Make Yourself Nervous – Recital Music Preperation

Practice More Than Your Music for the Recital

Recital Muisc
Two Sisters Play Together At The Recital

As the spring recital approaches, our students have a lot to prepare, especially their recital music. Teachers all over Houston are spending each lesson leading up to recital day giving insight and advice on all aspects of performing including music preparation and mental preparation. I had my first recital experience at 8 years old and I’ve had many great performances, several average performances, and one total bomb. I learned more from the total bomb than any other performance but I would never wish that misery on my students!

Practice Music:

DUH. But practice a few weeks out from the recital is a lot different. Practice every single day if possible. Single out the hardest sections and play those a million times until you know them better than the easy sections. I like to give myself small goals like I can’t eat a snack until I play through my piece 3 times. If your child isn’t self-motivated, bribery is amazing. I love it when parents offer bribes or creative consequences for music lesson related things. I’ll take what I can get.

Practice making yourself nervous:

Chances are, the student will get nervous in the moment. It’s a scary feeling performing recital music, especially if you aren’t used to it. I like to get my students used to it. I like to record them and encourage them to record themselves. For some reason, a video camera brings a little extra fear. Also, playing for people is one of the best ways to practice overcoming nerves. If your mom and sister don’t make you nervous enough, ask a neighbor to come watch. Sometimes I’ll also play the role of obnoxious audience member to throw them off their game. I’ll make my phone ring, cry like a baby, whisper, and try to make them laugh. Focus on the music and nothing else! I’ve also heard eating bananas helps.

Practice Bowing:

Bowing is a part of the performance that can look really awkward if not practiced. Starting a few weeks before the recital I like to have my kids bow before and after the piece, getting used to the timing of it and the clapping. I think that also gets them in the zone for the recital. If the routine we practice at their house is the same thing that happens at the recital, I think they are more likely to play as well as they’ve practiced at home.

Practice mistake plan:

Mistakes definitely happen and students should know that they are OK! Practice how to handle mistakes. They should know what they are supposed to do if they put their hand in the wrong place or if they mess up a section badly. Should they start over? Restart after that section? Just keep going? Mistakes can have a bad impact on their nerves but if they have practiced the escape plan, then when a mistake happens, they will probably remember it and be fine in the end. If my student is playing from memory I always make sure they bring their music just in case.

Prepare to Celebrate:

HAVE FUN! Students should be pushed during the prep part but on recital day it should be all about fun and the experience. Celebrate afterwards! And please don’t let the celebration depend on the quality of performance. They did it so let them feel accomplished for working hard and putting themselves out there.

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