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Make Your Personality Your Greatest Strength!

Christian Vachon

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Published: February 25, 2014 at 12:06 PM [UTC]

I just spent a wonderful week giving masterclasses and guest chamber music coachings at a festival in Western Canada, and this theme came up in various ways time and time again. People often have more to say and to give, or almost always more ability than they think they do. Yet, for many reasons, they don’t give all that they can. Sometimes, parents or teachers can create obstacles by thinking that they can change who someone is, rather then help them use their personality and learning process to achieve the goal that they seek, though the path may be different than the one that they, as individuals, might take.

However, your personality can be your greatest strength if you learn to work with it and make the most of it. I find that when we teach, it is important to help the student make the most of their personality and to help them learn within this context and remove the barriers that inhibit them. For example, someone who is very visual may have difficulty and need more symbols and to write more in their parts to orient their learning process. Someone who is kinetic may need physical cues and perceptions such as a physical limit for fingers or arm in a lesson to feel where they need to be. A person who is aural may need good demonstrations that they can hear from the person teaching, or have their attention oriented to things in the piano part. If someone is enthusiastic but a little flighty, it is to find a way to channel their energy and concentrate it. Someone who is shy and feel like they have much to say but no one listens to them in life, can be helped to channel all that energy into their performance where everyone has to listen to what they say with the music until the music ends. And etc., etc..

I witnessed some incredible transformations not only technically by simplifying things or letting go of fears, but mostly musically by making them free their personalities and use it as a strength rather than see it as a weakness.

So, as we learn and play, we have to help ourselves, or our students by giving us all that we can to work with who we are. And then, it is to allow ourselves to give all that our unique personality has to give. I think that there are too many rules of what learning is supposed to be when in truth, the only rule that should be is how to make your learning process as quick, efficient and easy as possible. One can do something to make a point, but if you are wasting time, and life is short, then the only point you are making is losing time and time is precious as life is, these days, very fast.

As teachers, we can help by helping the students work with who they are and giving them tools to make it easier, working with each person to help them. Yes, we teach fundamentals, but we are not teaching for us and what we know, but rather have to help the person in front of us be able to use these skills and unlock themselves.

And above all, make it fun! When we learn to love what we do and give the most that we can, this joy really communicates to the audience. Enthusiasm radiates an incredible energy that brings forth not only our best and who we are, but it brings the music to life and establishes an incredible link with those listening to us. It allows one to let go of their fears and give all that they can and especially all that they are. Work with who you are, make your life as easy as possible, and then see yourself grow quickly more than you ever thought possible.


P.S. As an aside, here is a live recording of the Lekeu Sonata from one of the performances in that recent tour of Ontario that was in my last blog. Audiences loved discovering this work, and I thought that for those who have not heard it, this might be an opportunity to share it and for you to discover it as well. I love this work! Hope you enjoy it…

From Laurie Niles
Posted on February 25, 2014 at 5:18 PM
I love this idea, Christian. I find that personality is a big factor in motivation as well. While I have in mind some important techniques, pieces, etudes, scales, etc. that I feel every student needs to master in order to play fluently, there are distractions on the way, that, if treated with care, can be very motivating. While it can be frustrating when a student comes to his/her lesson and plops the orchestra music on the stand, they do need at least some affirmation and support (i.e. the occasional 10 minutes of helping with fingerings) for these endeavors. Because things like playing in the school musical, playing a certain favorite "song," or playing for the talent show, etc. can wind up being the motivation, the thing that makes them WANT all that fluency and ease of playing!
From Zina Francisca
Posted on February 26, 2014 at 7:40 AM
Uh oh ... I wasn't aware at all that my teacher may be vexed when I bring my orchestra music to my lesson for help. It's so interesting, the stuff I learn from ;-)
From Laurie Niles
Posted on February 26, 2014 at 2:02 PM
Only vexed if you neglected every other assignment in favor of it! ;)
From Christian Vachon
Posted on February 26, 2014 at 3:15 PM

Laurie: Thanks for the comment - I am glad you like this! :) I agree on the motivation factor as well. Motivation is most fired up by enthusiasm, so sometimes spending some time on something that the student wants or needs to play can make them want to apply the skills to other material and be more attentive, so it can be time actually well spent. When students overcome something, or learn new skills that make their playing or personal learning easier, they tend to want to apply it elsewhere. And like anything, I agree that it's all about balance.

Zina: I think that it is a case by case thing. I think that like anything, if one goes to extremes, then it is probably not so good. However, all knowledge is important, as long as you apply it to other things that may be similar.


From Christian Vachon
Posted on February 26, 2014 at 3:15 PM
Oops! Double-post for some reason...

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