Submitted by Mary Tickner
PERFORMING UNDER PRESSURE by Dr. Saul L. Miller (pub. by John Willey & Sons, 2010)
During the 2010 Olympics, I happened to hear an interview with Dr. Miller on CBC who is a performance psychologist who consults with high achievers in sports, business, healthcare and the arts and teaches them how to manage pressure and use it to achieve better performances. His comments and suggestions regarding stress and performance were not only insightful but practical, so I immediately got the book.
Wow! From the introduction “We are all Performers”, which describes individual situations and relates them to our everyday lives, to the 13 chapters that deal with everything from pressure, breathing, power thoughts, imagery, tension release, individual differences. etc. At the conclusion of each chapter, he also includes ‘Training Notes’ for a 4-week period and guidelines to make the most of the techniques.
Since I had some students preparing for the SPG Festival, I decided to use some of the suggestions given in the chapter on Power Thoughts. At the conclusion of our first Master Class, I asked all the performers to create 1 or 2 power thoughts to be said many times before performing, or even practicing. Dr. Miller included an extensive list so I choose the following to guide the students to think on their own: “I’m okay”; “I’m in control”; “I can handle this”, and “The piano is my friend”.
We all said these “thoughts” aloud 5 times. When they came for their next lesson, I was surprised to find that they all remembered most of these, and more importantly, several had added to their list. One was outstanding – “I am a winner”! Dr. Miller’s closing comment on one of the chapters was: “Repetition is Strength”. While much of the book relates to sports, the similarity between sports and performance on a musical instrument is closely related and all the chapters have direct application to our students, regardless of age and level. It makes for fascinating reading and can be equally revealing about ourselves, and that is a good thing!
MAKING MUSIC COME ALIVE by Nancy Telfer
Mayfair Music recently sent me 2 new publications that I highly recommend. Both are outstanding in that the books are well written and most importantly, are very practical and immediately applicable. The book is beautifully organized and to quote the author, “provides piano teachers with practical and creative solutions to common problems related to teaching. The topics provide ideas to assist both new and experienced teachers from the moment the repertoire is chosen to the final performance”.
And the book does do all of this plus there are 2 appendices that provide really outstanding material to help students: Appendix A: Musical concepts and Appendix B: Performance problems.
THE BUSINESS OF TEACHING MUSIC by Sandi Siemans
This is a comprehensive guide designed to help the music teacher who is starting a music teaching business as well as the experienced music teacher who is looking to improve the management of their music business. Topics include finding students, initial calls of inquiry, setting the stage, music studio agreements, keeping record, studio communication, recitals/masterclasses/concerts/ donations and much more. It is applicable to keyboard, string, woodwind, voice and brass. It is well written, and has some unusual suggestions for various topics. Of particular interest were the 3 sample letters for collection of overdue fee payments. These ranged from a friendly reminder, a more firm reminder and commenting on the long relationship between the student and teacher and the final letter indicating that unless payment is forthcoming, the matter will be turned over to a collection agency. While this covers the same material as found in Beth Gigante’s book “A Business Guide for the Music Teacher” I found it to be even more helpful in discussion of alternative situations and solutions.