As a traditionalist, I followed the conventions of most private teachers and offered formal recitals twice a year, with the occasional additional summer recital. However, this thinking was challenged by a colleague of mine that offered master classes once a month so her students could perform more often. Monthly classes seemed too often for me, so I decided to go with every other month. And instead of just performing, I wanted to throw in all of the things that don't make it into a 30-minute (or 45-minute, or even a 60-minute) lesson!
And so ... Group Performance Classes were born!
About every other month, I provide a low-stress opportunity for students to perform in front of a small audience consisting of only their peers. Students perform “in progress” pieces and we discuss performance related issues. In addition, we study theory, play music games, study music history and composers, and dabble in improvisation.
Each student typically performs two pieces. It's amazing how a little added "stress" impacts their playing! But despite a few wrong notes or a little extra sweat, all of my students do an excellent job performing! And I believe they are much better prepared for the more formal recitals.
I love seeing students overcome their fears or objections to performing after playing in a group performance class. Many students love to perform and often want to share more pieces with their peers. (Check out our recent IMS Live Music Night, too, for more performance opportunities!)
I also enjoy teaching about those old dead guys — like Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms — and listening to their incredible music!
This school year I have planned four Group Performance Classes, so we are studying one time period in each class. My hope is that students will fall in love with classical music as much as (or more than) I do!