Some years ago I decided to hold Sunday afternoon classes for my piano students.

Classes are a tradition for piano students, though most of my teachers didn't hold any; this I regret. So I thought I would hold them for my students. Not purely altruistic, I was also looking for a way to enhance my income; though at three classes a year, I won't become rich this way--or teaching piano either.

I hold one class in the fall, before the junior music club audition, in April, before the music competitions, and in June, before the conservatory examinations.

As part of the treatment for performing anxiety, my classes are informal gatherings of students to play their pieces in an atmosphere a little more stressful than the lesson: there is an audience of other students, some of whom have played the pieces they are to perform.

Typically, I call them for one, or two o'clock. I wear my jeans, and arrive about 20 minutes early, with a latte, and play the grand pianos we have use, while waiting for the first ones to join me.

I enjoy my students, especially in the group. They are intelligent, happy, delightful people to spend a Sunday afternoon with. They range in age from about 7 to about 14. Many are extremely verbal, and the time with the few before the class begins, and waiting for parents at the end, are high points.

I encourage their participation, not only in playing, but in commenting on their fellows. The mood is always light, high energy, humorous, fast. We often create jokes: for example, I ask them what the name of a piece means--like Minuet, Gigue, Waltz, Eccossaise. At first they are not sure, though we have discussed this in their lessons. When they realize these generic names are dances, and many generic names are, it becomes a standing joke.

What is this ? A dance. What is that ? A dance. What is another one ? A dance!

A dance became a chorus response. Every student at that class now knows that most generic piece titles are dances.

The solidarity my students develop stands them to good purpose when they go to audition at the junior music club the following Saturday, where most at the class try. And their increased confidence, even without the physical presence of their peers supports them when they go to competition, and to examination.

Over the year, and the years, as I continue to have the delightful privilege of teaching these children (some for many years now), I observe their progress, not necessarily to being concert artists (not everyone, including me, is cut out for that), but towards being the interesting and knowledgeable persons that music, and piano helps shape.

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