[Posting clips of my students performing lets them know I’m proud of them. Learning music – like learning most things – is a series of little steps, every step significant, and hopefully taken with a sense of pleasure and adventure.]
This week, at the Gold Coast school where I teach, my students performed in a piano recital. Actually there were two recitals, as I teach at two campuses. Although there are several instrumental music events at the school each year, the Director of Performing Arts said this was the first ever piano recital at the school (in its 30+ year history).
Did you hear that kids? We made history at the school! Yay!
This recital came about because I asked whether my students, all of whom are beginners, could experience the excitement of performing to an audience. After all, a challenge and a little healthy stress is a good thing; it’s character-building!
My Director was totally supportive of the idea: she booked the Lecture Theatre for us, along with refreshments for the audience and approved snacks for the students. The venue was perfect for an intimate performance, with an upright piano, comfortable theatre seating and good acoustics. Once I saw the place, I knew it was the perfect setting to share with parents a snapshot of what happens in our lessons.
In the week leading to the performance day, we practised coming to the piano and sitting comfortably, making a relaxed, curved hand shape and finding one’s hand position immediately. (There’s nothing worse than launching into a piece and all the notes are wrong, which can so easily happen when you are nervous!) When the piece is finished, place hands on lap, then calmly stand and take a bow. The little ones were just thrilled to practise this!
Before the recital started, I said to the audience that this would be quite informal: I would do exactly what I do in lessons, therefore I would talk with my students and make sure they were comfortable, count quietly, sing lyrics and so forth.
Many little ones played songs like: “This is My C Scale,” “At The Zoo,” and other variations on the five finger C scale exercise.
I gave a preamble to each performance: “This piece is based on a middle C position”; “This one is an exercise using the staccato”; “These are variations on a theme – from the minor to the major key”.
Many students played duets with me. I like to play duets with my students. It forces them to concentrate on their parts, because it’s really off-putting to have someone else clomping about at the other end of the keyboard! Also, in order to play a duet, you have to keep correct time: you have to count your rests, you have to listen to your partner. They all had to learn to wait when they had spaces and I had several notes to play. Playing duets builds awareness. (Also, I just really like playing with my kids!)
Here, Reuben plays a beginner’s arrangement of Beethoven’s “Ode To Joy” with me.
Some students played songs outside their lesson book. Edward played “Puff The Magic Dragon”, and Declan played Ennio Morricone’s “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” as arranged by Elissa Milne for the AMEB Piano For Leisure Preliminary Grade level.
Teenagers in particular have strong opinions about what they want to learn, which is so good. Indifference is the last thing I want to see! Cassie played “Part of Your World” from Disney’s The Little Mermaid, and Juliet played an arrangement of Edvard Grieg’s “Morning” from her lesson book. Since she’s also learning to comp chords over a pop song from a lead sheet, we jammed while singing Cindy Lauper’s “Time After Time”. It was rough and ready, but hey it’s a work in progress and Juliet wanted to share that too.
I was very moved by both the effort made by the kids, and by the support shown by parents, grandparents and other relatives. It was lovely to see. The kids were nervous, but I think it was good nerves. I almost cooed to them as I checked they were ready then counted them in. It was awesome to witness and they really did themselves proud.
So from campus 1: Peggy, Peter, Denilson, Edward, William, Laszlo, Cassie, Josh, Reuben, Declan, Juliet, Crystal, and Charli, and from campus 2: Amos, Isaac, Kiara, Mia, Josh, Emma, Micah, thank you for making my work such a joy. You rock my world! ❤