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How to Re-energize Students for a Spring Performance

Updated: Apr 18

If you’re preparing students for a spring recital, you may encounter a syndrome I’ll call “end-of-year lethargy”. As summer approaches, students often show signs of fatigue or apathy.

They enjoy lessons and playing their instrument, but they’re just ready for a break. The nice weather is calling, summer vacation is just around the corner, and spring activity schedules are busy. (For tips on helping students balance sports and music, click here.)

Preparing tired students for an end-of-year performance can be difficult. Here’s how I re-energize my students in the spring months to keep them engaged and motivated.

Storytelling to reinvigorate a recital piece. 

If your student’s recital piece starts to sound like they’re just going through the motions, try taking a different approach. Ask them to come up with a storyline that fits the themes in their piece.

You can ask them guiding questions, such as:

  • What is the overall character of the piece? Sad? Happy? Peaceful? 

  • What does the opening phrase sound like to you? Animals playing? People dancing? A quiet stream?

  • Where does the theme change? What’s happening here? Does the action of the story change? Maybe a wolf starts chasing the animals, or the quiet stream becomes a raging river.

Attaching storylines to music reinvigorates student’s interest and helps them express the music better. 

Change up your lesson routine

Having students do a different musical activity in lessons can re-energize them I find that when students take a break from the keyboard they come back to their music more engaged and focused.  

I like to use music games that reinforce concepts the students have learned over the year. In addition to providing a departure from the norm, it’s a great way to start review before the summer months. (Several of the games I developed are on my website if you need some ideas.) To make it extra fun, I keep a box of inexpensive prizes in my Studio and let the students choose one when they win. 

Do guided listening exercises

Guided listening exercises are an excellent way to get students thinking more carefully about each musical element and its importance to bringing out the true character of the music.

Here’s how I conduct my listening exercises:

  • I created a listening playlist in my youtubemusic account with pieces of different genres, characters and lengths. (I always play professional recordings by a pianist with excellent technique and expressiveness.)

  • I choose an appropriate song from this list and give the student a guided listening worksheet (the worksheet I use can be found here)

  • I ask them to read through the questions so they know what they’re listening for

  • I then play the piece twice as they complete the worksheet

Listening exercises provide a break from the keyboard, a chance to recognize how elements and character relate to one another, and a chance to hear music by professional performers.  

I hope some of these suggestions work for you. I love feedback - please comment below if you are willing!

Happy teaching!

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