We are just heading into the Christmas season, and I can feel the excitement. My students love to play Christmas music, and for my Jewish students I offer Hanukkah music for them to play as well.
In the past, I have had a Winter Recital, which has been a great mid-season event. This is where they can play their Christmas or Hanukkah songs for the guests, as well as an additional song they have been working on. I have had up to 35 students, so instead of having one recital, I would do two on the same day, and it makes it so much more enjoyable for the listeners — I have found that even with great music the guests get a bit restless.
However, this year I knew I would not be up to a full-fledged recital due to a recent minor surgery, so I have decided to do smaller “Piano Parties” in my home for the students to play their Christmas music. The kids LOVE these.
Piano Parties are events I have at my home the week before a recital, and are used as a “Dress Rehearsal”. Parents are typically not invited — this is for the students to perform their piece in a non-threatening environment and “work out the nerves.” I show them how to walk in, enter the piano bench (if they need refreshers on this), play their piece, then exit the bench and take a bow. They also have to learn how to be good “guests”. After they have performed, we embark on some fun games, and then they eat some nummy snacks – cookies/cupcakes that some of the parents might bring, and fruit drinks. The game of choice is always “Flash Card Challenge”. I split the students up so they are competing against each other in two lines (two teams). The first child (in the front of the line) who names the note correctly receives the flash card and goes to the back of the line. Once all the flash cards have been “guessed”, we count up the total of “points” and that team wins. (Typically the cards with ledger lines are “bonus questions.”) The winners get a small prize and get to choose from the snacks first. Piano parties typically have 8-10 kids in each party and usually run about an hour, and take the place of their lesson for the week. I have them sign up on the wonderful website that I use called “Music Teacher’s Helper.”
This year, however, I will hold Piano Parties as mini “recitals”. I don’t want to “jip” the parents out of hearing their children play their Christmas music, so I will hold Piano Parties next week that the parents will be invited to. They will not be long – probably 45 minutes long at the max, due to the fact that people are so busy during this season, and the kids are studying for finals, etc. I will offer three different evenings for these events, which they can register for using my Student Website at Music Teacher’s Helper. (If you are a teacher and have not checked out this website, please do so…they offer a free trial and website! It is a time saver and wonderful way to keep a calendar and do billing, etc.)
I’m so looking forward to next week and my Piano Parties! So are my students!