As piano teachers, it is impossible to avoid that, in one way or another, we are influencing our students. Of course, that is nothing to avoid. In fact, it is what we expect most of the time. When I look back at my piano career and my beginnings as a piano student, the biggest influence that my piano teachers had on me was focused on my technique - my awareness when I use my body, technical difficulties and how to solve them, some interpretive issues, etc. However, I hardly remember a moment in which my teachers made me reflect on how I can express myself and my own personality through music, how I can get to know what defines myself as an artist (on and off stage).
I do remember a lot of lessons when I learned how I should play a Baroque piece, how I should use the pedal in a certain Romantic piece or how fast or slow the tempo should be in a certain movement of a Classical Sonata. However, nothing about how I wanted to play. How could I know this when my criteria was based on the influence of my teachers, books, theories, recordings and stories? Then, not knowing exactly what I wanted and who I was as an artist, of course, brought thousands of side effects, such as stage fright, insecurities regarding my interpretations of pieces, comparing myself to others, insecurities off stage, etc.
On the other hand, when focusing on all the technical and theoretical aspects, I completely forgot about the fact that music, in the end, is a language and a way to communicate. Even if music is written by others, an interpreter and performer doesn’t transmit it in the way the composer thought of, but in his/her own personal way (consciously or unconsciously). Then, how do we discover our way to transmit this message while still being true to ourselves and to all the interpretive criterias surrounding the piano? And how can we transmit this to our students and inspire them to do the same?
Well, this is something I try to keep as a “mantra” in my teaching practice nowadays. However, as well as we use books of technique and etudes to improve certain technical aspects, it is important to have guidance in the journey of defining oneself as an artist and enhancing one's distinctive qualities. And that’s why, today, I am very happy to recommend you quality material.
Recently, my friend Eider Armendariz, violinist (and I would say, artist in general) has published an eBook called “Find your artistic identity: A guide to become the artist you want to be”. It is a truly interesting, attractive and practical guide that, from my point of view, accompanies you on your path of finding your personality as an artist. It is very easy to read, it is interactive (there are even some exercises for you to practise what you are learning in the process), it makes you reflect and it is beautifully designed.
The eBook has links to interesting videos, activities and a very appealing layout! But the best part, of course, is the content. Here I share with you some quotes that I find very inspiring!
The self isn't considered an unchanging core aspect of our personalities; instead, it's seen as a dynamic aspect that is being reconstructed all the time, based on the experiences, situations, people… we interact with in everyday life. In other words, we are not just influenced by others, but are somehow made up of interactions with others.
Your story (background) and your values are part of who you are, and that means that they will inevitably be the basic foundation of your artistic identity.
Why are you doing what you do? What are your purpose, cause and belief? What can you bring to the people and how can you do it?
Knowing how you don’t want to be is also important. You can do the same with the artists you don’t like and add those words to a new column in the table: HOW I DON’T WANT TO BE AS AN ARTIST. It will help you make sure you stand as far as possible from who you don’t want to be.
This eBook is incredibly versatile, as I personally benefited from it, but it also serves as an excellent resource for students. While it might seem addressed to grown-ups, I believe it's a tool that can be useful at any age and stage of learning.
At some point in our piano careers, many of us discover our unique way of communicating through music, while others may not even have defined it. Eider suggests that embracing your vulnerability is an effective means of connecting with your inner essence and principles.
Also, if you want to have an idea of how the layout looks like and the kind of content you can find, here I share some excerpts from the eBook (with Eider’s permission! 😃). Click on the image to see it full size!
If you think that this eBook could be a nice tool for you as a pianist but also for the development of your students, you can purchase it by clicking on the button below:
For further information about the eBook, you can click on this link to Eider's website, where she explains her goals with the eBook, its content and all you can expect from this amazing resource! And if you want to know more in detail in a more visual way, there is also an explanatory video 😃
Have you ever transmitted your students the importance of finding their artistic identity? If so, what kind of resources do you use?