Different Kind of Feedback

Last Updated on 2024-02-18 | Originally Posted on 2019-02-20

The Feedback

I received a curiously different kind of feedback after performing a newly-learned piece, the Chopin Scherzo No. 2: “I am glad that you learned that for yourself and that you shared it with us!” It’s not the typical response following a performance. I knew that the comment was well-intended, coming from one of my favorite people. Still, it took a while to sink in what that actually meant.

The Process

While my reasons for wanting to learn new repertoire on the piano and organ are multi-faceted, it’s clear that they are all related to my goal to become better at both. I encourage my students to set and achieve goals, in a way that’s appropriate for their age. If I find a child is shirking responsibility, I try to address their part in the process. One of the many benefits of piano lessons is becoming responsible for one’s work. The piano is just the tool that allows that to happen.

The Culmination

Performance is the natural culmination of music study. If you’ve taken the time to learn a piece, you should consider sharing it with others. Recitals and music festivals are the formal way to do this, but are other ways, too. Performing for family, church, school, or a retirement community are equally valid. Live performance gives you feedback that you can’t get in any other way. Plus, it helps focus and refine your work, since there is a fixed date on the calendar that makes you accountable.

The Reflection

Learning and performing go hand in hand for me. I couldn’t imagine learning and then not performing. I have had some students, particularly adults, who have no interest whatsoever in public performance. That’s okay too. What doesn’t work well is performing without doing the work. I have performed more times than I’d like to admit without being sufficiently prepared.

Building an audience is difficult, and it’s important to do your best. I’m grateful to have the chance to learn new pieces and polish old ones. Practice is a necessary step in the process. However, it feeds into my ultimate goal of performing my work for my audiences and inspiring a new generation of musicians.