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Monday, June 3, 2013

Monday Morning Check In: Celebrate Milestones


Written by Paula E. Bird ©2013

Yesterday was my studio's spring recital. We discovered several things.

First, the studio has grown to the point that we have outgrown the venue we used yesterday. Although I enjoy using the community room of our local library (they maintain a grand piano in very good condition for the room), there are not enough chairs and space to accommodate all of the students and their guests, especially considering that not all the students were even able to participate. So, we will begin looking for more commodious space for next year.

Violin Studio (west side)
Violin Studio (east side)
 Second, there are several good reasons to celebrate our achievements with a big recital event at the end of the school year. The recital is a big milestone for most families, as it represents the end of a school year's worth of practice and lessons, and the recital presents an opportunity to pull everything learned throughout the year together for the final recital of the season.

Touchstones

The recital is one touchstone to measure students' progress. For example, as my students performed, I found myself recalling the students' performances in the recital from last year. One student was in the last half of book 4, and in this recital she was now solidly in book 5. Another student performed last year in book 5 and now was solidly in book 6 with one of the best "La Folia" presentations I have ever witnessed. Another student played the first song in book 5 last year and presented the last song in book 6 this year. While each student performed, I mentally created placeholders in my mind to help me remember the students' lines of progress for next year's recital.

Piano Studio
Messages

The recital provides parents with reassuring messages that all the hard work that parents have put into the students' practices and lessons during the school year have paid off. The students really did make progress. The hard work really mattered, parents think, as they witness their children performing with self-confidence and assurance and take their final bows with smiles to celebrate their success.

Reality Check

The recital provides parents (and sometimes students) a reality check that success results from the formula of:
  • daily practice (discipline, perseverance, memory, concentration and focus, parental involvement)
  • listening to reference recordings (environment, memory, role modeling)
  • consistent attendance at learning events (lessons and group classes, environment, memory, role modeling, parental involvement)
Skimp on any one of these areas, and parents and students may pay the price later in a recital situation. Students may find that they have fallen behind other students who began lessons at the same time. Although I never advocate that parents and students compare themselves with others, the reality check is that parents and students will be mindful of where they stack up in the scheme of things. If parents make this comparison in order to remind themselves to keep to the plan and do the work that is required, then this aspect of the recital is a good thing, as it will benefit the students in the long run to have the parents recommit to being engaged in their children's lessons. Neglect any aspect of the successful learning program, however, and parents and students may sadly discover that the students are unable to perform and participate with the level of self-confidence necessary to experience a successful recital event.

Community

High Schoolers!
The recital event also allows the studio community to pull together for a common purpose. Most of my parents and students arrived early to help me set up the venue. We moved chairs, set up the piano, and readied the reception tables for our after-recital fellowship. Several advanced students volunteered to help the younger students check tuning, store cases out of the way of the audience, and set up the physical accoutrements needed for the performance (music stand, foot stools, bench cushions for the piano, piano accompaniment books, and several mothers displayed bunches of flowers). During the recital, one student stepped up to assume the role of stage manager; he consistently set up the music stand when needed and moved it out of the way after use.

After the recital, parents arranged the food table to accommodate the students and other guests. The students and their families and guests shared congratulations on successful performances, and everyone joined in the picture-taking. We all pitched in to clear the venue of chairs and piano so that we could restore the venue to its original empty room state. And, of course, everyone was eager to take home all the leftovers!

Commitment

The recital also provides parents, students, and their teacher an opportunity to renew a commitment to continue the work that we have been doing. In some cases, students graduate and move on to the next phase of their life, and music will play a role in some way for that student. For the parents, they will have the strong bond and relationship forged by the effort that the parents have put into their child's music learning program. For parents whose students are still in school for another year or more, the recital reminds the families of the valuable lessons that music study provides for the family and its members. Parents and students alike renew their commitment to continue lessons. It was all worth it, and what will come in the future remains to be seen, but it is worth the effort to travel down that road and find out.

My graduating senior!
As the students grow up, it is important for us to provide these opportunities to celebrate the milestones along the way. These momentary snapshots will serve as important memories when these students move on to the next stages of their lives.

I am so proud of my students and their families! The recital milestone is important for me to recognize how much work my students and their families accomplished and be assured of the high the level of commitment that everyone has given to the program. I am pleased beyond words to share this momentous milestone with my studio family!



2 comments:

  1. I love the photos! Your students are very lucky to have such a dedicated and inspiring teacher.

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    1. What the pictures did not reveal is how hard it was to talk those high school students into posing for a picture! My goodness! You would think that I was exposing them to torture. They were almost embarrassed to stand up there. I also had to kick some butts to have them join us in the Twinkle Variations. Sheesh! Those teenagers!

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