My students and I are so disappointed that our normal holiday performances aren’t happening this year! We’ve gotten used to the pandemic canceling most of our plans but it seems to hit harder when special holiday traditions are affected.
My music teacher’s association hosts a super fun and festive music play-a-thon all day at the beginning of December each year. It’s always at an exciting public venue like a store or eating establishment. My students really look forward to this performance opportunity each year.
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The holidays are such a special time to share music with others. It’s definitely not safe to gather crowds of people to enjoy music together but that doesn’t mean we have to cancel holiday performances all together.
I have to admit that I’m a bit exhausted of moving normal in-person events to a digital format. As much as I love using technology to support and enhance my normal piano lessons, I’m not excited about hosting a Zoom recital or live-streaming performances.
I know many teachers are having success using those formats, but I’m also interested in other formats that don’t require coordinating a huge group of people in an online setting.
Today I’m offering 4 alternatives to in-person holiday performances that don’t require tons of work on the teacher’s part.
While the first idea is something a teacher would mostly like have to implement, the rest of these suggestions are things that parents can easily do from home or things a teacher can support in normal piano lesson times.
Pop Up Piano Recital
I hosted 2 pop up recitals in my driveway during the month of October and they were so fun and successful. It was a really easy to way to recreate the feeling and excitement of a public performance in a really safe, socially-distant way.
The first pop up recital featured only my own kids. They prepared a short program together. My son plays the cello and my daughter plays the violin and piano. They each had a few solos featuring each instrument, then I joined them on the piano and we ended with a trio together.
It was short and sweet, but we were able to invite a few friends, family, and their teachers to watch them perform from a distance on our driveway.
The second pop up recital was for my whole studio. I offered 15-minute time slots and allowed up to 5 students to sign up in each 15-minute window.
I encouraged families to bring their piano fan club, a picnic blanket or chairs and to wear masks. I asked that they keep their distance from other families. I emphasized that it was a come and go event and that people were welcome to make a quiet exit at any point after their student had performed.
I called this a pop-up recital because it was a pretty last minute and informal event. I was keeping an eye on the forecast to find a weekend afternoon with pleasant weather.
I know in some places this option would be out of the question due to weather, but if you live in a place with mild weather, it’s an easy alternative to a formal, indoor recital.
If it’s chilly you could consider serving hot cocoa or cider and you could use some outdoor heaters, chimineas or a fire pit to warm the air.
Create A Family Recital
My daughter has always been shy about performing in her teacher’s studio violin recital. Long before COVID hit, we would put on small family recitals to let her show off her music without the pressure of the bigger recital.
My daughter loves to dress up and she loves to plan parties and prepare treats. We pick a date for her at-home recital and prepare for it the same way we would for a bigger performance. She plans her outfit, bakes a special treat and practices her music for weeks in advance.
The holidays are the perfect time to make a simple at-home performance like this happen. Kids could play a few Christmas songs, or even non-Christmas songs. Families can sing some Christmas carols together. It would even be fun to incorporate other family talents and put together a little family talent show.
Video Chat with Your Fan Club
Every grandparent, aunt, uncle and fan of your child loves hearing from them over video chat! Plan a FaceTime session or call with family members where your child shows off their best piano piece.
If you end up planning a little family recital, you could definitely include other family members via video chat.
But, it’s just as special to call people individually throughout the holiday season and share with them what your child can play on the piano.
Just make sure your student is prepared and treats it as a real performance.
Record A Musical Holiday Greeting
This is another pre-pandemic performance activity that I’ve done with my students in the past.
Students prepare a holiday song to be performance ready and make a recording of it to share with friends and family. It’s fun to let them say something at the beginning or end of the video to personalize it a bit.
This is a super simple concept, but it does require some advanced planning so that the student is performance-ready and so that there’s time to do a few takes if necessary.
If someone in your family enjoys creating videos, you could take this up a notch and make a fancier video. But of course, a simple cell phone video is perfectly adequate too!
Music is definitely one of the highlights of the holiday season. This year, we need music more than ever to help encourage and inspire each other. Even though most of our holiday traditions will look different this year, let’s get creative and spread some Christmas cheer through music!