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#1523424 - 09/27/10 03:19 AM Recital Problems
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5415
Loc: Orange County, CA
For the late-intermediate and advanced students who have hit middle school or high school: How do you keep them interested in performing in your studio recitals?? How do you keep them practicing and take recitals SERIOUSLY?



Or should I be grateful that they showed up at all??
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#1523440 - 09/27/10 03:43 AM Re: Recital Problems [Re: AZNpiano]
Minaku Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/07
Posts: 1226
Loc: Atlanta
Hmm, I haven't run into this problem as much lately since my studio has dwindled but I used to do a couple of things:

1. Let them know that under no circumstance will they be allowed to skip as it is part of my studio policy to have a recital

2. Give them something they want to play at a recital

3. Give them multiple pieces so it isn't just a minute and done

Barring that, #4: put the fear of God into them after a thorough tongue-lashing about responsibility and setting an example and letting them know that if they do skip I know where they live and will come and stare at them through their windows for a whole year.

The last part is a joke but it still weirds my kids out.
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#1523444 - 09/27/10 03:51 AM Re: Recital Problems [Re: Minaku]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5415
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Minaku
put the fear of God into them after a thorough tongue-lashing about responsibility and setting an example and letting them know that if they do skip I know where they live and will come and stare at them through their windows for a whole year.

If I said that, I'd get arrested. Yikes!

They all play multiple pieces, unless they're simply not ready. Maybe I should plan recitals after competitions and exams. Then it will completely defeat the purpose of recitals. But, again, what is the purpose of studio recitals?
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#1523454 - 09/27/10 04:01 AM Re: Recital Problems [Re: AZNpiano]
Minaku Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/07
Posts: 1226
Loc: Atlanta
I like to use them as rewards for a year of (semi) hard work, but they are useful for competition preparation. There have been years when I've changed things up and planned a recording session instead of a recital, and had my recital after all the exams and competitions have finished.

I think it's a matter of finding out what the student likes and wants to play and using that as an acceptable goal. I had a student who didn't particularly want to play in a recital but after I offered her a deal where I'd let her play her Zelda music in addition to her recital pieces (which meant she ended up playing three pieces instead of two) she got excited.

Edited to add: I have been known to say outrageous things in lesson.


Edited by Minaku (09/27/10 04:01 AM)
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#1523487 - 09/27/10 05:55 AM Re: Recital Problems [Re: AZNpiano]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Exams are recital preparation, and not the other way around. A recital is an actual public event that counts for something. An exam is a warm-up to make sure you're good enough for the recital.

Which one counts, your doctor's final exam at med school, or your surgery?
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#1523709 - 09/27/10 01:32 PM Re: Recital Problems [Re: AZNpiano]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
Gosh, I don't have this problem at all. My studio policy states that recital participation is required and all of my students participate. I always let the students choose from their current repertoire what they want to prepare for the recital.
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#1523713 - 09/27/10 01:36 PM Re: Recital Problems [Re: david_a]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5415
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: david_a
Which one counts, your doctor's final exam at med school, or your surgery?

I'm not sure I follow this metaphor.

I think exams are important, and I like students to get some practice before they take their tests. Maybe I should re-title these "recitals" as "performance workshops."

Another thing I discovered among these students is that they like to forget their pieces right after the test. Sometimes I wish I have the ability to wipe my memory like that. f
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#1523766 - 09/27/10 03:14 PM Re: Recital Problems [Re: AZNpiano]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: david_a
Which one counts, your doctor's final exam at med school, or your surgery?

I'm not sure I follow this metaphor.

I think exams are important, and I like students to get some practice before they take their tests. Maybe I should re-title these "recitals" as "performance workshops."

Another thing I discovered among these students is that they like to forget their pieces right after the test. Sometimes I wish I have the ability to wipe my memory like that. f
The metaphor was certainly overdone. frown
But playing in front of the public is the big goal for any pianist (student or not) as far as I'm concerned, and taking a test, marked by somebody else's teacher, comes in a distant second. The exam to me is emphatically not "where the rubber hits the road", "the main event", or anything like that.

If your recitals really are performance workshops, a sort of exam prep session or an opportunity to try some repertoire outside the practice room, then re-naming them to match reality might make things easier and better.

