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Articles and posts on HOW TO for students

Articles coming will show you how to practice well for efficient learning, how to interpret music, overcome peformance nerves, do well in a music exam,  and other such useful material. If you wish to submit a publication or post on this page please send a formal email with the article/post for possible publication to:


Carolyn Phillips (Director Norwalk Symphony Orchestra, USA) is the author of the Twelve Benefits of Music Education. Her information also refers to an article by Dave Gerhart on (This information was informed by the CPO website).

Here are some of the reasons why learning music is so important.

Musical training helps develop brain areas involved in language and reasoning
There is also a causal link between music and spatial intelligence
Students of the arts learn to think creatively and to solve problems
Recent studies show that students who study the arts achieve higher grades in high school (and tertiary education)
A study of the arts provides (us) with an internal glimpse of other cultures and teaches them to be empathetic towards the people of these cultures
Students of music learn craftsmanship as they study how details are put together painstakingly and what constitutes good, as opposed to mediocre, work
Through music study, students learn the value of sustained effort to achieve excellence and the concrete rewards of hard work
Music study enhances teamwork skills and discipline
Music provides (…)  a means of self-expression
Music study develops skills that are necessary in the workplace
Music performance teaches (us to)  conquer fear and to take risks.

How to overcome Performance Nerves – A Kinsey

Do you get nervous when playing in front of others?
If you answered no, then you are a natural performer and probably need read no further. Otherwise I hope to reveal some answers as to how you can harness your nervous energy to aid you rather than take from you.

Nerves and adrenaline are part of us to stay, and there are appropriate ways to tap into this wonderful resource to help you as a musician and performer or even just in everyday life.

As you may have found out from playing an instrument, you are somehow expected to share your musical expertise, with pretty much all who come into contact with you at some stage or other. How you do that will either add or detract from your self confidence in this area.

So now we come to what I call the “stuff” behind the notes, the inner game of music. The prime quality needed to overcome nerves – self confidence. We observe that self confident people seem to find it easy to talk out, to voice their opinions, whereas people pleasers, worry about what others think and how they will react, this in itself is an inhibiting factor. Perhaps we should also ask what inhibits self confidence, as wasn’t that the most natural thing we possessed as a child. Never afraid to risk things, ask for anything or approach anyone unless we had been taught differently. The child was concerned about what he was trying to achieve, and not worrying about what others were thinking ie not judging himself or others.

This is half the problem.

So how do we not judge ourselves or think that others are judging us? Well, if we are entirely in the present, fully conscious of only the now moment, we would not be able to step out from that, to consider how we were doing or how others were perceiving us either.

But what is it to be so involved in the present? A type of focus, concentration that comes about the most when we love what we are doing. When time, you and the what you are doing are one. Think on things you love to do, usually you are so involved that there is no time or thought left for anything else.

To understand what causes nervousness is another way to look at it. Do you expect more of yourself than is realistic, do you have a feeling of guilt like somehow you should be better than you are? Perhaps where you are is just right. It is after all the truth! Are you comfortable with the truth? Then accept yourself, and be all you can be with your abilities as they are. Your listener perceives overall how you view yourself more than what he is actually hearing. Something akin to body language speaking louder than the words we are using. So honesty and acceptance of yourself and your abilities in performing is required to get nervous energy under control.

After all what is the worst thing that can happen? Is it that you mess up badly and then what? “They” think you are no good. Well that implies you are at fixed state of being and there can never be improvement. And that is not the truth, so again what are you accepting. Perhaps you do not like being on display, because you feel out of control and it is then that your nerves get the better of you. May I remind you – who is in control here. Are’nt you the owner of your body and thus your nerves. Boy can we buy into a lot of untruths.

Or is it that your mind goes into a spin, too much adrenaline, too much nerve drug pumping through you. Harness the energy for your own use. Energy needs a vehicle to work through and that vehicle is your mind and the tool for your mind is discipline. The mind thrives on discipline, it demands it and no more especially than when we are performing. So latch the mind onto thoughts that calm you, that restore a sense of peace and purpose in you.

What has worked for me is to invent a story or series of pictures, that fits the moods, changes and stylistic qualities of the music I am performing. This one, takes my mind off focusing on technique, two, distracts me from thinking of my audience, and three, keeps me playing in the present moment.

It does require imagination. Then feel the feeling of the music. For example when we are angry we are fully feeling what is going on and it is not that easy to just jump out of that feeling. So by channeling our feelings of the music be it passion, anger, peace, love etc we are telling our nerves what to feel and harnessing that energy for our own purpose.

I have found that love of the instrument and the love of people in this case my audience, have proved the most powerful for me. Because “ love casts out fear” as the biblical quote goes and this is so true. So perhaps we can say that overcoming nerves is about loving more and to love we need to understand ourselves, others and our instrument. Part of loving yourself is accepting where you are. When we accept ourselves so do others and the whole experience whether living or playing music is a joy and a pleasure.

Written by Avril Kinsey (copyrighted – for permission to use full article send an email to