Convincing a student to play for a recital?
Is there a good way to convince a student to perform in a recital? I've offered to wave the memorization requirement, let them perform an old piece (or a new one if they're just getting tired of the old rep!), but no budging. It's an older student who's played in recitals in the past, but after a bad experience earlier in the year, no longer wants to perform. They also feel uncomfortable being the one of the oldest students at the event. I think playing in the recital would be extremely beneficial and have told them so (and given all the standard reasons why) but I don't want to seem too pushy. Is it just a lost cause?
Is it a lost cause? I think that's unfortunate language. We forced our older daughter to perform a "senior recital." ("Forced" means a combination of guilting and cajoling and so forth.) She was miserable preparing for it and even more miserable performing it. And yes, the memorization requirement was a big part of that.
I am an older student, with zero ambitions to be a soloist, and I, like your student, felt self conscious and out of place playing in recitals with little kids and their parents. My teacher and I solved the problem by playing a duet as the recital piece. Another time, three friends and I played one of the easier movements from a Haydn Quartet. I agree there are benefits from performing and preparing to perform. This compromise worked for us.
I'm probably the oldest student in my teacher's studio (mid-60s). Students range from Twinkles to teens and pre-teens who play concerti by Mozart and Bruch. My teacher has played duets with me and with some of the other students, who maybe also lack confidence. This is immensely less stressful than playing with piano since we have many run throughs instead of just a single rehearsal. Having these duet experiences is giving me the courage to try a concerto movement for the Spring recital.
The duet sounds like a nice solution.
I never was requested to participate in a student recital during the 8 years of my violin lessons nor the 3 years of cello lessons. Having heard the greatest players in the world on regular radio broadcasts of the NBC Symphony and the Bell Telephone Hour, I would have felt they were competition I would not choose to encounter. (Also, in late 1939, at 5 I had "seen" Heifetz play in the movie "They Shall Have Music" - who would want to compete with that? By the time I was 6 months into my cello studies at age 15 I would accept every performing opportunity that was offered - some for money! (What arrogance!!!)
I have mixed feelings about recitals. They can be very good experiences. They are an opportunity for a student to play in public. They put things on a schedule. Students' can hear each other play.
It's tough with adults. My recommendation is to simply tell them that if they want to, they can. Maybe suggest it'd be a good experience, but that's about all you can do. Recitals really aren't that beneficial to some people, particularly self-aware adults.
I like the idea of a duet, but I would also suggest some low-key performances. Set up for them to play at a nursing home, a preschool, a shelter, or some other very appreciative low-key audience. My younger kid has some major performance anxiety and never wants to play, and we have improved it by giving her successful opportunities to play in low stress environments.
Gracie has not returned to her thread, but I agree with George that "older" could be better defined. I had in mind a teenager, maybe 15-16 years old, who was playing something in Book 6 and didn't want to have circles run around them by kids half their age.
My grandson, now 29, works in the music industry composing, making "CDs" and recording. His degree is in music and film. My grandson started piano lessons at age 4 or 5. His teacher held monthly get-togethers with all his young students and they each just played a piece for the group of students. He did the same thing with his adult students. My grandson's father also took lessons from him and participated in that group - in fact he is still taking lessons from that teacher (going on 25 years).
I studied with a teacher that only had young students but insisted on recitals every month. Worse, you recited the piece at whatever stage it was at - no waiting till it was as good as possible. Actually, that helped because everyone was just trying to be as good as possible, rather than falling into the 'perfection trap'. As I was one of the stronger students with her I actually enjoyed the trip.
That's interesting, Paul. I wonder why he's opposed to duets. I think it's a great way of elevating a less experienced player's performance, as well as taking the pressure off.
Erik it could be as simple as not wanting to upstage a student. I think he also wants his students to reach out to other students to find duet partners and the like. But I really don't know.
I completely understand that feeling of when you did bad in a recital earlier in the year and then you don't want to perform for another recital. I think just letting your students know that just one bad recital does not define them as a bad player, and it never means that. Professionals nowadays still make mistakes and it's only human to make mistakes, although we can't always rely on the fact to make mistakes because obviously we need to fix it and find a solution to it. But if the student really does not want to perform this time, maybe given them some space to think and let them skip the recital. Sometimes they just need some time and space to calm themselves down and begin a fresh start so that they can improve their performance skills in the future.
I have a kid that just did a small piece on a recital and it when better than expected. I played down the significance of the event, had kid do some visualizing of what it would be like up there, and the piece was pretty straightforward (with no accompaniment).
Paul, is your older daughter missing out on chamber music?
Sorry for the vagueness about the age, the student is a teenager and is at an intermediate level. It is my understanding that the student doesn't wish to pursue any career or future in music outside of possibly joining their college orchestra for fun, while pursuing a degree outside of music. I was always pushed to do recitals when I was growing up and accepted them as a necessary part of violin training, but in hindsight I realize that is not the case for everyone. Thanks for this added perspective!
If you want to make someonena comfortable performer you have to start with small stakes. Small increments in the size of the audience, difficulty of the music, the ensemble, whathaveyou. And of course an atmosphere where mistakes are fun too. Where kids go wrong is with the typical order of events:
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