I prefer to emphasize the recital as "the real deal", performing in front of everybody at a public event, and the exam as "a formality" or even a bit of drudgery to get through on the way to concert day. Piano exams in my part of the world are so over-hyped and over-rated that I am doing my best to find ways to promote "performance" over "test taking" as musicians' primary activity.





In the gleefully politically-incorrect days of my youth, my high school physics teacher made fun of students who learned by "the stuff-and-vomit method" and couldn't remember anything after the test. I suggest you not use his uncouth phrase on anybody. smile
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#1523867 - 09/27/10 05:55 PM Re: Recital Problems [Re: AZNpiano]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1644
Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
For the late-intermediate and advanced students who have hit middle school or high school: How do you keep them interested in performing in your studio recitals?? How do you keep them practicing and take recitals SERIOUSLY?



Or should I be grateful that they showed up at all??
Yes, be grateful! I like your idea of renaming your recitals "performance workshops", if indeed they would be workshops, which to me implies playing works in progress with critique to follow. A workshop implies more of an informal event IMO.
Do you speak to parents about encouraging their kids to perform at recitals? In my experience, this helps, especially with the older students.
To add:
many college applications have a place where the student can check if he/she has performed in any music recitals in high school. This can motivate to get the students there, too.


Edited by Barb860 (09/27/10 05:57 PM)
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#1524072 - 09/28/10 01:42 AM Re: Recital Problems [Re: AZNpiano]
Canonie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 1941
Loc: Australia
My students have not hit the danger age yet. I have a bunch of 13 year olds but none older (except for my adults who are much older smile ). They still perform. It may also help that the concerts have a bit of a different emphasis: performance for the pleasure of your family and other students, enjoying the music of others, socialising, shared food.

My concerts do not have the formality that recitals generally do. I made the recent concert a bit more formal and I have to say I didn't like it as much.. so I'll revert to the old model. Parent singalong is the best bit wink
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#1524084 - 09/28/10 02:43 AM Re: Recital Problems [Re: Barb860]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5415
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Barb860
many college applications have a place where the student can check if he/she has performed in any music recitals in high school. This can motivate to get the students there, too.


YES! I've been telling my high-school students to start keeping track of their performances and festivals. I'm not so sure how this helps them if they are not music majors, but at least it shows that they are well rounded students who have something else going on other than their inflated GPA.
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#1524142 - 09/28/10 07:15 AM Re: Recital Problems [Re: AZNpiano]
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4977
Loc: boston north
Two thoughts, maybe more!

One single performance; one duet either with you or another piano student or even another instrument. They could play and help with younger students or advanced for duets.

Exams - classical, recital - popular piece?

They get to also be the ushers and help put on the recital (that being a reward). Thinking that will help prepare them for recitals on their own for their church, school, community ctr. or wherever.

The recital is where they are recorded or video taped as an extra incentive.


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#1524258 - 09/28/10 10:40 AM Re: Recital Problems [Re: AZNpiano]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13759
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Practicing without performing is like cooking food and never serving it to others.
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#1524283 - 09/28/10 11:01 AM Re: Recital Problems [Re: AZNpiano]
KR123 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/25/09
Posts: 10
Hi! I'm not a teacher, but I though I'd share something my daughter's teacher does.

I think as the students get older, they see that recital audiences are just other kids' parents who are really only interested in hearing their own kids.

Instead of traditional recitals, my daughter's teacher schedules performances for various groups. For instance, last year they did a program for a large senior citizen adult day care facility. The large audience was very appreciative, and I think the students were inspired to put on a good show. BTW, she calls the shows "concerts", not "recitals".

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#1524284 - 09/28/10 11:02 AM Re: Recital Problems [Re: AZNpiano]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10348
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: Barb860
many college applications have a place where the student can check if he/she has performed in any music recitals in high school. This can motivate to get the students there, too.


YES! I've been telling my high-school students to start keeping track of their performances and festivals. I'm not so sure how this helps them if they are not music majors, but at least it shows that they are well rounded students who have something else going on other than their inflated GPA.


Well, my research on colleges has convinced me that it does indeed help students who are not planning to be music majors. There is an arts supplement to the common application, for instance, that allows students to submit a music resumé and a CD or DVD. Clearly, the benefits you get from this in the admission process are rather highly correlated with how good you are. But schools do consider this as part of the process of building a well rounded freshman class. If you have students who are thinking ahead to college prep, but who are not planning on a conservatory, this kind of incentive may help keep them working at the instrument. Perhaps it's not the best motivation, but any tool in the toolkit helps at that age.
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#1524332 - 09/28/10 11:58 AM Re: Recital Problems [Re: Kreisler]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3149
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Practicing without performing is like cooking food and never serving it to others.

