation you are in.
Identify the problem. Then figure out a solution. Try out the solution and practice it.
Teresa Wong 黃穎妍
P.S. This was written a couple months ago. Now the student has gained much confidence and improvement in her playing and practice.