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#1292610 - 10/23/09 06:32 PM recital jitters: line 'em up?
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1644
Loc: northern California
Hi, in the fine book "A Piano Teacher's Legacy", Frances Clark
says," Do not make the students sit in the front row and go through the torture of not being able to move or speak while they wait their turn (to perform)".
She suggests putting the students in another room, free to move about before they play. After they play, they may join the audience.
Your thoughts on this?
I am planning a December holiday program and it will be informal, as it will be held at a family home. I wanted to make this an informal occasion as compared to a formal recital in a hall that we do in the Spring.
Any thoughts on:
1. keeping the kids in another room to help with the jitters.
2. how to create an informal atmosphere
Thanks very much.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1292675 - 10/23/09 09:03 PM Re: recital jitters: line 'em up? [Re: Barb860]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I'd prefer to have my student's witness every part of the recital because each student offers something of themselves where they are at in progress at this time. The music and the composers are important parts of the performance and we learn by listening to other people's music we sometimes find new music selections that appeal to us and we look forward to playing them some day.

About sitting together at the front of the performance area, that is the way we did it for many years. There the kids have ring side seats to the piano where they can see and hear every mannerism and see the face (profile) of each student as they play. They don't miss a thing and I think they learn from it. The older, more experienced students set the pace with bowing and smiles and the newer, younger students again take their clues from the ones in the know.

There is safety in numbers because they are "all" in this together, contributing to the entire performance and it's enjoyment by the audience of listeners. The applause rushes in at the end of the set of music each student plays. There is a warmth in body heat and applause from the audience that comes from in back of the students since they are near the right front of the room. It is electric and crackles forward to them. I imagine that students are expecting their share when they bow and I think it is encouraging for them to be there, expectantly waiting for each person who plays before them to be done so that they can occupy the bench and do their share.

I don't think it helps at all to be separated from the group they will play for. I think having little to occupy their minds they might focus on their own feelings and reactions of waiting patiently. And, it is possible that one student who is disturbed by something is going to inflict that disturbance on another if allowed to mingle, visit, and chat.

I think it's much more important that the entire studio experience the recital together. For one thing, it shows the diversity of the teacher they have, the number of students in the studio family, the accomplishments that go along with a certain number of years of study. And, I think they develop an empathy for each other as they face their trials and tribulations together. When they give and get compliments I expect them to have a sincere and appreciate response to each other. It must be a positive message - I don't allow my students to point mistakes out to each other - we focus on what we learned, appreciated, enjoyed about the event and the day.

You can't get these benefits if you are in the warm-up room dealing with your own inner world.

Now, if all the students performing were of very high caliber and playing for 5 minutes or more of a master composer at a grade 6 or above - I think the stage performance of one entering at a time is a very good idea. The students are long term and serious musicians who are not focusing on their performances adding up to a possible future in music. I can see their need to be alone in their mind keeping their music from the distraction of the audience and other performers who are working on earlier literature.

The second group is a more mature musician than the normal studio progress recital which is comprised of mainly learning musicians.

There are many reasons and opportunities to present recitals for different purposes.

Frances Clark is a fine pedagogue, but I think we may have different experiences in our studios today in the neighborhoods we teach. We must remember that many of her affiliations in teaching were high in academic surroundings and that is the different in formal and informal recitals. She also taught in a different era in whatever way one would want to compare that to now. If considering only the clothing and deportment, that alone would be significant differences.

I like "mannerly" recitals best.

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#1292679 - 10/23/09 09:14 PM Re: recital jitters: line 'em up? [Re: Betty Patnude]
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
It probably depends on the individual, but I feed off the energy of watching everyone else play. That's good, because I always play either last or next to last since I'm one of my teacher's most advanced students.
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#1292696 - 10/23/09 09:35 PM Re: recital jitters: line 'em up? [Re: Horowitzian]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 10766
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Me too, Horowitzian. I love watching people perform, but I hate it when I can't get up to perform too.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1292703 - 10/23/09 09:50 PM Re: recital jitters: line 'em up? [Re: Morodiene]
lalakeys Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/05/06
Posts: 286
Loc: Chicago 'burbs
I've always had students sit in the audience, with their family and friends, until it's their turn to perform. Then they return to their seats and listen to the remainder of the recital with friends & family. I guess I've always considered recitals as an opportunity for students to share their music with those who matter most to them--and sitting beside Grandma or getting a hug from their favorite aunt after they perform can add to the overall enjoyment of the recital experience.
_________________________
Private piano & voice teacher for over 20 years; currently also working as a pipe organist for 3 area churches; sing in a Chicago-area acappella chamber choir

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#1292738 - 10/24/09 12:09 AM Re: recital jitters: line 'em up? [Re: lalakeys]
Andromaque Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3885
Loc: New York
I have always disliked recitals as a youngster. I found them predictable, boring and a poor use of my time on saturdays. I did my utmost creative best to avoid them. Now I completely understand the rationale for doing them etc.. and I do not envy the teachers for this task. But the bottom line is you should just get them done in the way that is most efficient and convenient to you, with emphasis on cutting on the duration of the recital.
I do not participate in or attend my current teacher's recitals (sheepishly for similar reasons as above) but I have to attend recitals in which young family members participate. The cute component non-withstanding, I find the experience to be totally atrocious. It is a lot worse of course when the violin students are part of the deal..
This is of course just an individual opinion but I am willing to bet that half of the audience at those recitals might share a somewhat similar take. Since you are not likely to please everyone, just do what is easiest for you.

