The Importance of having a plan

March 8, 2012

Often students always give me a funny look when I tell them that “for the next three months, we’ll be focusing on technique, sight-reading etc.” And then I explain that...

Often students always give me a funny look when I tell them that “for the next three months, we’ll be focusing on technique, sight-reading etc.” And then I explain that it’s part of the one year plan that I have for them. And they often ask, “you have a plan for me, should I be scared?” As you probably noticed, my students and I have a running joke that I enjoy being mean to them! Haha it’s all in good fun, but seriously though – for the amateur musician to the professional musician – it is very important to have a “plan”

What does this mean for the student musician? Should a student be involved in goals? How old should a student become involved? Should it be more about learning their actual instrument or about performance goals? Are performance goals and learning goals the same or different?

Well this is what I think …..
1. Depending on the maturity of the child really affects when a child becomes involved with their goals. Before that, parents and the teacher should have a running conversation regarding this. It is important that a parent doesn’t become a “stage door parent” though but instead open dialogue should happen between the teacher and parent. At the same time, a parent should not be involved in the actual planning of the lesson as it is the teacher’s expertise that is used for the planning. I recently had a parent email me telling she put her child in an exam and how I should go around teaching her daughter to prepare her for the exam – that is not a parent’s job but rather the teacher. Needless to say, I informed the parent that she should perhaps teach her daughter herself. There needs to be a sense of trust between the teacher and parent(s), the parent needs to trust that the teacher will know how to teach his/her child. It makes the teacher’s job very difficult if s/he is dealing with such difficulties.

Once a child is ready for that dialogue, it should be open dialogue between child, parent and teacher. After all mama is paying for lessons, she should know what is going on.

2. My teacher in university, Ron Moir once told me, “a musician can be a great musician but a horrible performer, and a great performer can be a horrible musician.” It is important that both aspects are covered. So in a three, six month plan etc, it should cover how both be will be dealt with it. For most of my musical education, my performance technique was never covered. I really wish performance technique had been dealt with earlier, lol as many tears would have been spared.

This is why many performers suffer so much from stage fright. The very thing that we love to do is our biggest fear. I recently watched an interested documentary how Marilyn Monroe who was famous for being late for performances. It turns out that her stage fright caused it; imagine someone of her  statue being afraid? She would spend hours preparing what she would say, do and how to do it. She would write over and over what she would say, how she would move, look etc. On set, she would hide in her dressing room and wouldn’t leave until she felt ready. In her movie How to marry millionaire, Jane Russell would often have to cox Marilyn from the dressing room. Marilyn never forgot it and the two became life long friends.

Perhaps, if her acting coach had spend less time working on how she walked down stairs (yes, her coach actually slowed production down on a movie because she didn’t like how Marilyn was walking down stairs) and had strategies on how to deal with fear and overcome it – Marilyn would have had one less fear. It is interesting that most people felt that Marilyn was being overdramatic but stage fright is very real and can become a real issue causing even health issues if it is not dealt with. I believe that it is that we separate performance from learning music that cause this problem. If it is taught as a complete whole these issues can be avoided.

Goal Package

Starting in April for the more serious student, Pardalis Music Studio will offering a more detailed opportunity for the student to be aware of where the student is going and how to go around achieving these goals. (only $5 to cover package material)

In this package, we will make clear strategies and how to go around them. The strategies will be based on your goals and inspirations. Remember, if one knows where s/he is going, s/he will get there faster!

And because this is soo funny – enjoy 🙂


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