Facing that piano in the competition arena is daunting for students. They have one chance and one chance only to wow the judge and play flawlessly. No pressure.
Each month I hold a Rep Class for these students. Mostly to keep them in check and keep them working on their pieces. Secondly, to be sure they can execute the pieces under pressure in front of other students. And finally, to be sure they don't forget all those things the judge looks for each time they sit down to play. But even this becomes static after 7 months of Rep Class. So these students also perform their competition pieces for a live audience at the Double Scoop Recital held only a few short weeks before the competition.
In class, I do try to keep it as light and upbeat as I can, but this can get difficult the closer we get. As a professional, and a teacher who wants only the best for my students, sugar coating mistakes, or praising when the performance wasn't so great would be a disservice. So we do some fun adjudications of each other, and play a game with performance cards. Each student picks a performance aspect to judge the player on. Only the player doesn't know what they are being judged on! Our class is small, so the performer is only being judged on 4 aspects at a time. But knows fully well that the judge at the competition event is judging them on ALL of these at once.
PERFORMANCE ASPECT CARDS
Here we are in January, and a few of these students are getting hung up on the difficult passages.....knowing the pressure that lies ahead, knowing they have to play this in front of their peers as well and their teacher, and having just come off of a long
Christmas break, I guess it inevitable that I would encounter a few tears of frustration. And sometimes the standard practice strategies don't work.
In the past we have used Practice Strategy cards to help. Students can pick a card and practice the piece as instructed on the card. This changes things up a bit and breaks the monotony. Although there are TONS of practice strategies around, (I've used so many over the years) these cards list just a few.