Christmas is a special time of year for a lot of reasons. One of the things that my wife and I have enjoyed this season is seeing our voice and piano students perform in their Christmas recitals. We are so proud of their accomplishments!
But I see more than just simple Christmas carols being played and sung by students of various levels of ability. What is being developed in these children is something far greater...
Parents and music teachers enjoy parading their students across a stage at a recital to show everybody what they've learned. But I believe that recital time can be a tool that teachers, and parents even more, can use to test the maturity of their children and teach valuable life lessons.
A Taste of the Limelight
A certain part of a personality is always exposed in a different way when a child (or adult) is put in front of a crowd of people and asked to perform. In the recitals and performances I've witnessed over the past couple of weeks, I have seen students respond in very different ways to this pressure. Some gladly accepted it, while others appeared to face it with trepidation. Some seemed to feel proud of their position on stage, others performed with an air of humility. Some children allowed their nerves to nearly paralyze them, some allowed their nerves to energize their performance.
And now each parent has an opportunity to do something with that raw part of their child's personality that has been exposed and put to the test in a public event. How can we use this to benefit our students?
Practice on Display
Some students I see in recitals are obviously well prepared by their practice time. While not perfect, it is easy to tell that the child is familiar with the music and comfortable with performing it. Others struggle to the point that it is obvious that not enough time was committed to good practice.
This again is an opportunity for parents and teachers to help students to form habits that will benefit their abilities in music, and much more importantly their self-discipline and determination in reaching goals. Most music students will never perform professionally or make their living in music. But what they definitely will take away from their music lessons is either more or less ability to strive diligently toward a worthy goal.
It is true -- different children have different levels of natural ability. We all know that. But any child is capable of having discipline and character. All children need guidance in this regard, however, with the greatest molder of a child's character being Dad and Mom. Parents, your children need you to care.
Reaching the Goal
A recital can be a real high point for a student. For most of them, it is the largest audience they've ever had and the hardest they've ever worked to prepare a musical performance for public exhibition. This is something to be celebrated! Congratulations and recognition are in order, and parents and teachers can make a big deal out of improvement and success. Children will always appreciate sincere praise and affirmation.
Feel free to leave comments:
What have you seen in your students as they perform for recitals and programs?
What do you do to positively influence your students?
Rick McDonnell is a vocalist, voice teacher, and the head blogger at Harmony Passion. Rick enjoys family, vocal harmony, iPad games, personal finance, coffee, and studying the Bible. Rick and his wife Bethany teach music students in their home studio and in music studios in nearby Thomasville, GA.
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