Performances, Practicing, Teaching Piano

Practice Performing

Perhaps you are wondering why there is a picture of a bunch of stuffed animals for this post.  Haha, I’ll get to that in a moment!

My private students are preparing to play for the university’s Community Music School recital tomorrow!  There will be about 12 students performing, 4 of which are my students.  For last few weeks, we’ve been taking time during lessons to “practice performing.”  After all, what better way to prepare for a performance than to practice performing?  =)

For my students, this means we imagine being at the recital during the lesson.  The student “walks onstage” while the audience (me) is applauding wildly.  The student gives a deep bow and sits down.  Once the bench is checked, they take a deep breath and play.  Wild applause ensues once again at the end of the piece, and the student beams, bows, and trots “off stage.”

I also encourage my students to put on recitals at home for their parents or friends, or even to create an audience of stuffed animals.  The point is for the student to be mentally putting him-/her-self through the performance, imagining what it’s going to be like and imagining him-/her-self succeeding.  Students really enjoy using their imagination and pretending they are onstage, and I think it is really beneficial for them to have gone through the process mentally before the real thing!  (Especially when there is no dress rehearsal, as in this case.)

What kind of activities do you do with your students to help them “practice performing?”

Photo Credit: Jess1820 | CC 2.0

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5 thoughts on “Practice Performing”

  1. Hi Joy! Long time no comment 🙂 I’ve been MIA in the piano world, but I’m slowly reading and prepping so I can start teaching again in my new state of residence! I LOVE the idea of performing for an audience of stuffed animals 🙂 Usually before a performance, I have a group class where the students can perform for each other, and we practice walking on, fixing the bench, bows, and walking off. For some reason though, a lot of my elementary students still don’t bow at the actual performance. It must be a shyness thing, because I’ve read other teachers saying their students do the same. I guess just reinforcing it and practicing bows more often will solve that. Any ideas?

    1. Hi Mariel! Where have you been able to find info about teaching in your new state of residence? I need to do some research into the same thing, for Ohio! Are there books about this kind of thing, or have you found info on the web?

      I, too, have had young students forget their bows. I’ve also had others not bow on purpose because they feel embarrassed bowing. I don’t really mind when this happens. They’ll get over it and do better next time. =) The young ones are cute no matter what they do, anyway.

  2. Hi Joy! That’s what I do with my students too before recitals. It’s amazing how much it helps them.
    I’ve noticed you get your students bow before and after the performance and that’s what I’ve been doing as well, till after our last recital my husband (who is also a music teacher, he has a Bachelor of Music Ed degree in voice, but also teaches contemporary worship/band style) said that I shouldn’t get my kids to bow before the performance. The reason is that one should bow only when the audience claps and sometimes they don’t clap while a student goes on stage.
    We have a recital coming up at the end of May and I am going to start practicing “performance” with my students soon, but now sure if I should do two bows again or just one? What are your thoughts?

    1. Personally, I feel the performer should bow whenever the audience is clapping, and I make a point to “start” the applause myself before and after each student if it doesn’t happen on its own. (It helps to have an ally — my husband usually helps too with getting the applause going at the appropriate times.) I usually try to encourage only a small amount of time between students, so that the applause from the previous performer keeps going as the next student comes onstage to bow and play, but this doesn’t always happen. Some students take a long time getting onstage. Having dress rehearsal helps if you want to try this method, so you can tell them exactly when to start going onstage after the previous student has finished.

      That was the long answer. The short answer is yes, I like two bows! =D

  3. Hi! I’m not a music teacher but a student and I thought I’d share a few things I find help me before a performance.
    I usually know what I’m going to wear for my recital before the day and I make a point of doing a “practice recital” in that exact outfit before I actually have to perform in it. The reason is that, especially with girls where we have more choice in different kinds of clothing and shoes, I’ve often found during the practice recital that a certain part of my clothing feels uncomfortable, or the heels on my shoes are too high/low etc. I think it really helps to be sure that you’re comfortable and not have to worry about your clothing impeding your performance on the big day.
    I also, as you say, do test performances in front of friends and family and I especially take care to practice the way I look when I walk onto stage and the way I bow. When I’m comfortable with that, I ease tension and anxiety by overdoing things during the practice performance — I’ll bow flamboyantly, do funny hand gestures and wink at my mock audience. This just makes the whole concept of a performance seem less daunting to me.

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