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A question came up in the teacher's forum a while back about whether piano teachers should or shouldn't play at their student recitals.

I was wondering what all of your opinions are here. I've played one or two pieces at the very end of my student recitals because I feel if they have to work that hard then I shouldn't get off the hook. I had one teacher who used to play a piece or two at the end of recitals and I really thought it was neat that she did. But in some ways, I feel a little out of place doing so.
I have a student recital coming up Sun. but was debating whether I should play.

Someone mentioned in the thread in the teacher's forum that it would be better for the teacher to put on their own recital rather than play at the students'.

Do your teachers play at your recitals and what do you all think of a teacher playing at a student recital?

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I can see pros and cons of playing at your students' recitals. On the one hand, I like your argument that it is only fair that you should have to work hard preparing for it, too. And that's how I would introduce my playing in such a case. I think it could also be reassuring to parents to hear that their children's teacher is an excellent pianist. The downside is if your playing (excellent, of course) makes some of the recital participants feel bad because their playing doesn't measure up, or if they messed up in some major way. This seems pretty low risk to me, especially with younger/less advanced players who wouldn't even think that their playing should compare to yours. So on balance I would say, sure, go ahead and play. When I was a child taking accordion lessons, at the end of each lesson the teacher would play a piece for us. Even though the performance was a million times better than anything I could play, I enjoyed hearing it because it represented a goal that I might one day achieve.

It's probably too late for this recital, but another option would be to ask the students ahead of time if they would like to hear you play and go with the majority vote.

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I like the idea of the teacher playing at the recital and agree on both points its reassuring the parents (and students) to hear accomplished playing and it shows the teacher putting in the effort with the students. I think it also gives an opportunity for the teacher to role model where the students can get to and enjoying playing in front of others.

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Neither of my two teachers ever played at my recitals. Is the main concern that the teacher should be letting the student be in the spotlight? I say do it anyways. I would have loved to hear my teachers play for real. I think the potential positives outweigh the potential negatives. New light would be shed for the student. You are no longer just viewed as a teacher, but a role model. This could be a wonderful motivational tool. I do like Monica's idea to take a concensus. This is very democratic and will give you a better idea of what your students think than we can. Do you have a dress rehearsal the day before your recitals? If so, you could play for your students then instead of playing at the actual recital. You could get a feel for whether you would be well received this way too.


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My first teacher as a child played at the end of the recitals. A later one did not. In college, my piano professor played at the beginning of recitals, although her playing wasn't as enjoyable as some of her students. I'm not including myself in that group, though.


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I have heard my teacher play at a recital. I love hearing her play and I think it is very inspiring.


You will be 10 years older, ten years from now, no matter what you do - so go for it!

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My teacher does not play at the recitals (May, Dec).
I actually asked her why she did not play. Her take is that the recital is for us students, giving us an opportunity to share a musical experience with fellow students.
By the way, her rule is that kids and youth up to 17 have to participate, adults are strongly encouraged to participate or at least show up.

She does bring a nice touch to the recitals by saying something about each student such as 'X is captain of his high school soccer team which is doing quite well. He is also an accomplished poet, winning first prize in the so and so competition'. Then she introduces the piece a student will play
This little blurp can be whatever you want it to be. She simply asks what you want to share.

At the end she always has encouraging words and thanks everyone for participating.

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Thanks for the imput so far. Yes, I thought I could take a consensus before the next recital and ask what the students think.

It was mentioned on another thread/post somewhere a while back a suggestion that teachers should be playing a piece or two of various music for their students at each lesson to give them an idea of what music there is out there they may like to learn sometime. I suppose if I was playing for students in this way occasionally at the lesson, I wouldn't feel so much it necessary to play at the recital as they would already have heard me play other than their new music to hear how it sounds.

I'm not as relaxed at recitals always as I would be in a regular performance situation because I am stressed everyone will show up on time, stressed the building may be locked, etc., etc. When I held them at my house, I was really stressed trying to get my house looking at it's best! (It's more relaxing now that I am holding it at a different facility in that regard). But I probably am not at my best performance-wise because of all the other things I'm thinking about in "being in charge" of the event.

If I do play for recitals, I had this idea maybe of playing something and giving a mini-lecture of in the way of music appreciation just to educate the audience a little while their there. I've also thought of asking a previous piano prof. if he would be interested in giving a small mini-recital at the end of the student recital or other similar "guest performer" (and pay them of course) rather than me playing.

What happens a lot of times is the recital date creeps up on me and I'm the one that doesn't have anything quite well-prepared enough to play. My students always amaze me how well-prepared in advance they are with their pieces. They do better than I in that regard!

Thanks again all for taking the time to reply! smile

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My son's teacher does not play at her students' recitals, except to accompany little ones in duets.

The local teachers get together to have larger recitals at a small concert hall at W&M. Again, the teachers do not play at these recitals.

When I was a student, my teachers did not play at student recitals. When I was in high school my teacher was a well-respected concert pianist at the Univ. of Miami, so when she played it was at complete concerts that featured her as the soloist.

I would certainly not generalize from this experience to a sweeping statement that teachers "should not play at their students' recitals."

One can come up with perfectly valid arguments either way. Ultimately, you have to feel comfortable in your choice, given who you are and who you are working with.

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Piano*Dad,

You have a good point. A concert pianist playing at a student recital would be overkill.

