Why I still hold Studio Recitals even though they can be a pain in the rump…
Every so often I come across a teacher that doesn’t believe in recitals, specifically formal recitals. I understand their reasoning. Formal recitals can be intimidating for students; dressing up, the lights turned dimmer, everyone staring at them. That can be a lot to handle for a young child, not to mention a pain to plan for a teacher. However, I think it is still worth it. I think formal recitals are essential for children. Recitals are beneficial for every part of the Suzuki Triangle- child, parent, and teacher.
I empathize with my nervous students. I’ve had some bad recitals in my lifetime, a lot of bad recitals. The day before my senior recital at Utah State University I was admitted to the hospital. (I was 7 1/2 months pregnant and my stress level was triggering contractions.) When my students tell me that they are nervous about the recital, I understand what they are saying. I just think that nervousness is worth it.
The following are just a few of the many reasons to keep your students performing:
Self Esteem Comes From Doing Hard Things
I love watching my students’ faces as they bow after they have played well. The smiling faces and the sound of applause fills them up with good feelings because they earned it! I don’t think they would feel as good if recitals weren’t hard. They accomplished something incredible.
The Wake-up Call
When a student does not play well and does not get all those wonderful feelings as they take a bow, they almost always know exactly why. It’s because they were not prepared. I have very rarely had a student have two bad recitals in a row. A bad recital is a wake-up call. They know they need to practice if they want to play better at the next recital.
Recitals are “Marker” Days
It is hard to see the day to day and week to week progression of a skill like playing the violin. Progress may be steady, but it is almost always slow. Quarterly or biannual recitals are far enough apart that there can be noticeable change from recital to recital. When a student can remember back to the last recital and realize how far they’ve come, it encourages them to practice because they can see it’s actually making a difference.
This one is good for me, too. It is so rejuvenating to me to see that my students are making progress from recital to recital. I always feel like I’m an excited teacher at the lesson after a recital because I know that I’m helping.
The Studio Community
Playing a musical instrument can be fairly lonely. It’s a lot of time alone in your bedroom, just practicing. A recital is a great time to bring in that social aspect. You get positive feedback from friends, parents, grandparents, parents of other students, etc. A recital is an opportunity for parents to connect with other parents. That support from fellow Music Parents can be crucial in the never-ending practice battles. Here are a few more ideas you can use to build your studio community.
Performing is a Transferable Skill
Although I hope that I am creating lifelong musicians in my studio, I realize that most of my students will likely only play rarely once they have families and careers of their own. At that point, they probably won’t be using their vibrato skills very often. However, they probably will be using their performing skills. The ability to stand in front of a crowd, feel intimidated, and still be able to do what you need to do is a skill that is needed in almost every job. All that nervousness my students feel is going to feel a lot like what they will feel at their first job interview. If I can help them develop the skills to deal with those feelings, they’ll be able to walk into that interview with an air of confidence.
I’m a fairly introverted person, but I’ve always been able to hold my own in presentations in college classes, speaking in church, and interviewing. I really believe this is because I have performed so many times. I can put myself into “performance mode” and push through my anxiety.
Do you hold formal recitals? Why or why not? What other musical skills do you think are transferable to other careers?