You might have seen in an earlier post that last week we had our Fall recitals last weekend. They were a blast! I was so impressed with how well everyone played, and I think (most of) my students would agree that performing is just fun to do. Playing in recitals is a real confidence-booster and a great way for kids to learn that they have something unique and beautiful to contribute to the world.
That being said, I've discovered that what's even better than recital week is the week AFTER recitals. Why, you ask? Because the first lesson after recitals means... NEW MUSIC!
Picking out new repertoire for my students isn't particularly easy - it actually takes a lot of planning and thought! Before I even go to our music library to pull out options to play through, I have to think about several things for each student:
What areas does the student need to work on? Rhythm? Expression? Voicing? Staccato vs. legato? I have to do an honest evaluation of each student and choose a piece that will help them improve in a significant way.
At what level is the student playing? There can be a fine line between stretching a student's abilities and giving them a solo that's too difficult and will frustrate them. Usually, if they can learn it in two weeks, it's too easy; if it will take eight months it's usually too hard.
What styles has the student worked on recently? Well-rounded musicians can play in many different styles and textures, so I wouldn't assign a Beethoven sonatina right after a student had played one by Clementi.
What is this student particularly good at? Finding a piece that utilizes some of the student's strengths (while still offering them something to learn!) will help them feel successful and enjoy playing the piano.
Finally, what does the student WANT to play? There's so much literature for the piano that I can almost always find a piece that fits my criteria but is also something the student likes.
Once I've done the background work of picking out some options for my students to choose from, I play a few at their lesson and ultimately let them choose which they like the best. The moment when we find THAT piece, the one that sparks their imagination and makes them excited about practicing - that's magic. There aren't many better feelings as a teacher than when I get to see someone else catch the vision of how totally awesome music is.
Have I mentioned lately how much I love teaching? Because it's pretty much the greatest. Happy practicing this week, and enjoy the new music!