Pre-recital pep-talk

At Eclectic Music, an important theme is balance - between pop and classical, work and play, structure and creativity. Another thing that music educators must balance is the relationship between process and product. As musicians, we must get lost in the process of learning a certain skill or piece of music - thoughts like “What is this for?” and “Man, it’s taking me so long to learn this!” interfere with our focus. On the other hand, music is meant to be shared, not just experienced alone with one’s instrument - at some point we must gather ourselves to present what we have learned to an audience.

One way to reconcile these seemingly opposing aims is to consider a performance itself as a process: the most important aspect of a recital, especially for young musicians, is the experience of doing it, not “how well” we do. Mistakes are inevitable and should be embraced as part of the process of performing - they are not demerits that bar you from attaining to some realm of perfection where professional musicians appear to live.

For students experiencing some pre-recital jitters, here’s something to consider: professional musicians do not appear make mistakes because they’ve learned to cover them up through years of practice - that is, years of making mistakes in public! We all make mistakes, but the most experienced players get good at hiding them and not showing on their faces that they “messed up.” As a performer, just keep going, keeping your body language relaxed. You can start over if you really get lost.

Sometimes a professional really does do it “perfectly.” However, it’s rare that a performer would do a high-profile appearance (like on national TV) unless she is playing something well within her comfort zone - something she could do in her sleep. For most of our students, performing itself is far out of their comfort zone. They all work so hard leading up to a recital, and it becomes a showcase for how far they’ve come. It’s unrealistic to expect that one can manifest a professional polish on what are essentially brand-new skills. Even if the skills are well-established, performing is its own skill that adds new challenges to the mix - but also new rewards.

Performing is an essential part of a student’s music education, giving meaning and context to the long hours (or half-hours!) of study and practice. We are so proud of all of our performers.