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#1292766 - 10/24/09 01:40 AM Re: recital jitters: line 'em up? [Re: Andromaque]
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
About the violins...yeah. However, my teacher has two lovely young ladies who are sisters as students (well, one of them is now teaching herself). The younger plays the violin extremely well as well as piano, and they usually play something together which is always a treat at recitals. Now, young beginning violinists? Give me my earplugs!!!!! mad
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#1292768 - 10/24/09 01:52 AM Re: recital jitters: line 'em up? [Re: Horowitzian]
Andromaque Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3885
Loc: New York
Yeah I know the scene.. uber-rehearsed students, teacher grinning fakely in the corner and "you have all done well" (to quote Mr Grace via Sotto Voce).. I am in cynical mode tonight..

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#1292785 - 10/24/09 03:50 AM Re: recital jitters: line 'em up? [Re: Andromaque]
abcdefg Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/18/09
Posts: 67
Loc: midwest
I agree with Betty Patnude. I think it is important for the students to hear each other. The older students can hear music they once played or remember what their first recitals were like. The younger students observe the more accomplished students and will hear music that they can play in the future. Besides performing our students are learning to be an audience also.

I had students playing in a festival one year. The older students had to wait in the green room. They were disappointed because they were not able to sit in the audience. They missed seeing their younger siblings and hearing the music the other groups played.

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#1292860 - 10/24/09 10:29 AM Re: recital jitters: line 'em up? [Re: abcdefg]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
My students get a kick out of watching each other. It always amazes me how many come back to me with a request to learn something that another student performed. I don't remember listening that well back in the days of my own recitals!

I reserve a front row for any students who want to sit there, but don't make anyone. Some prefer to sit with their families.

My attitude with recitals is the same as when I was leading a children's choir: It's a win-win situation. If they do well, then great! If they don't do well, then they're still cute.

I do address nerves individually with students, depending upon how I think they will react. We might discuss ways to "fake out the audience." The kids get a kick out of that. Things like: ending well (last note is most remembered.) Play with confidence. If you play timidly, it gives the message that you don't know what you're doing, or that you're afraid. Dress nicely - people respond to what they see as much as what they hear. Smile big when you bow. Audience will take their cue from you - they probably don't have any idea whether you missed any notes. If you look sad or worried, then they will feel bad for you. If you look happy, then they will believe you did great. Keep going. Audiences may not know your piece, but they will feel the rhythm, and will recognize interruptions. I also tell them the sad/happy truth that most adults out there care most about how their own kid does, and aren't going to think too hard about how many mistakes you made.
_________________________
piano teacher

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#1293127 - 10/24/09 08:55 PM Re: recital jitters: line 'em up? [Re: Lollipop]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
The underlying reason for Clark's advice comes from the domino effect. If a student makes an error, fear seems to feed on itself, and every student there after will make a mistake. I've done it both ways, and before starting my monthly performance class, I found that having students out of the room worked best. Now that students are conditioned to perform and know that some students will have "hick ups", I keep them in the recital room.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1294013 - 10/26/09 12:03 PM Re: recital jitters: line 'em up? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
My students sit with their families in the audience, before and after they play. I can't imagine having them in a separate room! That last person to play gets to hear no one else play? That's crazy. Kids need to hear other people of all ages/levels. Plus, kids don't have that many occasions anymore where they need to "be seen and not heard" it is good for them to respect the other performers.
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1294167 - 10/26/09 03:00 PM Re: recital jitters: line 'em up? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
The underlying reason for Clark's advice comes from the domino effect. If a student makes an error, fear seems to feed on itself, and every student there after will make a mistake.


I think this is a valid observation. I've seen meltdowns - especially with younger children. One starts crying and they're all gone!

However, rather than sequester them, I choose to deal with it in a slightly different way. I tell the kids ahead of time that someone will make a mistake - that it is guaranteed, because none of us are perfect. And part of the lesson we get from being in recitals is to learn how to recover from a mistake, and to also learn that if you make a mistake, nothing really bad happens. Nobody dies. Nobody even bleeds.

And then I arm the kids - as I stated above - with weapons on how to deal with it. How to smile after a poor performance. How to make the audience believe that it wasn't that big of a deal. The trick is to let each kid know they are in control at all times, and what happens is their choice.

