Tuesday, October 14, 2014

When Should My Child Do Their First Recital?

     This week I am having each of my students do a recital during our lesson time. Students range from around 4 years old to high school at a variety of ability levels. Many teachers and parents wonder, "When should a student do their first recital?"

Short answer: In the first session of lessons, which for me is 10 weeks longEvery student first learns all the Twinkles and then we play them together for the family; that tends to be the first recital. Then every session students play a mini-recital of songs they have learned and are mastering.

     The recital usually consists of the student playing all the songs he or she has memorized for family and friends. This goes hand-in-hand with Dr. Suzuki's idea of home recitals being performed regularly for the family. This is an easy way to introduce students and parents to public performances. It also motivates students because they not only have a long-term goal, but also short-term goals in mind. It is very rewarding as a teacher to see students start to have the confidence to invite friends and others outside the family.

     For newer students, I have some surprised parents that I would do a recital in this way and so soon in part because they are used to recitals being once in a while, each student plays one piece and it is a very serious occasion. So I understand the reluctance to do a recital if all you've known is once in a while, serious and stressful. But I do not look at recitals in that way. I think of them as a time of fun and celebration; as a way to show others what you have learned. Students get to dress nice, bring snacks, take a picture together, and have a great time celebrating their progress and accomplishments along with their family. Plus, the family can record the recitals so they can go back to see where their child started. Parents do see the benefits of these recitals after the second and third recital, because they see the progress themselves and see how much their child has accomplished. 

    Yes, students do still get nervous and still make mistakes. But this is part of the process of becoming a musician and you can still have a nice recital. Some teachers, out of good intentions, push really hard that everything be done "perfect," so they wait and wait before having their students play. Some teachers have students play only once a semester, but students need to gain experience playing in front of people as much as gaining proficiency on their instrument. 

    What have you experienced in recitals? What do you think of doing mini-recitals for the family and friends? Any suggestions?

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