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Mind matters: Perspectives

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I am delighted to inaugurate this regular column. As both a musician and a psychologist/psychoanalyst, I have dealt with many varied and complex issues that music performers and teachers of all ages struggle with. This obviously includes stage fright, but it encompasses so much more.


I am sure that all of you have known students like Robin, who was admitted to a prestigious music school but flunked her performance jury. Or Joseph, who majored in music despite the disapproval of his parents and felt guilty about his career choice. Or Ben, who is repeatedly late to his piano lessons. Then there is Alice, who forgets to bring her scores to lessons and also is chronically late paying your fee. John's mother calls you several times a week (often late at night) to ask questions about her son's lack of practicing. Rebecca's mother insists on sitting in on all her lessons and interrupts you when you speak.



After parents and family, you are often the most important person in a student's life.


You, the teachers, are the front line and often the first responders for many young people. Students see you more often and more regularly than they see their family doctor or dentist. You hear their concerns about parents, school, friends, and their fears about performance. After their parents and family, you are often the most important person in a student's life. Your students' lessons may be one of the only times each week that they are in a one-to-one situation with an adult who is providing them with undivided attention. Music teachers are tuned into the mental health of their students as well as teaching them music. This is quite an honor, a huge responsibility, and an important challenge. 

You are well aware that not all the things that go on in the music studio are about music, even though that is why students come to see you each week. You may often wonder if—or how— to talk about some of the topics that come up at lessons. 

Mind Matters will be a column to discuss the importance of how the mind does matter. Mental attitudes are as important as musical aptitudes. What is an effective way to address some of the above issues? When is it appropriate to talk about concerns other than music with your students? When is it not a good idea to discuss personal issues? How much should you address non-musical issues in your studio? What are some signs of teacher burnout and what can be done about it? 

My hope is that "my" column will be a "we" column. Please write to me. Ask questions. Share your experiences. I will respond in this column. Let's dialogue about how teachers are involved in both music lessons and life lessons with their students. 

Please send your comments, questions, and suggestions to mindmatters@claviercompanion. com. I look forward to hearing from you! 



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Making Money, Making Space
Repertoire: Tango! (Pupil Saver)
 

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Piano Magazine is the leading resource for pianists, piano teachers, and piano enthusiasts. We bring you informative, interesting, and inspiring ideas on all aspects of piano teaching, learning, and performing. The official name of Clavier Companion magazine was changed to Piano Magazine in 2019.

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