Jul 19

Performance, an act of Altruism

by Downtown Calgary · 0 comments

Meagan Kelln will be performing as part of our Solo Series of the 2016 season of the Downtown Street Piano Series on Tuesday, July 19th at noon at the Wee Little Piano Book Exchange located at Fifth Avenue Place, 420 2nd Street SW.

Most people think they aren’t good enough to perform. Leave it to the professionals, they say. As a piano teacher, I hear this a lot from my adult students. They often try to convince me that they shouldn’t play at the concerts I host for my studio. They claim that no one wants to hear them anyway. And as the teacher, it’s my job to tell them they’re wrong.

Music can be a personal hobby we enjoy in our spare time, but when you perform for an audience, you transform music into a shared act of community. It’s also an incredibly brave thing to do and it completely terrifies a lot of people. Performance anxiety is rooted in the very common fear that we aren’t worthy of sharing our talent, that we’re going to fail and it’s going to feel terrible. That puts too much pressure on yourself. Instead, you need to change the reasons for performing.

In the last 5 years, I’ve come to realize that when I play music for others I have a better time than when I play just for myself. Instead of focusing on a sense of accomplishment, turning music into an act of altruism has completely changed the way I feel when I play. It means that I am freer to truly express emotion through music, because its purpose is for someone else to feel something. It makes it an act of service instead of an act of self-aggrandizement. It makes the audience the recipient of something I offer freely, instead of an entity I need to impress in order to feel worthy.

At my studio, I make performance the pinnacle of study. There is no trouble motivating students to work hard. Some start off motivated by their own fear. But we work on changing that. Better to be motivated by the desire to show our best work – a fine line but an important distinction. Live music makes community events and times of togetherness come alive. Every time music is offered to listening ears, it is a gift no matter the level of the performer. So, go sign up for some music lessons!

Editor’s Note: This post was written by Meagan Kelln to promote the Downtown Street Piano Series.

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