Some children find the promise of an upcoming recital to be an exciting opportunity to show off their musical prowess. After all, research has proven that playing music on a regular basis can help improve a child’s confidence. Most children are excited and eager to perform in front of an audience. However, some children (and adults!) can experience nerves and anxiety at the thought of it. Pre-performance jitters and stage fright can develop, leading to shaking hands, upset stomachs, and problems with concentration. Although it’s important for you and your child to recognize that being nervous is normal – even many professionals still feel butterflies before a big performance – it can be useful to understand the methods that you might use to calm your youngster as the big day approaches.
Remember, the more encouragement and motivation that you show your child regarding their upcoming recital, the more likely he or she is to perform well and enjoy the complete experience.
Practice at Home
It’s good to start helping your child prepare from the first moment their teacher informs them of the upcoming recital. One thing that can help your child prepare for a performance atmosphere is to stage your very own recital at home, prior to the big day. Invite friends and family members to come and see your child play a couple of songs, and then finish off with applause as your child bows to the crowd. Friends and family may provide a more familiar and comfortable audience as your child starts to get used to being in the spotlight.
Remember, when your child is practicing, or even performing for family members, you should encourage them to keep playing whenever they make an error. Mistakes will happen, but your child should learn to carry on playing, as this will give them vital experience in dealing with problems and overcoming them quickly.
Speak to Your Child About How They Feel
One of the most important ways you can help your child prepare for any potentially stressful experience is to speak to them. During the days before the performance, it may be beneficial to talk about the areas where your child believes they need the most practice – with the ultimate goal of reinforcing feelings of excitement and pride.
Don’t put too much pressure on the concept of the recital, instead encourage your child to have fun, relax, and get the most he or she can out of the experience. Rather than focusing on nervous feelings, teach your child the benefits of positive visualization, and consistently reinforce the fact that they have the skills, and the confidence, to wow the audience.
During the Recital
On the day of the recital itself, it’s a good idea to have your child perform hand and finger exercises, without playing the songs that they intend to play later. Although playing through the piece, or pieces, can be tempting, it can also lead to further distress as morning jitters often lead to accidental mistakes. The day of the recital will be another great opportunity for parents to reinforce positive emotions in their child through compliments regarding their appearance, and reminders of how far their abilities have come since they first started music lessons.
Once your child has performed, give them praise, and if necessary, remind them that every mistake is an opportunity to grow and learn – so embrace the mishaps! Also, stay seated and support the rest of the students that perform – not just your own child. This will help set a standard of respect for your child to follow when working with other musicians in the future.
Keep Encouraging Your Child
Preparing for performances and recitals can be challenging for both student and parent alike. However, by providing the right encouragement and keeping your child motivated, you can ensure that their first on-stage experience is a positive and exciting event that they look forward to repeating.