Even with all the benefits of performing, we know that some students are especially fearful about playing in recitals. Especially for students with shy personalities, the idea of going up in front of a lot of people may be terrifying. At The Music Studio Atlanta, we try to make this easier on students by having most of our recitals in comfortable, friendly environments where family and friends are close to the stage and snacks and drinks are provided to make it a more relaxed experience. In addition, here are a few ways parents and teachers can support and encourage anxious students before recitals:
- Make sure students know that it’s okay to make mistakes! Messing up is normal and is part of what makes us human. There is no such thing as a “perfect” musician. Every musical performance is an individual expression. We just want to see you share your love for music!
- Focus on the student’s strengths before the recital. What is really good about their piece? This gives them confidence. After the recital, congratulate students on their successes. Reframe any mistakes as learning opportunities. If the student messed up but quickly got back on track and kept going, commend them for their ability to stay calm and finish their piece.
- Make performance a regular and normal topic or activity. Encourage students to do mini performances for family members or friends at home, or for classmates and teachers at school. This gets students in the habit of playing for others for fun, so they feel more comfortable performing in recitals. Talk about things they would like to perform when choosing new songs, and encourage them to choose songs they like and will be excited to share. Participating in one of our Open Mic nights is also a good way to experience performance in a fun and relaxed way, or to rehearse for a recital in a lower-stakes environment.
- When students take part in recitals, make a point to celebrate it! Start a tradition associated with recitals that will contribute to making it a positive experience that children can get excited about. Going out for ice cream or a favorite meal after the performance, or finding another way to make that day extra special, is a great way to encourage and celebrate young performers.