Picture Book Recital Preparation:The Maestro Plays

The Maestro Plays

Performance season is here – is anybody feeling the pressure yet? I’ve certainly written a lot about performance season lately and here I am doing it again! I can’t help it! Today while shopping at a second-hand store I found this 1970 edition of a charming little picture book by Bill Martin, Jr. Although the story is not about a pianist, I’m going to share it with my students after the Thanksgiving break to help them prepare for their upcoming performances.

In The Maestro Plays,  we get to experience a full concert performance by a presumably super – talented violinist. With each page we are given new adverbs to describe how he plays  – wingingly, tingingly, drippingly. These are just a sampling of the buffet of picturesque words the author uses to arouse our imaginations. His words along with the colorful artwork in the book simulate a powerful, moving, and engaging concert performance.

I plan to read the book with each student and challenge them to apply the language used in the book to their own playing to help them experiment with different ways to convey their musical messages.

The book is recommended for ages 4-8, but I think there is still a bit of a kid in some of our older students as well. I have not been able to find many copies of the edition I purchased, however there is a newer edition with a different illustrator available as well.

I’d love to hear about things you do to get your students ready for performances! So, if you enjoyed this post and/or have performance prep tips to share please leave a comment below.

Free Printable: Personalized Piano Concert Invitations

Personalized Music Invite

Since performance season is here, I am posting a new printable today that you can email to parents who want to invite school teachers and friends to your student’s piano performance.  Family and friends are regulars at piano recitals and concerts, but expanding your audience by inviting members of the community is a great way to showcase your students to more people and to get the word out about your studio and what you have to offer as a music teacher. Get the FREE Printable by clicking here or on the above graphic.

Even if you already have printed postcards and flyers this can still be a great way to invite people who may not normally attend your show. It can also serve as an extra invite once your run out of your printed materials. Simply replace my content with the details for your event. Email to the parents in your studio and have them type in their child’s school name and their child’s name in the appropriate spaces on the printable word document. Now they have personalized invitations for their child!

Parents can choose to simply email the invitation or print copies and deliver to school friends, teachers, and administrators. Be sure to tell parents to invite their child’s school music teacher!

For more about how to put on a great piano event click here.

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7 Ways To Make Piano Recitals More Interesting

Piano Concert moment

Unfortunately, many people have negative memories centered around piano recitals. This can make it difficult to persuade Uncle Joe to come to hear little Susie play her piano piece at the annual recital. It can also make it hard to persuade little Susie’s mom and dad to stay for the entire recital. Even the fear of future negative memories centered around piano recitals can make it almost impossible to get little Susie to agree to play in the piano recital. So, what’s a piano teacher to do?

Here are 7 ways to make sure Uncle Joe, Susie, her mom, and her dad not only attend the recital, but thoroughly enjoy it as well!

1. Give your recital a “cool” upgrade and call it a CONCERT instead.

Let’s face it – most people associate the word recital with boredom. How many people do you know who are telling their friends they can’t wait for the next recital? On the other hand, how many people are proud to announce that they have tickets to see their favorite artist in concert? I’m just saying…

2. Allow students to play more than one song and put one song at the beginning of the concert and the other later in the program.

This will work especially well if the pieces your students play are short. Be sure to keep concerts no longer than about 90 minutes at the most.

3. Highlight other talents your students have.

If you have a student who loves to sing, have her sing while playing.

4. Encourage students to collaborate.

Have one student play the piano while another student sings.

5. Promote interaction with the audience.

In the picture above, a student and I get the audience to chant the main phrase of the song we had just performed as a duet.

6. Invite other artists to be special guests at your concert.

Dancers, singers, poets, and instrumentalists who play something other than the piano are good choices. It gives the audience a break from piano music, gives you time to get kids ready for whatever comes next, and exposes your students to the other performing arts.

7. Consider having parents and students collaborate.

You may have parents who sing, act, dance, etc. Ask them to accompany one of your students as they play the piano. This works really well when you pair parents up with kids other than their own.

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Defeating The Performance Time Boogie Man

So, you’re sitting at the BIG black monster – uh, piano – in front of a crowd of people. You’re playing your piece, and suddenly your brain goes on strike and you don’t know what notes to play. YIKES!!!

Most musicians have had this happen before, but what to do? These episodes seem to linger in  our performance memories for years and can be quite traumatic. I can still remember forgetting my piano piece in my second piano recital at age 6. It was so awful that my teacher had to finish the song for me! Well, piano students around the world need not fear this happening to them any longer. If during practice a certain phrase constantly escapes your student’s memory, this is a clue that some precautions must be put in place at performance time to combat any possible brain strike.

That’s where the blocks come in! One of my very young students was having trouble remembering the “fa la la la la” phrase in Deck the Halls. So, in a last-minute moment of inspiration, I grabbed some letter blocks and used them to spell out the notes of the phrase. We used them each time during the lessons leading to the performance so my student could get used to them being there. At the performance, the blocks were great because you couldn’t see them over the book stand like you would a book. My student was able to relax knowing that if he couldn’t remember his notes they were right there in front of him and the audience didn’t even know!

What precautions do you take to combat the inevitable performance time boogie man’s sabotage efforts?