Crash Course in Staying Focused – Performing at My Studio Recital

Sunday was the annual Winter Recital for my younger piano students, whose ages range from 7 to 16. While a few just began lessons with me, most have at least five or six recitals under their belts.

Most teachers I know find listening to their student recitals stressful. I know I often feel anxious or excited for the student as they navigate the rapids of performance, which is why I don’t usually play on my student concerts. Also, it’s difficult to prepare while I’m trying to help them get ready.

But this year, I wanted to perform my Carnegie Hall repertoire in as many stressful situations as possible before the actual concert in Feb. 2014. So I decided to play at our Winter Recital.

A few months ago I subscribed to Dr. Noa Kageyama’s “Beyond Practicing” online performance preparation course. While I haven’t had time to review the entire course, I did study the first two modules. The take home message I gleaned was that I need practice staying focused and centered before and during a performance.

At past studio recitals, I have listened closely as each student played, making notes on what to work on next, on what succeeded and what didn’t. But I knew I couldn’t maintain my focus to be able to perform and track the students closely – my brain would be worn out before it was my turn to play. So, I brought my iPad and a tripod and videotaped the concert. Now the parents can share the video with family and friends, and I can watch the student’s performance with them in their lesson if I think it would be educational for them.

And of course, I also videotaped my own performance, because I KNOW it is educational for me to watch myself on video. I usually perform with more intensity and flair when I have an audience, although sometimes the extra adrenaline causes memory problems.

During my performance,  I found my mind wandering off down the familiar and distracting pathway of panic. However, I was able to ignore the emotional charge and drag my focus back to the task at hand. On the whole, I was happy with my playing. Especially since it was at a studio recital!

I’ve posted the videos here: