For some students, recitals can be enormously stressful, while for others, they are enjoyable. It can be a lot of fun playing for other people, but the pressure to play perfectly can ruin the experience.
I try to keep the recitals for my students low-key. For example, while I recommend memorization, I don’t require it. Many times students have the music in front of them, but never look at it. If it makes them more comfortable to have it there, I’m all for it. This is not, after all, a college-level recital required for a degree!
Some students do want to have more recital experiences, and for that I am glad to be a member of the Minneapolis Music Teachers Forum, an organization that sponsors about 30 Sunday afternoon recitals throughout the school year. These are more formal, with memorization required, and strict rules about the type of music that can be performed. The performances are critiqued by experienced teachers, and students can obtain honors and honorable mention rewards for high-level performances. Student also can earn ribbons and trophies for multiple recital participation through the years.
These recitals are not for all students, but I encourage them all to consider it. Recently I had two students perform for the first time in an MMTF recital. One mother wrote to say:
“My daughter was super nervous prior to the recital and felt so good after, that she wants to do it again…. She wants a ribbon she said, so maybe we can challenge her even more.”
That’s what these recitals should be—a way to challenge a young person to do something outside their comfort zone, but in a supportive environment. I’m happy that I can offer this experience to my students—to help them grow as musicians and grow as people.