Teacher performing for students

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Do any of you ever perform a piece for your students? I don't mean clarifying by example during a lesson, but performing a piece, perhaps at a student recital or other student gathering. I'm thinking of how motivating it can be to hear someone perform a piece that is too difficult for the listener at the time, but can aspire to. Or, for example, playing a piece that has scale runs and then talking about how much practicing scales can facilitate learning many pieces, etc. Also, maybe some of the students aren't given much of an opportunity to listen to piano music at home besides what they are practicing. I'm interested in your thoughts/experiences. Thanks.

-- Laurie (lbrichards@att.net), April 01, 2002


Yes, on occasion I perform for my students and for their families. I have done this in a number of ways: in recital, accompanying students, duets, playing music for the local musicals, etc. I do it because I want both parent and student to see and experience a model of what a community pianist is and how they contribute to the community. I try not to play at student recitals however, because of a couple of reasons. first it is a student recital and the focus is on the student's accomlishments. Second my focus is on optimizing the experience for the student and my head is not in my own performance.

-- Ellen Johansen (ellenjoh@yahoo.com), April 02, 2002.

Community Pianist!!! I absolutely love that concept! Yes! I had never found a term for it before, but that is perfect. The person who helps provide music for the community. What an honorable profession! When I was growing up and learning the piano I thought I could only be a concert pianist or nothing. How silly. And I knew I couldn't be a concert pianist and so I did nothing (after 10 years of lessons) for the next 30 years. (I guess I thought all my teachers were concert pianists.) I think you are so very right to let your students know by your example all of the places to make music, and all of the ways to be a success at making music. Thanks.

-- Mary Jo (mjlewis@magiccablepc.com), April 11, 2002.

You are welcome. Being a community pianist is a wonderful profession. I share music and return my passions to a community of families and their children and their children's children. It is this passing down of our oral and aural traditions that keeps our culture vibrant and alive. So having a time to share not only pieces we perform but also the culture and history surrounding the piece is part of our community obligation. I do this in my Musikgarten program and with my independent piano students. I have considered also recording the works the students are studying and interspersing them with other works of the composer or of composers of similar styles. They could play these at home and then we can go deeper into a period. This brings out more of the process of learning and less on the final product.

-- Ellen Johansen (ellenjoh@yahoo.com), April 12, 2002.

Only my opinion......YES, you SHOULD perform for your students in a lesson and also in a recital! I was always told that I had good teachers as a child, but I do not remember any of them ever clarifying a piece in a lesson much less performing in a recital. It's so strange to look back on it now and wonder how much more I could have learned from listening to them in a "real performance". My students hear me at their lesson, at church, at school programs and at the end of every recital. They love it. Recitals especially are important because the many parents/students who do not attend my church or the school for which I do programs may not have other opportunities to hear what I am really capable of. I have found that performing at a recital also gets the parents excited about encouraging their child to practice. You'll find that if you do a good job at a recital, your students will be thrilled to death, look at you with stars in their eyes afterwards and gush about how you didn't look like you were a bit nervous up there! It's so cute and funny! Another benefit is that they will take you more seriously in their lessons because they realize that you KNOW what you're trying to teach them.

At a recital, I would not wish to give a speech/explanation about what I am doing or why they should learn such and such. It's a time for everyone to sit back and enjoy what they're hearing. I consider that my performance should be example enough of what they too can accomplish if they do what I tell them to do. My students freely tell me that if they have to go through the agony of performing in front of a crowd, then I should also have to do it. I do not perform a long piece for a recital -- just 3 to 4 minutes long, but I do go for something as showy and moving as possible. I have had many families invite other people who were starting to look for a piano teacher to the recital to hear me play. It's great advertisement of your abilities. Try it! You'll be surprised at how much they appreciate hearing you!

-- Wendy Stephens (ssteph@compaq.net), April 17, 2002.

I'm just fininshing up my first year as an "offical" piano teacher and had my first student recital last week. It was one of the most memorable evenings of my life. I did play for everyone at the end- a fun and entertaining Gershwin prelude. Some of my students' parents had never even heard me play (and they were entrusting me with their child's piano education!)- so I felt I owed it to them in a way. Though I was quite nervous to do it, I truly felt it was worth it in the end. My students really loved it! According to certain witnesses, their eyes became so big and they clapped and clapped at the end. My biggest motivation in playing was to inspire them in some way, and I think it did. So in my experience, it was a very worthwhile and meaningful performance!

-- Carla Dippel (ladyjane777@hotmail.com), June 01, 2003.

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