The Primary Teacher's Guide
Have you thought out your material yet for the program of that closing recital? Above all, don't make it too long. Quality is vastly better than quantity. Your kindly-disposed audience has come to clap (particularly their especial Interestata), don't let them remain to pray--that no one will notice them yawn. This applies with equal force when planning your advanced student's recital, as it does to your beginners. Try and think up something vigorous and unique for this Pupil's Recital, to come just before the summer holidays. You may be feeling very tired about now, and dread the effort and the occasion, but shake this off. If you go about your plans for the student the right way, the recital may become a Vitalizer all round, and you will be amply repaid for the extra effort.
The juveniles among your pupils generally dote on their "Concert," and enter into the preparations with a zest, and have such a happy eagerness to play the pieces they have worked so hard upon, for the glorious occasion, that it is a delight to watch their dear little importances. A most salutary message it is also, sometimes, to those older listening students, who may be passing through their agonizing phase of self-consciousness; and for the parents (if at. all possible, arrange an hour which can conveniently include the father as well as mother) it is quite naturally a matter of deep joy and satisfaction to listen to then own darling children play.
Your pupil recital, therefore, may become not onlv a most interesting musical hour, but the means of starting up and bringing about that consummation so devoutly desired by all who have the best musical future of America at heart, the music in the home idea, with all the family gathering about the piano and enjoying it together, much and often.
Now in selecting pieces for your small soloists, it is a moot question, whether to have them play their "big" (most difficult) piece upon which you have been focussing during the season, by way of pushing them on, or, whether to giving them something brand-new. Some students, even small ones, "go stale" on a piece which has taken their maximum infantile efforts, and yet they will be doing it so well, and have grown to love it so, that both they and yourself want to play it for the recital. If there be time, between now and the date of the recital to "put it to sleep" for a fortnight (forbid it being played at all) and still leave you about ten days before the little "Concert" to bring it up again, all may be well. Meantime, a short new piece will be wisely necessary. Other students (and these are the majority, no matter what grade), do very much better with something entirely new, to be learned especially for the "great occasion." Especially if there has been a slight practising laxity coming along with the spring flowers, "an' baseball 'n everything," the exciting news of a special new piece for our concert, will often do wonders all round. You, as teacher, will know better than to select anything that does not allow ample time for the small "artist" to learn it, up-and down, backwards and forwards, and inside and out, before "The Day."
Don't have long pieces, ever. Mercifully, most of the first to third grade piano music is short, and most. effective are the modern composer's works for the very young children, and there is a wealth of them to choose from. The April number of our Musician has a darling one, most musicianly, only about 80 bars to learn, as there are some obliging repeats. It is called "A Little Gossip," by Nathaniel I. Hyatt, and can easily be played by a child who has only had about a half-dozen piano lessons altogether.
Why not introduce a "Sunday group"? A very beautiful phase of music is that which belongs essentially in type to the Church. That great humorist, George Ade, in a recent article said there were so many who "had a sneaking fondness for the cadences of old-time Hymns." Have you seen that charming Op:15 of Mrs. Crosby-Adams? There is a "Little Grace," and 4 Hymn-tunes, with and without words. Children love to play chords, and Fathers love "chordy" pieces always. The male of the species has an especial leaning toward music of that style. You might try a front-porch or veranda recital, or specialize on music about the flowers, or one about birds, etc.
Boy pupils dote on descriptive music, and do their best at such (they don't feel so "sissy"). Mr. Grant-Schaefer, a clever young Canadian, has some sympathetic caterings to juvenile male performers. His "Tales of the Red Man," and his "Circus" pieces, where a whole menagerie have separate musical delineations, from a lovely roar down in the bass which needs no label to just know it's a Lion. Group-playing is a fine way to conserve time, comfort the shy scared pupil, gratify their ambitious elders, garner a regular "Milky Way" of amateur stars in one bright streak of 4 minutes' space, and, incidentally do some of your most constructive work of the year. Ensemble Piano playing is fine. Put some Trios, Duets, or double duets and trios on your recital program; introduce Digital Democracy. What about having a child song or two--in chorus, of course--on this year's pupil recital? Of course, one of your own piano pupils will sit at the piano and accompany the chorus, and--receive due notice on your printed program for the share in the music-whole. Have a printed announcement program? Oh, yes, by all means, the prettier and daintier the better; small human nature gets such luscious joy from seeing its name "in print."
Whatever you do, or don't do, let your key-note be quality, your key-signature, simplicity. Avoid above everything pretentiousness. Do not think you need rent the largest concert-hall or opera house in the town or city for your pupil's recital. Our piano is an intimate instrument, it sounds best, and looks best in the choice artistic surroundings of the intimate smaller theatres, recital-chambers, or even use your own studio itself, if it is large enough. Make your "work-shop" beautiful with plants or flowers for the "great day"--the pupils will love to help.
If you have such an overwhelmingly large class as to make it impossible to fit them all in with a chance to play unless you do make your program look like two years long, we would advise you to divide them up, and give two or three separate Affairs, rather than the one over-function with a long string of poor little minnows, gaspingly awaiting a plunge into the vast ocean, where only the whale spouts with ease and delight.
You have just about six weeks to prepare and plan, for mid-June, or the last, of that month; that is a nice time, but don't delay.
Make of it a day which will stand out as a beautiful musical memory to everyone who is present. Go to it! and Good Luck, and our subscribers will eagerly await news of how it all goes.
(From Miss Anderton's regular Monthly Meeting Talk to her Teacher-pupils--Teacher Training Division).