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Piano Recitals Are Poisonous For Children

Piano Recitals Are Poisonous for Some Children

Piano recitals are poisonous for most children. Exactly what function do childhood piano recitals perform? Piano teachers who use them say that they are “Character builders,” but I beg to differ. In fact, piano recitals are a big commercial for the piano teacher.

They serve no function other than to terrorize the broad majority of piano students. Yes, there may be one or two kids who enjoy it, and, for them, recitals may be a good idea. Some kids enjoy gladiatorial combat, but not many.

But what about the poor kid who is throwing up backstage before he fumbles through Fur Elise? What about your kid, who is to play next, and now has stage fright worse than Abraham Lincoln?

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They’re Kids, Not Gladiators

Piano recitals reduce the piano to a form of gladiatorial contest, and that is no inspiration to anyone except pathologically competitive people. Children are inherently competitive, but not in arenas in which there is almost certain defeat.

Any sane child shrinks from a contest in which they will certainly be humiliated. It’s scary enough for a seven year old to play for their teacher, much less for everyone in the neighborhood and lots of strangers.

Fear Does Not Build Character

Fear does not build character in young pianists. It only convinces them that the piano is not for them. For those children that do like performance, fear may be a factor to be conquered. But to the average kid trying the piano, fear ruins their entire experience of the piano.

Just as there are kids who are very competitive at sports, there are kids who compete at piano. Kids who compete at sports tend to be very good at it. Child pianists are no different.

Comparison Of Kids Is Destructive

The comparison of one child to another does nothing for the child who comes up short in such comparisons. I strive to get each child to play as well as they can themselves, never to someone else’s ideal.

I disregard all State Board Requirements and Standardized Piano Level Exams. Learning the piano is a very, very individual process.

I don’t want a child’s fragile progress to be upset by needless comparisons. Every child is aware of the idea of “mastery.” As soon as a child is aware enough, all they see is other humans who do most things better than they do. This is partly the nature of childhood, to have so much to master.

Every Kid Is Different

They should avoid the crucible of public exhibition. At least wait until the child is allowed time to get used to the learning process. There should be no judgment, no timetable, and no one’s opinion mattering except an ultimately nurturing and beneficial teacher.

Some Kids Want To Compete

The video below is of a child who wanted to be in a recital, showed no fear, and enjoyed the whole thing. Her personality is such that she isn’t afraid of anyone or anything. She is bubbly.

Such kids are an exception to the rule. Most kids experience fear, but not this boisterous six year old girl! No one pushed her to participate, she chose to do it on her own. Notice how proud she is after finishing and and how she smiles when hearing the applause.


1 comment

  • I am a piano teacher of 30 years and I do agree that piano recitals are very stressful for a lot of children, so thank you for sharing this perspective because I feel that a lot of piano teachers feel a lot of pressure to have at least an annual recital and I find that a lot times parents ask if there will be a recital when they enroll their children. Not all teachers are having a recital as a commercial and in fact most talented teachers have a long waiting list anyway, not to mention that renting recital space and providing insurance for the event is costly. So lots of teachers would be happy to stop having recitals. I think it’s important to keep the recital optional for students. I remember being very terrified at my recitals. Good post!

    Miss Pepper

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