Does this sound familiar?
Many parents who took music lessons have a memory of performing that goes something like this....They took lessons for a few years, and they remember vividly a very scary experience where they went up and played (or hacked) through one song and then sat back down. And this may have happened once a year, or maybe twice a year. And that was their cumulative and complete experience of learning the piano.
A different perspective on learning to perform
We feel strongly that students should be up on stage performing every 6 - 10 weeks! Performing should NOT be a dramatic and terrifying experience. It should be a way of life for anyone studying an instrument. To accommodate this we have Friday Fests at our studio every other week where 7-10 students perform for a small group. We also keep it small so that the student can spend more time up on stage, and play through multiple pieces of music. This helps enormously with their confidence. It also helps them learn how to calm-down up on stage, relax, and maybe even enjoy the music that they are sharing! In addition to the Friday Fest performance, we have a dress-rehearsal the night before for students-only to come and play for each other. So the rough math is this....a student at MP should have been on stage and performed in front of others (counting dress rehearsal performance also) roughly 8 - 16 times in a year. This is 4 to 8 times the stage exposure that most individual studios will give their students in a year. This frequent performance experience is vital in a student's journey as a musician. You can't read a book about performing, you can't go to performances, you have to experience performing over and over again to get good at it....That's the point of the Friday Fests. Learning to focus and control your nerves while performing takes consistent practice and exposure doing to get good at it. Performing twice a year is never going to get them to that point!
It should be considered a tragedy that students spend all this time, and parents spend all this money - and the student is still terrified to perform for others. So to help alleviate this "tragedy" we have students up on stage frequently. Performing should be just something that students do. No drama, no fuss, no talking and talking about it - just DO IT!! Getting over performance jitters only happens through frequent performance. It isn't something people can read about that will help, it is something that has to experienced over and over again until a student gets good at it, and......wait for it.......it becomes fun! So, to recap, here are how our Friday Fests "roll" at our school. A small, intimate (we shoot for 15-25 or less in total audience) setting for students to get on stage more frequently. We have students perform 2-4 pieces of music as opposed to one song. The longer the student can be on that stage...the better! We provide a comfortable setting for younger performers to "try" pieces, and have a small inviting setting to learn and grow as a musician....Master performing with a small crowd, and playing in front of hundreds/thousands is a piece of cake. We make them shorter, "bare-bones" 30 - 60 minutes TOPS performance format where the focus is on students performing, and not on cookies, clothing, decorations, or other frivolous distractions from a student's development. (don't worry, we still have a few simple treats after!) The focus of the Friday Fests is the student's development. NOT how many people we can cram into a room and have everybody play their one piece of music.