Giving an adult or child music student the opportunity to perform on stage every six months is extremely beneficial to the learning process.
First, it’s the best way to get an honest assessment of how a student is progressing. Many parents need to see the improve- ments their child is making from week-to-week. Unfortunately for eager parents, progress isn’t always consistent. If you were to reference any stock graph, you’d see that companies have performance peaks and valleys performance.
In much the same way, there are peaks and valleys in a student’s musical performance over time. Students will experience valleys during their practice sessions at home and peaks during their lessons at school. For this reason, recitals are important because you’ll be able to see how your child is able to perform a particular piece they have dedicated their time to learning and perfecting.
The second benefit of recitals is that it gives students the chance to perform in front of an audience. These performances can play a big role in their self-confidence later in life when they will need to make in-class presentations, perform speeches, lead a meeting, run a church gathering, or give a full-blown sales presentation or conference. A recital helps them understand the im- portance of preparing and practicing for a performance in front of a real audience.
Another benefit of a recital is that the unexpected can happen. Mistakes, unforeseen sound issues, or missed cues have happened to every professional musician. For example, Metallica and Lady Gaga played at the Grammys and the microphone went out. Monumental sound issues have affected Super Bowl performances in front of millions of viewers. These professional artists were forced to handle situations tactfully and gracefully. Experiencing an unexpected mishap on stage will help the student learn how to react to problems, cope with stress, and improvise!
Recitals are great for boosting a child’s self-esteem. Students are encouraged to invite their family, friends, and neighbors to their performances. A child has a lot to gain from having a room full of people they love watching them perform. For many, the pride and feeling of accomplishment of playing in front of a supportive crowd cannot be beaten.
It’s important that a music academy places a heavy emphasis on having fun on the night of a recital. When you’re researching music schools in your area, look for one that provides additional services that make the performance night a unique experience for your child.
At my school, we roll out a red carpet and have a step and repeat banner for our students, allowing them to take pictures with their families and teachers. Photos on a red carpet with a child’s teacher is a memorable and confidence-boosting experience.
Our recitals are formal, and we encourage the students to dress up for the evening. The entire audience of families and friends acts as a supportive and positive network that uplifts and encourages the children on stage. Formal recitals are more beneficial than little showcases for children because they are given the opportunity to perform on a big stage with other performers in front of a large, enthusiastic crowd. While it is a good idea to choose a great academy with a positive and uplifting philosophy towards recitals, it’s equally as important that you as a parent have an optimistic view of the recital. I am a very patient person, and I enjoy spending time with my three-year-old daughter and helping other children develop their own musical abilities. I understand that children are their own people and develop at their own rate, both in maturity and skill level.
It is with this mentality that I invite parents to be forgiving with their children during their recitals. Despite months of preparation and practice, many students are still quite nervous before a recital. If they truly aren’t ready and aren’t willing to go on stage, give them a hug, be supportive, and let them watch the other students perform.
Not being able to perform at a recital isn’t the end of the world. Parents should be happy that they’re investing in their children and giving them the opportunity to take lessons, perform, and grow. If a child doesn’t wish to perform, then it isn’t wise to force them to get on stage. They will always have another opportunity (often in six more months!) to prepare and perform on stage.
While I understand that parents want their children to be successful, I ask that parents allow their child’s passion for music to grow in a healthy and organic way. Parents shouldn’t push their child too hard because it could negatively impact their self-esteem. If your child makes a mistake on stage, it’s important to be supportive of them and remind them that they’ll have another opportunity soon.
My school is not a competitive environment, and we make sure that the students understand the importance of respecting and supporting each other. It’s about the love of art and the musical journey.
In my years as a music professional and educator, I have seen children grow from shy and introverted to outgoing, confident young adults. The ones who underwent this change stuck with the lessons and took every recital opportunity they could. The students were inspired by music and they were able to perform in front of a crowd, which in turn boosted their confidence. The progress didn’t happen after just four lessons, but from years of positive reinforcement by teachers and parents.