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Teaching and Performing - A conflict or an Advantage?

A great quote, I think.

But in order to inspire the student (and yourself of course) you have to be peaceful with the need to play, perform, practice and the obligation and the responsibility for your students. 

To be a performer, to play, to practice, to rehearse is a profession and an occupation by itself: To teach is another profession. To do both is a great challenge - is it a conflict or an advantage?

Heinrich Neuhaus , one of the greatest pedagogues of his time said:

"When a teacher is also a performer, and this, happily, is a very widespread occurance these days, it is natural that his teaching work should be carried on differently from that of "pure" teachers ..."

The proportion - or the amount of time consuming - between performing and teaching is a conflict most pianists experience, and when years go by, it seems even difficult more than ever to maintain a regular routine of practicing, career-maintaining, and at the same time have your students as a priority.

All the advices we give our students concerning time- organizing, practice habits, etc. we have to assimilate on ourselves- but it seems more and more difficult, since you actually have barely 24 hours a day (deduct from it sleeping time and a few more hours that are not work, and here you are already with less than 13...).

In order to keep yourself a performing and recording artist and also a devoted teacher, you have to be constantly creative and super organized at the same time: not an easy task. Here are some thoughts on this: I try to call it "my toolbox":

1. Passion. Has to be around. It is true that we cannot actually have it all day long - many hours of practicing and teaching are not joyful as others. However, if we do not "charge" ourseleves, the stress is here already before you notice, and of course the fatigue. Passion has to be there - and I try to remind that to myself . However passion and creativity comes from work - as Picasso said: "

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”

2. Inspiration. In order to be passionate in your workday, we need an inspiration every once in a while. I get my inspiration usually from watching great masterclasses.

This one is definitely wonderful to watch:

or this one:

3. Focus. although your mind is full of many tasks and plans, you have to focus of what you are doing right now only. That is the only way to concentrate and listen (to your music-making or your student's).

4. Priorities . teaching hours can be flexible- if you feel that certain days you need for more practicing or rehearsals time - than you have to delay lessons and bring them back on other day. Also you can teach today only the students that need lessons most (priority of competitions coming or exams. etc) and after the concert you can of course teach more.

5. Time managing.   Switching well between your practicing time (or rehearsals) or other activities and your teaching hours is not so easy. The best way is allowing some time in between, but even if you have 15 min. break you can "take the breath" and make the switch inside.

6.  Reduce stress and get more energy. Sounds corny but I guess you have no choice...Make time (that you do not have, but think on no. 5) for excercise at least 3 times a week, eat healthy. Try to sleep enough. Take time to rest during the day - even for  a short time, but enjoy every moment of it.

Never say "I do not have time". Meet a dear friend for half an hour coffee. Watch something funny for even 15 min. Read an interesting article for 10 min. Talk with your friends (mainly on FB...) a few min.

7. Enjoy moments. After a frustrating 2-hours of practicing suddenly you got your phrase right. Your student that struggled days on a passage finally "nailed" the problem. You found the right piece for a certain student after hours of thinking. Enjoy these moments.

8. Accept yourself as imperfect.  No need to add words- seems that many days are like that, and if you did not imply all above, there is always another day to try. This is real practicing.

Off to other tasks and beautiful moments :)


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