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Lesson nerves
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HatefulPain
Trondheim, Norway
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November 6, 2018 - 7:49 am
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6 years after I got my first violin, I'm finally going to take lessons. Better late than never I suppose. Really excited, but at the same time I'm anxious about it. I've been practicing like crazy, because I don't want my teacher to think that I'm useless. Which is ridiculous coz I'm going to take lessons to learn how to play properly, it's not like he expects me to be a pro.
My mind is in a state of «Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.». In other words I'm worried about anything that can go wrong. Gonna pop a string, all the bow hair's gonna fall out, the shoulder rest is gonna fall down. The bridge too. The pegs are going to fail on me. I won't be able to play a single note in tune, even though I usually have a decent intonation. The list goes on and on. That's only for a lesson, I can't even imagine what it would be like to do a performance. I can't be the only one who's like this right? Does anyone have any tips on how to tackle these kinds of nerves?

'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.

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pchoppin
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November 6, 2018 - 8:23 am
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@HatefulPain 

First if all, congratulations on taking lessons.  This will take your violin playing into a whole new level!  I think you will find you won’t know how you ever got along without lessons.  

Also, you are certainly not alone!   The nerves of going to violin lessons are very common.  I still get them, myself.  

My best friend who plays viola offered me this bit of advise...  you are not going to your lesson to show your teacher how you have perfected any technique, skill, or piece of music.  That is not the purpose of the lesson.  Also, it is not a progress mark.  You aren’t showing your teacher how wonderfully you have learned everything or how far you have come since the last lesson.

The purpose of your violin lesson, and what you pay your teacher for, is to have personal coaching on the areas you need which will help you play better and also to recieve personal training for new skills and techniques.  You will pay a lot for this and a good teacher will help you to improve your skills and playing.  How quickly you learn those skills, techniques, and improved playing is up to you.  

Your teacher will not be critical of your progress at all.  You will be your worst critic and will likely be far more critical of your own playing than your teacher.  At least that’s the way it is for me.  

Try to relax.  Try not to think of your teacher as a judge of your playing.  He isn’t.  He realizes you are trying to learn a very difficult instrument that takes an enormous amount of patience and time.  And his job is to help you learn. 

You can also tell your teacher you are a little nervous.  He will help you to relax and put you at ease.  Have a great lesson!  And keep playing!

- Pete -

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bocaholly
Boca Raton, Florida
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November 6, 2018 - 8:40 am
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@HatefulPain, I can completely identify.

I almost always play a homework assignment less well during a lesson than when I practice. Part of this is because, at home, I've been able to do multiple warm-up run-throughs before the decent sounding attempt and part of this is just nerves. 

When I addressed the "nerves" issue with my teacher, she said that, that's an extremely common feeling. I haven't lost that feeling yet and maybe never will. Some lessons are better than others in that regard. But always, I look back on the lesson when I drive away and smile at the progress I'm making. 

Noticing that progress when I practice the day after an especially nervous lesson is really rewarding ... and a relief!

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HatefulPain
Trondheim, Norway
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November 6, 2018 - 8:46 am
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@pchoppin Thank you very much. It was really helpful tip of advice. I'll keep it in mind.

'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.

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pchoppin
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November 6, 2018 - 8:55 am
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bocaholly said
@HatefulPain, I can completely identify.

I almost always play a homework assignment less well during a lesson than when I practice. Part of this is because, at home, I've been able to do multiple warm-up run-throughs before the decent sounding attempt and part of this is just nerves. 

 

@bocaholly this plagues me!!!!!

I just went through this.  I am working on Greensleeves right now and have been for a month but when I tried playing it for my teacher I choked like I was site reading!

It’s driving me crazy!

- Pete -

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HatefulPain
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November 6, 2018 - 9:02 am
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@bocaholly That's really comforting. The warm-up part is definitely true, when I'm practicing at home I've to use at least 10-20 minutes to get back into playing mode. So I don't think it would be much different from a 30 minute lesson regarding warm-ups. 

'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.

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bocaholly
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@HatefulPain One concrete thing that did help me to loosen up at a few lessons was playing a simple duet with my teacher. She instructed me to just plow through, keeping the rhythm despite mistakes... and despite them, there was a lovely harmony that was a joy to experience.

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HatefulPain
Trondheim, Norway
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November 6, 2018 - 11:40 am
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@bocaholly That's a great idea. I'll ask my teacher. I don't know what type of method he uses for teaching though.

'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.

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Bella86
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November 6, 2018 - 4:22 pm
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I used to get nervous in the beginning, but mostly because it's a stressful situation for me in general with some degree of social anxiety. I assume your teacher know that it'll be your first lesson ever and that you have just begun playing. They won't expect anything from you, other than a good attitude I suppose and will to learn. You go to them so they can teach you to do things right. But I don't think I have much else for advice on how to calm those nerves. 
I've always been very tense, bow always bounced more during lesson than at home. And my teacher kept commenting on my left hand being tense. Around christmas she kept saying I need to have some "glögg" (mulled wine) before my lessons lol. 

