A recital can be a great way for young musicians to show their skills to family and friends, as well as demonstrate their comprehension to their music instructor. It can also be a great confidence-booster and source of pride for children, and the practice and preparation required can teach them valuable lessons about the importance of hard work.
A recital performance may also be incredibly nerve-wracking —for many youngsters, it may be the first time they’re expected to stand up alone in front of an audience. Find out some of the best strategies for helping a young musician prepare for their big day.
Create a Timeline
Working out the details of a recital performance ahead of time is a good way to ensure your student is thoroughly prepared. Early on, decide what selection(s) will be performed and allow ample time for the student to really master each song. The earlier you start the song selection process, the easier it will be to narrow down the pieces that the student is most interested in playing. Doing this months in advance will help the musician avoid a last-minute change of heart.
About three months before the performance, the student and the teacher should begin to collaborate on the repertoire so the technique can be refined for the performance. Around two months before the performance, the student and instructor should begin to focus on improving rhythm and mastering the chords. During this time, the musician should also be diligently practicing their music between lessons—but help them avoid burnout by encouraging them to practice in shorter stints.
One month before the recital, the young musician should be focused on the final touches and may even want to try memorizing their musical selections. Memorization isn’t mandatory for a recital, but it can help the musician feel more comfortable when it’s time to perform. The final week is the perfect time to narrow down logistics such as performance time, venue, and any special instructions to be mindful of.
Complete Several Dress Rehearsals
Young musicians may be accustomed to playing musical selections for their instructors, but to adequately prepare for a recital performance, it’s wise to practice by performing in front of other people. In addition, it may be even more beneficial to perform for someone who understands how to read music and can follow along and critique the performance. Doing this will allow the student to have a higher level of awareness of their weak areas. They can then work toward correcting these weak spots, which will make for a better overall performance.
While practicing isn’t the same as an actual performance, it’s critical to a good recital performance. This is especially true for young musicians who have problems with jitters or stage fright. Practicing the piece helps the child get into the mindset of performing on stage, making it almost second nature when performance day arrives. A young musician should also be able to self-critique so they can improve the things they struggle with. And while it’s great to know where the mistakes lie, it’s also important not to overemphasize these mistakes. Recognize that mistakes happen, but focus more on workable solutions rather than harping on what the student did wrong.
About a month before the recital, the student should begin doing warm-up performances, where the student plays the piece start to finish, without stopping, in front of a small group. This will give the musician enough time to work out any kinks and allow them to practice under similar conditions as the actual performance. You may even want to record these warm-ups on video, so the musician and instructor can watch the footage together and analyze the performance.
Work on Relaxation
Learning to relax while remaining focused on the music is not easy, but it is an extremely important skill for those who can master it. If they’ve put in the necessary practice time, the musician should be feeling confident in the days leading up to the recital. At the actual event, the student should focus on delivering their best performance and enjoying the moment.
Visualization and mental exercises come in handy for relaxation before a performance. Help the young musician see themselves on stage doing an amazing job. Have them imagine themselves as an audience member who is enjoying the music, then have them switch roles and visualize themselves performing on stage and taking in the reaction of the crowd.
In addition, encourage the student to imagine how accomplished they’ll likely feel once the performance is over. If the student is comfortable with pre-performance rituals, help them come up with one or encourage them to use a ritual they’ve already developed. Some musicians find it more relaxing to follow their everyday routine rather than make a big deal about their performance. The key is to find what works best.
Once the recital is over, parents may want to take their child out to celebrate all the hard work they’ve done, or give them a special gift to commemorate the occasion. Even if the student made some mistakes, celebrate the fact that they had the courage to get on stage in front of other people and that they saw the whole process out from start to finish. This will help the young musician understand that mistakes are merely a part of their growth as a musician.