|is surprising what a retentive memory can be cultivated in
this direction with practice and concentration.
Nervousness when playing before others is one of the biggest handicaps
that one can have. There are several possible causes : lack of certainty of
technical mastery, shyness, fear of not doing well before an audience, &c.
The first of these has the obvious remedy-more practice. For other causes
the only real remedy is the exercise of will-power and self-control on the
part of the performer. He must try to force himself to forget about his
hearers and to lose himself in the music. This, of course, is another way of
saying that complete concentration on the matter in hand must be attained.
Such a remedy for nervousness may seem to some to be not very helpful, but
it is nevertheless effective, as the writer him- self has proved many times.
It is a known fact that some of the greatest public performers are terribly
nervous before going on the platform-far more nervous than the average
listener can imagine. Yet this nervousness is not apparent in their playing
in the slightest degree. It is overcome simply by the exercise of
Pupils should be encouraged to play before others on every possible
occasion. A new pupil will often be very nervous at the first lesson, but,
provided the teacher adopts a sympathetic attitude, this will soon pass off.
Yet the advent of the next pupil will cause an attack of nerves. In such a
case, the next pupil should be asked to arrive early every time, so that the
nervous one will get used to the presence of a third person. When possible,
it is desirable to have several pupils in the room at once, and to let each
play in front of the others. This will tend to put them on their mettle, and
by degrees the more nervous or shy ones will realise that playing before
other people is not such a terrifying experience as they had imagined.
Stress may again be laid on the undesirability of using the same teaching
material for all pupils. Every part of a pupil's work, whether technical
exercises, studies or pieces, must be adapted to his particular needs. The
piano pupil whose span is small should obviously not be given work which
contains a number of stretches, but should have exercises calculated to
increase the span, followed by pieces and studies bearing on this point in
practical and musical form. Similarly, the pupil whose chord-playing is
unsatisfactory should be given exercises to improve it, and pieces with
numerous chord-passages in which he can make practical use of what he learns
from these exercises. Naturally, all pupils will do a large amount of the
same work, for which the same material may be used, but with one pupil one
particular aspect will need stressing, while with a second another point
will require special attention.
A point which is apt to be overlooked by the inexperienced teacher is the
necessity of using the simplest possible form of exercise for the various
branches of technique. The pupil should be introduced to new matters by way
of exercises which deal with their absolute essentials and nothing more. A
well. known and fundamental principle of teaching is " Teach one thing at a
time," and this must be taken absolutely literally. It is useless to expect
To be continued