Monday, May 21, 2012
This weekend my piano students participated in the Piano Guild Auditions. The Guild auditions provide a non-competitive atmosphere for students to perform 2- 20 songs in front of a judge for evaluation, critique and feedback. It's a way for students to push themselves musically, learn about setting goals and to improve their performance skills. I encourage all of my students to participate in the Guild auditions - and most of them do.
The one question I seem to get the most from my students in the months leading up to the Guild auditions is, "Why do we have to do this?" There are no big prizes to win that day- no scholarships, no monetary prizes. Yes, the students all receive a certificate and lapel pin and some students may receive a plaque or statuette, but in today's age of instant gratification and "everyone receives a trophy simply for participating" mentality, the Guild auditions can seem a bit unsatisfactory from a 10 year old's viewpoint.
I tell my students the following when they ask the "Why" question:
1. Doing this will make you a better pianist. Having to memorize and perform an entire program of music pushes young pianists to excel. Most piano students are accustomed to preparing one or two songs for a recital once or twice a year, but not 4, 7 10, or 20 songs fully memorized and perfected. It's a challenge and it helps them to realize that they can do more than they think they can.
2. You will receive invaluable feedback from someone other than me. It's good for students to receive critique from another professional. The Guild adjudicators are always mindful of a student's age, level and ability and give appropriate, gentle critique that is meant to encourage, not discourage, a student's playing.
3. It makes me a better teacher. As a teacher, it's easy to fall into a routine. Having my students participate in the Guild auditions puts me on the line as a teacher. I want to send my students into any performance opportunity knowing that I have prepared them well - how well the students do is a reflection on me and my teaching skills and knowing that someone else is evaluating my "work" encourages me to keep growing and learning as a teacher.
4. You will always be glad that you did this and will always regret not doing it. No matter how well a student plays on audition day, there is always a sense of pride in doing it. Even when nerves get the best of a student and their memory fails them or they suddenly forget how to play a C Major scale or they forget to bring a music book with them or even if they are suddenly faced with the reality that they should've practiced more, afterwards, most students are glad that they participated. If they had a dismal audition, they are often motivated to make some changes in their practicing habits and vow to themselves that they will NEVER let that happen again, and if they had a fabulous audition, they are motivated to keep up the hard work and are often willing to challenge themselves with a more difficult program for next year.
Guild auditions, local music festivals, solo and ensemble competitions, studio recitals - these are all events that help to make students into better musicians and help to build a child's self-confidence. No matter if we are teaching the next Horowitz or if we have a studio full of average students who will not pursue music as a career, the lessons we teach in the music studio are life lessons that can be taken to high school, college and into life and will help make our world a more beautiful place to live.
Posted by The Little Beethovens at 9:53 AM