You learn something new every day. I've been at this job for nearly 4 decades. Arranging for performance opportunities has been part of the job description from the beginning. Requiring commitment from my students has never been a consideration. Through my participation with the Frederick County Music Teachers Association, I have actually questioned the need for permission slips and recital fees. Last month I learned the folly of my ways.
Each of my summer students worked on his or her own portion from Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals. One or 2 students let me know early on that they were unavailable for the performance, and I worked with the remaining students to divvy up their animals among those students who, I assumed, were committed. I did not ask for permission slips.
The week of the performance, 4 kids backed out. Yikes! I considered cancelling the performance, but I didn't want to disappoint those remaining students, young and old, who had worked so hard over the summer! I worked my own fingers very hard that week to get those missing pieces up to performance level.
I learned a lot in the process. RSVPs are crucial. Don't get me wrong, everyone put in effort to learn their pieces. And I think everyone wanted and intended to participate. The children's parents were enthusiastic and supportive. But we sometimes over-schedule, either our children or ourselves. We forget, or don't allow enough time for all of our commitments. Perhaps a permission slip will act as an event reminder. I don't want to tack on recital fees, but I am holding onto that concept as a future incentive as well.
I also learned that my students and their parents enjoyed hearing me perform. This was a student performance, and I did not want to take away from that. I hadn't realized that the only "performing" my students hear from me is in dribs and drabs, phrases here and there in their music during lessons. It was a revelation. I think they liked seeing me nervous too!
We have another performance opportunity just
around the corner. Due to scheduling conflicts in October, my students will perform their post-Halloween recital on Friday,
November 8, at 5:30, at Centennial United Methodist Church. Although I never require performance participation,
I will request RSVPs this time. I hope everyone can be there!