2 Recital Prep Questions to Ask Students

With just a little over a week until our rehearsal for the Christmas recital, it’s going to be a close call for some of my students! It’s right about now that I start second-guessing myself and wondering if it was really such a good idea to give them a challenging piece to learn (even though it does sound really cool and they assured me they could learn it :-)). I know that our future as a pianist doesn’t hinge on one recital, but I sure do want each of my students to have a positive experience and to enjoy sharing their selections with those who attend the big event of the year.

At lessons this week I’ve found myself asking most students these two questions:

  1. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being completely performance-ready, what number would you say this piece is right now? (It’s kind of funny how many of them insert a .5 into their numeric evaluation – I’ve had a 6.5, an 8.5, etc…)
  2. What does the remaining [3.5; 1.5; etc.] represent? In other words, what still needs to improve on the piece to bring it to a level 10?

This has proved much more effective than just asking the student what they need to do to get their piece ready by the designated date. Because invariably I get the not-so-helpful answer, “practice.” I resist the urge to say, “Wow, how perceptive. I wish I had thought of that.” But I digress. Sarcasm aside, I realize more and more how important it is to have meaningful, musical discussions with students to gauge how well they understand their music and whether or not they have a clear idea of where they are headed with each piece and how to get there. This kind of interaction with students spurs me on like nothing else to become the best teacher I can be for each of them!

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