February 2014

Make Your Personality Your Greatest Strength!

February 25, 2014 05:06

I just spent a wonderful week giving masterclasses and guest chamber music coachings at a festival in Western Canada, and this theme came up in various ways time and time again. People often have more to say and to give, or almost always more ability than they think they do. Yet, for many reasons, they don’t give all that they can. Sometimes, parents or teachers can create obstacles by thinking that they can change who someone is, rather then help them use their personality and learning process to achieve the goal that they seek, though the path may be different than the one that they, as individuals, might take.

However, your personality can be your greatest strength if you learn to work with it and make the most of it. I find that when we teach, it is important to help the student make the most of their personality and to help them learn within this context and remove the barriers that inhibit them. For example, someone who is very visual may have difficulty and need more symbols and to write more in their parts to orient their learning process. Someone who is kinetic may need physical cues and perceptions such as a physical limit for fingers or arm in a lesson to feel where they need to be. A person who is aural may need good demonstrations that they can hear from the person teaching, or have their attention oriented to things in the piano part. If someone is enthusiastic but a little flighty, it is to find a way to channel their energy and concentrate it. Someone who is shy and feel like they have much to say but no one listens to them in life, can be helped to channel all that energy into their performance where everyone has to listen to what they say with the music until the music ends. And etc., etc..

I witnessed some incredible transformations not only technically by simplifying things or letting go of fears, but mostly musically by making them free their personalities and use it as a strength rather than see it as a weakness.

So, as we learn and play, we have to help ourselves, or our students by giving us all that we can to work with who we are. And then, it is to allow ourselves to give all that our unique personality has to give. I think that there are too many rules of what learning is supposed to be when in truth, the only rule that should be is how to make your learning process as quick, efficient and easy as possible. One can do something to make a point, but if you are wasting time, and life is short, then the only point you are making is losing time and time is precious as life is, these days, very fast.

As teachers, we can help by helping the students work with who they are and giving them tools to make it easier, working with each person to help them. Yes, we teach fundamentals, but we are not teaching for us and what we know, but rather have to help the person in front of us be able to use these skills and unlock themselves.

And above all, make it fun! When we learn to love what we do and give the most that we can, this joy really communicates to the audience. Enthusiasm radiates an incredible energy that brings forth not only our best and who we are, but it brings the music to life and establishes an incredible link with those listening to us. It allows one to let go of their fears and give all that they can and especially all that they are. Work with who you are, make your life as easy as possible, and then see yourself grow quickly more than you ever thought possible.


P.S. As an aside, here is a live recording of the Lekeu Sonata from one of the performances in that recent tour of Ontario that was in my last blog. Audiences loved discovering this work, and I thought that for those who have not heard it, this might be an opportunity to share it and for you to discover it as well. I love this work! Hope you enjoy it…

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