It Was Better at Home!
I like to joke that I should have a jar in my teaching studio labeled “It was better at home.”
In my fantasy, every time a student utters this phrase, he or she will be required deposit a dollar into the jar, thus propelling me to vast and renewable wealth.
My students find this scenario less hilarious than I do.
And I understand. It can be incredibly frustrating to work and work and work at perfecting a piece or technique, only to have it fall apart in front of the teacher. What’s worse, the students know they CAN do it- so it’s unbelievably maddening when they don’t.
And of course I’ve experienced, and continue to experience, this frustration myself. It is vanishingly rare that I perform to 100% of my capacity in concert. It is always, always better at home.
So what do we do about it?
After I crack my joke, I get down to business:
Accept that it will almost always go better at home (though of course it is possible to improve your ability to perform under pressure- another topic). Accept you are unlikely to perform at 100% of your capability, and are more likely to accomplish, say, 80% of what you set out to accomplish. Don’t waste your energy on frustration.
Grow your 80%
Instead of fretting about not achieving 100% of what you set out to accomplish, take that energy and put it toward growing what 80% looks like. Improving your overall skill level means the 80% you hit next week will look better than 100% you hit today. It’s like supply-side economics for recorder playing (only, you know, it actually works!). Grow the whole pie!
Improve your recovery
It’s not about not making mistakes- because you most likely will. It’s about how quickly you recover. Set aside a portion of your practice time for recovery runs- runs in which you don’t stop when you make an error, but work to right yourself quickly.
Don’t waste your money filling up my jar! You need those dollars to buy more recorders.