Are Kid's Piano Recitals Harmful?
Are kid's piano recitals harmful in that they foster fear and stage fright rather than a love of music and the piano? You’ve never seen a frightened child until you’ve stood backstage at a children's piano recital. Some kids like it. In my estimation a very few. Most kids like it as much as a gladiator waiting backstage at the Colosseum to go out and fight. One out of a thousand has that competitive spirit. But most kids have no problem with it. Those that are terrified are the ones we should worry about.
Recitals Require Competetive Spirit
If you have the proper competitive spirit, it might be fun. If you're like most kids and not sure of your piano skills, it can be an ordeal. One of my discoveries in piano teaching is that a child’s greatest fear is failure and humiliation. Anything that appears too hard is shunned automatically for precisely this reason. Some accomplished kids are attracted to the gladiatorial aspect of piano recitals. They participate willingly. For those children who already have a high skill level, the attraction of a piano recital may be high. But almost all kids are struggling with the physical dexterity required to play piano. The recital becomes a horrifying realization that their gifts are smaller than their neighbors. That's not a pleasant realization for a six year old, especially in front of 20 or 30 families.
These kids are doing the best they can at the piano. The last thing they need is to feel bad about their efforts at the piano. I’ve seen kids turn their back on the piano. They do this because the recital changes their emotional mindset about the piano. Parents push the child and the teacher suddenly becomes the ringmaster of a rather unpleasant experience.
The Recital At Home Matters
It matters more that kid's friends hear them play and enjoy it. Don’t forget that kids have no idea where Carnegie Hall is and couldn’t care less. Nevertheless, during piano lessons I play a game called PIANO RECITAL, in which I print up a program of pieces they know, take tickets (from no one) and act as audience and critic. Speaking like an announcer, I introduce them and explain that they are the greatest pianist in the history of the world. Then we have fun and refine the pieces in this neutral atmosphere. I become a stuffy critic and make ridiculous demands, remarking, “I feel that the first notes of Star Wars could have more bass tone, more pedal, more feeling and you forgot the G chord, by Jove!” But it is more a joke than an actual observation. Carnegie Hall starts in your living room.