Last Monday was our piano midterm, which consisted of our playing a song for the class. I was nervous, so nervous that whenever I thought about it during my practice times the week before, my fingers would slip right off the keys. Let me be honest: I wasn’t just nervous; I was terrified.
During my turn on Monday, I did well enough until, when almost finished, my finger hit an E instead of a C. And after that, my teacher said, I let the timing get a little out of whack as well. So it wasn’t a magical moment when I came into my own as a musician as you might see in the movies.
But I learned several things:
- Everyone in the class was nervous and dreaded performing.
- Every single one of us made at least one mistake.
- But when it was over, we were all still alive!
- And we knew where we were improving and what we had to work on.
One of the best ways to know how much you’ve learned is to take that skill for a test drive. You need to know that you can remember the key points and not fall under the pressure. Most courses allow for this, of course, in tests and presentations. But find opportunities to practice under similar circumstances before the actual event. Give the speech to a group of friends. Take a timed sample test online. Write an essay, give it your English-major friend, and tell him/her to be absolutely ruthless.
Practice the skill in real-world situations as often as you can. It truly helps to reinforce learning.