Want to know what life is like as an ANAM musician?  In Between the Lines is a blog post written by one of ANAM’s first year students.

Finding a Voice

A few weeks ago, I had a private piano lesson with a visiting artist. These lessons are an excellent opportunity to get some (other expert other than your own teacher) to give you feedback and just mix things up in general. However, I often have mixed feelings about having a lesson with somebody other than my own teacher. I’m not denying that it is good to get different feedback (or even the same from somebody else, in a different, or even similar way!)  but, as I’m finding this year, my progress and learning has been somewhat unusual and atypical across the years.

I got quite a few things out of this piano lesson. One of the biggest points was to not be modest about myself. Which I will tell you, is a little bit hard for me personally. It’s just how I am. I suppose that performing allows one to remake themselves, to put on a persona that may or may not be reality; this then opens another can of worms about own personality, about acting, about bearing your own soul on stage or having a facade. And apparently I’m too nice! I didn’t really see this as a problem, but apparently it might well be. This may be a result of playing with, and for people, for pretty much my entire piano life so far. This, combined with a few other things, shook my confidence in my ability as a musician for about a week. One of my fears is for somebody to tell me that I lack talent, or that I’m unmusical. I know, it’s completely irrational; I don’t think I would have gotten to this point in my life if that were the case, but those sorts of fears sometimes creep about, waiting to pounce at moments of doubt. Which is why sometimes just having your own teacher who already knows your strengths, weaknesses, progress, hurdles and working style is enough to be content with. I have been fortunate in this regard. And it’s not a matter of settling for anything, but to be thankful for what I have.

If these teachers knew that I’d spent most of my time playing repertoire for other instruments or that I didn’t really have a piano lesson per se for two years, would the approach be different? And even if I’m too nice, or still discovering and learning to play the piano.  I’m discovering that time and experiences shape us all in ways that we sometimes have little control over. It’s not much use pondering over the hypotheticals of what could have been if this were different, but I’m enjoying hindsight and being able to attribute certain aspects of my personality to the experiences I’ve had. I’m coming to realise, with the help of teachers, mentors and friends about my capabilities, limits, strengths and weaknesses.  As I move through different stages of life, I’ve stopped caring so much about what everybody thinks, because I know it’s impossible to please everyboday.  I’m pretty sure that my personality is still being developed and forming more distinctly, even at the age of twenty-four!


One thought on “In Between the Lines: Life of an ANAM Musician

  1. I am only an amateur musician, so perhaps my comment does not apply to professional musicians. However, I have found in business generally that successful people often believe that their particular personality traits or character features are essential for everyone else’s success also. Rather, the truth is that we each have to find our own individual way, and what works for one person may not be at all appropriate for another. Your visiting teacher may have told you that you were too nice, because that is what his or her personality required, or the way that he or she developed. If this also works for you, then good. But it may not be for you, and what will certainly NOT work is to try to follow a path which is alien to your own personality, or contrary to the grain of your own character.

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