Recitals are so much more than just an arbitrary block of time during which each person plays their prepared piece in performance. Recitals are the culmination of a great deal of well spent time and effort for everyone involved; the teachers who have been tireless in their dedication to prepare the students, the parents who increasingly juggle busier and busier schedules to make music lessons happen in the first place and who continually gently nudge and otherwise encourage the students to practice regularly, the students who have invested a great deal of time and hard work to thoroughly learn their piece(s) and the recital organizer who works with the teachers, parents, students and the venue while seeing to a myriad of details throughout the process. In a way recitals are music’s championship game equivalent.
At the beginning of each recital the excitement is palpable. I love the anticipation; the teachers are looking forward to the performances each of which is the result of many lessons leading up to the big day; the students are anxious to play the music they have been working to prepare and hoping for a performance that meets their expectations; and the audience comprised of loving family and friends are proudly waiting to watch the performers shine at their moment in the limelight. There is a wonderful sense of community as many students and families have gathered together for past recitals over the years and have watched all of the students grow and progress. The students learn a great deal from one another as well. The more experienced players provide excellent role models for the less experienced ones. Many students have chosen their next recital piece before the recital is even over, wanting to play the piece that the student they so admire just performed.
Once the recital has begun it is our job as the audience to provide the performers with the most supportive atmosphere we can create. It is the performer’s job to relax and to concentrate while performing their piece(s). The students put in many hours of preparation before arriving at the crucial moment when it is their turn on the program. The greatest gifts we can give them is to help them to relax with our own calm demeanor and gentle encouragement, acknowledging that performance is difficult but that we are confident that they are up to the challenge; and to help them concentrate by creating an environment that is free of distractions; which is why we ask that you turn cell phones off and not to talk or even whisper or walk around during the time that the students are actually performing.
Finally, we can support each performer by making the commitment to quite literally be there for them throughout the recital. Staying for the entire recital is a priority enforced as a matter of respect to the teachers, the students and the other audience members. We know that you are busy and that priorities have to be set. Many times something else has to be sacrificed. I assure you it is a sacrifice worth making. Recitals are special occasions occurring only once or twice a year at the most. The rewards for committing to be present for the entire recital will be plentiful; the beaming smiles at the conclusion of each performance when the proud students bows to the sound of our applause realizing the fruition of all of the work they put into their lessons through the satisfaction of their accomplishment, a successful performance; taking the opportunity to bask in your child’s achievement before returning to the other demands on your time; sharing your joy with the proud teacher; offering your congratulations to other student performers; and chatting with the other audience members. And just think, all of this joy has been packed into just an hour or so of your day. Recitals are a magnificent way to recognize the unique gifts that our exceptional students bring to us through their musical expression.