I remember when younger, a lot of times my teachers were playing the piano when I arrived at the door for lessons and I heard bits and pieces of there playing that way. Since I had heard how well they could play just from these little tidbits, I never questioned their ability and was awe inspired even from that.

Perhaps it's best to find other avenues for students to hear the teachers playing rather than at student recitals. Perhaps the teacher giving their own solo recital, playing at the end of "piano parties", at the lesson to give a student ideas for music they might enjoy learning, etc.

To tell you the truth, I'm probably just looking for an excuse to "get off the hook". This recital did creep up on me and I'm not as well-prepared with any of my pieces as I should be to perform. Maybe it's best not to play for parents and students who may base one's ability to teach on how well one can play when not prepared. It may be a recipe for disaster!

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I do have strong feelings about this!

I agree that a student recital is for the students. It is for them to have their first moments in the spotlight.

None of my teachers (which I respect deeply) ever played at student recitals, unless it was for 4-hand or 2-piano literature. And then, they bent over backwards to stay out of the spotlight. As young as I was, I did notice that; after all these years, I find their humility very touching. Especially when we all knew what awesome players they were!

The teacher's playing may serve as a model for some of the students, but I'm afraid that there will always be some students that will feel intimidated, or who will feel inadequate if they make comparisons between their performance and the teacher's performance (which is a natural thing to do). The risk is too great.

My teachers did not hesitate to play for me during the lesson time however.

If the teacher feels a strong need to perform, they should do their own recital! A well-planned program of the teacher's best repertoire would be more impressive for the students to observe. I think it would give a better overall impression than to impose oneself on the student's recital.

When my teacher did perform, it was a Really Big Deal. I remember 30 or more students coming to observe. Voluntarily!

Another angle: at the student recital, the teacher is the host, the 'coach', the stage manager. Becoming a 'performer' may take too much focus away from the other tasks.

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None of my teachers (3) or my son's teachers (2) played at their recitals. All of our teachers played for us at lesson. I agree with others, the recital is the student's time.

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I have had two teachers and both played at all recitals. It is absolutely inspirational and it does several other things. I have chosen a piece that I heard her play, I appreciated that she is a talented and good musician and I love to hear what someone who knows what they are doing can do with a piece and an instrument. I think it is wonderful when a teacher shares her abilities with her students. It also shows everyone performance skills. There you go.

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My daughter's teacher always plays one of his own compositions at the start of the recital. So far everything that he has played sounds New Age-y and pleasant.

I like it for several reasons. First, it lets the parents know that the teacher can actually play. Second, it sets a good example for the kids, that the teacher isn't asking the kids to do anything that he isn't willing to do himself.

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It also takes the pressure off the students because no student has to be the one to go first - the teacher goes first.

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This thread made me realize that I had 3 piano teachers while growing up, and I never heard 2 of the play. Not once. There's a certain amount of humility to that approach, but I don't think it's necessary. And I do think that those two ladies may have missed a teaching opportunity.

As an adult student and as a parent of a young student, I'd suggest that you play, but not a really major piece--something fairly brief and lovely, but not intimidatingly virtuosic. A nocturne, maybe, or one movement of a sonata. (You don't want students or parents fidgeting in their seats.)

It's inspiring to students to hear a real person--someone that they know--play well.


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My two teachers have never played a solo at a student recital. They have both performed duos with advanced students.

I wish they would play. I really do. I mean, I've known these teachers for 7 years and I get nothing more than a glimpse of their talent. The most I'll hear is them sightreading something to demonstrate in a group class.

That said, I can say that it annoys me to no end when a teacher performs at our elementary school Holiday concert. I, as a parent, have dutifully suffered through two songs by the students in each grade (the same songs that have been performed by the students for the last decade), making sure to wave conspicuously at the young Sphinxes so they know I showed up. Then a teacher would take the mike and close out the program with three holiday solos. Ugh. I am there to see my kid, OK?

Piano recitals are different, though. Good music is being performed well, and I don't care who is performing it, teachers or students.

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I'd buy MaryAnna's response - if you really feel you have to play, keep it simple, short, and not too fancy!

Regarding the comment someone made about showing that the teacher CAN play:

Today I was reminded by a professional vocal coach colleague that some of the best teachers... are not the best players.

(he also felt it was inappropriate for teachers to perform at a student recital)... :rolleyes:

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Perhaps the best thing for a teacher to do is to play for the students via some other avenue than at student recitals. That way they still get a chance to hear the teacher play from time to time without it having to be at their recital.

I'd prefer not to play at a student recital but have because of the thought that if they have to go to the work I should be setting an example. The reason again that I would rather not is that it would take one less stresser off of me among the other things to think about when running the program. I'd be a little more relaxed if I knew I wasn't going to play. Actually, I think playing in this kind of setting with all the parents, grandparents, relatives is more nerve-wracking than juries in college!

When I have played in years past (just one short piece each time) none of the parents ever said a word to me about it. Not "I enjoyed your piece" or something similar. That should tell me something right there. Only one student comes up to me every time and says, "I didn't hear you make a single mistake." I tell her I made a ton of mistakes and then congratulate her on how well she did. She's the same one that always has begged me at the lessons to play Fur Elise for her. Now she's playing it and it sounds really great!

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My teacher does duets with elementary and advanced students, and at Christmas time, she usually plays a grade 7ish (RCM) carol, despite the fact that she has a performance degree. But if I ask her to play at my lesson, she's only too happy to oblige. On the other hand, she has ALOT of students, so there isn't a great amount of time for her to play anyway.


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