This weekend I had the great pleasure of attending a concert given by students of my friend and piano teaching colleague Rebecca Singerman-Knight. Based, like me, in Teddington, SW London, Rebecca specialises in early years’ piano tuition, as well as children and adult beginners and returners. Most of the children performing in her concert were very young and some had only been learning the piano for a few months. However, each child stepped up to play with confidence and evident enjoyment, and each performance was received with enthusiastic applause by parents, grandparents, siblings and friends. Rebecca’s cheerful, smiling and encouraging manner ensured the atmosphere in the church hall was friendly and supportive. In addition to solo performances, some children played duets, with Rebecca and with other students, and at the end of the concert Rebecca herself played two Visions Fugitives by Prokofiev. Contrasting in mood and character, before she played she asked her students to think of titles for the pieces, thus involving the children and encouraging them to listen carefully.
I cannot stress too highly the importance of encouraging children to perform, no matter what their age or level of ability. Performing breeds confidence, an important life skill, and endorses all the hours spent practising and studying. For students, parents and teachers, performing demonstrates that piano lessons lead to real, noticeable achievement, and hearing other students perform different pieces is inspiring and exciting. Above all, performing reminds us that music was written to be shared. It is also very important that teachers perform: by doing so, we show our students that we know how to practise properly, that there is a difference between practising and performing, that we can manage our performance anxiety, and that our study of the piano doesn’t stop when we become teachers.
All in all, it was a lovely occasion, which I felt privileged to attend. I very much look forward to seeing how Rebecca’s students develop as young pianists at future events.
More on the value of performing here