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Art and Improv Show

Themed Recital

· Practical Pedagogy

From venues to actual performance pieces, 2016 was a tough year for me. I was bored and needed to change some things up to feel some more inspiration. I had taught the Current Trends in Piano Pedagogy class at SMU that spring and came out of it a little jaded. I used the rest of the year to take time off from adjudicating, presentations and workshops, to reflect and look inward.

One of the changes I made was with our fall performance event. I themed it as an Art and Improv Show, and encouraged (required) creativity that went beyond the page. For me, music lessons should be about self expression and growth. This means that it isn't enough to simply express what someone else has written and/or expressed thousands of times before. There is value with that, but that can't be all we do, or we've missed the point of art and creativity that music is all about.

Venue: I rented a local art gallery.

Instrument: Steinway Hall Plano donated an art-case M for the event, so that I was only responsible for moving costs. (hahaha, "only")

Repertoire: Stay away from the standard classical repertoire and work on character pieces, original songs/compositions, add a creative element to the performance, etc...that means the student can create/play along with an existing track, add their own intro/ending, create a piece of art to go along with it, play a duet, add a friend who plays another instrument, etc...We had some great performances!

  • Original songs with lyrics
  • One student played Dennis Alexander's Reflections, and created her own piece of art to go along with it
  • We had multiple students play and sing popular tunes, where they created their own accompaniment/arrangement of the piano part
  • One student began playing on the piano, and moved to violin in the B section of her piece while her teacher accompanied her
  • Another student played an African song from Piano Accents, and played along with the track
  • One student created her own rhythm track on Garage Band that she played along with
I think you get the idea!
It was a fun event, with a fresh take on what a recital not only looks like, but feels like too. It was inspiring and enjoyable. The parents loved the venue, the kids felt more ownership with their music, the music was interesting and it was an overall cool event. An experience!