Students, Let Us Face Our Fear In Playing

(中文翻譯: 學生們,讓我們一起面對彈奏中的恐懼)

June 11, 2012

Dear Students,

I understand that you have a lot of fear in your playing at times. But, let us face it together.

Indeed, we are always afraid of making mistakes: playing the wrong notes/rhythm, leaving out the accidentals (or “accidentally” adding unnecessary flats/sharps), executing the wrong articulation, going too fast/slow. When we are focusing on our mistakes/even just our fear of making potential mistakes, we already lose our focus. Our focus on playing the correct version, our focus on making beautiful sound and phrases. Our focus on playing and enjoying the music. OUR music.

I cannot say I do not have fear myself. As a matter of fact, I have much to fear in many aspects of life including playing and performing. In the past, I chose to avoid facing it. For instance, I did not want to listen to my recordings. I was afraid that I did not play as well as I thought or I should have. I did not want to face that fact at all. But, that was wrong. If I did not listen to my own playing, how could I realize my problems and change the way I played? Then, how could I improve and learn from my mistakes? Eventually, I made me listen to my own playing and learnt tremendously. It was the first step to big improvement. The same went for fixing my technique. I watched very closely to how poorly my fingers were aligned/coordinated with my hands/arms/body. I realized that it was not working. I knew it was difficult for me to fix the way I had been playing for so many years, yet, for the love of playing the piano and many more years to enjoy it, I HAD to change it. The process was not easy to say the least. However, I understood my problems and improved from there. I had learnt so much from my mistakes, and understood why I was afraid of executing some passages due to which exact misaligned fingers/arms and wrong use of arm muscle sets.

I always tell you to be positive. Some of you have read the books I lent to you on this subject. I ask you to change the way of thinking. To think positive and look forward. To learn a NEW way of thinking and believing. To BELIEVE in yourselves. To BELIEVE that you can also play well. THEN change your techniques, believing that you can do it to begin with. Because, if we believe in good, then we see good, and we work towards it. Yet, if we think we cannot do it, then we do things to actually prove it, resulting in a vicious circle which may never end and repeat itself.

I also must ask you to be PRECISE. Especially in rhythm and in tempo. It is not just longer or shorter. It is how many 32nds in a quarter, or 16ths in a dotted 8th. The rests are vital to the breath of music, and so is the phrasing. Do not blindly play and not care. FACE THE PROBLEMS AND FIX THEM ONE BY ONE.

I must have told you all thousands of times about all these in your lessons. I sometimes wonder if you might never change the way you play, because you do not change the way you think and feel. BUT I always believe you can, ONLY if you also believe in yourself so. I am always looking forward to hear your change. I am just waiting for that moment to come…

Students, PLEASE, work with me. Let us face the fear in our playing together. I cannot do this without you.

Your Teacher,

Teresa Wong

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