Performances, Questions

Forum Q&A: What To Do When a Student’s Performance “Bombs”

In the entries for last week’s giveaway I received a lot a wonderful feedback regarding Color In My Piano.  Upon request, I’d like to start increasing the number of forum questions.  Hooray!  Rather than having a monthly question, I will try to pose a new question at least every other week (and maybe every week, if I can come up with enough questions!).

If you have suggestions for questions you’d love to see featured, please let me know by sending me an email via the Contact page.  Forum questions should be fairly short in length and should be a general question rather than a request for specific advice about a situation you are current dealing with.  (While I don’t mind being asked for advice and often do feature these questions on my blog, they are not considered “Forum Q&A” questions unless they are stated in a general sort of way.)

So without further ado, here’s our next Forum Q&A:

What do you do when a student’s performance “bombs?” I’m sure we’ve all experienced it: a student has a major memory slip and ends up in tears after the recital.  What words of counsel and advice can you give a student afterwards to console and encourage them?  What specifically would you say to a younger student as opposed to an older student?  What kind of things can you do with the student to help avoid this from happening again?

Please leave your responses in the comments below.  I look forward to hearing all of your thoughts!

Photo Credit: Juanedc | CC 2.0


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


Interpretation & Staying True to the Score

What difference does it make how closely you follow the markings in the score?

Listen to these two recordings and see what you think!

This is a concert etude by Franz Liszt entitled, Waldesrauschen (meaning, Voices in the Woods).



The first version is played by Josef Hofmann and the second is by Claudio Arrau.

While both versions are obviously incredibly virtuosic and impressive performances, I personally prefer the second version over the first.  And not just because it’s a slower speed.  But it strikes me as more expressive.  There’s more rubato and Romanticism.  I think I can actually hear the “voices in the woods.”

I would also like to point out however, how you can truly hear the markings in the score in the second interpretation.  For example, the LH melody in the opening 15 seconds of the piece contains a couple of phrases that each contain a note with a tenuto.  Can you guess which note of each phrase has the tenuto, without consulting the score?

Another example, during one of the tumultuous middle sections, there are two crescendos marked in two consecutive measures (2:35 in the first YouTube video; 2:30 in the second).  Arrau truly takes the time to make these come out.

Occasionally, I will have a student who thinks they are doing the dynamics, but in actuality it all kind of sounds the same.  I mean, you can sort of tell they are doing them, but not really enough to notice.  And so I ask my students: “Do you think an audience member who has never seen the score would be able to tell you what the dynamic markings are, just based on what they are hearing? You have to really exaggerate the differences in order to make them noticeable.”

Anyway, I think it’s really fascinating to listen to various interpretations of the same piece – to get inspired to create my own personal interpretation!

Resources, Studio Business

Piano as a way to build community

Check out this fascinating news story:


It’s great to see the great potential music (especially the piano) has to connect members of a community in a unique way!  This story really got me thinking: what are some ways we as teachers of music can use our skills to connect and benefit the community?  We tend to set our focus on just our studios, and admittedly we sometimes get overly competitive with other teachers in the area.  Wouldn’t it be great to join forces as teachers/musicians in a particular community and find ways serve the greater community?  (Ideas, anyone?)  =)

For more:

Visit artist Luke Jerram’s “Play Me, I’m Yours” website to view video uploads of various pianists playing on the pianos in cities all over the world.

Performances, Practicing

Dealing with Performance Anxiety

Your hands are cold and shaky, your heart is racing, and you find it hard to breath.  Are you sick?  Are you having a nightmare?  No, you’re about to play your instrument in a recital, and the symptoms you are experiencing are due to performance anxiety — better known as stage fright.

Performance anxiety affects us all, to some degree or another.  Here are some things you can try out to help deal with your performance anxiety:

  • Practice performing. Play your pieces for other people whenever you can. It’s one thing to practice your pieces, but it’s another thing to practice performing. Ask other people to come in the room to make you nervous, and see how well you can handle running through you pieces.
  • Envision yourself succeeding. Envisioning yourself performing your piece well is extremely helpful. Do it as your practicing, as you’re not practicing, and as you are performing.  Doing so keeps your outlook positive and sets you up for success. Continue reading “Dealing with Performance Anxiety”
Performances, Printables

Just added: Piano Recital Program Template #2


Today’s free printable is a another template of a piano studio recital program, for listing students’ names and pieces.

Just download this Microsoft Word file (.doc), enter your students’ information, and print!

Click here to view it larger (uneditable).

To download it the .doc file, visit the Printables > Other Resources page and scroll down to “Piano Recital Program Template #2”.

Feel free to edit the document in any way you desire to suite your needs.


Group Classes, improving as a teacher, Performances, Practicing, Teaching Piano, Technology

Preparing for Student Recitals: Recording!

Many of us teachers are probably currently preparing our student for spring recitals, so today I thought it might be beneficial to discuss a way of preparing for performances: recording your students playing their pieces, and then listening to the playback together.

Benefits of Recording

  • The student practices performing. Playing for a recording device can be almost as nerve-wracking as playing for an audience!  There’s no better way to practice handling nerves than to perform often.
  • The student becomes the listener. When listening to the playback, the student is given the opportunity to hear what the piece sounds like from an audience member’s perspective.  The student is bound to aurally notice things that they had not realized they were doing (or NOT doing, as the case may be).  For example, the student may realize that the dynamic contrasts are not really coming through, or that the melody is not projecting over the accompaniment as well as s/he had thought.
  • The student becomes the teacher.  After listening to the playback, the student can evaluate piece and identify the areas that went well or could be improved, and then begin discuss ways to improve the piece. Continue reading “Preparing for Student Recitals: Recording!”