I am back to my 10 Minute CPD Series and this short blog is all about preparing students for performance. Whatever level your students are at, it will come down to you to help prepare them for performance. Some students will require more help than others, but all will need some level of guidance.
Setting the date
It is important to set a date for any formal in-class performances. Giving students time to prepare is essential for success and they will appreciate the warning. But we also want them to get in the habit of always being ready, so it might be best to not say anything, but then give them a week to prepare. Some element of “surprise” can be helpful, particularly for senior students.
Lesson Time Prep
Depending on class size, space and logistics, it can be handy to give them some preparation time in lessons. This will allow you to release with anyone who needs accompaniment. It will also give you a chance to sort out any backing tracks, technology or setups that they might require.
I always like to record a whole session, mistakes and all. If we perform in a lesson I start he recorder and leave it running. This also helps to keep an atmosphere or quiet and it makes it more of a class recital. It can also work well to film performances so that students can watch themselves in action. I find that this works better for some than others.
Sometimes students listen to recordings of the piece they are playing, but often they don’t. Encouraging them to listen to professionals is a must and it can really help them make progress. Helping them to find recordings is a good idea, or if possible get another student to play their piece to them. Lets face it, with YouTube we have no excuse!
You may or may not always use the exam board marking criteria. But whatever you do, make sure that you give the students some kind of success criteria. This should be the same for everyone and should be something you consistently use. For their first big performance at GCSE, you might want to think about setting expectations a little lower in order to encourage them. But you also want them to know what they are aiming for in the long run.
Preparing Students for Performance
Give them warning, set your expectations and give them time and space to prepare. Performances can be tough for some students, so just support them along the way.