As a Head we often give words of advice to our pupils but to me it is equally important that we heed these words. I stress to the girls the importance of hard work; practise, practise, practise; not give up; step outside your comfort zone, take a risk. Some things I advise come naturally to me, with other advice I question how often I heed it.
Like many people I took up the piano at an early age. I found practising tedious, dull and found every excuse not to do it. I jumped at the opportunity when asked if I wanted to give it up. I found piano examinations threatening; I was always a bundle of nerves with my fingers slipping off the keys, I really struggled with I guess what is now called performance anxiety. My father was the instigator of me taking up the piano and with his recent death, I began to question my teenage decision in giving up this skill.
In my reflections I felt that later in life I would revisit playing the piano, but did not have the time now. A wise colleague highlighted that 15 minutes a day, is all that was needed. Finding 15 minutes playing a stunning Steinway at school was possible. So I began to live by my words, not give up and practice. But my real struggle was performing in front of people.
So it was at the Years 7 and 8 assembly that I shared my anxiety about performing in front of people, that I needed to step out of my comfort zone and do something that did not come naturally to me. I ask them to perform in front of an audience, appreciating their nerves and therefore I needed to do the same thing. So at my next assembly with Years 7 and 8, I will perform the first movement of The Moonlight Sonata, a piece my father encouraged me to play and in preparation for it I am practising every day.
As adults we are role models to the younger generations, we need to practise what we preach. I am already nervous about the performance in June but as I explained to the girls, it is not the outcome, in this case the performance, that matters, but rather the focus on the process, the skills and learner attributes to get there. The performance may go horribly wrong, it may be a risk that fails. It does not matter, I will have learned in the process, I will have stepped out of my comfort zone and at very least found a new love of playing the piano, which I now look forward to every morning. It is a lesson to me, well learned.