Playing if front of others--yikes! : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

I'm 50, I've been playing piano for about 12 years--self-taught through many books. At home, alone I can really play my heart out, but if I try taking lessons or someone asks me to play, I about have a heart attack! I shake like a leaf and draw long 'blanks' in memory, can't see the music....This has always been this way--any suggestions? I would certainly like to share the music with others but possibly being an older learner, I will never have the confidence...

-- Meg J. (, February 06, 2003


If your not taking lessons because of your fears, you should find a teacher. She (or he) will be able to give you some tips about playing in front of others. It's something you will get used to. Taking lesson from a teacher will allow you to play recitals when you feel you are ready, and that will be very good for you. These are some things that I have been taught or learned the hard way about performing.

Choose pieces to play that are easy for you, and that you are comfortable with. It shouldn't be the hardest pieces in your rep, and make sure you know them thoroughly before playing in public. Learn the songs measure for measure. One of my teachers had me learn recital pieces backward, starting with the last measure, then moving to second last, etc. I have to play songs until I'm tired of them before I can play them for others. Repetition is the key. Once you know it, play it a hundred more times.

Try recording yourself. When you listen to the play back, you may find your mistakes are hardly noticeable. I have a little dictaphone recorder a friend had for school. I record myself a lot, I should do it more. It's very helpful. Some digital pianos have built in recorders.

The first few times you play for others you will make mistakes. Don't dwell on it, just stay focused. Hopefully they won't be too noticeable, but even if they are you shouldn't worry about it, just smile and continue. That's why pencils have erasers... I still make mistakes all the time while playing, but I have gotten better about covering.

Before playing take a deep, cleansing breath, and try to be aware of your breathing as you play. Try breathing in rhythmn to your music, especially during any difficult passages. When people get nervous they tend to stop breathing, cutting off oxygen, leading to hyperventilation, panic attacks, etc.

Most importantly, your friends and family will be proud and supportive, not judgemental. Play for them! Enjoy playing for them! Playing in front of people will help you improve really fast.

-- Chris Huff (, February 11, 2003.

Meg: I agree with all of the above suggestions and would just like to add that I will play the piano at any opportunity I have, at a friends house, party, etc. I kind of force myself to start, and then once I start, people have to tell me to QUIT!

Remember also, you don't have to play a piece from start to finish, you can play just the part that you know.

Lastly, One of my personal pet peves is people who really know how to play, but won't because of shyness or whatever. My wife is like that. Don't rob the opportunity from others to hear you make beautiful music. Playing can be very rewarding for others. I think you will find people very supportive, and much less critical than you might think.

Good luck.

-- freddie (, February 11, 2003.

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