Asking vs. telling, performance anxiety, and gender

Today, our studio teacher asked if M would be available for a short lesson with a new guitar  teacher MacPhail is considering hiring. I was inclined to say yes, but I gave myself time to think about it.

I decided to ask M what she thought. She said no pretty emphatically. And I realized that I probably shouldn’t have phrased it as a question, because (as it turned out) I didn’t really want to give M the freedom to say no. I wanted to insist that she do it.

Why did I ask instead of tell? Because (I think) although I wanted to insist, I felt conflicted about it. M already has long days on Saturday, with a group lesson in the morning and a private one at lunchtime (and swimming in between), and this proposed new lesson would happen close to her normal rest time. And at the end of the long day, M’s not likely to have a great time in a lesson with a new teacher.

Still, I didn’t immediately accept or reject M’s “no.” Instead, I asked about why she didn’t want to do it.
Continue reading Asking vs. telling, performance anxiety, and gender

Lesson recap: singing and playing, continued

M was a little hyper after dinner. As we were heading toward our practice room, I said, “You seem a little all over the place. You’ll need to settle down, otherwise things aren’t going to go well.” (I think I said this mostly like an observation, not a threat. I really try to avoid threats — or, as M has called them, “threatens.”)

In fact, she did settle down, and we had a nice lesson. Afterwards we had some ice cream, and I said, “You did a nice job cooperating today. Thanks.” She responded, “I heard what you said.” Meaning (as I confirmed) that she took heed of my direction at the start of our lesson to settle down. This may have been an explanation in hindsight rather than a reflection of her thought process earlier, but I’ll take it!

Today, we sang and played each song that we practiced. We also went over the song structure before playing. We did: Continue reading Lesson recap: singing and playing, continued

Mind games

Music requires three  types of mental effort:

  1. mindfulness, i.e., bare attention;
  2. analysis, i.e., discerning patterns and structures; and
  3. memorization.

Lately, I’ve become obsessed with mental practice. This began as an interest in mindfulness and has expanded to an interest in memorization. (Analysis can, I think, be set aside for now.) M and I worked on both in today’s lesson. Continue reading Mind games