Thoughts after a full day of Student Recitals

"I have been absolutely terrified every moment of my life - and I have never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do."Georgia O'Keeffe

Yesterday we enjoyed a full day of student recitals. We had 7 large-scale concerts with nearly 400 students taking the stage throughout the day - most of them performing as soloists. Our recitals are not in a small venue, and the students perform on stage at the Engineered Air Theatre in Arts Commons. Often the students have experience performing with their schools etc in front of such a large crowd, but rarely is it as a soloist, front and centre.

Almost all of the concerts yesterday had a full house of audience members - some with nearly 200 people there to cheer the students on. The students were well prepared, with many of them performing for the very first time since their lessons began in September. As always, I am so proud and impressed by the students and our incredible team of teachers with what they continue to accomplish.

What I find truly special though, is what we get to see backstage in those 5 minutes before they go under the spotlight. One of my favourite things about working with children is their beautiful honesty, and that we get to see their emotions worn openly on their sleeves. 

Some can’t stop giggling with nervous laughter. Many fidget and practice their pieces in the air or on their laps. Others are trembling and openly share with us how scared they are.  We remind them that they are well prepared and have all the tools they need, and I see each of the teachers offering the same encouraging remarks and phrases that we remember helped us best when we were young musicians.

Some need an extra hand to get on stage, but they all walk out as a ball of nerves and excitement. When they are done though, it’s always the same. Their arms and shoulders now relaxed, big smiles on their faces with the look of relief that the performance is done. With that recognizable relieved look on their face they return back to their seats to big hugs, high-fives and celebration from their family and friends.

Yesterday one of our 5 year old students dressed in a beautiful gown with bows in her hair, said to me before she went on stage how scared she was that no one would clap for her and that they wouldn’t like her piece. Of course she heard nothing but cheers and applause from the audience and was all smiles once she was done. Just like the other students, although she may have walked on stage scared of the outcome, she walked off with a big sense of pride in what she had just accomplished.

THIS is what these student recitals are all about. We are all familiar with that fearful inner dialogue and words of self-doubt, although we may not always show and share it as honestly as children do.

Our students challenge themselves and work through their music practice each day, even on the days they may rather be playing a video game or trying something else when their newest piece feels too hard. 

This act of reaching outside of their comfort zone builds up over time. As they repeat this experience throughout the years it’s of course wonderful to see them grow into seasoned and experienced performers and musicians. However, the most valuable and important thing that happens each time they experience one of these performances, is that the little voice of self-doubt and fearful inner dialogue becomes just a little bit softer. THIS is the core of what we hope to develop in our students.

We are so incredibly proud of each and every student who took the stage yesterday, and we are honoured to be a part of your growth and journey.  The students all played beautifully.

Regardless of any outcome on stage, this process is what we are attached to.  So, to each and every one of you who participated yesterday, I offer you my utmost and sincerest congratulations on a job well done.


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