When was the last time an email popped into your inbox that made you think “Hmmmm… how on earth should I reply to that?” Do you sometimes wish there was a place you could go to find a great response to the most common questions asked by piano parents?
Well, we’re here to help!
Today we’re going to address a common question that hits piano teachers’ email inboxes this time of year. If your recital is upcoming, be prepared to hit copy and paste on our response.
The “Too Nervous To Perform At The Recital” Email.
“Hi Andrea… Sarah’s really getting worked up about the recital tomorrow. I don’t know if she’s going to play. She’s really anxious and I think we might just sit this one out.”
While there are certainly students who suffer from extreme anxiety (and for whom this blog post does not apply), more often than not this message usually comes from the parent of a child who is very capable of performing in front of an audience (but doesn’t know it yet) and who could really benefit from the confidence boost that a successful performance provides.
So what can you say to let your students’ parents know that this experience is valuable and very “worth it” for them to give their child the nudge she needs?
Here’s how I respond to this email:
Thank you so much for letting me know how Sarah is feeling. It’s completely normal to be nervous before a performance… I’m sure many of the students who will be performing tomorrow are feeling the same way.
I do think it would be very beneficial for you to encourage Sarah to participate despite her anxiety. Each time she opts out of something that makes her feel nervous it reinforces her false belief that she can’t do it. The more times this belief is reinforced, the more difficult it will be for her to perform in the future.
Piano recitals are a supportive environment, allowing students to practice working through these feelings of nervousness. Recitals are the perfect place to learn that nerves are okay, that they are a normal part of life, and that it feels really good to conquer them!
I believe that children learn so much more than how to play the piano by taking piano lessons. One of the “bonuses” that lessons provide is the chance for children to learn that they have the courage to get up in front of a large group of people. It is easier to gain this this ability in childhood. By conquering her nerves at a young age, years from now Sarah will be a confident adult who believes in herself and who knows she can push herself to achieve… even when it feels difficult.
Believe me, I know how hard it can be to be a parent and and to see your child feeling anxious. It’s our first instinct to simply take away the situation that is causing her concern so that she feels better. However, by encouraging Sarah to participate in our recital you are showing her that you believe in her and her abilities. The confidence she stands to gain from proving to herself that she can do this is more valuable than momentarily protecting her from feelings of discomfort.
She is so prepared and has worked so hard on her pieces – I really do hope to see you there.
Let me know what she decides,
How Do YOU Respond?
This is my response, but we’d love for you to add to the letter! How would YOU respond to this email? Share in the comments below.