at the Piano
I use an approach called Schema Coaching in my work. The aim is to help people overcome anxiety, stress and self-doubt, and flourish in their playing and creativity.
In every session, we work to find and strengthen an inner sense of calm, confidence and joy for music that are the foundation of good - indeed brilliant - playing.
We work with our bodies and minds to release tension and play more freely. We use positive imagery and role play to get in a good state of mind for playing well. We nurture our interests, give ourselves permission to experiment. We take care of ourselves when we are anxious, stressed or frustrated. We think about next-steps and goals that are in tune with our needs. We find things that motivate us during practice and give ourselves encouragement. Over and over, we build positive experiences that become memories and associations at the piano, instilling more confidence.
That is the 'schema' in Schema Coaching: that framework of positive thoughts and feelings that helps us feel good about our playing and enjoy it in the here and now.
With that calmer mind, we then learn, practice and perform better. We have more ability to think clearly, and we become more physically relaxed. This allows us to play with improved technical facility. There is also more headspace for creative thinking, and we can connect more easily with the music, so our playing can become much more expressive and spontaneous. That's when we can really shine as musicians, surprising even ourselves.
Schema Coaching is a relatively new form of coaching based on the principles of Schema Therapy. I have been researching and developing an adaptation for music tuition and coaching since 2020. This research includes consultations and ongoing supervision with Advanced Schema Therapists, and my own Schema Therapy training through Schema Therapy Associates.
The Schema approach has transformed my own playing. I used to suffer terribly with nerves and stress. But those days are gone, and now I work to help other piano players train their minds and bodies to think and feel calm, free and happy at the piano.
I have seen the techniques bring long-lasting positive change in clients as well. It is very rewarding to notice people overcome their difficulties, enjoy their playing so much more, and perform highly engaging, imaginativ and moving music.