Found in: Recitals & Events
Sue C., Australia
I like to hear how other teachers’ Piano Party or Concert went, so I am sharing my recent event. I went with Piano Party idea this year and gave out blow out blowers (bought in packs of 10 or 20). After each item the audience blew these instead of clapping. Worked well added to party feel. I printed out a performance certificate for each of them and they each took a SM poster after they played.
Re food: The week before, I got pizza requests from everyone and towards the end of the morning (started 11am) the pizzas arrived. This was a big hit and with me too as food can be difficult to organise as well as the program. I also made a big slab cake, iced it white and put down the length of it in groups of 2s and 3s chocolate coated finger biscuits, to look like a keyboard. This was easy. It was cut into small pieces and fed lots of people.
I had a container of pure water there but also took punch for them to self serve. It added color, and one large bowl was enough. We had the urn on too for coffee and tea.
There were approx. 20 performers and each one did at least 2 to 4 items. This was made easy by each student playing his or her own song. Then they had their foundation song to play and accompaniment song and the Duets that many played greatly enhanced the sound and atmosphere. Five parents joined me in playing the duets for their child, and the parents who played are now really “switched on” and feel part of it.
Having it in September is going to ease the Christmas rush. I would love to hear more Piano Party/Concert ideas.
Ruth M., Washington
This sounds so fun, Sue.
I am currently getting ready for a Costumed Play Party on Oct 25th. Newer students will play foundation pieces with Spooky Lyric changes or their own compositions.
I also have some playing based Songs that I teach such as Hall of the Mountain King and some early reading pieces that more experienced students will play.
I’d love to hear from those with larger studios how you handle these kinds of events. I started out with 15 students and we had a great time at our annual Christmas party singing carols, and foundation pieces that had been fitted with festive lyrics, plus other songs students had been working on through the foundation, PAS and accompaniment programs. It was fun a 1-2 hours with food, etc.
But this year I now have 60+ students and I”m not sure how best to manage this. I still like the idea of gathering my whole student body together…I think it’s such a great opportunity for newer students and families to see what’s ahead in the program and for all students to feel a part of something larger than their respective groups. At the same time, it would be nice for them to play for more than 1 song without the whole evening running to 3-4 hours! Any ideas from the wealth of experience out there?
I’ve been teaching Simply Music 1 1/2 year and I have 10 students.
I will have my first accompaniment party in a month. In fact I will organize 2 of them because I do it in my living room and it is too small to have my 10 students with their family and (maybe) a few of other interested/possibly future students.
I will have a few very easy 2-chord pieces that students will read without necessarily knowing the song, and parents will sing (they really are party/answering /repetitive songs). The more difficult pieces will be practiced before the event.
As we are French, I want us to sing songs in both languages, and for sure most of the English songs will be the ones in the accompaniment program and a few from the Beatles. All the other songs will be popular French songs. I’m really looking forward to this first experience I’m preparing.
I like the idea of doing different styles of music “public playing” and I always think pedagogically:
- The first one(December) where they have to concentrate to play because the are recorded and have 3 chances to play their best. (That’s their Christmas gift and they love it)
- One accompaniment party (May) where the goal is to have fun with music, read chords, and it is an occasion where everybody sings.
- And the last one (June) where it is more formal to close the “piano learning year.”
Later (in a year maybe) I would like to have some other people/instruments in my accompaniment party so students have the opportunity to play with a group (drums, guitar and one melodic instrument) I have this pedagogic inspiration from Kelly Natale.
I would love to read more ideas from you dear teachers.
Kelly N., Canada
One way to have students more involved, with less of a time investment, is to have them play together, either with duets, or with an African drum involved, or even multiple keyboards. Students love the feel of playing together, and then they can support each other as well.
I have tried a few different ways of allowing students to attend a gathering:
We hosted a few Open Stage events at a local long-term residence that had a large auditorium. Unfortunately, with so many students, it will run a bit long. You can try to stream-line the switching of students to save time by having them sit at the front, and have a helper there to assist with traffic flow. I began to divide the group in half, and run multiple open stages. If it is too long, it might dissuade people from attending.
I have also tried staggered arrivals. Students come at a certain time. This occurred when we had a booth in the local music street festival, so obviously not everyone could participate at once. It meant a number of smaller concerts. People enjoyed it, and then got to enjoy the festival as well.
Currently, I just alternate between a local senior’s residence…..such a gift for our senior citizens! They always rave about how much fun it is. My other open stage is at my home. It is more of a party with fun food and a chance to visit afterwards. It seems to meet a number of needs/desires.
The adults are a separate affair, held in the evening. I have found that my students have come to look out for one another at the party, and it is really informal. I have generated an overall environment of friendly banter in my studio, and that certainly carries on into these events! I have wonderful food, and have tried a few themes to keep things interesting. (50s night, Jeopardy night, 70s night). I try to have small conversation areas all over the main level of my home. It is really a house party, where you can play piano if you like! I have a group of seniors that like to gather round and have a sing-along, then later in the evening, some of the “younger” adults get into more of a rock music jam later in the evening. I also try to invite friends who play guitar, and my husband is a drummer, so I try to have people jam as much as possible. It is very informal, and lots of fun, and rarely ends before midnight!
Sue C., Australia
My annual piano party is only 2 weeks away. I enjoy preparing the students for this event at the end of winter (Australia). It gives a great focus for the month preceding and allows the excuse to keep playing the selected pieces again and again and to play the songs with feeling.
In the lesson I have the children sitting down as if they were at the performance and I introduce them just as I will on the day. For example : Benny Jones who is 9 years old and wants to be a scientist when he grows up will now play The Pipes. Then I instruct them to walk, not run to the piano and to then sit on the front part of the stool taking their weight on their feet (if legs long enough). During this time I ask them to hold their hands on their lap for a short time and sing their song in their head to work out how fast or slow to start. Then when the song is over I ask them to put their hands in their lap and count 2 seconds (for those who cannot stay still). Then they stand and bow to the audience and walk not run to their seat.
Does anyone have any more thoughts or a different slant on training children for performance?
Learnt this one from the Suzuki schools. When kids bow it’s often very quick and awkward. So if there’s going to be a formal bow, it may as well be done properly.
They have to say ‘hippopotamus’ to themselves at the LOW part of the bow – not on the way down and up.
Great ideas in this thread – love the adult party idea Kelly.
Sue C., Australia
I held my annual piano party last weekend, 11am at the Philharmonic Performance Complex in Toowoomba with over 60 in attendance. There are always some children who cannot attend at this time of day due to sporting finals, but whatever time it was, there would always be some absentees. I am flexible by fitting their item in at the beginning or near the end if they have just come from a game or want to leave early to attend one.
It was the best concert ever! Thank you Unmani for the idea to say “hippopotamus” at the low part of the bow. The children bowed professionally.
Each family ordered a pizza which came towards the end and we also had cake, popcorn and drinks. I had a little wooden piano on top of the cake.
I saved time by laying out on one side of the platform their performance certificates and in an A3 folder were the full array of SM posters. After their performance they took one of each. Other years I have individually presented these and this was time consuming.
The inclusion of duets and accompaniments, plus 3 students playing their own compositions and of course the Foundation songs, made a varied and enjoyable time. I was happy to have 3 parents who accompanied their children on piano.
A former student who now takes bagpipe lessons was the final guest performer on bagpipes.
It is my highlight of the year and gives me a lot of pleasure.