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What Is Schema Coaching at the Piano?

Schema Coaching at the Piano is about helping people to find more confidence and enjoyment at the instrument, grow in their ability, and release their creativity - so they can truly flourish at the piano.

We do this by learning to tune into our core needs as we play, and then finding ways to meet them as we practice and perform. When our needs are met sufficiently, our sense of wellbeing is improved. In turn, this leads to a clearer, calmer, happier state of mind, and a more relaxed and able body.

Simply put, we can then do more of the things we want to do, and there is more headspace for creative thinking.

Meeting Our Needs at the Piano

To really play at our best, we need to balance all sorts of needs in the moment, and that is what Schema Coaching is all about.

First, we have our physical needs. Often it can be very helpful to change the pace of our practice so that they align with our physical capabilities in the moment. A simple thing such as recognising when we are tired and allowing ourselves to play much more slowly, can have a very positive impact on what we achieve.

Then there are our emotional needs.

Maybe our practice feeling a little dull or like hard-work. Remembering that we all have a need for play, spontaneity, and free expression, we can then find ways to make the practice more interesting, playful and imaginative. We then enjoy the practice much more, and even want to do more and are more focused or absorbed in what we are doing, which in turn helps to improve our technical ability.

Or maybe we are feeling nervous before a performance. Feeling safe and secure is of course so important in allowing us to play freely, so anxiety can really have a really detrimental effect on our ability.

Here we can attend to our need for our feelings to be aired and appreciated, rather than - say - trying to block them out or dimiss them. Listening in to the parts of us that are nervous, we might find a root cause to be a feeling that we should live up to very high - or seemingly impossible - standards set by other people. So here, over time, we might work to cultivate our own musical values and standards that are in line with our personal preferences, and right for our current capabilities.

All of this would be working to meet core emotional needs such as a sense of personal identity in music, a sense of independence in our decision making, and realistic goals and expectations, all of which can help us feel calmer and more confident, and less concerned about the judgement of others. In turn, we are more likely to play much better. It's these kinds of scenarios that we explore in Schema Coaching.

What a Schema Coaching Session Looks Like

Schema Coaching can be incorporated into to standard piano tuition or offered separately. Similar to a piano lesson, our work is mostly centred on pieces of music you are learning or preparing to perform, or a particular musical skill you are wanting to develop.

But rather than focusing on purely technical aspects, we explore what is happening in your inner experience as you play: your thoughts, feelings, and the way these manifest in your posture, movements and behaviours.

These different aspects of experience are signposts to your needs in the moment. Together, we work to tune into those needs, and find ways of meeting them as you learn, practice or perform.

The impact can often be quickly observed. Our bodies become more relaxed, we seem to have more energy and ability to focus, and so our playing becomes freer, lighter and more engaging - even moving.

I have seen the benefits in myself and in people I work with. It can often be very remarkable to watch as someone's playing style shifts, and becomes something much more alive and dynamic - even extraordinary.


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