Most of my students perform in the twice yearly recitals I organize. I also offer a more formal music performance and evaluation option each spring in the form of the Certificate of Merit program. I am able to offer this program for students because I am a member of the Music Teachers Association of California (MTAC).
The benefits of yearly, formal music evaluations are different than those offered within a more casual recital setting. I was reminded of this when reading a recent blog post by teacher Yiyi Ku:
Benefits for students:
- Meeting deadlines: Having a specific date means certain pieces must be learned, memorized, and polished in a given time frame. This teaches the students about time management and the importance of meeting deadlines – immensely useful skills to have in all aspects of life.
- Handling pressure: Coping with nerves, anxiety, racing heartbeats, and learning to perform one’s best under pressure is one of the most important life skills students can learn.
- Accepting criticism: To some extent, students can learn the above two skills by participating in informal recitals, where they play in front of an appreciative audience such as friends and family. Playing in front of a judge in formal auditions/competitions/festivals/exams where they are evaluated teaches them to accept comments and criticism and learn from different opinions. Again, this is such an invaluable life skill, whether the student becomes a professional musician or not later in their life.
- Learning the value of hard work: Hard work will ultimately be recognized, and when students are rewarded with success in an audition/competition, they learn that it was all worth it – all the time and effort they spent practicing and polishing their performance. The sweet taste of success motivates them to continue working hard and do well again next time.
- Coping with unfavorable results: Should the student be unsuccessful in a particular competition, they learn even more from the experience. The nature of competitions is that no one will always be the winner. Sometimes the best is selected, sometimes not. There is an element of luck in all competitive events; sometimes it is just not your day. Who has not had a memory slip ever? Who has given complete perfect performances every time? Learning to deal with less than desired results teaches students to be mentally and psychologically healthy musicians and human beings.
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