Just as we break away from Halloween and embrace daylight savings, in comes “The Holidays”. Holidays are SO MUCH FUN… until they’re not. They are full of traditions that exhilarate us as children but can suffocate us as adults. Our days are filled with many special events including “recitals”.
As many of you know by now, the formal “recital” is not part of my show here. We have a super fun concert/party day – only students and me. (If you want to read more about how it works, search “concert” on my home page.) If you feel like you want a more formal recital than I offer, here is another idea.
When I was a kid, my family would gather together after dessert and perform for each other. It was a variety show. Many of us: brothers, sisters, parents and grandparents, would perform something. There were poems and jokes, musical selections and stories. You stood up and were “on stage”. Then we all sang together. This was not meant to be a competition and no one got “voted off”. It’s a great memory. I have a pretty giant family and nearly everyone is a ham, but even if your family is smaller, you can still give your child a chance to “show off” a little.
As we get closer to our concert day, I keep discussing with my students what pieces they really like and encourage them to keep working on them. At home, you can encourage your child to practice a piece that they want to share with your family at holiday occasions. By creating a little more structure around this, you can accomplish two things: 1) A little extra piano practice, and 2) A controlled “show off” experience for your family and friends. Think about it. You say to you kid, “Sally, how about you play that piece you have been practicing for Aunt Ginny?” Sally plays, everyone claps. End Scene. Now Sally can continue to play and you and Aunt Ginny can continue your visit with beautiful background music.
Now careful here – “background music” is NOT code for “soft enough so it doesn’t bother our conversation.” I have spent a lifetime playing the piano in the background in my home. It is a delightful experience. You play in the prettiest way possible with no judgment. You know everyone can hear you, but they are not listening intently enough to catch every little mistake. It is freeing. It is one of the reasons I still love to play the piano today.
Let your child know that you love to hear him or her play. Be specific. Identify the song and say what it is you like: sweet, scary, fun. This is a pretty easy addition to any holiday routine. Best of all, when the holiday is over, you do not have to pack it up and put it in the attic until next year. You can enjoy it all year round.
Music Lasts a Lifetime
My nephew, Paul, sitting next to my Aunt Golden (professional silent picture pianist). My sister Grace is chatting with her son. There was a crowd in the room and we all loved to hear Aunt Golden play. She was our background music until she was 96 years old.