Your spring recital is over and you’re ready to relax after another successful event… but there is one more task to tackle before your work is done!
During the week of lessons that follows a recital, “debriefing” your students’ performance experiences is an essential teaching tool. In addition to the kudos your piano students inevitably receive from family and friends, as their piano teacher, you can provide valuable insights and words of encouragement that will help them become even better performers.
After every recital, your piano students will generally fall into six “performance experience” categories. Today we’re sharing some tips that you can use with students in each of these categories to help them reflect on their recital experience and grow as musicians.
How To Reflect, Repair and Rejoice After A Piano Recital
Whether your student is a Triumphant Tracey, an Unprepared Peter, or a Nervous Nancy we can help you to help them grow and learn from their recital experiences. When a student enters your studio the week after a recital, simply find their category below and follow the steps for improved future performances:
1. Debriefing With Nervous Natasha
Nervous Natasha was well-prepared and excited to perform, but her nerves won and her performance did not go as she had hoped. Her preparedness allowed her to make it through her piece, but with several stumbles and noticeable mistakes. She left the recital feeling a bit disappointed and embarrassed.
To debrief with your Nervous Natasha:
- Share your own experiences with nerves to help her identify her reaction as both normal and “fixable”.
- Together, discuss the physical, emotional, and mental effects of her nerves and how those hampered her performance (for example: “My hands were shaking so I stumbled in that fast passage.”). By identifying nervous blunders she will find clarity in the difference between stumbles due to nerves and stumbles due to a lack of preparation.
- Generate a plan to a) find more performance opportunities so she can work through her nerves and b) practice performance strategies she can use when she feels nervous.
2. Debriefing With Stage Fright Steve
Stage Fright Steve arrived at your recital with a terrified look in his eyes that led you to predict his absolute refusal to perform. When his time came to play he became resolute in his decision to not appear on stage. He left the recital looking disappointed, but relieved.
To debrief with your Stage Fright Steve:
- Acknowledge his stage fright and discuss the possible reasons behind his reluctance to perform (was he unprepared, was he intimated, was he feeling pressure etc).
- Ask for his opinion on what may help him to combat his stage fright in the future.
- Have him perform his recital selection during his lesson. Record or videotape the performance and then email it to his family so they still get to see him shine!
3. Debriefing With Triumphant Tracey
Triumphant Tracey gave the recital performance we all strive to create; she was well-prepared, well-rehearsed and it showed! She performed to the best of her ability and left the recital feeling proud and accomplished.
To debrief with Triumphant Tracey:
- Ask her to reflect on her recital preparations and identify the strategies that most positively affected her performance.
- Ask her to determine what areas of her performance need improvement in future recitals.
- Ask her to be specific in recalling three things she did particularly well that she would like to replicate during future performances. Then, do the same by telling her the three things you noticed about her performance that were particularly fabulous.
4. Debriefing With Unprepared Peter
In the weeks leading up to your recital you struggled to motivate Unprepared Peter. During the recital his piece was “playable”, but not up to the standard you typically expect of your students. As a result, his performance had some issues and you both know it could have been better.
To debrief with your Unprepared Peter:
- Discuss what went well and what recital preparations led to those successes.
- Identify three specific things he’d like to improve upon at his next performance.
- Brainstorm some ideas together of how he could incorporate more preparation into his pre-recital routines and the benefits that these preparations will have on his next performance.
5. Debriefing With First Time Fiona
First Time Fiona was the eager new piano student who arrived with an entourage of camera-wielding friends and relatives to cheer her on at her very first recital. She performed her piece well (with perhaps just a few “newbie” mistakes) and left buoyed by her family’s enthusiasm.
To debrief with First Time Fiona:
- Congratulate her on a successful first performance and then document this special occasion (using a photo prop etc.). A first recital performance is a milestone in the life of a budding young musician and is certainly something to celebrate!
- Discuss what she enjoyed about her first recital, what surprised her about her time on stage, which performances by other students she enjoyed, and her overall thoughts about the experience.
- Provide feedback on her performance, being sure to highlight specific things she executed well to encourage her efforts.
6. Debriefing With No-Show Nolan
No-show Nolan was prepared for the recital weeks in advance, but then either simply didn’t attend or dropped out at the last minute. He was left out of the ensuing recital excitement and attended his next lesson feeling a little “out of it”.
To debrief with No-Show Nolan:
- Offer to videotape or record his prepared recital piece. Typically, it’s not the student’s decision to attend or not attend your recital, and so his early preparation efforts should still be celebrated. Plus, sending the video performance to his parents may increase their likelihood of attending in the future!
- Connect with his parents face-to-face at least one month before your next recital. Ensure they understand the benefits of recitals and answer any questions they may have had that possibly led to them feeling uncomfortable in attending.
- Avoid making your No-Show Nolan feel left out by including him in some of the fun he missed (certificates, goody bags etc.) so he continues to feel connected to your studio in positive ways.
Are Your Students Sick Of Playing Their Recital Pieces?
In the months and weeks that lead up to a recital your students likely play the same pieces over and over… and over.
So when they return to lessons the week after a performance it is time to WOW them with some new repertoire! And the best place to find new repertoire is Teach Piano Today’s PianoBookClub! Boost your studio library by adding a brand new piano book to your collection every month for just $8! All of our books are studio-licensed, meaning you can print as much as you like for your post-recital plans! Learn more about PianoBookClub here.