It's a curious thing that almost every adult student who contacts me prefaces their conversation with a clear statement that they want to learn to play music only for themselves. In other words, they really prefer not to even think about playing for other people. This isn't intended in a selfish way. It's just that they feel they'll never be "good enough" to play for other people, and this usually includes family and friends. It DEFINITELY includes what you might label an audience.
Why do we feel we can't miss a few notes -- out of, perhaps, thousands? Why do we worry if we're not as good as other people? Why do we care if we're judged? Why do we judge ourselves? Why is it so very PERSONAL?
I've been driving a car since I was 13. I don't care that I'm not driving in the Indianapolis 500. I don't care that I don't go to the gym or that my dog isn't well trained or that I can't hit a golf ball. At least, I don't care what other people think about these things.
Sometimes I wonder if music doesn't have its own mind, its own intentions. Perhaps its energy exists independent of our wills to create or recreate it. I wonder if this were true, would it change our perception of how we present it? Would we free ourselves to be the humans that we are, simply inviting the music into our lives, doing our best to bring it to life, respecting it for what it is and realizing that we are simply a channel. Wouldn't we be honored that we were chosen for this task?
Perhaps this knowledge would bring us some peace of mind, allowing us to approach things more openly, breaking the protective barriers we put around ourselves that truly interfere with our playing. This could, I think, lead us to a more child-like experience of music, immersing ourselves in something beautiful that exists outside our control, and allowing us to leave our fragile egos behind.