Today’s Question: What are some ways to get adult piano students playing within the community or some ideas on holding events for adult students (not calling them “recitals”)?
Ahhh, adult piano students…
You mention a recital and the “deer in the headlights” look is almost immediate! However, as we all know, having a performance outlet and setting performance goals are great motivators for students. How to take the fear out of performing for your adult piano students is not something to be taken lightly; force them into something they are not comfortable with, and you risk losing them completely… but neglect this important aspect of learning to play the piano, and you risk having them drift aimlessly through their repertoire without a goal in sight.
Try these suggestions for non-threatening ways of bringing your adult piano students out of their shell.
1) Use video as your secret weapon. The social media world is a valuable tool for today’s piano teachers. Pick a date that your adult piano students will need to have their piece perfected by. Set up a video camera on a tripod. It’s their choice if they want their face included or simply their hands. Do several “takes” of their performance until they are happy with the end product. Post it on your studio’s web-page or Facebook page and encourage comments and “likes”. This is a great way to ease into sharing their music publicly.
2) Host an “Adults Only” wine and cheese evening in your piano studio. Invite no more than 4 students (along with a moral-support/designated driving guest each!) to perform 3 pieces each. Everyone brings a bottle of wine to share. You supply cheese and crackers. Place students’ names into a hat – one piece of paper for each piano piece they have ready to perform. After an initial “warm up” glass of wine and a quick social gathering, have one of your adult piano students pick a name from the hat. That person performs first (no arguing about who has to go next!). Encourage an atmosphere of “background music” where others continue to mingle. This is such a valuable way for adult piano students to not feel “put on the spot” but also for them to connect with other adults in your studio and for them to provide support and encouragement for each other. I keep the same grouping of adults each time, as friendships develop and these events quickly become something they look forward to.
3) Give your adult piano students opportunities to accompany sing-alongs rather than be the sole performer. Contact your local extended care facilities and arrange a “golden oldies” evening. Have your adult students brush up on a few well-known songs from the 40’s and 50’s and print the lyrics into a small booklet. Hand out the booklet to the residents and encourage a sing-along atmosphere while your student accompanies.
If you’re creative enough to take the “yikes” out of performing, and if you’re persuasive enough to get your adult piano students out performing that first difficult time, then you’re setting the stage for a successful future in lessons for your adult students.
Will you be trying one of these ideas? Do you have ideas of your own? What’s worked for you? Share in the comments below.
And Don’t Forget…
… to check out our guide Piano Hands Shouldn’t Flip Burgers. The hundreds of piano teaching strategies contained with our 113 page guide have helped piano teachers all over the globe. Click below to learn more.