Concerts should be a wonderful time for all your students to show off their skills. So how can we make sure we provide a teen friendly piano recital?
Think about it from a teenager’s perspective. If your student concerts have mostly young kids, with balloons and silly “kiddy” songs, they might not feel like they fit in. Especially if they’re a teen beginner.
Make sure your students walk into their recital space and know straight away that it’s for them. I talked about this last year in this post about calm, confidence building concerts and I think it’s especially important for teens.
If your students walk in and hear (appropriate of course) music that they might hear at a friend’s house – that says a lot. It says: “Welcome, this is your event. This is your time to shine.”
So don’t play music the 6 year olds will love, go with the teen friendly choice. Because honestly? The 6 year olds will barely notice the difference, but for the teens it could make all the difference in the world.
Celebratize Your Teens
Not a word I know. What I mean is: make a BIG DEAL out of your teenage piano students. A really big deal. They should feel like your special guest performers.
This rings particularly true if you only have a couple of teens performing. If you don’t take the right approach, they could feel like the odd ones out. But if you frame it right, they can feel special not odd.
This can be as simple as putting your teen at the start or end of the program, and telling them why you’re doing it. Tell them how excited you are for their performance and how it’s the perfect concert closer since it’s so fast and flashy.
Inspiration and Aspiration
If you don’t have a ton of older students performing, there might be a key ingredient missing. Something to aspire towards.
One of the big benefits of participating in a studio concert is that you get to see where you’ve come from…and what’s ahead. But if you have mostly beginners, those few advancing teens don’t get that last benefit.
The best solution to this issue is to play something yourself. And play something your teens will love and want to learn. Don’t play the Bach that you think your should be playing – play something that has the cool factor for teens.
For example, for my upcoming recital I’m thinking about going with one of Stacy Fahrion’s “whimsically macabre” pieces because I have a teen in mind to give her book to next September. If your teen piano students love pop, rock, Chopin, or whatever, go with that.
Pick your repertoire with your teens in mind. Give them something to aspire to.
Speaking of repertoire, what piece are you going to give your teen student to play?
I know many teachers pick out and assign pieces specifically for a recital. I don’t actually do that, my students just pick out one of their favourite pieces they’ve learned during the year. I do this to give them a more confident and positive performing experience, and to celebrate what the work they’ve put in all year.
But that’s another issue. When it comes to a teen friendly piano recital, repertoire selection is everything. I allow my teens to pick out pretty much whatever they want to play (as long as they can play it well).
I have one agenda for this performance – and it’s not to show off my great teaching skills. It’s to give them a performance glow. To give my teenage students an opportunity to share their favourite music with everyone.
Bonus Tip: Recital Responsibilities
Megan Desmarais from the Pianissimo blog shared this tip for getting her teens involved and creating a sense of community.
I like to give teens responsibilities at recitals like being the MC, helping to serve snacks afterwards, or helping a really young student by walking them to the piano and staying nearby as they perform.
I love this as it not only makes the teens feel welcome but it also teaches them valuable life skills. I’m sure the parents love this extra learning opportunity for their teenagers.
How do you make sure your recitals are teen friendly?
Do you ever wonder whether your older students feel welcome? Do you gear your concerts more towards your kiddos or your teen students?