Recitals: A Little Something for Everyone

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Recitals: A Little Something for Everyone

When you think “Lesson Centre Recital” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For many, it’s the image of a fun performance opportunity for really young children. While recitals are a great opportunity for youth to foster confidence in a safe, supportive space, it’s worth considering that there are actually benefits for students of all ages and backgrounds.

What if we dig past the stereotype that once you hit a certain age you’re “too old” or “too cool” to participate in recitals? Here are some of the benefits you may miss by not giving a recital a chance.

Meeting Prospective Bandmates

It can be hard enough convincing a teen to perform in front of family, let alone at a recital.  There seems to be a fear of embarrassment and concern over “too many little kids.” However, get a bunch of teens of similar skill level all playing at the same recital and something pretty amazing can start to happen. A guitar duet hears a bass student play shortly after their own performance. They realize their jam sessions would sound pretty cool with the addition of a bassist. The teachers take notice and make the introductions, connections ensue, you can see the gears turning.

Will every student who participates in a recital meet his or her next bandmate or jamming buddy? Not necessarily, but similarly to an open mic, recitals teach students the social tools they need to connect with new people and share their craft.


Accompaniment Skills

In our most recent recital at the Long & McQuade Peterborough Lesson Centre, an adult student used the recital as an opportunity to improve her accompaniment skills. While a young performer took the lead on a tune by playing the melody, the teacher and adult student supported by chording along. For young performers, this offers invaluable support and encourages them to keep a steady tempo. Meanwhile, the adult student learns to follow cues and apply accompaniment techniques and dynamics in a live performance setting.


Audition/Exam Practice  

I’ll never forget playing one of my university music audition pieces at my high school talent show. It was awkward, embarrassing and not all that good, but it was okay because I had the support of my friends and teachers. Finding the confidence to play my audition pieces in front of people I knew helped me realize I could get through the real deal.

One of the greatest things about recitals is they’re one of the most supportive spaces to perform. The venue is full of family members, friends and fellow students who just want to see each performer have a good time. For students working towards a conservatory exam, high school or post-secondary music program or other nerve-wracking audition, a trial run at a recital could make a world of difference towards their confidence.


A Safe Space for a Dabbler

At the age of 12, I learned to play my first instrument in school band, the saxophone. When I was 16 I started dabbling in piano and at the age of 19 I started singing and learning a few chords on guitar.

It often feels like no matter what age I start a new instrument or how much time I put into it, I will never feel as confident or sound as good on it as I do on saxophone. I’ve met a number of multi-instrumentalists who seem to share similar feelings. When I started playing piano, I put a ton of time into it but I didn’t want to play in front of anyone. I wanted to have fun with it, but I was frustrated that I didn’t sound as good on piano as I did on my primary instrument.

My teacher asked me to play in a Christmas recital at a retirement facility and that really challenged my outlook. Most of the other students were much younger than me, but our skill levels were pretty similar. While I’d had my mother drop me off at the venue, all the other performers had brought multiple family members and friends.

The recital was a blast.

While no one except my teacher knew me, everyone cheered loudly when I played, and likewise I cheered for everyone. It didn’t matter that I had dreams of auditioning for a university music program or that I wasn’t playing the instrument I was best at. For a multi-instrumentalist or hobbyist dabbling in a new instrument, a recital is an encouraging platform to perform stress-free for the love of music.


Every day when I walk through our Lesson Centre, I see an incredibly diverse range of students. Each and every one of them has something unique to bring to the table regardless of how old they are, how long they’ve played or how often they’re able to practice.

While a recital at its foundation is a simple performance opportunity I’d like to challenge students to consider what else it just might have to offer them.

Sign up at your local Long & McQuade Music Lesson Centre today!


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Beth McClelland received Humber College's Certificate in Jazz Performance, and she enjoys playing saxophone, songwriting and meeting other musicians. She is the Lesson Centre Coordinator at the Peterborough Long & McQuade.

Keywords: recitalsperformancesperformingbenefits of performinglessonsstudents

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