There is a lot to be gained by playing and performing in front of other people, but it may not be for everyone. If you are learning to play the piano for yourself, and you are not interested in playing in a band or taking the piano exams, then it isn’t really necessary.
If however you want to play in a band and perform one day, then it’s important you try and play in front of people as often as possible beforehand. I would advise playing in front of your friends and family when you get the chance, otherwise you may be really nervous and not be able to play as well as you can if you jump straight into a live performance in front of a big crowd.
I was 14 when I first played for a musical, and although it was only in front of about 100 people, I was extremely nervous. My hands were shaking really badly, and I almost couldn’t play. On the third night I was still pretty nervous, but it was a lot easier. After that I continued to play in bands, and to this day I hardly get nervous at all. I used to play a lot for my friends and family, and I was still really nervous. There is still a huge difference when it comes to playing in front of a live audience, but at least I was a little prepared for the musical.
If you are looking to take the piano exams, then it’s really important you try and play in front of other people as often as possible. When you get to the exam it’s extremely nerve racking, and playing for just the examiner can be harder than playing in front of a thousand people! Trust me, I can guarantee it. What tends to happen in an exam is that you play slightly worse than if you were at home practicing on your own. This sounds very unfair, but it’s true. So the only way you are going to help with those nerves is to play in front of people as often as you can.
I used to find that when I was playing on my own I could play well and feel the music. However, as soon as someone started to watch me play and I know they are there, then that’s when things can go wrong if you’re not used to it. You start to worry and think about the people watching you and what they might be thinking, rather than focusing on your playing. When that happens you are sure to make mistakes, which can be extremely frustrating when you know you can play better.
If you ever watch someone truly get lost in the music, the only way they can do this is to forget everything else around them, and focus purely on playing. This is very hard to do, especially in an exam, but the more you can prepare, the less likely you are of making silly mistakes which you don’t usually make.
It’s a lot easier when you are playing in a band, because a group of people around you can be very reassuring. Having that support of your band mates allows you to relax more, as you are all equally sharing the pressure of a live performance.
If you are just too nervous and don’t want to put yourself through it, and don’t have to; then don’t. But if you are looking to take exams, play in a band, or teach the piano one day, then it’s vital…