I am taking piano lessons that I have to prepare pieces for, and play them for the teacher. After learning a piece, I usually manage to play it when practising in private. However when I come to the lesson, I make mistakes that I never made before, and I never manage to recover and go on. My hands completely forget what to do.

In the past, I used to play for the teacher (another one) only in graded exams and didn't have this problem. I always dreaded the experience but was able to play the pieces and recover from mistakes.

Is this a known issue? Does anyone know of a solution?

UPDATE: The answers below don't apply to me at all. I have no interest in impressing my teacher. I just want to cope with the course. Actually my interest in music has generally declined after the lessons. Also, now that somebody mentioned nerves/stress, I tend to perform much better when under pressure. In all my exams in the past, I was able to do well in pieces where my hands where shivering through out. One time when I was playing an easy piece in the exam and was starting to get comfortable, my hands all the sudden forgot where to go. (I just started the piece again from the beginning with faster tempo and shivering hands.) Also, in my first lesson with this new teacher, my hands were shivering, and I played what I knew as I wanted to play it.

I don't understand completely why this happens to me. But, I think my coping strategy would be to just shiver my hands when playing.

  • This is nothing to do with music, but everything to do with nerves/stress. I think it is covered off by the duplicate.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Commented Oct 16, 2014 at 7:43
  • stage fright. You do get over it. Get right back on the horse and keep doing it or you never will succeed. Practice the piece endlessly until you can get it right without thinking, then go to that place when you perform. Commented Oct 31, 2018 at 8:56

1 Answer 1


Stage fright

You have to learn to live with it or ignore it; absorb yourself in what you are playing & exclude everything around you, or learn to love an audience.

It has to be said, it's far easier to ignore a thousand people than it is to ignore one, especially when you are trying hard to impress that one.

There are as many ways to prepare for a performance as there are performers; so whether you try relaxation, far too much coffee, or a stiff drink [I know, I'm just providing examples] it's up to you how you deal with it best.

If it does strike you just at the wrong moment & you halt completely, then you have to just sit back, take a deep breath & pick up from where you left off.

The more you worry about it, the worse it will become.

It's purely psychological, but that doesn't mean it's not real.

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