3 Tips To A Great Recital

Tip #2 For Piano & Guitar Students

Piano & Guitar Lessons in Marlton, Voorhees, Haddonfield & Cherry Hill, NJ.

A Warmup To The Big Day

The speed at which you normally learn a song or piece and the level of difficulty of that piece are probably the two most important factors as to when you should actually start learning your recital piece.

I have very few students who are learning classical pieces. Most of my students are learning Top 40 or classic rock and pop songs, so anywhere from 12 to 16 weeks before a recital is a good time for them to start working on the song.

  • This gives my students a good 6 to 8 weeks to learn the song, which is plenty of time for a student with 2 to 3 years of playing experience, and another 6 to 8 weeks to polish all the rough edges.

During this time and as the big day draws closer, each student who plans to participate in the recital should give a few warmup performances.

These warmup performances can be for a few friends or family members. And if you're having trouble rounding up a willing test audience, then grab a video camera.

  • The point of these warmup performances is to put yourself into a real-life performance situation, and even if it's just in front of a video camera, nothing is more nerve racking than someone hitting the record button and shouting, "Go", even if you're the one doing the shouting.

So, there you are playing through your song or instrumental piece; all eyes or cameras on you -- and if you're like any other student getting ready to perform, the main thought going through your mind is to not make any mistakes.

Of course, not making any mistakes becomes a little more challenging because you anticipate being nervous, and the reason you believe you'll be nervous is because you anticipate the possibility of making mistakes. It's a vicious circle. And in the mind of many students, making even one mistake would be a catastrophe. 

  • For me, I always got nervous because I never knew how I would react if I made a mistake. Would one mistake cause me to make more mistakes? Or would I recover and go on to dazzle the audience?

I wish I could say that I thought about dazzling the audience, but my thoughts always tended to drift toward the one mistake that would cascade into an unrecoverable, irreparable performance that would send me limping off the stage in utter defeat. 

Looking back, I realize that the "utter defeat" scenario never happened. And as a piano teacher, I have yet to see it happen to a student.

The real questions to answer are the 2 most common ones: 

  1. How will I react if I make a mistake? Which could happen.

  2. How will I react if I go totally blank and forget the entire piece? Which is highly unlikely.

The only way to answer these questions is to put yourself into a performance situation and then make mental notes of all the areas of your piece that you thought you were shaky on during your mock performance.

Doing 3 or 4 of these mock recitals forces you to play through the entire piece knowing that you can't stop.

So now you're not just preparing for the real recital and how you'll react if you make mistakes, but for several mock recitals, which will give you invaluable information that you can use to focus on those areas of your piece that need more work.

  • If you're still learning parts of your recital piece 2 or 3 weeks before the recital, then you haven't given yourself enough time to fully prepare.

You should be starting your mock recitals 3 or 4 weeks before the real recital -- which is why it's so important to start learning your recital piece early enough so you have time to not only polish the rough parts of your song, but your performance, as well.

Doing this will significantly reduce any nervousness you may have had, had you not been fully prepared, and of course the most obvious, you'll make less mistakes because you are more prepared than you ever thought possible.

If you do make mistakes during the real recital, you'll know how to react because you will have already experienced it in your mock recitals.

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Click Here For Recital Tip #1

Click Here For Piano & Guitar Recital Tip #3

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