Recitals – to do or not to do?

Weekly Teaching Tip
by Rocio Guitard
I run a voice studio with 3 teachers and a waiting list. The most dreaded question I used to get from a new student or parent of a new student was, “Do you do student recitals at the end of the year?” What used to be “no, I don’t” in form of a quasi-apology has morphed into a “no, I don’t” filled with pride. And here’s why.
I feel that one of the most important jobs I have as a voice coach is to help my students be as ready as they can possibly be before a performance. Why? Because a lack of confidence is one of the top reasons for feeling so nervous and anxious on stage that things do go wrong. Therefore, forcing students who aren’t ready for performance in general to stand in front of an audience and sing is not exactly “encouraging”. You’d be surprised how many of your students, especially beginners, would be terrified to do so. Some folks think this is a necessary part of developing as a singer, and though I concur, I also feel that they must get to a certain point in their training before they’re ready. But that’s not what I tell my clients when they ask “do you do recitals?”.
What I do tell them is, “I don’t do recitals, but I do annual showcases. We alternate between making a CD and live performance with a band. The teachers listen to all enrolled students all year long. In January we select 10-15 students who have worked hard and shown the most improvement, and invite them to be part of the showcase. If they accept, we’ll put them on an 8-week fast track with private lessons and group workshops to either go into a professional recording studio and be able to deliver a lead vocal track in 60 minutes, or to stand in front of a large audience backed by a professional band and backing vocalists, and be able to conduct the band and put on a performance, not just “stand there and sing”. The Showcase Students walk away with a professional demo on a compilation CD, or with a DVD of their live-performance. It’s what all enrolled students strive to be a part of, and what keeps us teachers on our toes, since we don’t allow students to participate in two consecutive showcases.”
And what I love most about it is how it motivates newer or non-selected students to do their part and practice. Because I’m not going to get on someone’s case for not practicing (“I open the door but you’re the one who has to walk through it”). But I’ll reward those who do 🙂 And, frankly, who wants to sit through a recital where every one of your students performs? If you’re as busy as I hope you are, then I sure don’t, LOL!!

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