At our lessons leading up to the recital, I announce that we are "going to practice bowing". After playing their piece they must sit with their hands in their laps for a moment, stand up and look the "audience" (imagined) in the eye, plaster a big smile on their face, and count to three in their head BEFORE they bow. The whole thing feels like slow motion to a kid eager to get off the stage, but I explain that it makes them look relaxed and in control. If they do it wrong - eg. forget to smile, they do it over. At the recital, almost every single one of them looks at me before they do this ritual - with a secret smile on their faces, as if this is all a big conspiracy we're in together.

This week, one new student asked if she HAD to bow, so I got a chance to explain to her the purpose of "thanking" an audience - showing respect to them, and treating them with honor - that it is manners. I also teach kids how to bow. The mechanics don't really matter, except that kids feel somehow more secure if they feel like they're "doing it right." (I encourage them to bend at the waist, with their hands down loose at their sides - as opposed to the kinds of bows and curtsies that precede a formal dance). And by giving them something trivial to focus on, it takes a lot of pressure off the performance itself.
_________________________
piano teacher

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#1294671 - 10/27/09 10:11 AM Re: recital jitters: line 'em up? [Re: Lollipop]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10297
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
I see John's point about meltdowns and I also see Lollipop's rejoinder about how to avoid sequestering the students.

For my tastes, putting the students in a holding area (or pen, if you will) does defeat one of the purposes of the recital. But lining them up in the front row is the other extreme that seems as bad or worse than holding them away from the action in some sort of musical green room.

My views on this are academic, I guess, because most of my own experiences have been in situations that adopted a reasonable middle course of action. My son's first teacher held recitals at home in her large tudor-style studio. Everyone sat in chairs or on the two sofas. The students weren't segregated from their families. The performances were usually all mixed up. The more advanced students were not automatically held to last. Duets were mixed with solos. Parent's sometimes accompanied their own kids. An occasional two-instrument duet (piano-violin, piano-clarinet) broke the routine. It was a warm and welcoming style that relieved as much of the pressure as possible in what is nonetheless an anxious situation. [As you can probably guess, I happily recommend this teacher in my area!].

In the larger multiple-teacher recitals that are held on the small concert room on campus the students sit with their parents or friends. They are all supposed to listen to each other. I have noticed no meltdown effect in this situation. Individual meltdowns happen, but they tend not to spread like a virus to all the other students.



Edited by Piano*Dad (10/27/09 11:28 AM)
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#1294693 - 10/27/09 10:41 AM Re: recital jitters: line 'em up? [Re: Barb860]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 10766
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Barb860
Hi, in the fine book "A Piano Teacher's Legacy", Frances Clark
says," Do not make the students sit in the front row and go through the torture of not being able to move or speak while they wait their turn (to perform)".
She suggests putting the students in another room, free to move about before they play. After they play, they may join the audience.
Your thoughts on this?
I am planning a December holiday program and it will be informal, as it will be held at a family home. I wanted to make this an informal occasion as compared to a formal recital in a hall that we do in the Spring.
Any thoughts on:
1. keeping the kids in another room to help with the jitters.
2. how to create an informal atmosphere
Thanks very much.


I don't think I've ever had a student melt-down before. I have done both, having the students sit with their families, and also sit off to the side. The reason for the latter, however, was to keep things moving quickly. When I hold recitals in my studio, it may be awkward if a student is at the edge of the row and has to crawl over people to get to the aisle. So I asked students to sit in the front row or off to the side where there's an alcove and I had chair sand couches set up. I do mix it up quite a bit, alternating between voice and piano students, and considering those students who have a preference as to when they perform. I generally end with an up-beat more advanced piece by a more confident student.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1294925 - 10/27/09 04:08 PM Re: recital jitters: line 'em up? [Re: Morodiene]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I had just read Frances Clark again last week and noticed her recommendations on recitals.

Let's remember that Frances Clark was writing in magazines around the 1980's - I don't know exactly the years that she contributed. But, my point is "then" was different then "now" is, I think.

One of the things I think doing it the way I explained previously in this topic, is that you are providing your students with an education about how to face their doubts, worries, anxiety, disappointments when you put them in the midst of all the other students.

I've always counted on the new, beginning, elementary students to take their clues from the older students, and they do.

I teach things like deep breathing, creating a quiet inner world when you need one, facing what is bothering the student and working to understand if it's a valid thought or a fear. There is just much opportunity to interface with our kids and to do some preventive work.

I like my students to know that I am there for them "...at good times and bad times, I'll be on your side for ever more, that's what "teachers" are for (like lyrics to "That's What Friends are For").

My last idea is that as a musical family is established in my studio, we are all in this together. I think my philosophy communicates positive things to my students to encourage them through the learning how to perform and what to expect of themselves as they get their own experience.

I think it might even be a horrow story for today's kids to be behind the scenes free to mingle, talk, move about, and then to have to respond quickly to the nudge that "you're up!"

It's far better to know what has been going on in the performance area so that you can be a continuous part of the flow from beginning to end. There would be so much you'd be missing if you were elsewhere!

Try it different ways - you'll come to a decision at some point about what you want to deliver at recitals - for your students, their families, their guests, and for yourself.

Betty

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