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A Parent's Guide to the First Piano Recital

Your child's first piano recital is often an exciting and nerve-wracking experience, all at the same time, for your student and for you.

Here are some tips to help you know how to prepare, what to expect at the recital, and how to keep your child motivated AFTER the recital.

As the Recital Approaches

One of the best ways to help your child prepare for his/her recital is to have him/her play for the family at home, BEFORE the recital. Many students are more nervous about playing in front of their family members than in front of strangers. Have your child practice walking up the piano and bowing, just like s/he will do at the recital. Regardless the source of your child's nervousness, experience playing in front of other people will make them more confident when the recital day arrives.

Another way to help your child prepare is to simply talk to him/her about the music s/he will play. Ask them to describe the music. Do they know anything about the composer or the background or meaning of the piece? What is the hardest thing about playing the piece? What section is your child's favorite spot in the music?

The Day of the Recital

recital girlYour child's piano teacher will probably give you some guidelines as to what to wear to the recital. If it's been a while since your child dressed up, have them try on their clothes and make sure that they fit, well. You want your child to be comfortable and confident while s/he is playing. Of course, this planning has to be done, before the day of the recital. But the day of, compliment your child on his/her appearance and help them feel at ease.

Let your child warm-up at home before you leave for the recital. Try to arrive for the recital about 15 minutes early. If your child will have the opportunity to play the recital piano, encourage him or her to do so. Every piano has a slightly different feeling and tone, so experiencing the piano before the actual performance can help students feel more comfortable while s/he plays.

As tempting as it is to get that photo of your child at the piano, avoid flash photography while your child (or any other student) is performing. The flash is distracting for performers.

When your child finishes performing, applaud! Even if your child made some obvious mistakes, it's important to find some positive aspects of the performance. There is always something good to say. Notice the way s/he walks to or from the piano, smiles at the audience, sits with good posture, etc... Besides, if you've been helping him/her prepare at home, there will plenty of positive things to say about the musical performance also!

Stay for the entire recital program. Other students have worked just as hard as your child and deserve an audience, also. Plus, learning concert etiquette is an important part of your child's musical education. Students should learn to respect the efforts of the other students. Also, your child may learn that his/her challenges and fears are shared by the other musicians. They will be able to accept these challenges as part of the learning process and perceive the obstacles as being smaller.

After the Recital

Most students will prepare for several months for their recitals. The event itself is a big moment for them and it's not uncommon for students to want a break from playing after the recital. You can use these feelings to keep your student motivated. Here are several suggestions:

  • Allow them to pick some fun music to play, after the recital. Your Little Mozart or young Clara Schumann may also have a taste for Justin Bieber or Bruno Mars. Let them play some music they recognize and enjoy. It will motivate them to keep practicing the technique and classical literature so they can be better at every type of music.
  • Give them some time off - but specify how much at the outset. Sometimes, students really just need a break of a week or two after a performance to realize they miss playing the piano. Make sure you've talked about this in advance with your student and his/her piano teacher.
  • Have them perform again at home. Students may want a "second chance" at a particular aspect of their piece. Or, maybe every family member wasn't able to hear the performance. Encourage them to play again for family and friends, and talk about how great your child did at the recital to these family members!

Congratulations on helping your child navigate the first recital!

You'll be preparing for the next recital before you know it. Encourage your child to keep playing and improving. Studies show that students who study music do better on standardized tests and have higher self-esteem.

Posted by Ben Fonville at 6:00 AM
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