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#956292 - 12/14/08 02:51 AM "The bad" in my first recital
Sal_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/08
Posts: 355
Loc: Lacey, WA
One girl near-completely broke down. She's about 10, and I had her going second. She tried, and when she had trouble with the first note, I asked if she wanted to wait and go later--she nodded. So, she went at the end, and her nerves weren't much better. She had to think about every two measure phrase--I was on the side helping as I could.. she had trouble finding 'C's on the piano! While I know she wasn't as prepared as she should have been, she definitely did worse than during practice. I think the experience near-crushed her and she didn't stick around after it was over. I did have a chance to tell her what a difficult thing she did and give her a flower from my bouquet, so I hope that helped some. (Yes, I'm weird like that and I gave out flowers from the present-bouquet to students--there were so many of them!)

It still weighs on me... I know it's not completely my fault, but I also feel like it's not in my best interest to brush it off. In talking to my husband last night, the most assurance I have right now is that how her family handles it matters far more than anything I could ever do.

I'm not too worried about what people think of me as a teacher--most of the students did really well considering it's their first concert and some of them haven't been playing long at all.

I guess I worry about what will happen to the girl and her music future--she loves to play, but is also incredibly shy and doesn't seem like the strongest person out there emotionally. Unfortunately, there isn't a chance to have a lesson again after the concert, and they're leaving before classes start again in January.

I think I'm in need of a pat on the back and a "it will be okay" and why.

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#956293 - 12/14/08 03:03 AM Re: "The bad" in my first recital
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
If there is a point to life it's to help others expand their horizons. Bringing the inside out will never be easy.
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.

#956294 - 12/14/08 04:07 AM Re: "The bad" in my first recital
lotuscrystal Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/22/08
Posts: 304
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Sal, it will be ok...why? Because you did the best you could, by all your students, and you're a great teacher, and overall it was a successful recital. Don't be so hard on yourself. Even in school productions and public events, it's quite common for one or even two students to have a 'melt down'...to throw the oraniser's plans into disarray. I'm sure all members of the audience were sympathetically assuming this student was having a bad day. As you mentioned it was the first recital for many of them and parents would have been in complete understanding that students were exceptionally nervous. Week to week lesson satisfaction proves you're a great teacher, not the melt down of one student during a recital.

The majority of your students did really well...I personally believe from experience, it's not uncommon for one not to. Every teacher who's been holding recitals for years, has that one year, or maybe even more, when their idealistic recital plans did not entirely come to fruition as they had imagined...and that's ok. It's far better to embrace the 'humanness' and vulnerability of a performance situation, than to worry and lose sleep over random and spontaneous events. I think it was lovely you gave her a flower from your bouquet.

I would let it go...let the student have her holidays, let the parents work it out with her at this stage. You said you felt she wasn't too prepared. Let the parents question her practice regime. They will be embarrassed for you, as you're a great teacher. One student who performed badly at one recital will not affect your business, in any way...all of your students will be back next year with bells on, eager to learn more from you.

As for the girl...perhaps consider offering her the option of performing in future recitals. If she's shy and weak emotionally as you've suggested, this is a psychology issue not solved by future performance enforcement. It's for her parents to solve...she may suffer from this behavior for a myriad of reasons...she may be being bullied at school, have a dominant sibling, have parents with poor parenting skills, may have had a previous trauma, etc.

It might help, next year, to have a chat with her parents...but for now, enjoy your holidays, knowing you've had a great year of teaching, and the hurdle of one student, does not in any way, reflect the mountain of your year's success with all the others.


#956295 - 12/14/08 09:53 AM Re: "The bad" in my first recital
musiclady Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/19/05
Posts: 431
Loc: Toronto, Canada
While most of my students performed very well at my student concert last month, I had one who was fine in rehearsal and lessons, but played far too softly in the concert, (It was a clarinet student) But I like to begin and end with a bang, so put the strongest performer early and the second strongest at the end, and for the rest, mix up the levels and abilities of students. Put some ensemble pieces too.

