Written by & under performance, Program Development, teaching.

I really enjoy our recital season here at The Catoctin School of Music.  It is a joy filled time where the parents, faculty and students get to hear and see what progress we have made over the last six months.

The most fun part is watching the brand new students come in each recital season. Whether they are super young or adult learners, they are all enthusiastic students who are about to participate, share and develop with us in their first recital.  They have some light pressure put on them at an unknown event where parents, aunts, uncles, neighbors and grandparents all come to make a special day of this.  Recitals bring families together and it is wonderful to see.  The students get a little nervous sometimes, but we train our faculty to use caution with this first recital to make it a terrific and non-threatening event, so that it boosts musical moral and sets up a positive and confident first time experience for the student and their families.  Of course this keeps them wanting to participate even more in the future.

We dress up for our recitals, as we are setting into motion a respect for music and for eventual concert-going.  We want the students to see this as a semi-formal affair and we have fun during our recital gatherings in hopes of keeping the event relaxed so no one will be too tense.

Of course all of the preparations started months before, with our teachers training their parents to keep the event “low key” in family conversations and to build it up as something fun: just that they are going to share their talents and music with friends and family.  I try to dissuade nervous parents from creating the wrong presentation of a recital to their children. I advise them not to make the recital out to be scary or something difficult so as to set up a negative reaction from their child.  Many parents are unaware of their own values and views and demeanor setting a positive or negative tone on the recitals.   If they are scared they make their child scared, so I coach them to keep an open mind and be more positive as the recital season comes around to influence their child in a more positive light.  Once I get a student into their first recital they usually love it and can’t wait to do it again as it turns into such a positive experience that builds confidence and value for them.  It’s all executed best when a parent can be educated to not interrupt this natural process and evolution, but instead be an encourager and help students with accountability and commitment to deadlines.

We shoot video and take professional phots and audio so that we can catalogue the students’ progressions over many years and many recitals.  Faculty reviews students’ old footage with them prior to the next recital to get them thinking and preparing to do their best and make a real musical performance.  They can critique themselves and analyze their flow and dynamics and nervousness or confidence, watch their previous response and bows to the audience and overall effectiveness of their pieces.

We look at recitals as growth opportunities for students, parents and faculty and find when we all work together and stay student focused, they almost always come off without a hitch.