You will be nervous your first lessons no matter that, I am sure. But I am also sure that the next one will feel easier. And the more you get to know your teacher, you'll feel better going to lesson. And you SHOULD be making mistakes during lessons, so your teacher can help you with the things you have problems with! If you were  already playing everything perfectly, then why take lessons? 😉

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HatefulPain
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November 6, 2018 - 5:56 pm
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@Bella86 I can relate to the social anxiety part. I've agoraphobia and social phobia, so I'm positive it plays a part in the nerves. Actually the lessons was yet another step in my treatment, because it creates a somewhat safe space for me and it's something that would be regularly. Well, that's the idea at least. If it turns out that way is another question. 

lol, yeah, pretty sure gløgg and mead would be helpful. Although could get too relaxed. I don't think that's good either.

That's true, no point in taking lessons if one plays perfectly. But it's horrifying to make mistakes and be watched when doing something I'm not that good at. 

'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.

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mookje
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November 6, 2018 - 11:07 pm
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You’re definitely not alone with the nerves 😃 Remember that you’re taking lessons to learn and not taking lessons because you played everything already ‘perfect’. Well, easy to say of course 😃 Hopefully the nerves will be less after a few lessons.

Lots of fun with the lessons!!

 Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about dancing in the rain!!

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AndrewH
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November 7, 2018 - 3:05 am
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You're definitely not alone... I played for 16 years and had been principal violist in a community orchestra for three years before going to my first lesson. I played a Brahms sonata in my very first lesson. What had stopped me from trying to start lessons for so many years was the fear that I'd be rejected. When I was a teenager trying to start learning violin, I'd been rejected by several teachers as being too old to start, so I thought for a long time I'd have to at least reach the point of playing Romantic concertos to have any chance of being accepted by any teacher as an adult. By the time I actually started lessons, I realized that plenty of adult beginners were finding teachers, but even then I went in extremely nervous about the possibility of being rejected.

(I ended up only taking lessons for three months because scheduling was a pain with a teacher who rarely had openings outside of weekday business hours and was out of town two weeks of every month. But it did improve my bowing technique immensely.)

But as it turns out, any teacher who will accept an adult student isn't in the business of rejecting people for being not good enough.

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HatefulPain
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November 7, 2018 - 3:58 pm
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@mookje Thank you. I'll keep it in mind. 

 

@AndrewH The fear of rejection can get hefty on a lot of people. I'm glad you got something out of your lessons, even though it was just for a short amount of time.

'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.

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Shane "Chicken" Wang
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November 9, 2018 - 11:15 am
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I played sax for years and the only time I had nerves was when I played in my mother's church. Bar full of drunks, I was fine. It was like I could feel the judgement and those eyes just stared through me. I would rather jump off of a mountain than play in a church again.

Showing up is half the battle, It's usually the hardest part also. I would approach it the same way I would approach a job interview. I work hard to be the best at whatever I do. when I would interview, it wasn't a matter of whether I was good enough for the company, it was a matter of if the company was good enough for me. I would ask a lot more questions of the interviewer than was asked of me. Have confidence.

No need to be nervous, like any other relationship, enjoy the time you spend. You want to be in the presence of your teacher, and your teacher wants you to be there. I trained people to do their jobs, most of the time I was more excited to pass on what I know than the student that I had at the time. I loved having students.

You're going to be fine, better than fine. You're going to have a new kind of excitement, and new avenue to gain knowledge. Good luck.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
November 9, 2018 - 11:58 am
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"Don't worry, be happy."
The best is to find a way to drop your mask. We all have it to some degree.

I used to have trouble playing jazz and blues in front of real jazzers because I had no education in jazz and was so conscientious about what I could and could not achieve vs my position as a professional violinist. When I was able to drop my mask I had a lot more fun, excelled leaps and bounds, and was very well received by other jazz musicians.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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HatefulPain
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November 12, 2018 - 3:09 pm
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Had my first lesson today. Went surprisingly well and he was a down to earth kinda guy. Played a couple of scales with him and some bowing exercises. Even learned the first half of a Norwegian folk song, although I probably need to practice a lot more on that.

'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.

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Fiddlerman
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November 12, 2018 - 3:32 pm
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Congratulations. The first lesson is usually the hardest. 🙂

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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HatefulPain
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November 12, 2018 - 4:15 pm
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I guess you're right about that. Although I'm pretty sure he will demand more from me and push me a little harder later on. But then again, that's what I need to improve. 

'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.

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pchoppin
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November 12, 2018 - 7:36 pm
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A good teacher will go at your pace, but will try to stretch you when he/she feels you are ready to take on a new challenge.  He should explain why he wants you to learn something and what he hopes you will accomplish with the new skill.  

My old teacher was not as challenging for me as I wanted.  I was always asking when can I begin such and such skill, or when will I be ready to play a certain piece of music.  My new teacher is definitely more challenging.  She wants me to learn and go beyond what I even believe I can do.  But she is careful to take things at my pace and not push me to the point of frustration.  

It sounds like you had a good first lesson!  That’s great!!  Keep going!  Practice every day. Listen to your teacher.  Take notes.  Note where you have trouble during your practice and show that to your teacher when you go to your next lesson.  Also note any bowing issues you notice or intonation problems and your teacher can help you with those areas.  Remember, the value in private lessons is personalized coaching where you need to improve.  It’s not just a meeting to show your teacher what you did that week. 

- Pete -

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Fiddlerman
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November 13, 2018 - 11:02 am
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It's one thing to be pushed but I believe that knowing the teacher better makes it easier to allow yourself to be you.... Not be perfect but to just do your best. 🙂

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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