MTNA Conference; Sunday, March 22, 2015: Teaching Performance Skills


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Gerald Klickstein is the author of The Musician’s Way; A Guide to Practice Performance and Wellness and has a very informative website that has some free resources you can download and use. Click here.  (The Musician’s Way). You can like his Facebook here.


Gerald begins his presentation by telling us that we are performing when there are stakes involved in how well we perform.

There are 3 main skill sets in our performances.

  • Personal- success resulting from effort
  • Task-related- automated recall is effected by stress
  • Situational- can be unsettling if we are not ready

I love this quote “If we don’t teach performance skills are we teaching performance anxiety?”

Think about that a little more. If we just tell our students they have to participate in a recital, but give them no direction in how to perform, expectations or preparation how would they feel? How would you feel? My stomach would be in knots for sure. I personally like to know as much as possible before I do anything new and I’m sure most of our students are like that.

“The more we do, the less it affects them…”

With my mandatory recital I like to hold rehearsals the week of the recital in lieu of regular lessons. This gives us a chance to remind them (or teach them if they are new in the studio) of recital preparedness, etiquette, going up to the piano, bowing… literally go through the whole process of what to do and expect that day. Most of the time I don’t have the opportunity to hold the rehearsal at the recital location, so we do our best to imagine the stage and pretend to walk up the steps, etc…

Another thing that stood out to me in this particular presentation is this…

“If it’s something they are going to perform- it needs to be highly accessible (learned in a week) so we can concentrate on performance skills.”

I think I can count on one hand how many of my students chose a piece they can learn in a week. Matter of fact, if they did usually they ask for a harder one because it was too easy. But Gerald suggests that it SHOULD be easy enough to learn in a week so we can fully concentrate on performance skills. “Accessible music promotes deep learning and facilitates artistic expression.”

Curious, what do you think?

What kinds of things do you do to teach your students performance skills?

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  1. Kimberly

    Thank-you for posting all these snip-its from the MTNA conference!


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