Learning performance skills is critical

Technique is important but it’s not enough on its own. Sometimes one can listen to a pianist or a singer and, although their technique is excellent, there’s something missing from their performance. So audiences end up feeling the performance is flat and uninteresting. My role as a teacher is to help my pupils develop not just their technical skills but also their performance skills – so that they can breathe life into the music they’re playing. This benefits them because playing music becomes more enjoyable and they can give more satisfaction to their audiences. It also helps them pass their music exams.

With the piano, being a better performer means:

  • understanding the piece as a whole so the player has a good overall view of what the composer requires technically and being able to deliver a personal interpretation
  • understanding the nuances of the music so as to be able to give a more complex performance
  • being able to express the life inside the music by communicating the player’s emotions

Much the same can be said for improving the performance of singers.

Singers also need to be aware of what their character is experiencing as well as how they are coming across to their audience. It’s important that a singer learns how to be more outgoing so as not to hold back on their feelings.

The working life of a professional singer is all about performance. Our technical skills are taken as given. So, in rehearsals, we work mostly on improving the quality of our performances.

That’s why I have a wealth of performing experience that I can bring to my teaching of the piano as well as singing. Obviously total beginners have to gain some working knowledge of piano technique before I can start working on performance – but I will start planting seeds about performance skills as soon as pupils can start playing the most basic of pieces. With singers I will start introducing ideas about performance from the very first lesson.