This month is the busy month of holiday parties, the school season is coming to a close. Students are getting excited for a short vacation from their classes and extra-curricular activities. It is also the busy month of end-of-term recitals and special performances.
The annual Christmas student recital for my studio took place on Saturday, December 6, 2014. All of the students worked hard preparing their pieces in the lessons leading up to the concert. Parents, family and friends arrived at the recital venue to enjoy the great performances made by all students. There was a lovely reception after the concert in which all participants and audience members could mingle and enjoy in the positive energy and relief that comes at the end of these special events.
Over the years of teaching, this routine has always been a highlight to the teaching vocation that I have been called to.
On Saturday, December 13, I did something new: I performed as an adult student in my first vocal recital. As a bit of background, I am taking vocal lessons from a lovely local teacher. She is one of my advanced theory students, we are working on advanced harmony techniques in private theory lessons. As an exchange for the theory lessons, she is teaching me how to sing. I have been studying the art of singing for a few months now; we are working progressively through the levels of the Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto)
In my musical career, I have a large laundry list of performances under my belt. I have been performing music for my entire life. Ever since I was a small child, I have performed in countless piano recitals, piano competitions, and piano examinations. As a teenager, i performed every Friday and Saturday night at a piano bar at a local hotel. After high-school, I went on to study music at university and performed at piano recitals; I also participated in a concert band and in a choir. As a professional musician, I have played at many live music festivals as a part of small and large ensembles of musicians, I have also provided live musical entertainment for private parties, corporate events, weddings, concerts, and professional recordings.
One element that I have never done is to sing a song in a public venue before alone, without a piano in front of me. I have to admit that I was incredibly nervous. Strangely, I enjoy speaking or performing in front of large audiences, this is a normal occurrence. I have never sung in front of an audience before. My vocal teacher has been encouraging me to learn to hold and use a microphone, to memorize the lyrics the song, and to enjoy the experience.
The day came. My family and I drove to the venue. My vocal teacher welcomed me into the venue with a warm smile with the same friendly manner that I do for my piano students. She made some opening remarks (turn off electronic devices, please offer ample applause for all of the performers, etc.) Then the concert began. As we went through the program, all of the nerves seemed to float away. I told myself that I love to sing, just show the audience how much you love to sing and everything will be alright! My turn came in the program. I went up on stage and announced the piece that I was going to sing. The accompaniment started. The rest is a blur, a distant memory.
I remember the audience clapping and cheering. I can see my wife’s face with a big smile, my 4 year old daughter gave me a thumbs up. I must have done a good job!
Having experienced this through the eyes of an adult vocal student offers me, the piano teacher, a greater sense of understanding it takes to enjoy yourself in a live performance. By putting ourselves out there from time to time, we grow in ways that we couldn’t otherwise imagine. I would like to offer applause and thanks to each and every one of my piano students for doing this ritual over and over again. You guys are great!