• Michael

On Recording vs. Performing

Updated: Jul 20

Why I record myself at the piano, and why I record my students, too.

Thanks to COVID-19, we -- and by "we", I mean literally everyone on the globe -- has had to adapt, innovate, and find new ways to engage in old practices.

This has been both good and bad for music teachers. In a negative sense, we can all (correctly) assume that teaching via zoom presents its challenges; we aren't able to duet with our students; we aren't able to physically correct their form; we aren't able to demonstrate for them when they aren't quite understanding a concept. I could go on.

Still, there have been positives. The idea for the TML "Sonata Society" was birthed from my use of Zoom; I have found that teaching music theory via the whiteboard feature of Zoom is highly effective and somehow MORE engaging for students.

Most significantly, though, is the discovery that making live recordings of kids playing their music is an EXCELLENT way to simulate live performance, and therefore, to practice overcoming stage fright in real time.

In Tacoma, as well as all locales all across the world, music lessons have been hit hard. The process by which kids NORMALLY learn to overcome their fear of performing for others --- namely, performing for others on a routine basis --- has been totally eliminated. Because we can't gather, we can't perform.

How to overcome this hurdle? As any musician knows, turning on the microphone to record creates a similar type of anxiety as does performing on a stage for a live audience. Maybe more, in my case; my mistakes are immortalized on a recording, whereas in person, the audience will forget five minutes after they pass.

Honestly, this is awesome. This means that I can approximate the experience of live playing for my students simply by telling them that I'm recording.

The only way to get good at something is to practice.

Just as we improve our skills at the piano through practice, we improve our PERFORMANCE skills by.... practicing PERFORMING.

Honestly, it terrifies my students. Any time I turn the mic on, their playing devolves by about 40% as their attention is now split between the music and their awareness that they are being "watched", or in this case, "listened to".

COVID sucks, but this has been a silver lining <3

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