Do you ever hear this phrase in your studio “But..but…I played it better at home!”? Are your students just nervous, or have they misunderstood the way that practice works?

I-played-it-better-at-home-itis: Simulate Nervousness

Some students need extra practice with being nervous so that they can play for you successfully during the lesson. We need to fake this nervousness regularly in order to prepare.


  • Have a discussion with your student about playing when nervous and how we can better prepare.
  • Make suggestions to your student and/or her parents about practice situations for nervousness such as:
    • Family concerts
    • Video or audio recording
    • Imaginary audiences
    • Teddy bear recitals

I-played-it-better-at-home-itis: Tally

When your student has a distorted view of how practice works, you need to get a bit mathematical. Tallying will help to reveal the actual results of her piano practice.


  • Pick out one section to Tally.
  • Ask your student to play it, and then to give herself a mark out of ten.
  • Write this score down and repeat nine more times.
  • Make an average of all the scores (add and divide by ten).
  • Talk about how this the results of all the practice. She’s not necessarily going to play like her best repetition the next time, more like this average score.
  • Assign Tally practices and give your student an average score to aim for by next week.

Download the Tally sheet to print and use with your students by clicking here.