Few people are naturals at performing on stage without feeling nervous. Trust me, I get the whole sweaty palms and hot flash feeling every time I have to face an audience. The courage to perform on stage grows overtime if you are brave enough to push the feeling of stage fright aside. Great showmanship, for most, is an acquired skill that first begins with confidence and practice.
Before we decided to start our home music business, my husband and I have both had our fair share of performing on stage. I played the cello in orchestra from the 7th grade to my senior year in high school and my husband has played multiple instruments through his academic career and into his adult life. Between the two of us, my hubby, JP, the business poster boy, is arguably the most relaxed individual I know on stage. Many of you are probably thinking that all those years performing perfected his showmanship. The truth is that the performance is only part of the battle. Most of the work is done behind-the-scenes with patience and a lot of practice.
What Practice Means
Years ago when JP considered starting a music school, I was only consumed with the idea that this was the perfect fit for him. I didn’t quite understand what it meant for me. I knew that a few students would be coming to our house for music lessons. Maybe one or two times during the year we would have an event for the parents. Beyond that and the business-side of things I thought I pretty much had a good understanding. Wrong!
Every lesson needs a plan and every plan needs music. Lots of it. Everyday of it. If JP was going to pride himself in offering the best music lessons then he would have to perfect his craft daily. He practices his lessons before students arrive, in his spare time, and he also practices on a professional level as well for at least an hour every day. People think that being married to a musician means that there is always fabulous live music. Over, and over, and over I hear the same measure of notes played like a forever-lasting broken record day after day. As his students become more advanced he must be sure that he is musically competent enough to continue to teach them.
So far, all of the duties mentioned are just the musical side of things. JP has to be very organized in his plans to keep track of all his students, their progress, and development. Many nights I have ordered him to stop what he is doing and take a break. This is the bright side. Depending on the time of year there are no breaks like when he plans for recitals. During recital season, we have agreed that I give him space to work freely. This basically means I leave him alone, for the most part.
Just like the year before, the recital is here before you know it. Every student knows when to play and where they need to be before they perform. Even though JP instructs most of his students in a private lesson, somehow with only one rehearsal or two, everyone knows their part. The students play in an ensemble with ease like they have practiced together all year.
JP jumps in and fills a sound and sings if needed and nods or instructs by moving his weight around as he plays to queue the students. Amazing! Watching him through my video camera as he changes position from stage manager to presenter to musician is impressive. The best performance of all! All my suffering of listening to non-stop music after hours has finally paid off! The parents applaud confirming that what I am experiencing is wonderful.
Pride in Showmanship
Then, just like that it’s all over. We pack everything up and haul it all back to our home studio. As always we are both content with how everything went over a nice dinner and discuss how things should be next year. What to change and what to keep the same. But what makes this whole thing worth while is JP’s pride in showmanship. Teaching kids a skill gives JP purpose and meaning knowing that he has forever changed their lives. There are only a few things that make him happier than playing music with his accomplished music students. As JP discusses all the highlights of the event through a big smile I can’t help but feel happy to be a part of something great. At this time, all my annoyed feelings of practice time bury themselves in hiding until JP practices again.