Clarinet and Piano Teacher based out of Toronto, Canada.Web: http://donmillsmusicstudio.weebly.com

#956296 - 12/15/08 04:27 AM Re: "The bad" in my first recital
Sal_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/08
Posts: 355
Loc: Lacey, WA
Thank you for the kind words.

I'm not sure I made it clear that I will very likely never see this girl or her family again since they're moving away--their phone line's already been disconnected.

I did have a strong performer in the front and at the end... but since I'd moved this girl to the end to give her time, that's what remains in my mind.

In any case, time's helping me get over it, and in the future, if a student isn't 95-100% ready by concert time, I'll do more "quick fixes." (Two of the duets I played were unplanned because the LH couldn't be learned fast enough. Both of them worked well, and far better than had they stumbled through their pieces with the left hand, and I don't regret it for a second.)

In any case, with time it's drifting into the past and even more out of my hands, which is nice.

#956297 - 12/15/08 04:39 AM Re: "The bad" in my first recital
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Originally posted by Sal_:
I'm not sure I made it clear that I will very likely never see this girl or her family again since they're moving away--their phone line's already been disconnected.[/b]
My god! That's a pretty high stakes curriculum you've got going there.
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.

#956298 - 12/15/08 04:45 AM Re: "The bad" in my first recital
Sal_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/08
Posts: 355
Loc: Lacey, WA
Hm? I teach Army brats. People move. I'm moving away in a couple months myself, and then I'll start over. And I'll have students come and go, then I'll go, and start over again, and so on.

So I will never have students for more than a couple years max (at least not anytime in the next 15 or so years,) and I will be presented with lots of beginners, and for students who have played before, a lot of remedial cases (kids forget stuff, ya know?)

Such is (this) life.

#956299 - 12/15/08 04:55 AM Re: "The bad" in my first recital
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
S'alright, I can't resist a jest.
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.

#956300 - 12/15/08 05:11 AM Re: "The bad" in my first recital
Sal_ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/08
Posts: 355
Loc: Lacey, WA
I can tell.

#956301 - 12/15/08 10:33 AM Re: "The bad" in my first recital
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 14774
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
That's always tough since you cannot do anything to help since she's gone. It's not as though she left because of what happened though. I know you understand this, but emotionally it probably feels the same: an unresolved conflict, and that is something we teacher's just can't stand!

But there is something that *you* can learn from this, at least. You had no idea this would happen, and really how can you know until they take that first step on the stage? Sometimes it is good to prepare students ahead of time by having them play for one another first, as a "trial" recital. I always have this so that the kids get a chance to try out their pieces in front of an audience. It really helps them feel more secure, and if I detect and anxiety then I have at least a week to work with them on it. It also lets us both know just how well they know their piece.

For my recital, I had 3 students who did not play their piece for the group lesson the week prior. Of the 3, one of them I had not seen in a couple of weeks due to Thanksgiving break and being sick the week after. When I heard her finally at her lesson it sounded fine and so I felt it would be alright to play. One, he had chosen a piece that was challenging, and the fact that he didn't want to play at the group lesson told me that he hadn't prepared it. We chose a piece that was much easier and that he had worked on previously instead. We also decided to do the duet, because he seemed particularly nervous and felt reassured with me playing along. The 3rd, who has played in many recitals but still has a tendency toward nervousness, had refused to play at the group lesson, and while he sounded alright at the his private lesson, I knew that was not a wise choice for him (he's a freshman in high school). But afterward it afforded me the opportunity to talk to him about what he tends to do when he gets nervous, and I know that at the next group lesson I will remind him that it is important to play the piece ahead of time, and he will have less wiggle room to back out!

If you are not sure if a student gets nervous for performing, assume that they do and prepare them accordingly in the weeks beforehand. There are things you can talk with them about to keep them calm and focused when performing. Some kids hide their performance anxiety well, too, so working with them all in a group setting really helps them feel as though they're not alone in this struggle. Most musicians experience some level of nervousness, and that fact alone can help them feel better about themselves.
private piano/voice teacher FT


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