My parents are very social people. When I was growing up they had monthly couples’ poker games and dinner clubs. My mom played a weekly Mah Jongg game and my dad was involved with a masonic lodge. Their friends were always coming over and I enjoyed hearing them laugh and talk and loved to taste the candy and crunchy snacks my mother set out for them.
I was a very shy and sensitive young girl. Though I loved playing the piano, I was so embarrassed when my mother asked me to play for her friends. I was convinced that they had no interest in my playing and that my mother was forcing them to sit politely and listen. Most of the time I refused and ran to hide out in my room.
As a parent myself, I later understood that adults do really enjoy hearing kids play, seeing them dance, or share whatever art they study, even when it’s elementary. I regret having disappointed my mother so many times. After all, my parents were paying good money for my lessons; couldn’t I just indulge their requests once in a while?
Now here I am, a piano teacher asking my students to play in front of me for 45 minutes every week! How brave my students are to hold their performance up to my scrutiny. And I further ask them to perform three times per year for other students. Have I turned into my mom? Am I saying, just as she did, “Come, play for my friends! Let me be proud of you!”
Probably so; I AM proud so of my students’ progress. But it’s more than that. Music is so beautiful to listen to at any level. Sharing your music is truly a gift to others. Don’t you love hearing other people play? Really, who cares if you make mistakes? Making yourself vulnerable takes a tremendous amount of courage but I ask you to play in front of others so that eventually it won’t feel so terrifying and embarrassing.
Look for opportunities to play for others, even if it’s just a bit of a piece (the part you know best!) You can just say, “Can I play a little bit of what I’m working on for you?” Your friends and family will love it. Notice their smiles? You have just given them a gift!
With love and music, Gaili