+10
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#1524390 - 09/28/10 01:31 PM Re: Recital Problems [Re: TimR]
danshure Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 347
Loc: Massachusetts
Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Practicing without performing is like cooking food and never serving it to others.

+10


What's the implied goal of a recital though? To cook up a fancy steak in order to try and please others (be judged)? You may really want to make a burger, and if you stick to that which you love, you could be the world's best burger chef ever. But instead you're making gourmet steaks that no one wants because you're trying to be accepted.

So why do we cook, to please others? Or to please ourselves first, which in turn will please others?

To learn and grow and make meaningful music, it doesn't really matter if you play for others - play for yourself and if others get the chance to listen they will love what you have to say.
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#1524394 - 09/28/10 01:35 PM Re: Recital Problems [Re: Kreisler]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5415
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Practicing without performing is like cooking food and never serving it to others.


Interesting metaphor. Where did you get that from?

My immediate response is--I cook to eat, not necessarily to serve the food to others. But it is fun to see other people eating the food you just cooked.
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#1524446 - 09/28/10 03:00 PM Re: Recital Problems [Re: AZNpiano]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13759
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I made it up. smile

And I chose words carefully.

Some people cook simply for themselves, for sustenance. The food may be bland, come in a box or frozen, or whatever, but it's their choice, and it does the job.

Others cook for themselves, but they want to cook healthy, interesting food. They seek out advice and take cooking classes or read cookbooks.

Some like to cook for others. Maybe nothing fancy - just a good meal to enjoy with friends.

Some like to cook for others, but take an enormous amount of pride in their creation. They improvise on recipes and presentation, and care a great deal about the experience others have when eating their food.

And then there are shades of grey in between. Plus, there are amateur chefs who prepare wonderful and interesting food for themselves. And there are professional chefs who cook whatever garbage Applebee's has on the menu for hundreds of people.
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"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#1525138 - 09/29/10 04:32 PM Re: Recital Problems [Re: AZNpiano]
Andromaque Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3886
Loc: New York
I never understood this dogged insistence by all piano teachers I have ever known, to make students perform at their recitals.. Why is it so catastrophic to skip recitals? Make it optional and everyone is happy..
I for one have doggedly refused to perform under the auspices of teacher recitals. Can't stand it actually. It is a dog and pony show regardless of the level of the students. Of course I do not encourage others to follow my lead, but I reserve the right to opt out..
Even as an adult, I get to hear the same mantra from my teacher, even though I have told him clearly that I am not interested. Every 6 or 8 weeeks, he restarts the same conversation as if we had never talked about it.. In fact the last time he mentioned it, he even implied that it is "mandatory" which made me rather angry. What gives? Any suggestions how to talk him out of it? I clearly don't get the point of recitals but I also can't seem to get the arguments in favor of recitals, so I am not able to get through to him..

P.S> The cooking analogy.. What a quagmire! You can make it work in favor of both arguments, pro- and con- recitals..


Edited by Andromaque (09/29/10 04:34 PM)

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#1525146 - 09/29/10 04:46 PM Re: Recital Problems [Re: Andromaque]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: Andromaque
I never understood this dogged insistence by all piano teachers I have ever known, to make students perform at their recitals.. Why is it so catastrophic to skip recitals? Make it optional and everyone is happy..
I for one have doggedly refused to perform under the auspices of teacher recitals. Can't stand it actually. It is a dog and pony show regardless of the level of the students. Of course I do not encourage others to follow my lead, but I reserve the right to opt out..
Even as an adult, I get to hear the same mantra from my teacher, even though I have told him clearly that I am not interested. Every 6 or 8 weeeks, he restarts the same conversation as if we had never talked about it.. In fact the last time he mentioned it, he even implied that it is "mandatory" which made me rather angry. What gives? Any suggestions how to talk him out of it? I clearly don't get the point of recitals but I also can't seem to get the arguments in favor of recitals, so I am not able to get through to him..

P.S> The cooking analogy.. What a quagmire! You can make it work in favor of both arguments, pro- and con- recitals..


