Performing at a recital is part of the music learning experience. However, playing in front of an audience can be overwhelming. This is particularly true for students with exceptionalities for whom routine and consistency are essential, hence any slight change might cause high stress or anxiety. There are so many aspects that may attribute to this, including elements at the venue like lighting or temperature; using a different instrument; how well prepared the student is, and the list goes on. It is important to ensure that students are aware of what to expect at a music recital to ensure a positive experience. This blog will provide some tips that you can use with your students to prepare for the music recital:
1. Practice: Aim to practise all steps involved at a recital with the student, from the moment the student arrives at the venue to the end of the recital. Ideally, it would be great to practise these steps at the venue where the recital will take place. If you can’t practise at the venue, you can show the pictures of the venue so the student can have an idea and go through these steps at the studio. It would be important to talk about where to sit, prepare the mind and body before playing, preparation on the instrument, bowing, cheering for other performers, etc. You can support the conversation with some visuals to help students practise these steps and answer some questions that they might think of. Make sure to spare some time way ahead of the recital date so that students have enough time to process and feel comfortable with the idea.
2. Handling mistakes: Discuss what will happen if our student makes a mistake, or has a memory lapse. This will make a huge difference on the student’s feelings towards performances. Assure students that making mistakes is OK and that you will be there to help and support the student whenever needed. Maybe come up with a cue that the student will use when teacher help is required. These conversations are so important to have to build trust and comfort.
3. Record the performance: One of the strategies that will help in being actively engaged while performing is to record a rehearsal of the performance during the lesson and then watch it with the student and discuss it with some constructive feedback. This will encourage the student to be alert and actively involved with preparation for performance and understand how the performance will look. It is actually fun to record the practice and acknowledge the progress during the preparation period. This video could also be used to support home practice.
4. Managing nerves: Feeling anxious or nervous is quite common and normal, and so acknowledging it and working with these feelings may help in controlling its impact. For example, taking deep breaths, wearing noise-cancelling headphones, or taking breaks during recitals can be very useful. You can prepare an area for students who might need these breaks by bringing sensory cushions, tools for colouring, sensory toys, stories, etc. Students can use them whenever they need it. Plan ahead of time and inform parents or caregivers so they are aware and are encouraged to use it.
5. Start small: Plan a small recital in the studio with students to perform for each other and celebrate what they have learned. Then, you can plan a bigger recital with parents and friends. A gradual introduction to performance might help in building confidence and acceptance to performing for a big audience.
A music performance is a wonderful way to celebrate the achievements of our students. let’s all ensure they have a joyful experience!
For a visual guide to prepare for a music recital, check it “My Music Concert”: