Susanna's blog

Thoughts from Susanna this month…

Next Month, we’ll be holding another run of children’s concerts to celebrate our 10 year anniversary! I know from experience that although most of our performers will arrive on stage looking very small… they will leave having made a very big impression. Some will shuffle to the front nervous of the crowd whilst others will virtually trip over their own feet desperate to show off their skills. Some will dress as though they’re expecting to be knighted, others might literally try to skateboard up the Isle. In every case they will have, by the end of the afternoon, either played for the first time in public or played something that a year ago was way beyond their capability. So everyone achieves something big.   The teachers will be there, encouraging their pupils, settling nerves. The parents will be there, holding their cameras aloft, clapping and cheering after their child’s performance.

It is in the weeks before a concert that every music teacher notices a marked acceleration in a pupil’s progress. It’s no wonder, they are playing their instrument more than they are playing on the ipad! Parents tend to become more involved, encouraging extra practise before or after school. The practise charts suddenly re-appear, covered in stickers awarded for all the hard work. When the teacher arrives for the lesson, they are bombarded with details of the levels of practise down to the last second. ‘I did 12 and a half minutes before my bath Susanna! I did my scales and I don’t even need them for the concert!’

You may think an upcoming performance would be a time for a child to feel pressure and nerves, but if the teacher applies generous amounts of encouragement, praise and structure in equal proportions, it is the very time everyone is enjoying their music the most.

Music concerts offer so much variety too. Siblings, friends and family often play duets or in small ensembles and many of the teachers arrive at the front with their instruments too… something which is often the key to encouraging the very small ones onto the stage for their first public recital. It’s much harder to go it alone so these collaborations are greatly encouraged.

Nothing works better as an incentive when it comes to learning a musical instrument, than the chance to perform together… and it’s only since writing this article that my mind has started to race with regards to sibling duets for my own children in the future (a little premature perhaps?). Aha, if only they knew…

Hooray for the little ones playing their tunes!