The December Forum: Should the Teacher Perform at Studio Recitals?

Discussion topic for the December Forum:

At studio recitals, should the teacher perform a piece? Will it inspire students and will families enjoy hearing the teacher play?  Or will the students/families get the impression that the teacher is showing off and blowing the students’ performances out of the water?  What is your take on this issue?

Please take a moment to share your thoughts in the comments below!

Photo Credit: HenryStradford | CC 2.0

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21 thoughts on “The December Forum: Should the Teacher Perform at Studio Recitals?”

  1. My son’s teacher, who is a brilliant pianist, used to perform at his studio recitals. Personally, I loved it — and I think everyone else also appreciated it.

    I don’t usually perform, but once I did play one of my own compositions. People seemed to enjoy it…and I think it reassured them to know that I could actually play the piano, not “just teach”!

  2. I typically perform at my spring recital a minimum of every other year, but sometimes if there is a piece that I like that goes well with our theme I’ll perform it regardless if I had just performed the year prior.

    I have had many parents come up to me over the years and tell me how much they enjoy hearing me play. I think it is good for both parents and students to hear the teacher play. It’s not about showcasing yourself, it’s about sharing the music.

  3. I think the teacher should play on recitals. It doesn’t have to be something flashy or too “out there”, just something accessible to your students and their families. I think it helps the students see where all their hard work is eventually going to take them, and it helps the parents know that you do actually know what you’re doing.

  4. I play something at my recitals. It is not to show off, but to show them what they can eventually get to. Hopefully a bit to inspire them too. Typically I don’t even play a piece that needs practice or is difficult (because of the show off factor), and even if I do something more simple, they still seem to be ‘wowed’ by it.
    On a side note, I don’t do a recital, I do a “show”; if a parent plays an instrument, I will try to get them to do something with their child for one of their numbers. Last year I put together a band where the students had to play rhythm instruments and I had one student on glockenspiel. Not just the piano. The parents really appreciated it all.

  5. I think that the teacher playing at a recital is just good marketing for your studio. And it makes the parents say “See? If you practice, you will play like that some day”. It makes everything more enjoyable.

  6. I think a teacher should play, as it is another way of teaching. You can expose them to different repertoire, and teach them that music is a lifelong learning experience, and something they will enjoy for a long time!

  7. Thanks for posting that specific question. I’ve been asking myself the same thing for a couple of years now. We have a Christmas Performance next week & I’m still vacillating between playing a piece or not. It helps to read others’ opinions on the matter. I enjoy your site!

  8. Since I encourage my piano students to also perform a solo on their band instrument or do a vocal solo, if they are involved in those things, I almost always end up accompanying someone in my spring recitals. Since I am a professional accompanist, in addition to a teacher, that showcases my strength at the piano….while allowing the student to still be the star. Whether or not I perform a solo depends on how heavy my accompanying jobs are that spring, honestly (and sometimes, just how long the program is without me playing solo). If I don’t have time to do a solo justice, I leave it at the accompanying.

    I do think it’s important for the teacher to play in the recital, in some fashion. It’s good for the teacher, because it keeps you performing in front of people now and then. It’s also good for the students and parents. They do need to know that their teacher can play well. But, to me, the bigger thing is for the student to see “how the pros do it”, so to speak. If the teacher performs, the teacher should be dressed appropriately, enter/exit the stage the way you would want your students to do, be absolutely prepared to play well…preferably by memory, give good formal bows, etc.

    Since I opened a new studio this year that now provides lessons on every instrument, I am adding a new recital. We will have three student recitals in the spring, so that every student can play without it being 4 hours long. At each student recital, I hope to have one out of our 11 teachers perform. But, in June, we will have a honors/faculty recital. This is going to be a big, formal recital at the local high school’s performance hall. All of the teachers will perform on their primary instrument, dress formally, etc. Students who have advanced far enough can audition to be allowed to perform with the instructors, instead of the regular studio recital. This will be a great way for students to really hear the talent of their teachers, to see what a formal recital is like, etc. It will also be a great way to promote our studio and instructors to the community. And it will give the students something to strive for.

  9. So glad I read this blog. I have had many parents ask if I am going to play at the recital and so I have. I felt okay about this for many years until one day I was in the music store purchasing lesson books and in walked another piano teacher I assumed who stated to the clerk, “Well John, I can’t believe it. She played again at her students recital and I think it is just awful!” Well, I don’t know who she was talking about but I just wanted to walk out, get in my car and wonder if she was at my students’ recital. After that I began to wonder if I should but I went ahead and played at last year’s recital. I still take lessons from Maria Yefimova, Russion born concert pianist and she says I should play. As a matter of fact, last year she came and closed my recital at the end after the students played and me too. So…I was glad to know that others were thinking the same thing. We should play! Parents should see that they are paying qualified people to teach their children. Pressing on…Sherry

    1. Wow, thanks for your comment, Sherry! I completely agree with you about the important of playing at the end of the recital. I’m kind of shocked at the idea that anyone would find it distasteful. It’s not difficult to find a short, lively piece that displays the teacher’s technique and musicality, and it is so important for students and parents to hear their teacher play now and then!

  10. Any thoughts on the order or when teacher should play? I have always played first on the program

  11. I have never heard of a teacher playing during their recital. I kind of like the idea as half of my students and parents have never heard me play, or should I say perform. There is a difference between playing part of a song at a lesson and performing. My question is, how would I introduce it? I would have no idea what to say!

    1. I would introduce it the way you just said — “my students and parents don’t often get to hear my play except perhaps snippets during a lesson, so I decided to play a piece this year!” Then just talk about why you chose the piece or what you like about the piece. I bet your students and parents will really enjoy it!

  12. My personal preference as a teacher is that I play background music for about 10-15 minutes prior to start time, after warm ups are finished and people still being seated. It welcomes everyone, sets up a beautiful atmosphere, and the families are able to hear me play without me being in the spotlight. Sort of like walking into a nice restaurant with live people music playing in the background.

  13. I was just wondering, if it is okay for a couple students to play the same solo piece at a recital, or is this generally frowned upon?

    Thank you for your guidance in this matter!

    1. I think that’s really up to you and your students! I generally try to have students play different pieces at recitals, mainly for variety’s sake. It’s possible students (or parents) might compare two performances of the same piece in a negative fashion, but differences in interpretation can be celebrated and appreciated as well. I think you have to know your own goals and know your students!

  14. I do not perform at my student’s guitar recitals because that evening is about them and not about me. I believe the entire event should be about showcasing their hard work and dedication and teacher performances can overshadow their accomplishments. That is the last thing I would ever want to do to my students.

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