For what it's worth, I'm with you on this. NOT everyone wants to perform for other people, and I agree that they shouldn't have to. I had to as a kid. I hated it. Did it help me in ANY way? I think not.
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#1525154 - 09/29/10 05:09 PM Re: Recital Problems [Re: AZNpiano]
casinitaly Offline

Gold Supporter until March 1 2014


Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 4869
Loc: Italy
Sometimes I cook just because I'm hungry and I need to eat.
More often I love to cook and prepare something tasty, be it for myself, for my husband and me, or for friends.

There are times when I will go to great length to prepare something pretty spectucular - because it is really fun, and when I do so , I really love to share it with people I care about, and people I know will enjoy it.

With my music, I love to play, just for myself. I enjoy playing for my husband (my biggest supporter!). and I enjoy playing for my friends.

I am not sure that I'd want to play for strangers, but if I did end up doing so, I'd want to be good enough to serve up something special - something that would be worth their time.

What I would have trouble with would be being pushed, coerced or nagged into performing in public.

I know the OP was talking about teen-agers, but as the topic shifted to provide some adult perspectives (and I couldn't resist the lovely food analogy)... I thought I'd put in my 2 cents.
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#1525171 - 09/29/10 05:27 PM Re: Recital Problems [Re: Andromaque]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13759
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Originally Posted By: Andromaque
P.S> The cooking analogy.. What a quagmire! You can make it work in favor of both arguments, pro- and con- recitals..


That was my point. It easily works in favor of both arguments.

And I agree with you - I don't really understand why teachers insist on one or the other, except in the case of young students, many of whom will insist they don't want to perform, yet when they do, become very interested and comfortable with the idea. (Plus, it's often a very good motivator and educational experience. There are many, many fields which require adherence to a deadline and communicating with an audience, so the educational value, at least for younger students, reaches far beyond the musical realm.)

Everyone should try it a few times, especially when younger, but I see no reason it has to be mandatory.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#1525448 - 09/30/10 07:23 AM Re: Recital Problems [Re: Kreisler]
Andromaque Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3886
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
many fields which require adherence to a deadline and communicating with an audience, so the educational value, at least for younger students, reaches far beyond the musical realm"



I would argue that there are many many opportunities for adherence to a deadline and communication with a "public" that a youngster encounters quite early in life, for educational purposes. Starting with homework and class presentations.. Being forced to play in a recital does not necessarily translate into excellent communication skills or improved social aptitude. It may even lead to the opposite, arguably. I think that when it comes to music, the main educational value should be to develop joy, love and longing for music. Mostly for oneself or at least, not necessarily for others.

Mind you I am not a warm and fuzzy type and I value the pragmatic just as much as the beautiful. But I find that "piano education" is often ridden with cliches that get transmitted unadulterated, from teacher to student. Respecting a deadline is a somewhat overrated "value". Navigating deadlines is an art that most adults learn on the go. No piano recital necessary. By the way, even adults, piano teachers included, (mostly) respond to deadlines out of concern for consequences and not willingly! smile

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#1525620 - 09/30/10 01:08 PM Re: Recital Problems [Re: AZNpiano]
danshure Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 347
Loc: Massachusetts
Just to add - it's probably pretty clear I am not in favor of recitals being mandatory (or really at all) but there does need to be something to replace them. Two examples are;

-Recordings - I have used this method for years. Students love recording themselves during the lesson. Then they can share it with family and friends if they want to. And also, they are not getting up in front of a crowd just before or after dozens of other performances. Recordings really make it something special for each student. They can share their music completely separately from other students and without so much pressure. They put them on their iPods, make CDs and email them to friends.

-Master Class - This is a little more along the lines of what Canonie was talking about. It's a little more social, less formal, less pressure and encourages group participation. Instead of "go up on stage and show us what you've got" it's "let's voluntarily take turns playing and learning from eachother".

I think as teachers we should focus on what we're really excited about doing. If you get excited about recitals and love the planning and the atmosphere then YES by all means do them, they are for you. I for one do not get excited one bit about the thought of doing a recital.
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#1526085 - 10/01/10 08:29 AM Re: Recital Problems [Re: AZNpiano]
Canonie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 1941
Loc: Australia
YOur Master Class sounds enjoyable danshure, but I should clarify that my concerts are not master classes - that would imply the presence of a master! They are informal concerts.

Something is definitely different though because ALL my young students are dying to play in the next concert. I frame it differently; as an exciting chance to play this wonderful piece for all the Grown Ups. We discuss how the GrownUps will like it, the child often invents "improvements" to the piece (they may have only had 8 lessons, so cocky laugh ), sometimes theatrical embellishments are required.

My goal is to ensure that everyone who starts will still be involved in making music throughout life. My job is to get them to fall permanently in love with making music. The role of music in society is part of this: performing for the pleasure of others, listening with pleasure to the performance of others. Of course my very first job is to make sure they don't drop out!

I create a buzz of anticipation prior to the concert.. "wait 'til you hear H play The Simpsons - you'll love it! M has written a very cool piece... ". They like to ask what others are playing, they gradually get to know most of the other students - it's very social.

One thing that's helped this particular model is putting the main emphasis on choosing a really good piece, rather than perfect execution. I think this helps the child feel comfortable and confident. What "really good" means is ultimately up to the student (I feed them lots of useful pieces I hope). I love it when 6 or 7 years olds gravely declare that "this would make a good concert piece" quite early in the term. I laugh inside and think "Ha! my plan is working!".
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#1526118 - 10/01/10 09:42 AM Re: Recital Problems [Re: Andromaque]
MrHazelton Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/24/09
Posts: 243
Loc: CT
Originally Posted By: Andromaque
I never understood this dogged insistence by all piano teachers I have ever known, to make students perform at their recitals.. Why is it so catastrophic to skip recitals? Make it optional and everyone is happy..
I for one have doggedly refused to perform under the auspices of teacher recitals. Can't stand it actually. It is a dog and pony show regardless of the level of the students. Of course I do not encourage others to follow my lead, but I reserve the right to opt out..
Even as an adult, I get to hear the same mantra from my teacher, even though I have told him clearly that I am not interested. Every 6 or 8 weeeks, he restarts the same conversation as if we had never talked about it.. In fact the last time he mentioned it, he even implied that it is "mandatory" which made me rather angry. What gives? Any suggestions how to talk him out of it? I clearly don't get the point of recitals but I also can't seem to get the arguments in favor of recitals, so I am not able to get through to him..

P.S> The cooking analogy.. What a quagmire! You can make it work in favor of both arguments, pro- and con- recitals..


I agree with Andromaque. I attended my recital last year. It was my first one and I didn't want to disappoint my teacher. I was very nervous. I played two songs. Did good on the first, but messed up pretty badly on the second. It was humiliating and disappointing for me. I thought about it for several days after. I'll probably go to the next recital because I would like to concur me fear of playing in public. However, I can definitely see someone decided that they no longer want to go to recitals after the experience I had. I’m worried that if I bomb at the next recital that I may give up on recitals.
I don’t’ really play the piano to perform for others, I play for myself. The way I see it I'm 31 years old, I pay for my lessons, and its my right to decide whether or not I will be attending the recital.

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#1526332 - 10/01/10 03:35 PM Re: Recital Problems [Re: AZNpiano]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
My take on this is that music students need experience (and success!) in public performance, just as they need experience and success in counting the beats and learning correct fingering. If former students choose not to continue public performance after they stop studying, that's up to them - in the same way that those who are no longer students sometimes choose to take a little break from scale practice. smile

I don't think a teacher can get around this by substituting other things. I think public performance itself is what counts, not just putting in an additional experience of some kind. Without performance experience, one of the main parts of music education is gone.
_________________________
(I'm a piano teacher.)

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#1526481 - 10/01/10 07:59 PM Re: Recital Problems [Re: david_a]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: david_a
I think public performance itself is what counts, ..... Without performance experience, one of the main parts of music education is gone.


Why? What more could I be adding to my happy lonely household performances by playing publicly? If a person is happy to play alone and happy with their progress what more do they need from their lessons?
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1526555 - 10/01/10 10:21 PM Re: Recital Problems [Re: david_a]
Andromaque Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3886
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: david_a
My take on this is that music students need experience (and success!) in public performance, just as they need experience and success in counting the beats and learning correct fingering.


The reason being??


Originally Posted By: david_a
If former students choose not to continue public performance after they stop studying, that's up to them - in the same way that those who are no longer students sometimes choose to take a little break from scale practice. smile


Not sure I follow ..

Originally Posted By: david_a
Without performance experience, one of the main parts of music education is gone.


the goal being??

Should we deny "music education" to those who do not want to perform?

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