“I blush and stammer badly.”

The greatest success requires the greatest risk. Human beings are innately afraid of embarrassment. One of the greatest blocks artists, nay, PEOPLE, face is the fear of being embarrassed. We will do everything possible to avoid the loss of control that accompanies embarrassment. But if we don’t risk embarrassment, how will we ever grow? This aversion to embarrassment can be as simple as not raising your hand in class because you don’t want to give the wrong answer, or as great as holding back your undying love for someone for fear of being rejected.

I’m currently in the unique position of accompanying movement classes at a small private school in Mill Valley, CA. It’s a required course for all students, grades K-8. I observe the students’ embarrassment daily. It seems to start around fourth grade. These students are becoming painfully aware of their egos and bodies. Rather than actively participating in the class, the shuffle about, cross their arms, giggle at every motion that the teacher demonstrates, and chat at every possible opportunity. And NO ONE wants to volunteer to give an example. These classes are frustrating and slow. The teacher is unable to progress and really introduce them to the freedom of movement because the students are so crippled with embarrassment. Heaven forbid that they do anything that might expose them as being less than totally cool and aloof.

So, how do we reach these students? How do we create a safe environment in which they are comfortable with moving outside of their comfort zone. I’ve learned that the greatest personal and artistic successes come from living in the danger zone. It took time and, yes, many moments of embarrassment to learn this. But, look! I’m still standing and thriving today. As far as I know, no one has actually ever died of embarrassment, as the saying goes. Maybe we should make a concentrated effort to change that phrase. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all start saying, “I tried that new step in dance class and fell flat on my bum – and then I blossomed with embarrassment!”

Or should I be embarrassed for even suggesting something so scary?


Published by rachelrobinsonmusic

Rachel Robinson is a teaching artist, director, music director and performer based in San Francisco. She is a graduate of New York University’s Steinhardt School, and holds a degree in Vocal Performance. In addition to her work as a singer/actress, Rachel maintains a very busy schedule directing, music directing, and teaching. Rachel grew up in the Washington, D.C. area where she became an active performer at a very early age. She appeared many times with The Washington Opera, and she also played roles at the Adventure Theatre and with the Washington Savoyards. In 2003, Rachel moved to New York City to begin her degree at New York University. During the next four years Rachel appeared in many cabarets and productions, both at NYU and in the city. After graduating in May 2007, Rachel became the resident Music Director at Stage Left Children’s Theater in Tappan, NY. She was in residence there for three seasons. At the same time, she founded a private voice and piano studio. In September 2010, Rachel relocated to San Francisco. She began working as a music instructor at ViBO Music, Village Music School, and the San Francisco Friends School. She also was brought on as a music director at the Willows Theatre Company. In 2011-2012, Rachel spent a year as the Conservatory Director at the Willows, where she worked on developing opportunities for youth and up-and-coming theatre artists. No matter what level of student she is working with, Rachel believes in finding the student's "natural voice." Playing any instrument is a process, not an event, and her goal is to make that process as fun, productive, and insightful as possible.

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