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Kiss Their Stage Fright Goodbye With This Secret

Okay, show of hands.

How many kids practice their recital piece in the safety of their own room?

Almost every one of them, right?

When it comes to preparing for an on-stage performance, kids can’t beat the security of their own cozy boudoir.

And can you blame them?

After all, there are no hot bright lights shining above you and no cameras flashing in your face. There’s no one to face in a jam-packed audience, either.

Practicing at home means you get to stop and start your piece over and over again if you want. Oh, and they can practice their recital piece in their pajamas…just because.

But bedrooms aren’t where recitals happen.

Recitals happen in front of real people on a real stage.

A stage where:

  • they mess up smack dab in the middle of their song and find a way to recover quickly before a complete meltdown
  • it’s a little bit terrifying to see all eyes on you and play your absolute best version of your recital piece…in all of 2 minutes
  • it’s tough to find you (aka their “cheering section!”) in the audience before they gather the courage to play their first note

Performing well is a skill itself. Sure, it’s easy to play your recital piece perfectly in the comfort of your own room, but in front of other people? Well…that’s another story.

So before you send your little musician off to the major leagues, prepare them for a real audience with this trick.

Make it a “play” date

There’s no doubt about it: it’s intimidating to perform your piece in front of a ton of people when you’re a musician. Make it a young child musician and it’s downright terrifying.

Of course, they’ll have a rehearsal before all that. This is like a practice recital where your child goes up on stage and practices for the real performance. But it tends to be just you, their teacher, their accompanist, and maybe the next kid who’s up to play next (just because they came a little earlier to the rehearsal).

The point is, that’s not the reality of recital day. 

Create the recital atmosphere with more people by having a mini recital play date. Invite as many kids and family members as you can to put the pressure on in a healthy way.

Here’s how!

  • Ask 2 other parents of the kids performing in the recital to practice playing their pieces in front of each other. Tell them to bring the whole family along, too. These kids should be around their age and skill level (preferably who they’re already friends with). If it’s nice outside, plan to meet at a park or in someone’s backyard.
  • Everyone sits in chairs or on the floor. Each musician plays their recital piece all the way through from beginning to end. Everyone is quiet while each child performs, and audience members clap at the end of the song. (P.S. This is great practice for the younger brothers and sisters who’ll be in the recital crowd, too).

At the end, have some lemonade and cookies (nothing huge) and celebrate! Enjoy each other’s company, catch up with friends, and let the kids play.

It’s as close as you’ll come to the real thing

This recital play date allows your child to perform in front of real people – some they know well, some they don’t know very well – and play their piece all the way through. The more people they perform for, the more confidence they’ll have on recital day.

Recital rehearsals aim to prepare musicians for the real recital. But only a couple of people are there, and that’s it.

This play date recital is the step between the rehearsal of two or three in the audience, and the actual recital of sixty or seventy in the audience.

I won’t lie: that’s a huuuge jump to make for a little musician who doesn’t have a lot of experience on stage. Your child can freeze up in a way that you’ve never seen before. But this recital play date is that in between place that’s a little outside their comfort zone. It’s pushing them, sure, but in a good way.

Parents of successful musicians nurture their child’s skills and abilities with playful events like this constantly. They cultivate an environment where it’s fun to play music for each other. In doing so, they show them that performance can be exciting – not just scary.

This way, standing up to play in front of other people isn’t a fearful once-a-year kinda thing. It’s an “I can do this. I’ve done it in front of more people than just my family and I can do it again,” kinda thing.

Show your child that playing music can be fun.

Show them that all these people support your child and want to see them succeed.

And if they mess up – that’s ok. Because you’ll be there – cheering them on. Because there will always be more chances to play more music.

It’ll make it a heck of a lot easier for them to stand up tall on that stage and play their song beautifully when recital day rolls around.

And anything that makes it easier, and makes them feel better is a win-win in my book.

How do you make your child feel more confident before their recital day? Tell me in the comments below!

P.S. Did you catch the other recital prep posts? Click below to catch them all!

Ready, Set, Record! The Foolproof Way To Prove To Your Child They’re Recital Ready…Without Lying

Stop The Music! Why You Should Take A Break And Do This Before The Big Day

5 Simple Steps To A Stress-Free Recital Day

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jana May 5, 2014 at 9:42 am

Dear Elizabeth,

I’ve been following your blog and love it! I am a piano teacher and I am always looking for tips to give parents to motivate them to keep going on. You and Sue Hunt are an inspiration to me.

In terms of performing, I think I have it down to this: I let them come every week to a group-lesson where they have to perform for their friends and parents… each week! They really love it and I don’t have a single student with stage-fright now. I think it is absolutely mandatory to have group-lessons with piano students, since we pianists are such lone wolves, but most kids are really social and love to feel they’re part of something. I find that in my musical environment, people tend to think that piano is only for individual approach, but violin, cello, etc. always need group-approach in addition to individual approach. I beg to differ! So my students don’t get accepted if they don’t participate in group-lessons… plus they get to play Music Mind Games by Michiko Yurko, and that is really balls of fun!!

Kindest regards,
Jana Neplechovitsj


Elizabeth Kane May 5, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Thank you for your incredibly kind comment, Jana. That means a lot to me. And I think Sue’s pretty great too. 🙂

I love your group lesson idea! It sounds like you’ve got a type of master class technique going on here – building performance skills together and getting feedback on a continual basis. And you’re right about pianist students – so important to get them out of the solace of their practice room and with other kids just like all the other (portable instrument) musicians. Some pianists don’t get this kind of treatment until high school/college!


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