My ‘Progressive Dinner’
Cindy B., Ilinois
Thought I’d share some of the details of Friday night with you. Months ago I included a questionnaire with my monthly newsletter that asked the parents for ideas about different activities and/or outings that we could try as a studio. One parent suggested a progressive dinner. What developed was a combination progressive dinner and recital, for want of a better word. Folks – this event came closer to what I’ve always thought music is really supposed to be about than anything I’ve ever done before, either as a teacher or a student.
We began at 5 pm at the studio, with appetizers. Though I was slated to perform, as were all of my young students, I didn’t perform at my own house. Essentially, the family who lived at house number 2 was responsible for the entertainment at my studio(number 1), and when we got to house 2, the family who lived at house 3 were responsible for our entertainment and so on. This put everyone in a postition to perform on a piano not their own.
I also opened up the entertainment possibilities to the entire family, rather than the piano student alone, and I didn’t regulate or oversee what would be done unless asked in lessons for input. So with our appetizers, while some of us were still eating, the family from house 2 entertained us with some piano solos, a cello solo, a flute solo with cd accomp, and a flute duet. We then drove to house 2, where the family from house 3 had the floor. In this case, the girl was the only entertainer and her 2 solos lasted no more than 2 minutes, and not everyone was finished eating but felt like they ought to hurry. I grabbed the opportunity to call Mary back to the piano and suggested that we ‘wing’ a few duets. She and I have donw things like that before, so she jumped right in and we improvised a few duets.
At house 3, where we ate the main course, we had more time, and by this time everyone was on a first name basis and feeling quite comfortable, obviously having a good time. At this home, family 4 performed together. Mom and daughter played a flute and recorder duet. Mom, son and daughter played a trio based on Deep River, with the Mom (not the student!) playing D River, both hands, in the middle of the keyboard with son and daughter on the outer ranges simply playing the left hand part, softly. Then the daughter played a solo, and the son played a solo.
At house 4, for dessert, I performed a duet with a young friend who is not a student. A Mozart duet. Then I performed a Honey Dew duet with my newest student who’s never performed on the piano before, and at the awkward age of 14 needed the moral support of a duet rather than a solo. His parents came only for the dessert part of the evening, since he wasn’t even a student with me when the planning for this evening was happening. We then all joined in a sing along together – The hostess had written lyrics (5 verses!) to go along with “Down by the Riverside” that were a tribute to Simply Music and me. (good thing I was the accompanist – I probably would have cried if I was paying any attention to the words!)
I then opened up the floor to anyone who wanted to play some more – and we spent at least another 20 minutes taking turns making music, with even one more recorder solo. Everyone had a blast, and one father with no skill on an instrument got the portable cd player and played a cd for us.
It was social, it was musical, and it was unintimidating. It was WOW.
Original discussion started February 27, 2006