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The COVID-19 pandemic forced us all to think creatively and learn new skills as our entire world pivoted online. Now, with the school year up and running, teachers are preparing students for an entirely different set of performance conditions, which require new ways of thinking, as well as creative performance preparation strategies.
This fall, I’m hosting a combination recital for my studio, featuring an in-person outdoor performance option in the parking lot of the community arts school where I teach, and pre-recorded performance videos shared via YouTube playlist.
Preparing my students for these very different styles of performance has required a different level of planning for me, both logistically and pedagogically.
Here are four guides I’ve created for students as they prepare their performances. I welcome you to print out and use these guides for yourself or your students. (Click on each image for the enlarged, printable PDF):
1. How to Memorize Recital Pieces
Even students who have memorized many pieces in the past are experiencing difficulty this fall. The transition to back-to-school has been stranger and more challenging at home. Many students have much higher levels of stress and are struggling to focus. Having a simple, organized plan for memorization (and starting early) will help them memorize.
2. Playing with Prerecorded Piano Tracks
I’ll be honest: I don’t hate this. I do miss working collaboratively with my pianist colleagues, but I love having prerecorded tracks. With these tracks, my students can now listen, study the piano score, and rehearse for several days in advance of the performance. My students who tend to rush are now forced to keep a steady beat, knowing that one of our magical pianists won’t be there to fix it if they rush in performance.
3. Preparing a Recorded Performance Video
If you, like me, have tried to make any type of educational video in the last six months, you know that what you envisioned as a five-minute instructional video can turn into two hours of video-recording torture. Taking the time to thoroughly prepare the recital piece, set the home stage, and make test recordings well in advance can make recording day much more positive.
4. Preparing for an Outdoor Performance
Many of us have turned to the natural ventilation of the outdoors as a performance venue during the pandemic. However, for students who may not be used to performing outdoors - or with a mask on - this will be a very unfamiliar setting. This may also be one of the first times they have performed for a live audience since things shut down in March, so doing practice performances will be crucial for their preparation.
How are you formatting your studio’s performances during the pandemic, and what new strategies are you using to prepare your students? Let me know in the comments down below!
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